April 29th, 2013 / posted by paularath

Chai Studio cotton gauze curtains

As Earth Month 2013 draws to a close, I’d like to share with you a DIY project that used every thread of cloth. It started with some light and airy super-long cotton gauze cafe-style curtains from India. I found them at Chai Studio, one of my favorite shops in all of Honolulu.

Here’s the back story: In more than 20 years of living in our lovely “tree house” in Nuuanu, we have never needed bedroom curtains. Our view of the trees was pristine and allowed for privacy. Then a neighbor built a garage behind his house and suddenly we were looking at – a building – yikes! It’s not right next door; it’s on the street above us. And, sure, we know that no one is going to peer into our bedroom window from their garage, nor could they see much (if anything) inside, but still….it felt less private.

Since we moved into this house, I have sewn any curtains we needed, as they were small and simple projects and didn’t go ceiling to floor. However the bedroom curtain situation was different. So I went shopping. I was stunned at the cost of curtains so I started to look into buying fabric and making them. I was even more stunned at what that would cost. (I haven’t bought fabric in decades, since I have a superb stash from my days as a fashion designer.)

Then I found the lovely, soft, gauzy curtains from India at Chai Studio. I love the coconut buttons too! But they were super long. Okay, so what? I can sew a hem! I cut off 34 inches of fabric and hemmed one up. So easy! I hung  up the first curtain and, whoa, did it blow around! Light and airy? Oh yeah!

Okay. What to do? Jerry suggested fishing weights and they were the perfect solution. I sewed five fishing weights into the hem of each curtain and those babies aren’t blowing anywhere.

Here’s what the bedroom curtains look like. We find them very romantic and feel transported to an exotic locale.

That tansu was my father’s. My parents bought it in the ’40s and it was at least 50 years old at that time. I love it! The jewelry box on the right has a wonderful history too – for another blog.

So then I had 34 inches of lovely cotton gauze (times 8) that I simply could not waste. I thought about hand painting it but the paint would go right through and smear because it’s so light. I decided to use the arashi shibori (pole wrap) technique and dye it in the indigo vat. Voila!

My indigo wraps drying on the deck.

What’s next? I’ve considered sewing them for table top decor but I think I’m going to hem them and perhaps drape them a little to create a piece that can be used for an over skirt or sarong that would work over jeans or a swimsuit. I have the perfect buttons to use for a closure:

Found at Britex in San Francisco.

This project provided zero waste and saved us hundreds of dollars. And, hey, it was so much fun every step of the way!

– Paula Rath


What are they saying?
Leave a comment below.
April 30th, 2013 at 4:32 am

Great story.


May 28th, 2013 at 7:25 am

I love this! It’s simply beautiful!!

Nina Cherry
July 20th, 2013 at 5:45 am

Hi Paula, I am so impressed with your creativity! Your whole life is a series of art projects.

And you are a warm and engaging writer.

Aloha, Nina

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