You Old Sew and Sew….

Hubby and I have been apartment dwellers for most of our nineteen year marriage.  The short period of time when we actually didn’t live in an apartment was spent in half of a duplex that we shared with dear friends (here’s a tip… don’t live next door to friends.  Something will inevitably happen that will suddenly make you ‘neighbors’ instead of ‘friends.’)  In the duplex, we had plenty of space, and more for storage for our plentiful hoard of junk in the garage.  Funny how folks have a garage they use for useless stuff, while a $20,ooo car sits in the driveway, unprotected from the elements.  But (as usual) I digress.

When we moved to Florida twelve years ago, we moved into an apartment-turned-condo which was much smaller than what we left in Oregon, but it worked and the landlord welcomed our fur family of three.  The duplex and the condo were really our only departures from apartment living.  We’ve lived in tiny apartments (our first one was a 600 sq ft, one bedroom apartment that we outgrew the second the moving van arrived from Florida,) crummy apartments that grew mushrooms in the carpet because it was so damp and had nearly no insulation.  That was our second apartment, and though it was much bigger than the first one, it was really, really awful.  Our third one ended up being in a nicer complex, but we settled for a rent on the second floor.  Between that apartment and our relocation all the way across the country was the duplex.  We also did a quick stint with my mom after my dad had passed away, and she needed some help after having knee replacement surgery.  Another quick tip, and I mean this from the bottom of my heart… NEVER, NEVER EVER move back in with your widowed mother, especially if you are married.  It will hardly every work.  I do have to admit, though, that living arrangement worked to our extreme benefit because it happened to be at a horrible, difficult time in our lives.  To not worry about paying rent consistently was a huge blessing for us.

Anyway, the point of all of that rambling is this: I haven’t lived in a house since I was 20 years old, the house in which I grew up.  All of these apartments have been an experience, but none of them have ever truly felt like ‘home.’  So, this time around, since I know we are planted in this apartment until we leave Florida, or until the complex owners sell to another company that cancels our lease.  We have no room to move around because we are, quite frankly, surrounded by nineteen years of stuff.  Having the furniture and tchotchkes to fill a three bedroom home stuffed into a 900 sq ft apartment makes for decor challenges.  The kitchen has no formal pantry, so I’m using some cabinet space (It’s a good thing I never registered for a china set, because I’d have no place to put it!) for the stock of staples that grows seemingly endlessly. The rest has overflowed into an old computer desk we no longer use for its designated purpose.  We’ve had that sitting just outside the kitchen entrance for as long as we’ve been here (just over a year) and finally I got tired of looking at the mess of stuff just crammed into the desk.  I mean, yes, it serves a good purpose but it was getting to be an eyesore.

About two months ago, on a shopping trip to Walmart I was looking for a set of sheets for our bed to replace a bottom sheet that had worn a hole in one side.  The set I picked out was a pretty turquoise color, but the fabric was microfiber.  I wondered, living in Florida, if the fabric would be able to breathe and keep us cool at night.  The answer to that question, by the way, is a resounding NO.  Those sheets were miserable.  Can’t move around on them, they trap body heat as if they were aluminum foil, and you’re a potato in an oven.  But the pillowcases were never intended for use on our bed.  For one, they were for a king sized pillow.  I don’t think I’ve ever owned a king pillow.  A body pillow, yes.  King pillow?  Not so much. And I had  been talking to hubby about getting or making a curtain for the front of the computer desk turned makeshift pantry, to hide the clutter (oh, who am I kidding?  It’s a complete disaster.  If it wasn’t I wouldn’t need a curtain to hide it, am I right???)  Looking at the pillowcases that matched that horrible excuse for bedding, I got the idea to turn them into the curtains.  And so, my first “upcycling” project began.

I don’t have any photos of the process because I didn’t think as I was starting out, “Gee, this would make a neat blog post!” But the transformation from pillowcases to curtains was fairly simple.  First, I measured the opening I was going to cover.  I only did a measurement from top to bottom, since I knew I would be using both cases to make the curtain.  The space was 26″ high, so at least I had a starting point.  One of the nice things about these particular pillowcases was that a neat hem already existed.  Some fancier pillowcases are trimmed with some kind of piping or lace, but since these were Walmart specials, they had no such adornment.  This made them ideal for my project!  One less stitch to worry about, right?

The first order of business was to remove the stitches from the sides and end of the case.  On the first one, I did it the hard way and removed every single stitch using a seam ripper.  By the time I got to the second case, I just trimmed the edges off at the stitching.  Much easier, and I didn’t have to fuss with the extra threads that the seam ripper left behind.That, of course, meant that one curtain was slightly wider than the other.  Since I’m the only one who knows that (well, not anymore,) it doesn’t matter.  Next, I finished the raw edges of the panel by folding 1/4″ over, and then 1/2″ as a seam allowance on all sides, except the top since that was eventually going to be trimmed off anyway.  The fabric on the pillowcases was so easy to work with, and a steam iron easily pressed the all of the folds into place.  All I did from there was pin the seams and stitch.

Next was the crucial measuring step.  I took my tape measure and marked my desired length, in this case 26 inches, in about 2 inch intervals along the width of the panel.  That was where I wanted to make a fold, so I pressed a crease on the fabric with Mom’s trusty old steam iron.  I knew I wanted to make a ruffle at the top of the curtain, and a rod pocket for a tension rod.  So, I marked 2 inches from the top (the fold) for the ruffle, another 2 inches for the rod pocket, and 1 inch more for the seam allowance.  At the bottom of the one inch line was the cut line. So, at the raw edge, I folded a ½ inch over and ironed, and another ½ inch to the bottom of the next time, where the rod pocket would be formed.  You can see in the photo below:


Sewing the bottom of the rod pocket, catching the seam allowance in the stitch.

From there, once everything was marked and pinned, it was just a matter of stitching. One last press from the iron, and voila!  A set of pillowcases turned curtains!  And they look so much better than all that clutter.  See for yourself! (Don’t mind the stuff around the desk… that area is my kitchen/laundry space.  With a little apartment, some areas serve a double duty.)

And so there you have it.  And please pardon my horrid photography.  Some day I’ll get better at it.  Practice makes perfect!

We have some busy weeks coming up, but I’ll try to keep you updated as the holidays quickly approach!  Thanks for reading!