Well, not “curtains” for this project – but curtains for the windows!

Now, if you go way back to when I was struggling with finding the right curtain design for the living room windows, you’ll remember how the lovely trim posed a design dilemma: wanting to let in as much light as possible and wanting to show off the size and detail of the windows.

Oh, and the woodworking guy in the family was quite clear: we weren’t putting any holes in the wood trim. Like, at all. And I support his position, just to be clear. In fact, if you look below, you can see the little brackets from the old window treatments that the former owners hung there.

In its' barest form.
In its’ barest form.

As part of my subversive mission to “man up” the purple a little bit – as well as introduce other colors to the room, I found some inspiration in a classic blanket design:

Hudson's Bay Trading Blankets. Some people know them as "Pendleton blankets." Credit: Pendleton
Hudson’s Bay Trading Blankets. Some people know them as “Pendleton blankets.” Credit: Pendleton

Looking online, these blankets are still made – and excellent-condition vintage models can command quite a price. I knew that a wool weave would feel way too heavy on these windows, and would need to be cut down for the shorter window. So the concept of using real blankets was out before even a thread of fringe made its’ way in. But I thought of a way to replicate the design using some solid cotton fabric.

But before we fire up the sewing machine, one important step had to happen.

Hang the curtain rods!
Hang the curtain rods!

I centered the height of the curtain rods in the wall space between the top of the window trim and the bottom of the crown moulding, and extended the ends of the rods three inches either side of the window. I also added a few of the rings with clips that the panels would hang from. That gave me the measurements to build the curtains from.

Calculating the length: measure from the clips hanging on the rings to the point where you want the panels to hang. For the larger window I wanted to go all the way to the floor. On the smaller window, I wanted the panels to skim just below the windowsill. To these numbers, add 12 inches; this gives you enough for a 4-inch double hem on the bottom, and a 2-inch pocket sleeve on the top.

Now, here’s where we get a little tricky to make the Hudson’s Bay stripes. I built the stripe inserts first. Grabbing the rotary cutter and my cutting mat/straight edge, I trimmed 3-inch strips of each color, plus the off-white  fields in between the stripes. I sewed these together in order:

Green, White, Yellow, White, Red, White, Blue.
Green, Off-White, Yellow, Off-White, Red, Off-White, Blue.

Once they were sewn together, I pressed out the seams and trimmed the rough ends.

Not all the colors came in the same length. It was more important to get the color right than get them from the same manufacturer.
Not all the colors came in the same length. It was more important to get the color right than get them from the same manufacturer.

When that stage was done, it was a matter of sizing up where they would be placed along the rest of the curtain panel.

Ready to move on.
Ready to move on.

I studied a few images of the full blanket online to get an idea of how to place the stripes that would closely mimic the blanket’s design. The striped fields would measure 14 inches finished, so I decided to split the number and have a 7-inch field of off-white at the bottom and tops of the curtains.

(Except for the short window; these would have stripes only along the bottom of the panels, due to size considerations.)

For the short panels, it was a simple process of hemming the bottom off-white panel, sewing it to the stripe panel, and adding the top off-white panel.

For the tall panels, I sewed on the top and bottom hemmed pieces before double-checking my measurements and cutting the “middle” lengths before sewing them all together.

I knew that I wanted to add a lining to the panels to give a polished edge, and hide the seams on the side of the curtain panels that would potentially be seen through the window. Once those were sewn up, it was a final pass with the iron before hanging the finished panels.

Walking into the room, here's what you see.
Walking into the room, here’s what you see.

The curtain rods were brought over from the other room; I had picked them out a few years ago, knowing then that our little guy loved the outdoors, and thought the oak leaves could be a fun touch in whatever his big boy room would become. I wasn’t wrong.

IMG_0860Looking at each window individually, they really pop and help neutralize the purple just a bit. Without sacrificing the purpliness that the room’s occupant loves. (I just made up a word!)

IMG_0855Part of me wishes I went ahead and made the panels around the short window full-length, but with the bed’s placement, and how our kiddo loves walking in that little space between the bed and wall to crawl into bed at night, I kept thinking he would get tangled in the long panels while getting into and out of bed. Shorter was the way to go.


It was just what the room needed. A balance of color, and a look that won’t be outgrown for quite some time.

Things are coming along very nicely. There’s a few little touches left, but what’s great is that our little guy is still loving his room and not even missing his “baby room.” He was ready for the change.


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