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6 Tips for Creating Window Treatments

August 31st, 2006

Creating your own window treatments can be very rewarding, but also a little intimidating even for people with sewing experience.  Every project should start with a plan so here are some points to consider when attempting to create your own window treatments:

1.)  Evaluate Your Space

Think you know the perfect window treatment for your project?  Don’t be surprised to find obstructions or challenges to slow you down.  Light fixtures, molding, thermastats, or art work cannot always be moved.  Low or high ceilings can be challenging.  So pay attention to the immediate wall space and ceiling where the window is located. If the window swings inward or has a hand crank, your design options will be affected. If the treatment is going on a door you will need check for potential problems when the door is opened. Does the window embrace a magnificent garden or lake view?  Or perhaps you find yourself looking directly into the neighbor’s bedroom or your neighbor looking into yours!  Window treatments can work wonders to hide or emphasize your view.  Other things to consider:  sun control, privacy, kids, pets.

2.)  Identify Installation Challenges

Don’t wait until you are all done with your window treatment to start thinking about how you are going to install it.  If you are not familiar with installing window treatments, grab a friend, carpenter, or your husband/significant other to help you.  Locating the wall studs and determining if there are any installation challenges up front will save you disappointment and headaches later. 

3.)  Gather Information

You don’t have to be a trained designer to think like one.  Designers gather all sorts of information about their client early on in the process so that they can design for their client’s personal style.  Get a head start in understanding your personal style and design choices.  Here are some things to consider:  1.) How does the room function?  2.) Who uses the room?  3.) Do the treatments need to be stationary or functional?  4.) Formal or informal?  5.) What’s your color scheme?  Use sources of inspiration if you plan to re-paint.  6.) Sources of inspiration can be a starting point.  Heirlooms, pillows, treasured items from travels, nature, hobbies.  Your personality should show!  7.) Collect pictures from magazines to get a sense of your style and what you like.   Make a list of what you don’t like.  8.) Great design element or design flaw?  Some rooms/homes were designed by individuals who don’t know anything about window treatments!  Window treatments can camouflage problems or emphasize great details.  9.) What’s the focal point of the room?  There should only be 1 focal point.  Window Treatments make a wonderful focal point for rooms that lack interest.  10.) What’s the mood I want to achieve?  All of the room’s elements including the window treatments will evoke an emotional response.  Figure out the feeling – romantic, whimsical, relaxed, cheerful – and making your choices will be easier.

4.)  Narrow Your Choices

Okay, so now you’ve got some ideas about what will work and what won’t work for your space.  Now it’s time for the hard part – making some decisions.  With so many choices today, making a final choice can be difficult but if you followed the steps outlined, at least you can narrow your choices for design and fabric to 3-5. Your final design should fit all of your criteria from the information you’ve gathered.  Remember the feeling you want to create.  Which of your final selections strikes that emotional response the best?  If possible, purchase a half to a full yard of your fabric choices and view them at different times during the day and evening.  Like paint, fabric colors will look different under different lighting conditions, so take your time.

5.)  Plan Your Project

There is no doubt about it, you will spend more time planning than sewing.  With final decisions made, take measurements.  It is important to take accurate measurements.  Outside mounted treatments can accommodate measuring mistakes better than inside mounted ones.  Choose the right fabric for your project.  For example, don’t choose a stiff fabric for swags which require fabric with drape.  Consider if the fabric design will get lost in the folds of your treatment.  Very small patterns can look great up close, but can look muted from a distance. If your fabric has a design repeat, decide design placement and plan on enough yardage.  Check your pattern or resource books on how and where to measure, calculating yardage, and for more information about fabrics. It’s a good idea to sketch out your yardage layout.  Miscalculations can result in not enough fabric or too much fabric, both money wasters.  By sketching out your yardage layout, you can not only be assured that you’ve anticipated problems, but you can sometimes save on yardage by doing this.

6.)  Find the Best Methods for Fabricating Your Window Treatment

If possible, check your fabric for flaws before you purchase it or at least before you cut!  Put a piece of blue painters tape on them and then determine how you can work around them.  If too many flaws, return the fabric.  Research how-to books and other resources for the best fabrication methods.  If you are an experienced sewer, you’ve undoubtedly collected several tips and techniques that work well for most situations.  Finally, cut, sew, and install.  Congratulations!  You’ve just created the perfect (?) window treatment!  Of course, there is no such thing as perfect.  Don’t hesitate to rip things out and start over, but only to a point.  Unless it is very obvious to the eye, chances are most people will never notice your mistake.  Remember, mistakes are opportunities to find creative ways to correct them.

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