Saturday, September 11, 2010


This One Is For My Mom

I have a love/hate relationship with curtains. To begin with, I love to look out windows and see the view. I love to watch the sunlight move across the floor of a room as the daylight changes. I love light streaming into a room, in the daytime, and I love the way the windows become mirrors at night, reflecting back the cheerful images of the warmly lit room. I love the very architecture of the window frames and hate to cover them up with anything at all! And on the other hand, I love the fabrics and laces that are used for curtains. I love the elegant drapes and swags and tassels that go with the truly well dressed window. I love the gauzy billowing mystery that is a lace covered window, coyly revealing only a hint of the view!

Perhaps I could blame it on my mother. When I was growing up we had minimally dressed windows, even though we lived in suburbia and had neighbors who could see into our windows. My mother has never been overly concerned with the "look" of her rooms and windows. Comfort and functionality were the important things. She was into the casual, even bohemian way of living, and curtains were so, well.... like her PARENTS' home! Besides, fancy curtains were expensive! I remember my grandparents GIVING my Mother the curtains for our house because they thought the naked windows were just not okay! So we had curtains, nice simple cotton ones for the most part, but we almost never closed them. The sunlight and the street lights and the moonlight were all free to come in at any time!

My Mother was more inclined to make use of curtains in imaginative ways than conventional ones. I remember one Halloween when I was six and my sister was five, Mom sewed us matching Princess costumes. She made our dresses from beautiful old marroon brocade curtains that she found in the attic. They were much too Victorian for her to EVER use them on her windows, so she blythely cut them up and made them into our princess gowns with lace doilies for collars! We never had such beautiful costumes before or since! I am afraid it set a dangerous precedent, and many times in my teen years I happily cut up old brocade curtains to make my clothes.

And when it came time for me to have my own home, I wrestled with the curtain issue constantly. The practical need for something to cover the window and block the extremes of light and dark, battled with the desire for the open unobstructed view. I usually ended up with a compromise.... minimal coverings in the city apartments as modesty required, and mostly naked windows when living in the rural countryside.

So, you can see that when it comes to deciding on curtains for my Lovely Old Dollhouse, I have had to wrestle with this very old dilemma. Because, even in the dollhouse, I love the way the sunlight pours into a room through an unclothed window! And having worked so hard at MAKING all those window frames, I hardly want to cover them up at all!

Below, you can see the way the front hall looks with the sunlight pouring in.

I am NOT going to put curtains on these windows!

But, recognizing that I would need to have curtains on SOME of the windows, I decided to put in the curtain rods for all the windows, and decide on the curtains later. I used small eye screws and cut "rods" from old metal coat hangers. Here you can see the bathroom window with a rod at middle height in case I decide on cafe curtains here, as well as one at the top.

And I gave the window at the top af the stairs the same double rod treatment in case I decided they needed to be matching windows......... there is something about the stark, bare window that I find very beautiful.

As for the kitchen window, I was going for a striped effect, probably because I remember the curtains in our kitchen when I was growing up were a beautiful yellow, gold, brown and white striped fabric. I could not find anything to match that, but found some woven linen cocktail napkins that make lovely curtains! I hardly had to cut them up at all! And while they mute the sunlight more than I would like, I am going to keep them for now.

The curtains for the Chinoiserie Bedroom were the simplest of all! I had been saving these two small panels of lace for longer than I can remember! The first time I saw them, I said THOSE are going to be curtains in my Dollhouse! I didn't even have to cut them AT ALL! they were EXACTLY the right size for this window! I just LOVE the way the sunlight comes through them!

Here below is a close-up that shows the lovely pattern of the lace. I tell myself that it is perhaps a Tree of Life lace pattern! Perfect for the Tree of Life painted bedroom! I am VERY happy with the way it turned out!

But when it comes to curtains for the Parlor, I am not so sure. This is partly because I actually made a set of lovely green velvet curtains trimmed in gold satin and underlaid with lace gauze curtains when I was working on the dollhouse in my teen years. And I packed them up and have carefully kept them all these years! Here below you can see them, only slightly worse for wear. I think at the time I had in mind the beautiful green velvet curtains made so famous by Scarlett O'Hara.... the same ones she cut up and made into a dress! These looked really elegant against the cream walls of the Parlor back then.

But when I put them into the newly painted GREEN parlor, they didn't look nearly so nice! And they were too short! Hmmmmm.........

Helen isn't sure they will do at all... they are MUCH too faded for her liking!

Oh, did I forget to introduce you to Helen?

It seems that Helen's Great-Uncle passed away recently and left her the old family house. He was one hundred and three years old and never married. He traveled a lot in his younger years, but was pretty much a hermit for the last twenty years or so. NOTHING has been done with the place since HIS mother decorated it AGES ago........

Helen has NO idea what to do with the old place!

She brought her grandaughter Pollyanna to look at it with her. Pollyanna is studying Design and might be able to DO something with the old place! Helen's husband Charles is all in favor of letting Pollyanna take charge. Pollyanna LOVES the idea!

So does her boyfriend, Arthur. He's looking over the fixtures to see how much of a challenge they will be!

The kitchen is a bit primitive..... but Pollyanna is really excited by the old fashioned feeling to the place..... it is SO unspoiled!

Arthur agrees that it could be a great project for her to "practice" on!

But Helen is not sure.... Is it too much of a responsibility?

Charles says everyone needs to make a start somewhere!

And besides, they can't take it on themselves, they live too far away.... they wouldn't want to have to keep coming here just to check on the contractors all the time!

Pollyanna is looking the place over top to bottom.......

Oh MY! LOOK what she found in the attic! That must have belonged to her Great-Great-Great-Grandmother! And it fits her so well!

It's a SIGN! says Helen. This place was just WAITING for you!

(And isn't the dress just Stunning? Sewn by me in my teens and kept all these years.... she'll have to wear it to a costume ball.... !)

I think you're right Charles! We will let her have it!

But I do think SOMETHING is going to have to be done about these curtains. They just look terrible in here!

As I was searching through all my boxes and drawers full of fabric, looking for the perfect cloth to use to make new curtains for the Parlor, I came across a lovely silk scarf given to me by my Mother. She had been shopping at a local thrift store and saw the scarf and thought I could use it. Now, sometimes one receives gifts from loved ones and at the time of the gift, the reason for it seems less than clear, but one gladly takes the gift because it comes from a loved one. When my Mother gave me the scarf, I was in the process of packing up my house where I had lived for twenty years, accumulating waaaayyy too much stuff! I was holding yard sales, carting things to the dump and GIVING away tons of stuff. I had bureaus and bins and boxes full of cloth scraps, (and still do:)) what could I possibly need MORE cloth for? But she was right. It was very pretty with the irridescent silk and gold thread embroidery. So I added it to my boxes and forgot about it. Until I was searching for the perfect cloth for the new curtains.

Here below, you can see this scarf, in all its wrinkled glory, laid against the floor of the parlor. The irridescent redish brown and green is really very striking!

And when I bunched it all up as if it were cut into curtains and tried it for size on the window of the Parlor, I thought the colors tied together beautifully with the green and the red in this room!

Perhaps I HAVE found the perfect cloth for the new curtains!

My only question is how DID my Mother know?

But I AM going to have to do something about that bunched up effect! I don't care for that look at all! Sigh. I think I am going to have to cut up some CLOTHING to make some CURTAINS!

So thank you Mom! Thank you for knowing the cloth I would need before I did. Thank you for teaching me to sew and to fearlessly cut up curtains if they were the material at hand. And thank you for letting the light stream into all our windows! I love you!

P.S. All characters are fictional... and any resemblance to known characters is only SLIGHTLY accidental!



  1. Brilliant post - a really good read. I hope you manage to decide whether to curtain or not!

  2. I really love the 1st picture. It is beautiful, Betsy :).

    My favourite has to be the chinoiserie room. The piece of lace you picked is as you have put it, perfect for that room. I also love the rug in that room. It is so perfect for you.Tell us more about it.

    I also think you have chosen the perfect curtains for the kitchen and I think the mum's scarf does make a most perfect curtain. We usually tell someone, what they wear look like curtains so I wonder how mum feels if you tell her :):).

    I remembered cursing and swearing A LOT when I was making curtains for my Queen Anne dh. I ended up making a lot of things to cover up the curtains ..hehe!

  3. nice reading and lovely post. I share your mixed feelings, I live in a flat in the middle f bloks and I cannot do without curtains even though we most often lave them open. But in the country home we ever ever had curtains to let the light and the wonderful landscape come in. I wish I had a flat on a tall story and nobody in front f me. And a seaview as well....Have a nice Sunday, Rosanna
    PS I love the green red scarf, it's perfect!

  4. that was a very cute story, I love your dollhouse and I love the dollies. I think a dolls house should make you happy to look at and if there are no curtains on the windows I don't think anyone really cares as long as the rooms are beautiful and yours are the most beautiful that I've ever seen.

    Happy Monday
    Marisa Stein

  5. Thanks Irene! And Congrats on the Miniaturas article! Your Hall looks really beautiful! As for the curtains, I am going to try them room by room and see what I come up with!

  6. Hi Sans! That one is my favorite picture too! As for telling my Mom what she wears looks like curtains.... she would probably think you were joking!
    As for making the scarf into curtains, I now have to decide just what type of curtains.... I was hoping I could avoid cutting up the scarf... but I will have to be brave like some bashers I know of...because some sacrifices are necessary in the accomplishment of Art!

  7. Thanks Rosanna! Do we all dream of that flat with the sea view? I am glad you mostly leave your curtains open too....natural light is such a beautiful thing! I will have to show the completed curtains when I get them done... thanks for your vote of confidence! I was starting to worry that I didn't have many options with the green walls and red floors! I love Christmas.... but I'm not likely to make it a theme room!

  8. Thank you Marisa! That is high praise indeed! I only hope my rooms can continue to be beautiful as I fill them with things.... sometimes one gets lost in the "decorating"! Welcome to my blog! And thank you for commenting!

  9. Has elegido muy bien la cortina para la sala de chinoserie. El encaje deja pasar la luz y hace elgante esta sala.
    Las del salon verde están cortas. Creo que mejor con el pañuelo nuevo. Las madres lo saben todo :)
    Me ha gustado leer este post.
    Besos Clara

  10. Thank you Clara! Sometimes we forget that Mothers know everything! Even once we are the Mother! :)
    I think the new curtains will be gorgeous once I get up my courage to cut up the scarf. Thank you for your comments!

  11. First of all thank you for subscribing to my blog and for your comment.
    Your dollhouse is lovely! The choice of the curtains is good. I also love the lace and the light. It 's really funny how you submitted your dollhouse. And it's real moms always know everything. Bye bye and a kiss from Rosella

  12. Aha! I found the comment space. But it looks as tho I've commented in the curtains chapter. Anyway, your historical research does you proud!