The Most Expensive Curtain Ever


mascaras de pelea fabric by alexander henryLucha libre curtainsLast year we completely renovated our son’s bedroom – it’s the room with the blue-tiled hearth I use as a backdrop in some photo-shoots.   However, I never got round to making curtains for its semi-circular bay window.  My son insists he doesn’t need curtains as he likes to lie in bed looking at the sky and the plane trees in the distance and yes, I take his point, but what about the electricity cable and the streetlights…?  As we had a very important visitor coming to stay in that room, the impending arrival gave me the kick to make the room a bit more homelike.

Firstly, the newly plastered ceiling needed a curtain track affixed to it.  In order to save the £230 track-fitting fee, we did the job ourselves.  It was horrible, fiddly work with much planning and marking and it blew all the daytime hours of Damon’s entire weekend and some of mine too.  It was the first time I had to make sense of tiny diagrams in the instructions by using a magnifying glass.  Shame on you, Swish 👿  Cutting curtain lengths on floorboardsNext, while Damon moved to the task of renovating the bathroom only to unearth plumbing horrors, I set about estimating the fabric amount required and ordering samples.  The curved window, typical of British 1930s’ suburban houses, was wider than it looked: 4 metres.  This meant the required width of the curtain would be between 6 and 8 metres.  Taking into account the pattern repeat and the  ‘drop,’ I’d need about 16 metres.  I wanted cheerful fabric rather than something grown-up so I opted for quilting cotton (which comes with a tremendous choice of colours and patterns).  At £12 a metre from Frumble, a bolt of 16 metres cost £192.  Which isn’t why this is the most expensive curtain ever.

mascaras de pelea fabric curtains alexander henryThe lining fabric came from the local curtain supplies store.  It’s crisp, white and since it’s cotton-rich, I hope it won’t be prone to mould spots come winter and condensation on the glass.  The lining and 10 curtains weights came to another £70.  Which isn’t why this is the most expensive curtain ever….

mascaras de pelea curtain makingCurtain-making isn’t my forte.  All that I know – which, apparently, is called the ‘bag-method’ – I learnt from Readers Digest Complete Guide to DIY.  The fact that my work will undoubtedly be subject to scrutiny makes it all the more nerve-racking.  But it’s dynamic work too.  The cutting up of the panels, the measuring and the marking  required so much getting down to the floor and up again that after three days I felt like I’d been to a yoga retreat!  There’s something rewarding too in all that flat geometry.  I love the point at which the lining and fabric are turned right side out and the side edges get a hot press: the lovely smell of steamy, printed poplin.  And hand-hemming more than 6 metres, though time consuming, really means you’re quite quick and neat by the end.

mascarasI did run into big trouble getting my panels to match up, both horizontally and vertically.  Unlike during the previous curtain-making occasion, my walking foot (even feed foot) simply wasn’t up to the job.  Something was wrong.  Normally, I’d slow right down, sewing centimetre by centimetre and checking for accuracy but there just wasn’t time… we had a very important visitor coming… So I kept going, sometimes with luck on my side, often not, but a passable effort.  If anyone points out the misalignments such as these, I’ll wrestle them to the floor I think.

NicoThe curtains were finished the evening before our important visitor arrived… which meant that a strapping 16-year-old exchange student from Munich (to the right of the picture) got to sleep soundly underneath the most barmy curtain he’ll see in his whole life, probably.   It was when the excitement was over that I realized the machine’s stitches weren’t forming properly.  I’ve taken Elna in for a repair which will cost £150.  Which still isn’t why this is the most expensive curtain ever…

No.  You see, my son wasn’t sure if he liked this choice of fabric quite as much as he liked Star Wars: Imperial Storm Trooper .  But I couldn’t bear those dull colours.  So, in order to sway his decision I said “If you choose Mascaras de Pelea, I’ll take you and the whole family on a holiday tour of Mexico!”

🙄   Anyways…

nacho libre


21 thoughts on “The Most Expensive Curtain Ever

  1. Sounds like a complete nightmare. And a bay window too! I hate making curtains – all those metres and metres of fabric scare me – and now I live in France I don’t have to because we have shutters hooray!
    Good job though. If you find anybody checking on your matching skills you should dispose of them in as painful a manner possible.
    Is that really a 16 year old on the end there? He really is a strapping lad – unless you and your family are height challenged yourselves.

    • 🙂 Well I am vertically challenged but even so the boy’s tall (it didn’t pass unmentioned by all and sundry)

  2. How I sympathise with you in making those curtains. Before starting any, I am always of the illusion that they are easy and begrudge paying out to have them made for me. Nothing could be further from the truth. They are hard work. Last time we needed new curtains, my husband convinced me to have them made. A wise decision in my case. Still, yours turned out great – but VERY expensive!

    • Ain’t that the whole truth: the work is worth every penny charged. I did have a neighbour ask if instead of a professional she could get me to run her up something but I mentioned a few hundred pounds and she decided to stick to the curtains she’s got!

  3. Nice curtains! So cheerful and bright, but eye watering price. I’ve lived the DIY curtain track saga a few times and sympathise – why don’t they make the instructions legible?

  4. I love them.
    The tallest exchange student ever? Forget the curtains, did the poor lad have an actual bed that fitted?

    • Ah, o, the bed (airbed) didn’t quite fit but the poor lad seemed used to that!

      On the first evening, the cat tried to claim a corner for himself so as to be friendly and share with the special visitor but we all firmly shook ours heads Nooo and he jumped off.

  5. Ha ha ha. Great story. Amazing curtains. I would never had spent that much on curtains never mind the holiday, but as you say they are completely sensational and unique. And the matching and hand hemming – you are a star.

    Also I think I used to live in your house, or its twin. It had pink floor tiles in the bedroom and a big bay window like that.

    • It’s miles and miles of identical 1930s suburban sprawl here. But the houses that haven’t been ‘ruined’ are lovely.

  6. So funny! And lovely job on the curtains, too. It’s funny – when I first saw them it brought to mind the Star Wars curtains my brother had when we were kids. 🙂 I think I’m too lazy to ever make curtains. I am trying to imagine finding the motivation to do it and I don’t think can, in spite of the fact that my home is desperately in need of some nicer décor. I think I would gladly pay someone a lot of money to do it for me.

  7. Lovely curtains. Am intrigued by your bag method. The problem I always find with curtains is finding the space to cut them out accurately. Fortunately my friend has a huge table-tennis table which is perfect.

    Am looking forward to the post holiday photos!

    • Ah yes, it might take me some time to save up for that Mexico trip….

      A table tennis sounds ideal, especially if your back isn’t up to this sort of thing. I have to say the floorboards made it much easier than the last time when I had carpet. I think the ‘bag’ method just means the sides are stitched together by machine and the whole thing turned right side out.

  8. Oy. You know “I don’t do windows”? This is why. It’s an entirely different set of skills for trained, slightly insane professionals (my friend’s mother for example). Lucky for you, those gathers are going to eat up those slight mismatches, and with all those luchadores, viewers will be HYPnotized and spellbound, unable to move.
    I content myself with taking curtains apart for yardage for costumes.

    • Yes, curtain fabric can be lovely. I was at my brother’s new apartment last week and found myself fingering the curtains that ‘came with’ the new home. ‘Are you going to keep these?’ I found myself saying, like a right vulture.

  9. Believe me, the ‘threat-bribe/threat-bribe’ method of raising children and keeping the peace continues well into late adolescence! Just saying….

    Fab curtains! Happy, colourful and impeccably sewn.

  10. Love the curtains although I can understand your son enjoying watching the sky & trees from the window – it’s how I while away too many hours! I think we have the same windows and I have made the curtains for them so I understand your pain!

    • Hmm, sounds like I should keep those curtains closed… I think he whiles away many hours like that too! Great to hear from you 🙂

  11. What on earth do they feed their kids in Germany? I once made 2 tiny cafe curtains using linen and a wing needle. Damn those things have to be straight, so well done on yours – how’s your back?!
    I stick to blinds, they give a bit of privacy, they go away to see the views and I can’t make them!

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