4.13.2015

Burlap Window Shades

Last week I made some new burlap window coverings for the master bathroom.

I made three stationary panels from upholstery grade burlap. It was around $2.75 a yard for a 40" wide bolt, which I bought at Discount Fabrics in the city. I changed out what I had in here for a couple of reasons. 

The first was that, and this is going to sound crazy, the brightness of the sun from those windows was really unforgiving and unflattering. Yes, I changed those curtains because of vanity! This bathroom faces south and gets a ton of natural daylight but the light hits you on the side of the face when looking in the mirror which always made me look, well, kind of haggard. It just seemed like a good idea to get some more flattering light in there so I could obliviously think I looked great.  :/ 

Secondly, those curtains were also (like me, ha ha) looking a little tired. They were made of a very thin muslin that had torn in a few places and also recently got a little blue marker on them (who even knows how this is possible). These curtains had also shrunk so much from washing that they didn't even fit the windows anymore. 

Lastly, I was so enamored by these panels from Commune Design's Elsinore Street project that I just had to reproduce that look. 


My bathroom is a fishbowl -the houses behind me on the hill would have a full show without something covering the windows. However, I like for the curtains there to have some transparency because some sun is good and I like to be able to see the sky and some of the shadows from outside.

It seemed like the transparency of the burlap would be perfect for the aforementioned goals plus the color and texture of the fabric would give the bathroom visual warmth.

The weave is very open in this burlap so instead of a zigzag stitch on the edge to prevent fraying, I used a fairly tight straight stitch and I used a 1" seam instead of a standard 1/2".

First I sewed the sides and then the top. I then hung each panel and pinned it to the correct length, then finished the bottom.

I sewed in a small sleeve at the bottom hem for a 3/8" wooden dowel to give it a little bit of additional weight and stiffness so that it hangs well both when it is pinned back and hanging straight. I hand stitched the brass ring which will be used to hold back the panel.

I haven't yet installed the accompanying hook for the ring as I couldn't find a nice enough one at my local hardware store. In these pictures, I've just literally pinned it back. I plan to visit Hundley Hardware hopefully next week to find the perfect hook. I'll post that when it happens.

One last note, this project was very difficult to photograph, with the burlap appearing more gray than tan in these photos. The photo that is truest to the burlap's actual color is the close up shot of the brass ring. 

All in all I am very happy with this project; this room still has plenty of light and boy am I looking better...

Post Update:

Here are some updated photos of the hardware that I installed over the weekend. 

I went with a simple brass cleat that the ring from the shade easily hooks over.

During my years in antique restoration and furniture making,  I learned that to make hardware look especially polished, align the screw slots.


Alternately, I am into the loose, casual quality of the way that the shade hangs when hooked back (although mostly I keep the shades down ). I attached a cleat on each side of the middle window for symmetry, which also allows a couple different figurations for tying back.

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