Thursday, September 4, 2014

IKEA Curtain Tracks + Adorable Fabric= Love

Awhile back, I promised a few detailed posts on some things in our bathroom remodel.  Like most things around here, it took a little longer to get to it than we'd like so sorry about the delay!  Tis the reality of full time jobs, two kids and four acres to manage.

One of the things that we had to troubleshoot a lot in the bathroom was trying to get a shower/tub combo in a small space with one slanted wall.
Here is the bathroom when we moved it.  You can see about the tiling in the tub the flat wall begins to slant about 4' up.

I think this is a challenge for many upstairs bathrooms that were likely once attic renovations.  Our downstairs bathroom only has a shower so with two kids in the house, a tub is a must and we wanted a shower as well for guests to be able to use.  After several layout discussions, we decided that moving the tub/shower to a flat wall would be the best way to make it work.  If we had chosen a traditional skirted bathtub, we could have tiled the whole wall surround and used a shower curtain/rod combo.  We decided to make things as challenging as possible and went with a freestanding claw foot tub.  We chose this because of the "look" we were going for and it saved some considerable money- at least $100 for the tub and probably $300 for all the supplies for tiling (tiles, special tile board, grout, wet cutter rental, etc).  Installing a freestanding tub is obviously really simple- you just have to make sure all the flooring, trim work and painting is done before you get the tub in and you have set the hot/cold water holes and tubing in the correct spots.  Our challenge was figuring out a way to get a shower curtain around the entire tub with one slanted wall.

Several companies make an oval track specifically for claw foot tubs.  These can get pricy and with the slanted wall, we would have had to modify any of these tracks since they attach vertically to a flat surface.  I also looked at a few online hacks where some inventive people designed their own tracks.  This also seemed like a lot of work.

In a fit of genius, I remembered IKEA makes curtain tracks that come with curved sections.  Measuring the flat ceiling space above the tub, we ordered 3 straight KVARTAL tracks, 4 curved tracks and 8 ceiling fixtures.

Two straight tracks would make up the long sides and one straight track would be cut to make up the two short sides.

After getting all the tracks, we realized since we were cutting one track, we were missing a connection piece so we ended up having to pick up another straight track just for the connection.  The entire track system came out around $60- by far the cheapest option around and was easily adaptable to our odd space.

The biggest headache with this track system was figuring out how to attach a curtain to it.  I ordered two bags of the KVARTAL glider and hooks which slide right into the track.  A note- slide these onto the track before you have it completely mounted on the ceiling.  Obvious to most, but apparently not to all.  IKEA makes several options of curtain hooks to hook into the gliders.  I choose the RIKTIG hook so it couldn't be seen from the outside of the curtain.

Another note- if you choose this kind of hook, you will then only need the glider on the track, not the glider and hook or the curtain will not be facing the right way... Once we realized this mistake, Andy, perched on top of the claw foot tub, holding up the curtain track with one hand was bombarding me with little plastic hooks from the other hand.
Hard to see in this picture, but the wall to the left of the picture is the slanted one.

Ok, so track system up, now onto the curtain.  A typical shower curtain would not have worked for this project for two reasons- it would be too short since I was hanging it from the ceiling and I would have needed to buy several to get the curtain all the way around the tub.  If you are not a sewer, they do make extra long shower curtains that might work but would likely be pretty pricey.

A note before I get into the specifics of how I cut and sewed the curtains- I am by no means a sewing expert.  I learned to sew from my mom and pretty much exclusively make quilts.  I have dabbled a bit in Halloween costumes and pillows but other than that, I am a novice at home decor.  So, this all worked for me but there are likely other, easier ways to go about it.  I definitely attacked it with a quilter frame of mind.

I measured the circumference of entire tub as well as the height from ceiling to the base of the tub (leaving the claw feet exposed) to get my basic dimensions.  Using a yardage calculator online, I determined that I would need 9-11 yards of fabric for the entire curtain.  It took several fabric stores but I finally found the perfect cotton fabric from Jo Ann Fabrics- it was the coral color that I was using as an accent, had some turquoise which matched the garbage basket I'd just purchased and was whimsical and fun for a kids bath.

Kismet.  To my dismay, though, there was no way there was 9 yards of fabric on the roll... probably 3-4 in my estimation.  Luckily, I found a great complementary fabric with the same background color in a cute dot pattern.

Again, no way this had 9 yards on it but I was hoping between the two fabrics, I would squeak out at least 9 yards and figure out later how I would mold them into one curtain.  After some crossed fingers and breath holding, the store clerk rolled out the two fabrics and between them, I had just over 9 yards.  I went ahead and took both and figured if I was still short, I could add some trim or something to make up the difference.  With a 40% off one item store coupon, the fabric came out to $65.

After washing and ironing all the fabric, I laid it out in a few different patterns to decide how I would sew the two fabrics together.  I decided the most balanced look with the yardage I had was using the cute print on the top and bottom and having a thick band of the polka dot in the middle.

I double checked my tub circumference and height measurements again as well as my fabric yardages to determine my cuts.  Here is my super, scientific measurement sheet:

Andy is horrified/embarrassed my my building/measuring sketches but it works for me.  The diagram shows the two fabrics- leaves on top and bottom and dots in the middle.  Using my room height, I knew I needed 80" finished height so determined by my fabric yardage, I would need 13" on top and bottom and 54" finished fabric in the middle.  Adding 1/2" on all sides of the fabric which I would serge off and 1/2" seam/hem allowance, I got my cut measurements which are listed on the left side of the picture.  Using the circumference of the tub and the width of the fabric (40"), I calculated that I would need 4 panels.  The numbers on the bottom left of the sheet are the total inches of each fabric I had: 238" in the plain (dots) and 126" in the patterned (leafs).  I divided these number by 4 for the 4 panels I needed to to get 59.5" and 31.5" respectively.  If you can calculate my measurements above, you will see that I barely squeaked out enough fabric!

So, tricky measurements done, I cut my fabric using my quilters cutting tools of a rotary cutter, plastic rulers and cutting mat. To make sure I cut my fabric square, I folded the fabric length wise and squared off the end using the fold as my straight line.  Once my fabric was square, I measured my cut measurements from above for each fabric:  in the leaf pattern I cut 15" 8 times (2 needed for each panel); in the dot pattern I cut 56" 4 times.

In any sewing project- or building project for that matter- cutting is the most important step.  It is important to make sure the fabric is straight and even and you are measuring correctly and cutting straight.  For these reasons, I think the rotary cutter and quilting rulers are a necessity.

For Christmas this year, I got a Huskylock Serger which made this project much easier.  If you look at the inside of your shirt, you will see at the seam a bunch of interlocked stitches.  This is what a serger does (among other things that I am still learning about).  It cuts the fabric and sews an edge that will not fray.  This is a great time saver for this kind of project because I can serge all the edges and not have to create a double folded hem.  Before sewing anything together, I serged all the edges that would be connected to fabric as well as my upper and lower hems.  This cut off 1/2" fabric.

I did not serge the edges that would form the long, vertical sides.  After serging, I sewed the two fabrics of each panel together with a 1/2" seam allowance.  Once I had my four panels sewn, I used my serger on the long vertical sides.  I sewed two panels together, making 4 panels into 2 so it would be easier to use in the shower.  You know you've done a great job cutting when 2 80" panels meet up perfectly!

Using a 1/2" seam, I hemmed all the edges.

You can see the serged edge in white thread and the hemmed thread in pink.

My biggest head scratcher in the curtains was connecting the hooks I purchased at IKEA to the tops.  There were no clear instructions or obvious ways to do it- no matter how much Andy proclaimed "just make a pocket!".  Yes Andy, sewing 28 individual pockets for each hook sounds super easy.  In the end, I used fusible tape and folded a new upper hem to tuck the hooks into.  Using the holes in the plastic curtain liner that would go inside the fabric curtain as my measuring guide, I folded in a hook every 4 1/2" and then ironed the gap in between with the fusible tape.

Honestly, this is a temporary solution which I will be fixing soon because the hooks at the edge of every curtain are coming up since the tape is not strong enough to hold them (the rest of the hooks are holding fine).  Hopefully, I will think of a solution soon and get back to you but I think the tape is a good way to start and was very easy to do- likely you will just need to sew the hooks in after getting them initially placed with the tape.

These hooks easily slide into KVARTAL track gliders and look great on either side of the curtain.  The finished curtain functions beautifully, covering the entire tub when it is shower time and adds a lot of fun to the bathroom.

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