I finally finished Julia’s room. It took a long time, but it’s done! And I have the pictures to prove it:

Nearly everything in this room was sewn by hand or painted, including the furniture. Though I did most of it myself, Jay, his mom, his grandma, and Monique helped too. Thanks for helping me make her room so special everyone!

Now on to a tutorial I wrote on how to make the butterfly curtains. If it sounds very “proper” and unlike most of my posts, it’s because I wrote it for another publication first. This tutorial can also be found on Curbly.

Butterfly Window Panel Tutorial:

Pick the panel background: Making window treatments for a child’s room (or any room) can seem like a daunting task. I simplified the work by first purchasing paneled curtains (choosing white will help your design stand out, but any color will work). Choose a style that is thin enough to move through your sewing machine but in a thermal fabric if possible. Thermal panels are stylish and also energy saving, keeping the room cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

Choose your fabric: In this case, I decided on a butterfly theme using fabric colors in bright pink, a lighter pink, and a pale green. Mix and match solids and patterns to make your design stand out. Also purchase thread in coordinating colors.

Tip: cotton quilt fabric comes in a lot of beautiful colors and patterns, and is easy to sew. Ask a sales associate at your local fabric store to point you in the direction of the quilt material. Often you can also buy pre-cut “fat quarters” (typically one-fourth of a yard of fabric) of fabric already bundled and with coordinating patterns and colors. Depending on your design, a little bit of fabric may be all that you’ll need.

You’ll also need to purchase the same amount of fusible webbing. This glue- or plastic-based material is ironed on between the curtain and the shape to help hold it on before you sew.  You’ll need to cut out the same type and number of shapes from the webbing, but it will keep your material in place as you sew around it.

Create your template: For the butterflies, you can purchase a small butterfly appliqué and blow it up on a copy machine to whatever size you need. Here I used 100 times its normal size. Since this particular butterfly had three parts (the outer and inner wings and the body and antennae), you’ll need three identical copies, one for each piece.

Cut out each piece of butterfly and then trace each outline onto a thicker piece of cardstock or cardboard, then cut these pieces out for your final template.

Tip: You can also search online for patterns to print off at home, or look through your child’s coloring books for examples to outline. Any image that you have can be blown up on a copier to the desired size.

Trace and cut out your pattern: for the butterflies, I needed 18 of each piece cut out, plus the fusible webbing. To simplify this, fold your material into four pieces with the outside of the pattern folded in so you can cut four patterns out at once. Once your material is folded, pin at the outer corners and in the middle to ensure that the material will cut evenly throughout. Trace your template using a pencil on the reverse side of the material. Cut slowly with sharp fabric scissors around your pencil outline. Unpin and unfold the material and place your butterfly pieces pattern side up. Do this for all three templates and in each material and webbing you have chosen. How many of each pattern is up to you.

Iron your butterflies to your curtain: Take your first (usually the largest) piece of appliqué and layer it over the same size and shape of webbing onto your curtain (follow the instructions on the webbing that you’ve purchased). Do this for every shape and layer, until all pieces have been ironed on.

Tip: when placing your design on your curtain, you can measure out where each piece should go on both panels or free-form the shapes all around each panel for a more whimsical, playful look. I also layered different patterns for each section of the butterfly to help each piece stand out.

Sewing time: One panel at a time, I carefully sewed around each butterfly piece. Unless you have a machine with a really long arm, you will have to bunch the material up to get to some pieces. That’s okay, you will want to steam or iron the curtains once they’re hung to eliminate any wrinkles that have accumulated in the creating process.

Tip: you can use one color of coordinated thread for all of the pieces, or a different color for each piece, or choose a different color for each row, like I did here.

Creating themed window panels for your child’s room is a simple and fun way to make his or her room come to life.