Sunday, August 5, 2012

Red Silk Balloon Shades

There's just something about poof-y swags of silk --especially red silk-- that I have always admired.  I just love how the light changes within the opulent folds of the fabric.  And since I thought that my Music Room screamed for another touch of red,  it seemed a natural choice.

Besides, I read in World of Interiors that Britain's Prince Charles had navy-blue silk balloon shades recently installed in one of his Palladian country houses (and what's good enough for His Royal Highness is certainly good enough for the likes of me)!

This style of curtain looks fussy and complicated to make, but nothing could be further from the truth.  It's really only a hemmed rectangle of fabric with a curtain rod pocket at the top.  The poofs are formed by simple gathering in rows.  Here's how I did it:

Step 1.  Determine the size of your pattern by measuring the width of your window and multiply by three.  In my case the window was three inches wide x three = nine inches.  Add a half inch for hems for a total of nine and a half inches.

The length of your shade is simply the measurement from the top of your window to the sill, plus one inch for rod pocket and hem.  Are you still with me?

Step 2.  After cutting out your fabric, use a product such as Fray Check around all four edges to lock the threads in place.

(You might want to test the Fray Check on a scrap of your curtain fabric first.  On my red silk, the Fray Check turned the fabric very dark, but most of that discoloration disappeared once it dried).

Step 3.  Once the Fray Check has dried a little, carefully clip the raw edges of your curtain panel 1/8 -1/16th of an inch all around.

Now your fabric edges should be locked in place, with no dangling threads. 

Step 4.  Press the two side seams down 1/8th of an inch or so.  The iron will help the Fray Check dry completely.  Press the top and bottom 1/8th inch over as well.  Finally, Press the top of your panel an additional 1/2 inch to form the rod pocket.

Here's how it will look (above) and (below):

Step 5.  Now it's time to sew!  (No Pretty Pleater required). Start with the two 'sides' of the panels and be sure to set your machine with a very small stitch. 

TIP:  I found some thread that is much 'thinner' than normal and I thought this would help reduce the 'bulkiness.'  It worked like a charm!

Once the sides are stitched down, proceed with the hem, and then sew closely along the rod pocket seam.  Finally, top-stitch 1/8-1/4 inch along the top of the panel --this will make a nice, neat pocket for your curtain rod.

Step 6.  Set your machine on a large, 'basting stitch' setting and sew along the two sides from the bottom of the rod pocket, down to the hem. Leave a long, length of thread at the bottom and do not knot it.

Divide the panel into even quarters and stitch along those lines from the bottom of the rod pocket  to the hem.  Leave an un-knotted length of thread here too. (viewed in the photo, above, left).

Step 7.  Carefully pull the threads to form the gathers.  Work slowly so you don't break the basting stitch! 

(If you do, you can always go back and repeat Step 6).

This is what it will look like (left) at this point.  Almost finished! 

Step 8.  Adjust your gathers to the desired length and tie off the basting stiches.  Set your machine back to a small stitch setting and sew over the basting threads, locking the gathers in place.  You can now remove the basting stitches if they show too much.  Clip off any loose threads.

Step 9.  Slip your curtain rod through the pocket and adjust your poofs!  Be careful not to yank too hard or you risk breaking the gather stitches!

Step 10.  Hang your completed shade, make the final adjustments, and enjoy your work!

I would like to add some gold fringe to the bottom hem --does anyone know of a good source?

Start to finish time:  about fifteen minutes, per panel --sweet!  I don't know about you, but I'm going to celebrate my new balloon shades with a smart little, refreshing summer cocktail.  (Don't you love day-drinking on a lovely, summer's day)?  Have a great week, everyone!


Catherine said...[Reply]

WOW, WOW, WOW! Those are really pretty!!! Thank you for the tutorial. It is perfectly clear how you made them.

Your room is so lovely. I think the red was just the right color choice. Great work! ;-))

Elga said...[Reply]

John, I just love your shades, I like how it picks up on the red in your rug. Thanks for showing how you made them.

John said...[Reply]

Thanks, Elga & Catherine! They are kind of pretty, aren't they?

Pedrete said...[Reply]

Han quedado realmebte divinas, John!! Y el color es acertadísimo!! ¿Cómo vas a poner las tapicerías de las sillas? ¿Has pensado unas unos tapices imitando los gobelinos franceses? Creo que quedarían sensacionales!! Un besazo enorme y enhorabuena!!

jeffry said...[Reply]

Hi John,
They look great and are perfect for the diningroom. For the gold fringe you could use gold/yellow silk ribbon...prefer a wider one. Then cut of one of the sides(length!) and start pulling out some of the silk threads untill you think that the fringes are long enough...then you can glue them on the curtains after that make them slightly wet so they look more natural.
I hope it make sense.

John said...[Reply]

Thanks, Pedrete! I already ordered fabric from Susan Bembridge which matches the wallpaper, but your idea would be amazing, too --(f I knew how to do it)! I'm loving your costume history posts, my friend!

Gracias, Pedrete! Ya ordenó a la tela de Susan Bembridge que coincide con el fondo de pantalla, pero su idea sería increíble, también - (f sabía cómo hacerlo)! Soy amante de los mensajes de la historia del traje, amigo mío!

Gee said...[Reply]

The silk balloon shades give the room just that little extra and a finished look.
I love it when colors are repeated in a room.
The choice for balloon shapes works out great here.
Thanks for the tut, John!

John said...[Reply]

Thank you, Gee, I like to repeat colors, too and I made a ruched chain cover for the chandelier in the Drawing Room out of the same red silk. Hugs to you, too, my dear!

Jeffry! That is a fantastic idea and I should have thought of it, myself --Thanks much!!!

Pedrete said...[Reply]

¡Hola John! Tengo una amiga artesana, que te podría imprimir telas imitando tapices gobelinos para tapizar las sillas.

John said...[Reply]

Hi, Pedrete! That sounds very intriguing! Does your artist friend have a website? A big hug for all your kindness!

Hola, Pedrete! Eso suena muy interesante! ¿Su amiga artesana tiene un sitio web? Un fuerte abrazo para toda su bondad!

Ray W said...[Reply]

Hello John!
I am with Catherine....and everyone else.....WOW!
Your "Balloon Shades" look amazing and your tutorial brilliantly written! Congratulations on making them look so beleivable. Your Music Room is quite lovely!
Hope you and Glenn have had the glorious weather that we have had this weekend........78 degrees
Looking forward to more progress on your house.
Kind thoughts from your pal Ray!

Iris March said...[Reply]

those red silk balloon shades are just the perfect thing in the music room! Thanks for the "how-to" for making them. I think the gold trim would be a nice touch but I don't know where to buy it.

And yes, I love day-drinking on a lovely, summer's day, although you probably suspected that!

Cheers to that!

John said...[Reply]

Hi, Ray!

Thanks so much! It HAS been absolutely dreamy outdoors here, too! We're having a lovely time on the front porch and hope you and Scott are enjoying the fleeting summer as well.

John said...[Reply]

@ Iris:

Darling, we are kindred spirits on so many levels! Thanks for your comment and ching, ching!

miraclechicken said...[Reply]

Hi John,
Thanks for explaining how you made the curtains, what a perfect accent! Just gorgeous! Oh and I'd love to join you in that summer drink!

John said...[Reply]

Hi, MC!

If you ever find yourself up in Minneapolis, the cocktails are on me... Thanks for commenting!

Giac said...[Reply]

Hi John,
Sorry if I posted 2 comments, my computer's being a pratt!
Absolutely fantastic! First, your choice of fabric is wonderful! the color is beautiful and adds to the elegance of the room.
Secondly, great work! Youtr instructions were terrific and your finished piece is just perfect! The scale and the movement is just right.
Wonderful job my friend...Interior Illusions Lounge eat your heart out!
Big hug,

John said...[Reply]

"Honey Badger: please make your way to the Gold Bar, where a surprise awaits in your Big Pink Box!"

LOL! Nobody will know what that means,Giac, except you and me!

Thanks for commenting, darling!

Simon said...[Reply]

Hey John
Sorry for the late comment.
The curtains are TDF! TDF DARLING!!
Thanks for the great demo, I now feel a little more comfortable trying it myself. The colour is bautiful andreally sets the room off.
I'm afraid I don't know of any suppliers re the gold fringing my dear.
Have a great too

Josje said...[Reply]

Oh wow, what a wonderful accent to your room! I love the deep red colour of the silk. It is so funny how we are in a similar colour scheme...I have a gorgeous raspberry silk for my room although I won't be using it for curtains but for some of the seating.

Wonderful tutorial, very easy to follow!

elvira said...[Reply]

Bellissima idea per fare le tende!!! Bello il colore che hai scelto ..mi piace tanto !!!

Fi.P said...[Reply]

Hello My lovely,

I am hopelessly behind so sorry for the late comment.

I must ask, is there any thing you can not do????
You have so many skills I cant keep up!! The fabric is divine and you always try things I would never think of and they look fabulous!

Great tutorial, I'm sure I will be referring back when I get to my curtains.

ML Fi xx

Anneke said...[Reply]

Can't believe I forgot to comment here when I read the post a few days ago... must be the summerholiday-feeling and indeed summer-day-wine-drinking making me lazy! ;)
The tutorial is great! I'm almost at that 'curtain making fase' for my schloss diningroom and I can use all the examples and inspiration I can get, so this is just perfect Thanks!!

And as always, I love your color combinations.

Andy said...[Reply]

Hi John, I think this tutorial may come in very useful soon, as I have plans for similar draperies in my Georgian bedroom (eventually!)

Your curtains look great and are the perfect colour for this room! I think there are small scale braids available if you have no luck finding a fringe. I hope mine end up looking as good as yours do!

Andy xxxxx

MiniLover said...[Reply]

John, you amaze me! They look fabulous, and the red is perfect. I have racked my brain for a source for fringe. When I remember it, I will let you know. And I will look at the show this weekend if you don't make it.


Carina said...[Reply]

Thanks u for the pics! As I've got to do curtains for my houses too,I'll know now how to do them.

Sionchi said...[Reply]

Qué bonitas cortinas, te han quedado preciosas. Gracias por la explicación. He estado deleitándome con todos tus trabajos del mes de agosto, y me han encantado, la sala de música es una maravilla con tantos detalles y cuadros, me encantan los cuadros. Te felicito por lo bonito que lo estás haciendo. Tu casa es una de m is preferidas. Besos y feliz mes de septiembre

Eliza said...[Reply]

Hi John,
Just wanted say thank you for posting this tutorial, and let you know that I just made a (very bastardized) version for my nursery! I've been terrified of making curtains for my house (putting it off for years), but seeing your beautiful curtains inspired me to try!

John said...[Reply]

Hi Eliza,

I'm so glad it worked out for you! You should try the Pretty Pleaater (teehee) next time --I think they are even easier to make :)