Thursday, February 7, 2013


Ruthy here!

My new/old spare room needed spritzing. Okay, wait, it needed way more than that, but I don't want to scare anyone right off.

This is the room that was filled with spiders and webs when lawyer boy came home in early November for Grandpa's funeral...

Clearly I needed to make a few changes.  :)

So I stripped off the old wallpaper. Patched. Sanded. Patched some more. Painted the ceiling. Then again. Taped the wood trim... then painted the walls (after I got all that stinkin' glue off.... Oh my stars...)

I wanted the beautiful oak moldings to become the highlight of the room. They were covered with acres of sheer curtains... And when I say acres, I'm not exaggerating hardly at all.

Maybe a smidge.

But look, here is the hardware on the various appendages of ONE WINDOW:

I wanted to go lace.... Missy loves lace, bein' Southern 'n' all, the Tex thinks lace is gracious and airy, and in Texas these are highly respected things, Jan is a home-maker of amazing skills so she was totally on board with lace, and the Fresh Pioneer said that she's fond of all things dainty and delicate and fragile and being the mother of boys has made her more so.



There are not a lot of pretty lace curtains around these days.

Dilemma 2:

There is not a lot of lace curtain material to be found, even!!! (at JoAnn's they told me they hadn't carried it in years... so sad!)

So I lamented on Facebook   ;)

And got great replies and people searched the World Wide Web invented by that politician guy (soft sigh emitted) and then Kathy Brossoit of Arizona reminded me how much cheaper it would be to make them.....

A HUGE LIGHT BULB LIT UP IN MY HEAD!!! I loved the old curtains, but they covered up the pretty wood molding... So, Einstein, cut down the old curtains to fit the inner windows!!!!

Could it be done?  :)  Look and see:

 Here is the original 84" lace curtain.... Each window had two of these.... HUGE. (I was going through a dramatic lace phase, I guess. I do tend toward drama....) 

 Here's the valance.... so this was the EASY part, I flipped the curtain and cut off the valance, leaving about 3/4 inch of edge on the valance.

 Now I run it upstairs to SEE IF IT LOOKS STUPID!!!  I stole a tension rod from my window downstairs to test it out.... I hang the valance. Climb down. Step way back.

Okay. Now I can brave making the single panel.... but I have to measure first, figure out if I can fit two 
S-K-I-N-N-Y tension rods near each other... Old-fashioned deep windows... so yes, I can!

 I whack off 24 inches of the plain sheer top of the original curtain. (Most of this was under the valance)
Now I've got the cut work and 6 1/2 inches of plain sheer. Luckily the bottom of the curtain is scalloped and finished, so I don't have to hem anything. All I need is a rod pocket at the top and a gathered edge above it.


 Trusty sewing kit...

 Very low-end model Kenmore sewing machine. I've had lots of machines over the years, but this is all I need now. Simple machine for simple needs. I've taught kids to sew on this (I stole it from Mandy, but she wasn't using it. Silly Mandy) We've made curtains, pillows and quilts.... 

I turned about a 1/4 inch under and stitched it to lock in the raw edge. Then I folded the 6 inches in half.  A few pins to lock this bad boy in place!
 Then I stitched the "folded edge" (just above the lacework) in a straight (mostly) line. I mean come on, who's going to notice when it's at the top of a window, gathered on a tension rod and under a valance?????

Then I ran a seam down the middle of the "fold"   That gave me a pocket for the rod... and a "gathered" top edge above the rod.

I love gathered edges. 

I'm very poetic that way.

So this pic came out dark. I took it SEVERAL TIMES and the camera kept making some silly adjustment.



But you can see how nice the single panel looks between the moldings, right????

 Here's a shot of the panel alone....
The crib is where one of my sweet babies sleeps at nap time....
What a nice room to wake up in, right????

 Ah, now you can see the crib!  :)  And the curtain with the valance. And the wardrobe my sister-in-law Bev gave me a long time ago because her house isn't friendly toward antiques. 

 And here's the view of the bed and one of the side windows.... How stinkin' sweet does that look? And these curtains cost me nothing but two hours of time to cut them down. And I still have three additional panels to use for something else. And the sheer strips I cut off will be used to dress Christmas angels or the Virgin Mary for a live Nativity... Nothing is wasted!  :)

Oh, here's the dark window. I don't know why it wouldn't take a good pic before, but that fun dresser in front? Found that on the roadside years ago. It was a fold down desk and I took off the broken fold down...  I finished the oak-veneer fronts in golden oak and painted the outside ivory and the inside teal green... then have a rose-trim around the top and between the drawers. Again: free... :)

I'm teaching my older girls at daycare how to paint things now. They're learning to sew... paint.... decorate... and bake, of course!  :)

Livin' on a dime has some very worthwhile advantages!

Huge thank yous to all of you who gave me ideas and websites! 

And now a cup of tea is in order.

Tea, anyone?


  1. Jenny, thank you! If you'd seen the room before.... LOL, this is a huge transformation. And the spiders are gone!!!! My son will be so happy.

    1. Oh the poor spiders they will be so disappointed.
      Hey does that mean you have a guest bedroom now?

  2. Ruthy, this remind me of my kitchen windows.

    We live in a brownstone so you know what that means - the windows are like 6 feet tall!!!

    Lovely for letting the sun in, not as much for finding curtains that look right.

    I had been wanting white lacy curtains for those windows forever it seems - but I haven't found them yet. (I did settle for a lacy valance I found at BB&B), but this one particular Christmas I just wanted Christmas curtains. I had this old Christmas fabric - bright red cardinals, golden horns, holly - pretty and very bright.

    Originally it had been skirts I made for my girls when they were toddlers. When I decided to make curtains, I simply took out the elastic, opened the seam and VOILA - curtains.

    I didn't even go for the rod - I took twine and threaded it through and then attached that to the brackets for the shade.
    I then found some old sheers I had tucked away and put them underneath. A little gold Christmas ribbon (that had come on some package) to tie back the sheers and I had such a Christmasy room! Since the sheers were a very faint green, the whole room had a Christmasy glow.

    1. Mary, what a wonderful idea! Oh my stars, I can just see this whole effect in your room! LOVE IT!!!!

      Christmas and whimsy, all in one. And that you just suspended them. I love that, too!

    2. Mary! 6 foot windows???? I bet that's beautiful when it starts to snow!!

    3. Hah, Mary, that's so true!!!! Prepare for whatever and laugh at what comes!

  3. What a perfect post for Frugal February.

    I envy your windows and your wardrobe. Um, and the chair, and the dresser. I inherited antiques from my parents but I also learned about refinishing from them. I have a bucket bench that my dad picked up for $5 and it is gorgeous.

    And who knew one day found and dusted up items would be called "up-cycled" to make it cool?

    BTW, what is the circa of your house? Is it considered ill mannered to ask a house its age? You just don't see woodworking like that any more!

    Peace, Julie

    1. Ah, Julie, this house has seen so much! If walls could talk.... It's 158 years old, it was built in 1854 by the McKinney family (I use their name in the Kirkwood Lake series, and the McKinney family still lives in the neighboring town) and the original settlers here were the first signers to the anti-slavery movement proclamation. There was an underground railroad station a couple of farms down on my road and Harriet Tubman road through our town on her quiet trips from the South to Canada... Great history, right?

    2. Lol, Julie! I love the idea of asking a house its age being indelicate. Perhaps in an old put-together ranch like ours, but surely Ruthy's can own its age with pride!

      158!!!!!!! Love it!!!!

    3. P.S. Out here, there's not anything much older than a hundred. Ours is considered ancient at circa 1940.

      It would be so fun to live farther Easterly/Southerly where there is more history.

    4. Honey, you're making the history now! :) YOU ARE THE HISTORY! When I was researching for Kirkwood Lake, I gave them a bicentennial celebration as a backdrop to the series.... Most towns around here are now celebrating their bicentennials, and we were considered the "frontier" when these towns were settled. Isn't that amazing?

  4. I'll have tea. Thanks so much for asking. Do you have Constant Comment?

    Living well on limited budgets is the secret to remaining content, I think. We've always lived by the saying "use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without".

    Why buy new when you can "make do" beautifully with what you have?

  5. Jan, amen! The first time I heard that saying was in "Murphy's Romance" and that movie was so funny.... I fell in love with James Garner all over again!

    I'm so glad I saw the light before I spent money carelessly. And I'm delighted with the look. Just perfect for this sweet old house. And that woodwork is throughout the house... The two front bedrooms have windows in the closets.... REALLY< TRULY.

    And those windows have this beautiful trim, too.

    There's a blessing for you!

    1. Sigh. I've always wanted a window in my closet.

      Maybe I can stick a window in my closet in this house.....

      No. There's dreaming, and then there's reality.

      Although we have talked about putting a deck on that side of the house with a door off our bedroom...a view of the prairie hills in the morning...the horses and cattle grazing...the deer romping through the creek bed behind the house...

    2. A window in my closet.... You know what I would do with that? Put in a wardrobe and then turn that into a booknook, reading room. Wow. Awesome!!

    3. See, that would work! I could make it a reading "nook".... and use my NOOK! There's an electrical box, so why not? And a light.... :) Ruthy's Book Nook. Very Seussical!


    I love pretty things. yes, I do!!!

    I've always been a lover of pretty things, but as the income went down, I grew up, and had a bunch of kids, the incidence of 'pretty' has come more and more rarely.

    Well, I should say, this was the days before Pinterest (and Ruthy's do-it-yourself lace curtain tips). And summer. Definitely before summer, we have a lack of pretty around here.

    Living in the French countryside I got spoiled with pretty. And then the years during college study and traveling when I could buy all the pretty I wanted.

    Now, the perfect pairing of lace and woodwork, of cream walls and antique armoire, of quilt and crib, of snowy backdrop and gentle rocking chair... It makes my heart happy. In a world of mess an ugly, we need those reminders!!

    Thanks so much for the peek, Ruthy! I think my blood pressure went down, just looking at that darling room.

    1. Let me remind you of the prior residents, the entire Arachnidae Familia of the Northeastern U.S. had conjugal relations in that room.... At least it seemed to be a den of spiderly activity.

      SO MUCH NICER NOW! :) I'm going to pretend it was always this way.

  7. What a great idea, Ruthy! I love the new look!!

    Wow, I can't believe you had 2 84 inch curtains on each window!! I totally cracked up about your drama comment. :)

    1. Missy, it had to be true, right???? The former owner had big, fluffy gorgeous sheers when we moved in.

      Six children destroyed them QUICKLY.

      So when I re-did the room, there were these squares of wood they'd installed outside the moldings.... so the curtains were about six inches wider on both sides.... So I did the original curtains to look "FULL TO THE EXCESS!!!" and used those rods....

      This is so much prettier!!!

      What can I say. I live and learn.

      Why did I hide all that pretty wood for 24 years???? (on the plus side, if it had been exposed to 6 raucous children, it might not be pretty now.... A blessing in disguise, mayhap????) I'm so glad you like them, Southern Belles have such a stinkin' good eye for beauty. Very Margaret Mitchell!

  8. How we learn so much from you, Ruthy - you clearly teach us all so much!!!! XO

    1. Well, as long as I don't show you all my mistakes... which are too numerous to mention!!! :)

      It's so much fun to share ideas and thoughts.... Sometimes the littlest thing will spark a new idea, or a better way to do something.

      And of course, then we'll put it in a book, LOL!