Before and after: time to replace the EZ shade still on the downstairs bathroom door with a shirred curtain!
It might seem odd to have a glass door on the powder room but I found 5 sets of salvage doors and used them to age the house. The one for the powder room still had the old brass curtain rods and brackets for curtains intact. I carefully removed the hardware then spent several weeks hand-scraping the paint. I purposely left it chippy and didn’t fill any of the old bracket holes since they would go back on. The side of the door facing into our hallway [top, left] is white with some old awning green showing through. Inside, the door is an odd, pale seafoam green [top, right].
To give the powder room privacy, I threw up an EZ shade and secured it to the top of the door with blue painter’s tape. Along the way, I found a lovely jacquard-stripe ivory cotton curtain fabric at a Scalamandre remnant sale but by the time I got around to making the curtain two weeks ago, I was horrified to realize that the EZ shade was 6 or 7 years old! Since we had only been using the house half the year, other pursuits had siphoned my attention.
First, I had to clean the rods and brackets which hadn’t been touched in decades.
I had no idea whether they would be usable until after I soaked them in Noxon metal cleaner. Then I began rubbing, and rubbing and rubbing and layers of tarnish gave way to brass-clad rods and brass brackets still dotted in some spots with old paint.
After the Noxon rub-down, the brackets, sleeves and screws got a mineral spirits soak to finish the cleaning.
The key to making a privacy curtain for a glass-pane door are the top and bottom rod pockets so it can be gathered, and held taut, across rods above and below the window. It only requires basic sewing skills and nothing fancy.
My door measures 79-inches high by 23-1/4-inches wide overall. The window area measured 66-1/2 inches high by 16-3/4-inches wide. My fabric was 53-inches wide (half is 26-1/2) so my finished curtain would be a generous double width.
The right/front side of the curtain is made to face into the powder room – the back visible through the glass. The first task was to create a 1-inch finished border on each side.
For some reason the selvedges on this fabric were red so it was easy to fold them back, press them for a crisp line and stitch them down close to the folded edge.
Then I finished the sides with 1-inch borders by turning the fabric back by 1-inch and stitching over the previous line of stitching. The finished side looked good and went quickly.
I decided to complete the top rod pocket so the curtain could be basted and put up to test for a snug fit. For the top pocket, I measured ½-inch from the top of the fabric, pressed that down, and stitched close to the edge.
Then I sewed a second row close to the first and trimmed away the excess fabric.
Pockets can range from 1-1/4 to 2 inches, depending on the rod thickness since the pocket should not be too snug. My old curtain rods were about ¼-inch thick so I calculated 1-1/4 inch pockets. Before sewing down the top pocket, I tested to be sure the rod would slide easily – and it did. So I made the top pocket 1-1/4 inches deep and sewed it down.
The old bracket holes for the curtain rods were located about 2-inches above and below the glass. They were not in perfect condition but they worked with the rods, which fit between the brackets and were held on each end by a threaded brass sleeve.
I installed the rods and brackets loosely. Then I measured from the top of the top rod to the bottom of the bottom rod and got 70-1/4 inches. I added ½-inch (total diameter of the two rods) to that for uptake. My target finished length was 70-3/4-inches.
Next came the test on the door. The curtain moved beautifully across the top rod but I quickly realized that the cut edge on the bottom was woefully crooked and the curtain was too short on one side! I thought I had measured accurately and I tore the fabric across the top to get it straight, but the bottom was uneven. So I reopened the side borders, added a 6-inch patch (for good measure) to the bottom and restitched the sides. Then I basted in the bottom pocket and rehung the curtain for a second test.
The seam fell in a good spot and was hardly visible. The basted length seemed fine. So I just finished the bottom rod pocket, stitching it down the same way I did the top.
Once the curtain was hung, I could see it was still a bit uneven on the bottom left side but it fit snugly.
Here is a close up of the top and bottom rod pockets after the brackets were screwed down and the sleeves threaded onto the brackets to hold the rod securely.
From the outside, it was opaque enough for privacy. It’s not perfect, but it was my first curtain project!
Next time I sew a French-door curtain, I will start by cutting the fabric as long as the entire door — ample allowance to prevent me from coming up short again. Meanwhile, I was able to go from “do” to “done” for one item on my longstanding house punch list, though many projects remain.