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Lace window treatment with cornflour

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Oh my goodness, this was the quickest, easiest, cheapest project ever but I’m 100 per cent in love with the results. You know those little upgrades that just make your life both better and prettier? This is one of those for our bedroom.

So, privacy. This bedroom has delectable shutters, which I adore, but it makes window treatments kind of hard. You either have to hang curtains in front of the whole alcove (we can tell by the holes in the trim that this is what our predecessors did) or not at all. For the last year and a bit, we’ve opted for the latter option, except for a tension rod light blocking curtain above the shutters.

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The shutters are great at blocking all natural light, which is great for lie-ins. But, this room gets crazy beautiful morning light and it always seemed a shame to be getting dressed in artificial light just for privacy.

Anyway, the other day I was browsing the Manhatten Nest blog (looking for something else entirely), when I stumbled on this post of yore about using liquid starch and fabric for privacy in glass windows. Boom!

Obviously, my mind went straight to lace (because my mind always goes straight to lace) and I thought ooh, I gots to try that out one day!

Serendipitously, we headed to Ikea earlier in the week to scope out tea-light lanterns for the wedding. Even more serendipitously, Ikea has JUST started selling lovely scallop edge lace fabric for a mere £1.50 per metre. Boom boom.

Anyway, I got home from work one day and mixed up the starch jelly. I ended up mixing 2 tablespoons cornflour (that’s cornstarch across the pond) with about an equal amount of cold water, then mixing that in about a cup and a half of boiling water from the kettle. I mixed it in a lunch box and the resulting jelly is both spooky and somewhat non-newtonian.

(Random interlude – my first lady boss once told me that some men – ie. our coworker at the time – are like custard powder mix – the more you stir them the more they resist, so keep a light touch. It’s been remarkably useful advice and obviously applies to lots of women too!)

Unlike Daniel, I didn’t soak my fabric in the mix. It just felt like a messy and icky idea so instead I painted a thick layer of gloop on to the window pane.

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Then I cut out a rectangle of lace using a template I’d made earlier. I didn’t iron it first but the one piece I had where there was a crease was the hardest to apply so do iron your fabric if it’s creased at all.

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Then I applied another thick layer on top, being sure to get it right into all the corners. I tried working top to bottom, centre to corners and a few different ways, but there wasn’t a noticeable difference in ease or result. I did notice that there were sometimes brush marks if I did it too regimented so I ended up going for random patterns of brush strokes.

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The best thing about using lace (with holes in) is that there are automatically not air pockets so you don’t have to both squeegeeing them out, which is good because I’m really bad at that sort of thing. The other good thing about lace is it’s very forgiving. On one pane, I ended up with a gap in one place, I just cut a small strip and starch-glued it over the top. I can’t even tell where it was now!

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Et voilà! Done. This took less than an hour from start to finish.

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Except I’m going to go back and add a row of scallops in the panes just above it. But I figured if I waited to post about it until I’d done that then I’d probably never post about it.

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The best thing about this is that to remove it, you just wash it off with warm water, so it’s perfect for renters. My other favourite thing, that doesn’t really show up in pictures, is that it keep the texture of the lace, so it doesn’t look like fake lace contact paper.

I noticed Dan got a lot of comments wondering if this could be done in a hot, humid room like a shower. To that, I’d say it wouldn’t work somewhere that gets directly wet. As for humidity, it probably depends just how humid, but this is so cheap (£1.50 of fabric, probably less than a penny worth of cornflour) and easy to install and uninstall that you should just give it a go and let the internet know how it works out!

I would say it’s probably not great for a window that would get dirty a lot (like above a sink) because you probably can’t wipe it down. If this window gets dingy, I’d probably remove all the sheets and run them through the machine in a lingerie bag. It’s that easy to apply.

Hopefully I’ll get the scallops up soon and will post back about those!

PS. To see the stunning view this is blocking, click here.

UPDATE! I added a few more details and answers to common questions on a new blog post. Read all about it here

PPS. Click here to see an update for how I removed it after six or so months.

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Pisces baby quilt

If you follow me on instagram you’re probably bored of me teasing you with pictures of this quilt buuuut it’s all done now so here it is with our resident newborn model, Kermit the Frog!

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I put Kermit on it for scale so you can see that I accidentally made it totally massive (42 x 52 inches). Oh well, the baby can use it until it’s old enough for sleepovers, plus it’s a nice size for using as a lap quilt on the sofa (as I discovered when I was hand finishing the binding in front of the TV this week!).

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This quilt is for the same baby that got those little trousers a few weeks ago. The baby will be a Pisces like me, so (even though I don’t really believe in horoscopes), I thought this mix of sea on the front and stars would on the back would suit the little one. The salt water fabrics that I used for the top are so much fun, with all manner of sea creatures (and submarines!) hiding in the patterns.salt water constellations quilt 7

I made up the pattern on the top as I went along. It was nice to take a lot more risks with quilt, compared to the last baby quilt I made where I was quite “safe” with my fabric choices and the pattern. I started from the top with full stripes of all the different fabrics, and then worked in strips down from there, epiecing the fabrics together. I started with some bits precut, but in the end I was just cutting the fabric and playing with it like a jigsaw and then sewing it together. It was fun! One thing I learnt was that some of the fabrics that I wasn’t that fond of when they arrived (like the stripes), actually looked sooo good once they were cut up into little pieces and up against other patterns.

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I ordered the fabrics online and when the arrived I was a bit worried that the two different hues of blue on the front and back didn’t really go…. But once it the top was all sewn up I took into into my local quilt shop with the backing fabric and spent my lunch break browsing fabrics. Once I found this beautiful yellow the two blues really started to sing and I fell in love.

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Here’s one of my favourite bits! I had this seagull ribbon in my stash and at first I just sewed it into the binding, but then I figured it would be nice to reinforce it so that the baby’s mum (my friend) could use it to hang the quilt up on a hook if need be.

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Here’s a better view of the backing fabric with all its funny constellations. I quilted it with a triple zig zag stitch on my machine for some more wavy-ness. I wasn’t thrilled with the way this turned out (I have got to figure out how to work the walking foot I got for Christmas!), but I think it works.

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I attached the binding using the machine for one side and then secretly hand stitching on the other. I did all this using yellow thread that matched the binding, but as I was doing the hand stitching, I realised that I should have matched the machine thread to the quilt not the binding, so that it would be less visible if any bits did stick out of the binding.

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Materials:

Front: six skinny quarters of various Salt Water by Tula Pink fabrics in the ‘aqua’ colourway from the Village Haberdashery (I emailled Annie the shop owner and she cut them skinny not fat for me so that I could do the long stripes at one end of the quilt).

Back: 1.5 metres of Lizzy House constellations night blue from Backstitch (this was the harrrdest blue to photograph ever but look at the gorgeous pattern!)

Binding: about half a metre of Kona Solids mustard yellow (I think! It doesn’t look like any of the swatches online but what does that mean?!)

Batting: Bamboo Blend 50/50 bamboo cotton batting (I bought this off a roll at my local quilt shop though).

(I really like this batting! It’s snuggly and warm but still folds up really well so the quilt isn’t too much of a behemoth. I think the technical terms to describe it are: high drapability, low loft and high resilience. The lady in the shop said it wasn’t really necessary to pre-wash it before use (unless you were making a very pale quilt – the washing is recommended to remove any traces of oil from any cottonseed husks left in the batting). It will shrink about 5 per cent in the wash for that wrinkly look.)

Time: Started after work last Wednesday, finished Tuesday lunchtime. Two solid evenings and a Saturday morning, the rest in bits and pieces.

Cost: quilt top £24 (I have scraps left over but nothing else), quilt back £18, binding £3.50 (I used half a metre of £7/metre fabric), batting £8.10 (1.5 metres of the baby quilt width). Total = £56.50 (Plus p&p on some items and three – count ’em! – three 100m spools of gutermann thread at £1.55 a pop) (two blue and one yellow) (I only finished one of those fully though)

(I put the time and cost just to show why custom quilts cost so much on places like Etsy and why I won’t be going into business any time soon! I also thinking quilting cottons might be more expensive in the UK than the US?)

My favourite quilting tutorials: All linked up in this blog post

Let’s finish this up with one more picture of our beautiful baby all wrapped up!

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I love making quilts for babies! I spent a lot of time while I was making this quilt, just thinking about this little baby that we’re all so excited to meet. One of my other friends said that maybe I should be careful of setting a precedent that everyone’s babies get quilts, but for now I’d rather work on getting faster at quilting than give up on giving them! (Ask me again in a few years though.)