what would janet do?

Any time I find myself making curtains, I think of my sister Janet.


You see, Janet was the penultimate seamstress.  Meticulous attention to detail.  Perfectly straight seam lines.  She knew all the technical sewing lingo and skills …


Like what cutting on the bias means …


… and what bias tape is really used for …


… and how to make button holes.


She also never, ever bought department store drapes.  Instead she studied their construction and went home and made her own.  Only better.


Janet was the person who taught me how to make balloon shades.  Together, we made four for my very first apartment; she and her husband came over and helped me iron those folds and folds and folds of fabric and hang them.  It’s hard for me to grasp the fact that that happened over 20 years ago …


When it comes to sewing, I’m a poor woman’s Janet.  My projects entail a lot of guesswork and fudging and improvisation …


So when I tackled the drapes for my son’s room remodel, I was wishing Janet was still here so I could ask her what to do.


Teen Room orange gray black clock


Like, what did she think about me making them out of canvas painter’s drop cloth …


I’m pretty sure she would’ve told me that I could make two 48″ x 90″ panels out of one 4’ x 15’ package – therefore I should pick up two to cover the two windows in Sam’s room.


And I’m pretty sure she would tell me to wash them first.  Yes, I’m positive that’s what Janet would do.  So I did too.


And when I cut that 4 x 15 panel in half, I’m thinking Janet would know this handy tip of just snipping and ripping that drop cloth with my bare hands into a perfectly straight line …


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And that band on top?  I know Janet would approve of my solution to sidestep possible uneven seams by attaching thick ribbed orange ribbon  to the top …


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… and then again where the panel and the drop cloth materials meet …


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… and then top-stitching right over that ribbon with orange thread …


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And I know I was channeling Janet when I realized the bottom seam should get a band of ribbon too …


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The final step, when the panels and ribbons were all attached, was to fold over even seams on the sides and stitch, trim, and press …


In the end, I think Janet would’ve approved of what I did …


Teen Room orange gray black bookcase
Teen Room orange black white drop cloth drapes

 Teen Room orange gray black clock 

I wrote this post with a box of tissues by my side.  My beautiful sister Janet lost her decades-long breast cancer battle on August 21, 2006.


Janet, you are missed …


Let’s keep in touch … 



  1. oh wow, linda. i am so sorry, but i think janet would be really proud of your work..

  2. Here’s to Janet. I’m sure she left more of a legacy than just teaching you to sew, but being able to create something after she’s gone is a gift she left.


  3. Janet would be proud of her sisters curtains. They are beautiful.

  4. Oh Linda, i’m so sorry i really hate that your missing her and i’m sorry for your loss! I’m very sure that Janet would be proud of you in every way!!

  5. I am sorry for the loss of your beautiful sister. How wonderful it is that you can remember time spent sewing with her.

  6. So sorry for the loss of your sister. I know you must miss her terribly. I am sure she would have loved the curtains. I certainly do.

  7. What a beautiful way to remember her! She would be proud of your work! ~Lori

  8. How heartbreaking to lose a sister so early. I am sure she is proud of your sewing abilities…among other things.

  9. A beautiful tribute to your sister Linda – a truly heartfelt post.

  10. I really love your blog so I’m giving you the Versatile Blogger award! You can check out the post and see who else I’ve given it to at:

  11. I really enjoyed this post. Sorry you lost your sister too soon. Happy 55th Janet- your memory lives on!

  12. This is a wonderful tribute, Linda. Janet has left you so much…all of it good. That cannot be said of every sister.
    (Plus, she was an Aries, which makes her even awesom-er.)
    I will toast to Janet this week!

  13. Loved the beautiful curtains and the wonderful orange paint…sooo fresh and lovely…so sorry about your sister…I lost mine to cancer 2 yrs ago…I am a new follower of yours and I will be back soon

  14. So sorry for the loss of your so loved sister Janet, you did her proud with the beautiful room! Take care, Laura

  15. What a beautiful post! The curtains are lovely and look fantastic. I”m a new follower via Yankee Doodle Designs. I’m so glad I came to your blog. Megan

  16. Beautiful post Linda, I’m sure your sister would be so proud of you :)

  17. Linda, thanks for sharing such a heartfelt post about your sister, you have taken this moment to celebrate the life of your sister with 584 readers :) sisters are the very best, be it here with us or in our hearts and memories.

  18. Three cheers for Janet!!! And to you too… what a fabulous job you did! They would match in my bedroom perfectly! My applause to you!

  19. Anonymous says:

    My grandmother taught me to sew. She recently passed away. Every time I even just take my sewing machine out of the case, I can hear her voice in my head, instructing me on how to wind the bobbin, tension the thread, double up on the edge stitching… :)

    Thank you for sharing such a lovely post. Both the writing and the DIY project are beautiful.

  20. Beauty can be expressed even with tissues in hand. In fact it’s the most beautiful!


  21. Janet would be so proud of these (and you!)! Just awesome. ’nuff said. :)
    xo Heidi

  22. This post is beautiful for so many reasons. You did her proud, Linda.

    mk & Gwyneth

  23. I know Janet would be proud! What a wonderful memory!

  24. Precious memories…love the curtains.

  25. So sorry about your sister! Your curtains are BEAUTIFUL! I’ve been contemplating making drop cloth curtains for my living room for over a month now. The fabric has been washed but is now folded lying in a corner. Maybe your post will inspire me on to get them done. Thanks for posting this!

  26. This was such a moving post. As I read it with a lump in my throat, I kept hoping that it would end by your sister having moved away to live in Paris or Rome.

    Your words, memories, and thoughtfully sewn curtains are a beautiful tribute to the sister you miss.

  27. Linda,
    What a fabulous post – keeping your sister’s memory alive. I too have a tissue in my hand as I can’t imagine losing my sister. Thanks for sharing.

  28. Oh Linda, what a beautiful post. Certainly a commemoration of her life and sweet memories.

  29. I love your curtains , but most of all I love how you wrote of your sister. I lost my sister in law to liver cancer just after her 36th birthday. It was 1987 and sometimes it’s like yesterday. I think the important thing is to never forget. They live forever in our memories :)

  30. Linda -
    What a beautiful tribute to your sister. Thank you for sharing with us. Your curtains look great – your sister would approe :o)

    I would love if you came by my Creative Inspirations party to link it up! I would love to see you there!
    Stacey of Embracing Change

  31. Janet couldn’t have been anything other than THRILLED with the way you made those curtains! They are stunning and clearly look like they were inspired by someone brilliant.

  32. Wow. She would have definitely approved of your approach, and final product. So sorry for your loss, now I need a tissue.

  33. I loved your project and your beautiful tribute to your sister. She would be proud of you!!

  34. I love drop cloth and your curtains are beautiful! I have done so many projects with this material! Love it!

  35. I am so sorry about your sister, she was beautiful. I am sure she was by your side pushing you along as you finished your son’s curtains!

  36. Your son’s room looks amazing!! And what a wonderful sister you had to inspire such creativity :)

  37. When I first read this at hyper speed, I missed the end of your post. I am so sorry that you lost your sister. I have 4 sisters and it makes my knees weak to even imagine what you have lost. I am so sorry.
    Kerry at HouseTalkN

  38. Thank you for your very kind words Tracy. You summed it up so perfectly …



  39. Janet would be so proud of your beautiful hand made curtains

  40. Awwwww Linda what a lovely blog post, I’m sure Janet would of approved of your curtains.. they are striking, classy and unique. Keep up the good work!
    You are welcome to link up to my ‘Sunday School’ Linky Party for crafters tomorrow if you like as this is a wonderful tutorial that should be shared.
    Jennie. x

  41. Oooooh. I’m crying, too. What a beautiful post. Sniff. Sniff.

  42. Hi Linda, I am so sorry that you lost your sister! I’m pretty sure she is always looking down on you, especially when doing your sewing projects! and smiling proudly of having such a talented siter!


  43. Oh Linda, I am so sorry for your loss. I can only imagine how proud your sister would have been–both of the curtains AND the blog :)

  44. Amy, that is very sweet. I really appreciate your comment …


  45. Linda, I am truly sorry for your tremendous loss…your sister Janet is guiding your hands on every project..sitting beside you, whispering words of encouragement…she is among the angels bragging about her little sister and how proud she is of you and what you have accomplished. I am sure that she is your inspiration…you have made her very proud!

  46. Beautiful job on the curtains, you did Janet proud. That must have been very difficult to write, I’m so sorry for your loss.

  47. Just beautiful!! Thanks for all of the great tips — pinning this!

  48. Beautiful post. Beautiful curtains! Please come share at http://sassafrassalvation.blogspot.com/2012/04/sasss-sunday-salvation-show-18.html

  49. Fabulous tribute to your gorgeous sister!

  50. Gorgeous curtains to celebrate your sister!

  51. Sorry for your loss, I know how difficult that can be. But that wonderful orange bedroom will surely drive away the blues! You did a fantastic job your sister would be so proud! I LOVE orange and the curtains are brilliant!


  52. Awww, I’m sure your sister would be proud! These curtains are awesome!!

    Found you through A2Z Tutorials and Linky Party!!


  53. Featured you!
    Come grab a button!
    Stacey of Embracing Change

  54. Janet was obviously watching and whispering to you over your shoulder, and you did her proud. It’s thing like this that keep her spirit alive in you. Well done. I lost my brother four years ago, and I’m sorry to hear that you lost your dear sister.

    The drapes really did turn out beautifully! I love that colors and contrasting pattern too. Really gorgeous.

  55. i bet Janet would be so proud of the curtains her sweet sis made! I am very sorry for your loss, Linda.

  56. I like what you created and I believe Janet was right there with you, helping and encouraging you along.

  57. Wow, this looks great. I would love for you to stop by My Dream Canvas.

  58. Sorry to hear about the loss of your sister. This is such a great idea & project! I love the pop of color and they curtains really look high-end, but better! I would love for you to link up at my Linky Party via: http://ourdelightfulhome.blogspot.com/2012/04/show-me-what-you-got-linky-party-8.html

    Mrs. Delightful

  59. I’m so sorry about the loss of your sister. I’m sure she would have loved these beautiful curtains you worked so hard on!

  60. Anonymous says:

    Your sister would be very proud of you! As a long-time sewer, I think you did a great job.

    Found you through Addicted To Decorating and have a question about the color of the drop cloths. What color are they? In some pics they look cream and others a tad on the brown side. Would love to make some for my LR and DR which are open to each other!

    Guerrina in CT

    • Guerrina – the best color match is the long shot of the full drapes. At my hardware store they had some drop cloths that were a bit darker with more brown. And if you want to go lighter you can always bleach them. Just fill the machine with water and a cup or two of bleach and let sit for an hour or two, then run through two wash cycles and dry …



  61. I am doing some serious “Hating on You” in my head. hahaha
    Beautiful and so smart to do. I’m online looking for drop cloths!

  62. Oh Linda, I’m sure your sister would be proud of your drapes. What a touching tribute to her. I come from a family of seamstresses. My mother made the most beautiful antique heirloom dresses for us. She would sew the dresses and my grandmother would hand embroider them. My daughter and I now sew together. Sweet traditions and sweet memories. Thank you for sharing your story.

  63. I’m sure your sister is looking down on you and smiling! You did such a great job. I can’t wait to use your tutorial.
    I am starting a new series this week where I feature five of my favorite projects and I featured your curtains. http://www.laughterandgrace.com/fabulous-five/

    Jennifer @ Laughter and Grace

  64. I too have lost a sister, and I believe Janet is looking down on you. They always see us, we just need to “see” them in our being. Your curtains look great and love the panel on the top, really pops. Janet would say “great” job. Thanks for sharing your creative inspiration Sunday’s Best

  65. What a beautiful post! I think your sister would be so proud of you! Your curtains (and the whole room) is just fabulous!
    Thanks for linking up – I featured you! http://www.flamingotoes.com/2012/04/crush-of-the-week-think-pink-features-44/

  66. Anonymous says:

    Beautiful curtains. They look like they cost a fortune. I’m sure your sister is both proud and honored:)

  67. What a sweet tribute to your sister. I’ll bet she would be proud of the way they turned out. Thanks for sharing this wonderful idea. Love the colors and the ribbon idea. I’ll be adding this to my to do list, for sure. Thanks.

  68. I love the drapes and what a precious post about your sister. How you must miss her! What a blessing to be reminded of her as you use your creativity to sew and create beauty!

    My brother is currently fighting cancer for the third time. He doesn’t want to do chemo this time and I can’t blame him, but I’m praying he changes his mind as last time it put him into remission for five years. He has been given a terminal diagnosis but chemo might buy him some time. Your sister, my brother and so many others are so brave as they live with this horrible disease. My heart and prayers go out to them and their families long affected by this disease.

  69. I know your sis would be proud. Absolutely beautiful curtains and such a sweet tribute.

  70. Thank you for sharing your sister with us.
    I am so sorry for your loss. Sincerely sorry.

  71. Beautiful post. What a great tribute to your sister. I’m sure she would love they way those curtains turned out….they are fab!

  72. Wow! I was so impressed with your curtains (saw them over at Freckled Laundry) and so I had to see more. Little did I know that I was in for such a beautiful, poignant story. I don’t know how you got through that post! I am so sorry about your sister. And from the photo, it looks like she left behind a beautiful little child. How lucky you were to have had her for a sister, even for such a short time. Your post is a creative and wonderful tribute to her! Thanks for sharing!

  73. Your curtains turned out so beautifully! So very sorry to hear your sister lost her battle… I have a friend who has just been diagnosed with a very agressive form of Breast Cancer also after battling non Hodgkins lymphoma for over 9 years… Prayers to you as i can only imagine the pain of losing a sister does not fade with the years!

  74. these are amazing!!!! I have no doubt that you’d make your sister proud. This post is a beautiful tribute to her. May I ask where you bought the dropcloth?

  75. Awww. I know she would love your curtains. I know I do. The graphic fabric at the top is just perfect!

    My sister owns her own body building suit company.(doesn’t take much fabric lol) She does the all the sewing and design work. Her suits are incredible, but there is no way she would let me go near one of them with a sewing machine! I’m the messy sister…..even when it comes to sewing.

    Thanks for sharing!

  76. Thanks for linking to Take-A-Look Tuesday – - you were featured yesterday!
    –Mandy, http://www.SugarBeeCrafts.com

  77. Those drapes are perfect in that room and the best part is, now we all know who Janet is! ~ Maureen

  78. thank you for sharing that with us, I have the same kind of conversations with my Grandmother. She talked me through a poodle skirt a few years ago.

  79. These are fabulous! I love them!

  80. awesome! i think i may copy you. i am like you, not janet. very not perfectionist, but trying to make it look good nonetheless. :)

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