Posted in sewing

Semi-Custom Curtains: IKEA ANNAKAJSA Hack

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Maybe my blog is just for IKEA hacks now? Heh. In our new home of nine months (six months when I finally decided I had to get some bedroom curtains), we have no curtains. I grew up in a VERY Caribbean house where curtains were the first thing that went up over many military moves. I remember buying lace with my mom when we lived in Germany and my grandmother sewing those into curtains for our home when we moved back to the States. In my first house (how funny that is to say after 15 years in said house) my mom hung curtains on almost every window my first night there.

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Above, the day we settled on our new home.

So, it was a surprise to me I went six months in our new home without them. We are lucky enough that there are blinds of some sort on almost all the windows, but I am an incredibly light sleeper and need room darkening curtains or blackout shades to sleep past the crack of down (also a dead silent room but have given up on that since getting married).

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Bedroom before we got furniture, lol

There’s definitely been a downturn in window covering interest the last decade or so. Partly the Scandinavian / MCM popularity. But, I also think because curtains are expensive. At least good ones are. I wanted something blackout, heavy, lined and a natural fiber. I gave up on the natural fiber when I started calculating the cost for curtains 244″ wide and 99″ long!

After reading this article in The Wirecutter, I decided to go the IKEA route. The IKEA curtains were just about the length I needed, already have a form of stiffener sewn in at the top and come hemmed. From IKEA, I could buy three packs of ANNAKAJSA two-panel curtains  (on sale for $60 a pack) to get the amount of fabric I needed for a fraction of the cost to buy SIXTEEN YARDS OF FABRIC, plus lining and make new. Besides, at 98″ long, I wouldn’t even need to hem them! In comparison, Pottery Barn had similar curtains for $74 PER PANEL. So, I spent half at IKEA in the end.

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I didn’t want them to look like IKEA curtains from a first apartment, so first I upgraded them with a tuxedo stripe grosgrain ribbon and weights at the bottom hem so they wouldn’t flare out.

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I read on Em Henderson’s blog to at least double the width of your windows in curtain fabric. So, I sewed three panels together and used the ‘drapery pleat calculator’ to help me figure out how big to make my pleats and spaces. I can’t do math. I hate to say that because it’s so “Math is HARD”. But, math is hard for me. My brain doesn’t work like that so I welcome the internet calculator to do the work for me.

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After sewing together the panels and my pleats, I made a ‘Euro Pleat’ at the top and tacked them in place and got them hung.

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I did ‘train’ the curtains for about a week and steamed the folds into place (no photo). But, found the top pleats weren’t as smooth as I wanted because the stiffener wasn’t AS stiff as custom curtains.

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So, following a tip from the internet google search, I clipped them, steamed, and let them sit a few days.

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Much better below.

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If I were to do something differently, I’d not trust the IKEA measurements and measure myself. They were both longer and slightly wider than the package said. When first finished, they were dragging on the floor.  I’d also plan a much bigger ‘set back’ (that’s probably not the right word, I don’t remember it) for the curtains when open. I could have put the ends of the traverse rod about 20 inches past the end of the window vs 12.

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Because of the curtain length being a little bit too long despite careful measuring (seriously, measure your IKEA curtains, I didn’t) I switched to longer drapery hooks that lifted them off the floor about an inch. You can compare how they look on the traverse rod below.

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Obviously, you don’t need to be Team Extra with your curtains. I really wanted the height, fabric density and thick pleats. I also plan to live with these for the next ten years. I do wish there were lighter / brighter color fabric options. They do match our fabric covered headboard and when we get around to painting our bedroom the grey-blue I have in mind, I think these will work well. I eventually plan on installing roman shades too which can have a print and some color.

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There are multiple ways you can install your IKEA curtains, including drapery hooks that will make a kind of pleat, but I really wanted a Two Finger Euro Pleat (well, I really wanted box pleat curtains but those are better for stationary drapes and I need mine to open and close). The staff at G Street told me to just shake or vaccum drapes once a week to prevent dust from setting in.  But, if I ever wash these, I didn’t want to sit down and have to attach all the hooks. I also wanted this specific pleat which those hooks don’t do

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I love how they look. They make the windows look enormous and the ceiling super high. Best of all, I can sleep in on the weekends and not wake up with the garbage truck on weekdays. It’s a funny thing to say, but I think my mom would be really proud of me. And ask me when I’m getting curtains for the rest of the house 😆.

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And if you’re curious, yes! We eventually got bedroom furniture. The dresser and nightstands are vintage (John Widdicomb) with a gorgeous burled wood front.  I found the dresser locally and purchased. I then googled it and found this lovely set up from a fancy local interior designer. I’m taking that as a validation of my taste, because Jordan was NOT sold when I showed him the dusty photos, lol. I am REALLY into Campaign / Hollywood Regency as of late — and he just is not. We still need a rug to center the room and some paint. But, after months of living out of paper boxes, this feels luxurious.

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