Cassiefairy – My Thrifty Life

Cassiefairy's thrifty lifestyle blog – Saving money every day with DIY crafts, sewing projets, low-cost recipes & shppping tips


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What’s wrong with your curtains?

The right curtains can immediately improve a room’s comfort and aesthetics. But did you know that it’s possible to hang curtains incorrectly? It may seem unlikely, but I’ve been in a room this week where the curtains were the wrong length and it was literally the only thing I could look at! Even minor mistakes can make a big impact so, before I invest in any curtains for my new home, I’ve been doing some research into what not to buy. I thought I’d share this advice with you so that you can take a look around your home and make sure your curtains don’t suffer from the four common problems I discovered…

I made my own caravan curtains & blinds – read the blog post here!

1. Too-long curtains 

Off-the-peg curtains can sometimes be a little too long for your room and you’ll end up with extra fabric that bunches up on the floor. If the curtains are really long they can look like a pile of laundry that’s been neglected for weeks! Raising your curtain rod is the easiest way to make long curtains fit your room. Just make sure you raise the rod high enough so the curtains don’t touch your floor. If you’re handy with a sewing machine, the alternative is to shorten the hem of the curtains. I shortened some curtains for my own home and now they are perfect for the space.

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4 ways with windows to create a bright & airy home

One of the things that I’m trying to achieve in my home is a feeling of brightness and airiness. I’ve been painting dark walls in fresh white paint, and have positioned mirrors at suitable points around the house to reflect the light. But I’m sure that there’s more I can do to achieve a home filled with bright natural daylight. And I’m sure I’m not the only person to want this kind of effect in my home. Today I’m sharing my ideas for increasing light levels in the home, without resorting to daylight bulbs..!

image source

1. Goodbye Curtains

Firstly, let’s look at the ways to maximise the amount of light coming in through your existing windows. If you’ve got heavy curtains hanging at your windows, lets take them down. Either replace them with floaty-light voiles or consider whether you can go without curtains altogether. If the window isn’t overlooked, or is already frosted, maybe those curtains aren’t necessary. This will ensure that the maximum amount of light possible enters through these windows.

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2. Hello blinds

If you do need to cover the windows for privacy or at night, a practical option is to install blinds inside the window recess. Go for blinds that fold or roll right away, such as venetian blinds or roller blinds. I chose vertical blinds for my living room and they open from the centre so can be pulled back to expose the entire window. Any of these types of blinds will allow loads of light into the room but still allow you to maintain your privacy at night. And you’re able to control the amount of light coming in through the window by angling the slats to direct the daylight away from your laptop screen.

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Dream a little dream… Cosy curtains

Did you ever have ‘winter curtains’ in your home while growing up? Do you have sets of seasonal curtains in your airing cupboard? Is this still something that goes on today? Allow me to explain; in our home we had two sets of curtains for the living room: thin cotton curtains in green for summer and thick, lined deep purple curtains for winter. When the temperature started to drop, mum would change the curtains and it would signal the start of the festive season. I’m sure this was for completely practical reasons, such as keeping the heat in the room and stopping the old aluminium window frames from sapping all the warmth out of the house, but it also made the whole house feel more cosy and luxurious, and the colour changed the mood of the room completely. New homewares from BHS-3It’s probably not a necessity to change the curtains nowadays, with most homes enjoying the benefits of double glazing, but that sense of cosy comfort is just as important now as it was 20 years ago. I was recently feeling a little chilly in the bedroom (our winter heating routine hasn’t quite kicked in yet) and in the back of my mind I remember those winter curtains and I thought about how nice it would be to hang some thick, lined curtains at my windows, if only to improve the cosiness of the room. So I had a look online at the BHS sale and I found a whole range of discounted curtains to choose from.

As you can tell from my previous bedroom blog posts, I like neutral shades so I plumped for these Natural Casa stripe curtains which were reduced to half the original price. The curtains are a luxuriously shimmery silk effect fabric in a very subtle stripe, so subtle in fact that they look great hanging in front of my horizontal striped blackout blind – not a clashing pattern in sight! The curtains are lined, which adds to the feeling of warmth – I’m sure they do have an impact on heat, at the very least they are keeping the cold windows at bay – and the bedroom feels eve more cosy when they are drawn at night. New homewares from BHS-5 New homewares from BHS-4While I was shopping on the BHS website I couldn’t help be check out what other bargains were available and I spotted this plump little kettle. Our previous kettle was part of a kitchen set with a microwave and toaster, but the lid didn’t have a good seal so it would drip every time I made a cup of tea. For once I wasn’t being clumsy – it actually was the kettle at fault, not me! So this new kettle was an essential purchase and I was so pleased that I snapped it up in the sale. I’m now having more cups of tea per day than ever and not a spillage in sight. Plus, the spout has a filter on the inside, which traps limescale so I never end up with bits floating in my tea like I did before!New homewares from BHS-8 New homewares from BHS-7So this week I’ve invested in two new home items that have already made a big difference to how cosy and comfortable I feel in my home this winter. Have you made any recent purchases that have improved your home for winter?  And did you have two sets of curtains for different seasons in the past? Leave me a comment below and let me know!


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Sewing block

Sewing. It’s been a while. The dust cover has been protecting my sewing machine for a few weeks now. Okay, who am I kidding? A few months. I don’t know where the time has gone, but I’ve simply not gotten round to doing any sewing for a long time. Considering it’s my favourite hobby and the thing that I love to do to unwind, I’ve been getting really rather upset about it. Not only could I not find the time, but I also couldn’t find the inspiration. I knew that I needed to create some DIY sewing projects for the Oxfam Fashion blog (my last post was in March – so naughty, I know) but the longer I’ve left it, the more difficult its been to start sewing again.

Sewing in my little vintage caravan

I usually get very excited about sewing when The Great British Sewing Bee is on TV, but since then my creative oomph has gone downhill. It’s not as thought I don’t have anything that I want to sew: I have lots of items of clothing that need fixing, a bundle of fabric and patterns ready for the making and dresses that need adjusting. I’ve even got a deadline looming to sew a teddy bear for my niece’s Christening gift (just like I did for my nephew – see my blog post here). I’ve had the date on the calendar for months but haven’t even started cutting the pattern and now the big event is only two weeks away. I’ve got to get out of this sewing block and just get on with it.

This week I did it. Not the teddy bear, but I broke through the sewing block. I needed some sheer curtains in the living room and had bought the fabric for them a long time ago but at the time all the measuring and  sewing seemed like too much effort. I even considered just folding the fabric over the curtain wire and leaving it doubled up rather than sewing it, but when I tried this it blocked out too much light and was also not quite wide enough for the window. In essence, it would have been a bodge-job and I couldn’t have lived with it for long. So I huffed and puffed and sulked for a while before starting on the project. Really, the hardest thing is cutting into the fabric for the first time. It takes so much time and careful measuring before you can even make that first cut and that’s what has really been putting me off doing it. But I measured twice and cut once and as soon as I had the two curtain pieces in my hands I was immediately fired up to sew!

DIY sewing sheer voile curtains

Okay it was only a very simple project: I only needed to fold and sew a channel at the top of the curtains for the wire to feed through, and I added a line of lead-weight rope at the bottom to hold the curtains down. Essentially, it was only four lines of straight stitch, and took a matter of minutes, but the sense of achievement that I felt after completing the project was fantastic. it really spurred me on to keep sewing and I repaired one of hubby’s shirts that had needed stitching for months. I’ve definitely got the sewing bug again and I’m glad that I forced myself to crack on – it goes to show that even starting the smallest of projects is a step in the right direction.


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My little vintage caravan project ~ Pull yourself together

Patient: “Doctor, doctor, I feel like a pair of curtains”, Doctor: “Pull yourself together”.

So today I’m sharing my latest sewing achievement in my little vintage caravan project – I’ve made some curtains. And roman blinds too. The roman blinds came about by accident because I thought I’d ordered enough fabric to make curtains for all the windows but when I got to work, I realised that I would need to use most of the fabric for just the main window. Apparently the width of the caravan is bigger than I’d realised. So that left me with two smaller pieces of fabric, which would either make a pair of curtains for one of the remaining windows, or it would make two roman blinds with a bit more effort. So not wanting to pay for more fabric (yes I am that stingy) I opted for the roman blinds.

little vintage caravan project diy makeover

What do you think of my fabric? It’s a blue cotton with TINY stars all over it from Abakhan Fabrics. It was a toss-up between blue and mint green, but in the end I opted for blue, because it would look nicer from the outside against the blue of the caravan. Plus, it’s the colour of the sky and kind of blends into the windows and looks right. I simply stitched a hem around all the edges of the curtains and added some curtain header tape to the top. Job done! Here are the photos of making the roman blinds:

cassiefairy vintage caravan project making roman blinds diy

I hemmed around all edges and then attached a strip of sew-on loop velcro to the top of the blind, saving the corresponding sticky hook piece of velcro for later. Next I stitched a ‘pocket’ for the dowling along the bottom of the blind by turning up the hem by 1.5 inches. I then divided the remaining fabric into 3 and stitched another 2 pockets – 1/3rd of the way up, and 2/3rds up. I inserted the dowels and stitches the ends closed. I hand-stitched 3 rings on each of the dowel pockets on the back of the blind – left, middle and right – and then threaded cord through them, attaching it to the bottom ring with a knot. I then had a little help from hubby to affix a piece of wood above the window of the caravan and stuck the hook piece of velcro to the baton. I screwed 3 eyelet hooks into the baton and threaded the cord from the blinds through and along to bring together as the pull-cord and attached the blind to the baon using the velcro strip.

cassiefairy vintage caravan DIY sewing project making roman blinds

Actually, I’m kind of pleased that I was ‘forced’ to make roman blinds for the side windows, even though they took a lot more time and effort, because I can pull them right up and out of the way. Plus they don’t block out any of the light from coming into the caravan, whereas the curtain-ed window has less light coming in at the sides where the curtains are hanging. After being so used to having no curtains (and therefore lots of light) I was a little bit miffed that I was losing some of precious light just because I wanted to put up curtains. But it’s more important to have the option of privacy for anyone who sleeps in the caravan, and if I’m working in there in the evenings, it’s much more snuggly with the curtains drawn.

little vintage caravan project diy makeover sewing curtains


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Frame your view

You may remember that a couple of weeks ago my lovely writer friend Anna Jones shared her top tips for storage solutions and helped me to kick start my spring cleaning (a bit late, I know!) over the half-term holidays. And it seems that it really inspired a lot of you too – I’ve had many lovely comments, likes and tweets about that blog post, and I’ve heard updates on your own tidying efforts over the past couple of weeks, so keep up the good work guys! So when Anna suggested sharing another interiors blog post, I couldn’t wait to read it and here’s her ideas for making a feature of your windows and making the most of your views:

Using long curtains and drapes to create a stunning feature window is an easy and cost-effective way to add a bit of style and character to a room. Whether you have a small attic window to dress or a large bay-window in your living room, this handy guide will show you the best ways to create a window treatment that can’t fail to impress!

Colours

It is worth spending quite a bit of time thinking about your colour scheme before you venture out to the shops.  Curtains and blinds, especially large ones in the lounge or kitchen take up a lot of visual space and will become a feature focus for your room. Ask yourself how much of an impact you want your curtains, drapes or blinds to create and then go from there. If you want the ‘wow factor’, then go bold with primary colours or strong patterns. If you prefer something subtler try pastel or neutral shades instead.

Photo courtesy of XJavierx

Photo courtesy of XJavierx

Practicality

Long flowing curtains may look fantastic in the catalogues but think carefully about the functionality of anything like this. If you plan to draw your curtains every night then perhaps opt for something less ornate like stylish blinds instead. If your curtains are purely for show then perhaps you can splash out on something more detailed that falls ‘just right’? You should also consider small children when looking at curtain ties and blind cords and make sure they are out of reach of your little ones at all times.

Photo courtesy of  Wegasan

Photo courtesy of Wegasan

Materials

Think carefully about the type of curtains or dressings that you want. Thick heavy curtains will block out more light and keep your room warmer in the winter.  And it’s not just the material that counts towards these factors – the lining does to. A basic cotton lining allows some light to filter through and are ideal for living rooms, bathrooms and kitchens, whereas insulated linings, which regulate heat better, are a good idea if you have a playroom or guest room that get a bit chilly in winter.  And finally, blackout-style curtains are ideal for the master bedroom.  Keeping bright lights at bay and can even muffle outside noise, allowing you to sleep in peace!

Photos courtesy of adrienne_barti & moiraanddobbie

Photos courtesy of adrienne_barti & moiraanddobbie

Accessorise!

Don’t forget about your trimmings when searching for that perfect window dressing! Extra touches such as rods, hooks, tie-backs or quant window cill plant pots that can all add to your look and help you achieve the style you’re looking for. For example, if you want to go for the Victorian drawing room look, then you’ll probably want heavy, velvet curtains. Pair these up with woven cord tie-backs and an ornate mahogany curtain rod and the look is complete. Or perhaps you need a new roller blind for your kitchen and want something that matches your existing style, such as country cottage. You can get customised blinds made to measure in most colours and fabrics these days so take a swatch of colour along with you to find the perfect match.

Thanks to Anna for another excellent interior design article and I hope to be able to bring you more fabulous writing from by Anna in the future. I’m certainly going to be fiddling around with my windows this week – can you believe that there are at least 2 windows in my home that don’t have curtains or blinds at all?! I think it’s time to change that right now!

More interiors articles:

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