Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Lovebirds in my window

I had resigned myself to living with the 1990s bleh pseudo-baroque curtains hanging in the living room of our rented apartment - since we got our new (pink!) sofa they were the only thing left in the room which didn't fit with my aesthetic, but I figured it wasn't worth the cost of replacing them. Then, browsing Shoestring Chic I saw someone had hand painted inexpensive calico for their curtains. My mind immediately went to the sweet lovebirds motif Solanah had recently used in her bathroom. A plan formed.

On my next fabric shopping expedition I purchased several yards of cheap-as-chips unbleached cotton calico; turquoise and white fabric paint (to mix to a light turquoise); and cotton curtain tape. Total cost: under £20.

After practising with a paintbrush on paper, I sketched out the design (an only slightly modified version of Solanah's) half a dozen times on A4 paper in black sharpie:

Then I positioned the A4 sheets underneath the calico so I could trace the outline (although I like to think of myself as artistic, truth is I'm not actually very good at drawing - so I cheat), pinning them in place.

And painted. And painted. 64 pairs in all. I tell you I will never get bored of painting these little birds - it's so simple and satisfying! (positioning the paper under the fabric was a little tedious, mind you).

For every alternate row I offset the positioning so the design would fall roughly in a half-brick repeat.

I set the paint as instructed by ironing, and threw the painted fabric in the washing machine on a quick cycle and spin (note, if you're planning on doing something similar for curtains I recommend skipping the wash - some of the lighter brushstrokes got washed away, and I had to do quite a lot of touching-up afterwards). And ironed again.

I left the selvedge edges unhemmed, and sewed curtain header tape to the top of each curtain. Then I measured for the length, turned up the hem, pressed and pinned. At the time of writing the lower hems are still pinned in place, but I will handstitch them - I was just eager to get this out!

As I didn't have any curtain hooks (the last set of curtains hung from a nasty plastic rail - you can see it in one of the pictures below), I tied loops of sky blue gingham ribbon to hang them.

And voila, handpainted lovebirds curtains!

By the way, if anyone likes the look but lacks the time or inclination to hand paint 128 birds, I've taken the liberty of making a spoonflower fabric out of the design - available soon.


  1. Oh i think you just solved my bedroom curtain dilemma!! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Beautiful, and such an inspired DIY!

    Be warned, my Mother made all the curtains in my childhood home. She hung them, pinned the hems.... and then never did the handstitching! the curtains still had the pins in when we sold the house over 25 years later!!

    Franky xxx

    1. So true - must make sure to actually DO the sewing!!

      xx Charlotte

  3. I think they are just lovely. I did something similar years ago, but I used a stamp and fabric paint.

  4. This is so sweetly brilliant! We have blinds on all our windows, but if we had curtains, there's a very good chance I'd be stenciling them this afternoon! :)

    ♥ Jessica

  5. How sweet! This is completely genius =)

  6. Wow! Well done on painting all those birds... we have some new curtains under the stairs... I really, really need to take down the tatty old ones and put up the new ones.

  7. Wow, this is so pretty, I would have never thought of doing something like this. Thanks for the tutorial!


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