A Homemade Window Treatment Idea

Window stitchery: fabric "stained glass" that can be permanent or portable.


| May/June 1984



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Make an ugly view look bright and beautiful. 


PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

We like to think of windows as the eyes of a house . . . gazing out over a beautiful landscape or fascinating city scene that soothes or stimulates our spirits. But in today's crowded world, that's just not often the case. Frequently, homes or apartments have windows that overlook unattractiveif not downright uglyviews or, worse yet, that reveal neighboring living rooms or bedrooms with intrusive clarity. To cope with the problem, people resort to such things as permanently drawn curtains, shades, "glass curtains", frosted glass, or painstakingly applied adhesive gel. There's another window treatment idea, though, and it should have special appeal to needleworkers and crafts people.

Window stitchery provides a unique solution to the problem of dealing with an unsightly view. It's inexpensive, but it does require time and a moderate amount of skill in such things as sketching a pattern; tracing, cutting, and sewing the component fabric pieces; and stretching the finished work over a wooden frame to be inserted in a window. But oh, the lovely results! Like magic, your fabric picture screens out the view, replacing it with a back-lit design made especially for the room it occupies. In addition, your stitchery can act as a shade for an over-bright area and provide a certain amount of insulation. It has some of the character of true stained glass without any of the cost or difficulty involved in the cutting of glass and soldering of metals . . . and it allows for great individuality of design.

Wooden Frame  

Most displays of graphic art begin with the picture, but in window stitchery you begin with the frame. You'll need eight strips of lath or molding, 1" wide and 1/2" thick, cut to the size of your window. Because glazing frames are often out of square, you'll need to measure all four sides separately. Lay the measuring tape along the casement where you plan to have the stitchery touch. You'll need two strips of wood for each of the four sides, the first strip equal in length to the exact measurement of the side, and the second strip 2" shorter (see Fig. 1). You can either cut these yourself or have it done at your local lumber supplier or millwork company. Be sure to label each piece clearly: On the rough side (which will be covered when the framing is finished), write "Top-Long", "Top-Short", and so on.

Scheme, Plot and Purchase

The next step is to create the picture design. For this you'll need a large sheet of paper (brown wrapping paper, newspaper, or opened grocery bags will do), some masking tape, a pencil, and a black marker pen. Spread the paper on the floor or a large tabletop, and on it lay four of the wooden strips, the long top and bottom and the short right and left sides, to make the window shape. Tape the strips together at the corners, then use your marker to draw the inside dimensions of the frame onto the paper. The "stained glass" design should fill the space completely.

Now, set the wooden strips aside while you work on the picture. Use a pencil to sketch the design of your choice onto the paper, extending it about 1" beyond the marked frame dimensions. For ease of construction and a look of elegance, keep the drawing as clear and simple as possible. Once the design is drawn to your satisfaction, go over the penciled lines with the black marker. Number or letter each section of the drawing, then use crayons or other colored markers to indicate the hues you want in each section.

With that done, it's time to begin tracing, cutting, and sewing. [EDITOR'S NOTE: The following procedure imitates, to some degree, the manner in which stained-glass panels are put together. Another method, which some people may find easier, is described in the Alternative Method section.] Using heavy tracing paper or fine, sturdy muslin, trace the individual sections of your design. Now, add a cutting line 1" beyond each outline. Mark each section with the number or letter that indicates its place in the design and cut it out.





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