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 …


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  1. says

    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.


  2. says

    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!

  3. says

    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.

  4. says

    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!

  5. 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.

  6. says

    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!

  7. says

    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.

  8. says

    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 :)

  9. says

    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

  10. says

    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

  11. says

    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!


  12. says

    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 :)

  13. says

    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!

  14. says

    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!


  15. says

    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.

  16. says

    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!

  17. 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

    • says

      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 …



  18. says

    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.

  19. says

    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

  20. Anonymous says

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

  21. says

    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.

  22. says

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

  23. says

    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!

  24. says

    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!

  25. says

    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?

  26. says

    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!

  27. Niamh says

    What a lovely post!! Reminded me so much of my Nana who passed and spent hours teaching me to sew and knit. Im going to give these a try for my son( also Sam!) ‘s room. Thank you so much for sharing this!! im off for some drop cloth and tissues . :)

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