Monday, October 29, 2012

Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls

Over the past few years I have learned one very important lesson: if you're going to make sweets, make sure you have a place to take the majority of the batch. Otherwise, it will all end up in your belly. Which, while delicious, is probably not the wisest idea.

Occasionally, Adam and I argue on this point. This was one of those times.

Of the 12 cinnamon rolls, I gave away 5, and I totally suffered the husband stink-eye look when I gave any of them away. But, there's no way we each need 6 of these rolls. As much as we want to eat them.

I first saw the idea for this over on The Spiffy Cookie and couldn't get the thought out of my head. Of course throwing some diced apple into cinnamon rolls makes perfect sense, why oh why did I not think of this before? It took me less than a week to get into the kitchen and make my own.

Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls
Adapted from:

1 cup warm 1% milk (105 - 115 degrees F)
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 1/2 cups bread flour

1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, softened
4 small apples, peeled and diced (I used McIntosh)

1/2 cup whipping cream
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the milk, yeast, and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, or until the top of the mixture is foamy. Mix in the eggs, melted butter, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup of granulated sugar. Slowly add in the flour, one cup at a time, until a soft dough forms. If using a stand mixer, switch out the paddle attachment for the dough hook, add any remaining flour, and knead on medium speed for 6-8 minutes. Otherwise, turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, add any remaining flour, and knead for 8-10 minutes, or until dough is slightly tacky and elastic.

Coat a large bowl with cooking spray. Shape the dough into a ball, then transfer to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place bowl in a warm, draft-free area and let dough rise until doubled, 1-2 hours.

While the dough is rising, combine 1 cup brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl; set aside. Once the dough has doubled in size, turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Punch down, then let cover and rest for 10 minutes.

Roll dough out into a 16 x 21 inch rectangle. Spread 1/3 cup butter evenly across the dough leaving a 1/4-inch margin on the shorter sides. Sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture evenly across the butter. Spread diced apples across the dough, making sure they are evenly spaced. Starting from a short side, roll dough up, pressing the final 1/4-inch margin of dough gently into the roll to seal. Cut dough with a serrated knife into 12 slices. Coat a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with cooking spray. Transfer the rolls to the pan. Cover pan with a towel and let the rolls rise until they have about doubled, 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bake rolls for 15 minutes, or until tops are golden brown. Let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine whipping cream, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 1 cup brown sugar, and 1 tablespoon butter. Cook until the butter is completely melted and sugars have dissolved.

Drizzle tops of warm rolls with caramel sauce.

Serves: 12

I ended up using 3 apples for my rolls, but I really think adding more would really bring out the apple flavor (this change is reflected in the ingredient list above). I also think I might play around with the caramel sauce next time as mine turned out pretty thin.

Even with these additional changes I might make, there was no denying that these were some very tasty rolls. Perfect for a chilly fall day.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 183g
Amount per serving
Calories 480Calories from fat 128
% Daily Value
Total Fat 14.3g22%
Saturated Fat 8.5g43%
Cholesterol 64mg21%
Sodium 303mg13%
Total Carbs 82.6g28%
Fiber 3.2g13%
Sugars 43.8g
Protein 7.2g
Vitamin A 10%Vitamin C 4%
Calcium 8%Iron 15%

Friday, October 26, 2012

Crafty Fridays: DIY Clothing Dividers

Making the bedding isn't the only DIY thing I've decided to do for baby girl's nursery. There are other little oddball things here and there I would like to tackle -- not only to save money, but also so everything coordinates without being so matchy-matchy.

I came across a couple tutorials for clothing dividers for closets and thought they were super cute. Are they necessary? Absolutely not. But if it's something that's going to help me stay organized from the get-go rather than trying to figure it out later, then I'm all for it.

And you don't necessarily need to have a nursery in order to have an excuse to make these. I'm weirdly anal about my closet, and have everything organized by type of clothing and color. I still get grief about it from Adam. But it makes sense to me, so I stick with it. I can totally see making another set of these for myself someday, only with the adult version labels: tank tops, short sleeves, long sleeves, sweaters, etc. You could even use this for your guy's side of the closet with "polos", "dress shirts", "dress pants", and so on. That's what's so great about these - you can customize them any way you want.

Things you need (to make 5 dividers)

2 6mm-thick pieces of foam board (9"x12")
An item or pattern in the shape you want your dividers to be (I used a CD red solo cup)
A circular item that is larger than the widest part of your closet bar (I have a 1" square bar, so I used the inside of a roll of tape, which was 1 1/2")
X-acto knife
Cutting board or mat
Scrapbook paper (~2 sheets 12"x12" paper or however many print you want)
Acrylic paint (that matches your scrapbook paper)
Small paint brush
1/2" foam number and letter stickers
Mod Podge (I used glossy, but matte would also work)
1/4"-wide ribbon that matches or coordinates with scrapbook paper
Hot glue gun

All of the tutorials for making these I had found involved using small wooden "O" letters from the craft store. While great in theory, how do you get them on the closet bar without taking it down? Unless you cut a wide enough gap at the bottom to slide it down over (and any time it spins it will fall off), you can't. Problem. So while wandering one of the 3 craft stores I went to yesterday, I discovered thick 6mm foam board. Perfect. It's thick enough to stand on it's own without bending, and it's pliable enough to cut a small slit into then twist slightly to get it onto the bar. Sold. (I also think thick cardboard, such as from a heavy duty box, would work here.)

I decided to go with 5 dividers for my closet: newborn, 0-3 months, 3-6 months, 6-9 months, and 9-12 months. I figure after that point her growth with slow down considerably and I probably won't have as much hanging up. But, feel free to make however many you want, just adjust the amount listed above so you have enough materials.

The other great thing about using foam board is you can make these dividers into whatever shape you want. You could do squares, circles, ovals, stars, or any other custom shape. I went simple with circles.

Note: If you have a shelf over your closet bar, you may want to make sure your desired shape will fit. I did not do this and had to cut all my circles down to a smaller size.

To start, trace your shape or pattern onto the foam board.

Using the X-acto knife, cut out each divider. Make sure you place your cutting board or mat underneath before you start!

Now trace out the circles for the center hole for the bar to pass through. I used the inside of a roll of tape, which had a 1 1/2" diameter, but double check the size of your bar. Cut the circle out.

At the bottom of the inner circle, measure out 1/2" as centered as possible.

Draw lines from the 1/2" marks straight out to the outer edge. This will be the small gap that allows you to get the divider on the bar. Cut on the lines.

Repeat with remaining dividers. I simply traced the 1/2" portion I had cut out from the first divider rather than remeasuring each one.

Check to make sure your dividers fit. It's pretty easy at this point to readjust - not so much if you finish them then realize they don't fit.

Now it's time to start decorating. Lay out an old piece of newspaper, and place the dividers on top in a single layer.

Coat each divider (including front, back, and sides) with 2 coats of paint. Let paint dry 1 hour between coats. This may seem pointless, and you could probably skip this step, but I like to have the back-up in case I misalign/mis-cut the scrapbook paper or ribbon. That way you don't see bright white peeking through.

Once the paint is completely dry, place one divider on top of the matching scrapbook paper that is face down. Trace along all the edges of the divider (outer edge as well as gap and inner circle). I traced each divider separately, rather than just using my original shape, as I noticed I am unable to cut perfect circles. So just trace one side of each divider for now, we'll get to the other side in a bit.

Cut out each traced piece from the paper, flip the divider over, and place the paper on top.

Remove the paper from the top of a divider and paint a thin coat of Mod Podge on the top (don't worry about the sides, we'll take care of those later). Place the paper back on top of the divider, lining up as best possible with the divider. Smooth out, making sure there are no air bubble trapped beneath. Repeat with remaining 4 dividers. Let dry for 15-20 minutes.

Once dry, coat the paper on each divider with a thin layer of Mod Podge. Let dry for 15-20 minutes (it should no longer be tacky to the touch).

Place foam letters/numbers on each divider in desired location (I used the "I" cut in half for the dashes). You can do this before the first Mod Podge coat, but it's much easier to move them on top of the Mod Podge if necessary. You can also wait and put your wording on after all the Mod Podge coats, but I just don't trust the stickiness to last very long, so I'm using the Mod Podge to help glue them to the dividers. (You could also use letter stickers here, but I couldn't find any I liked in the right size, and they're more expensive.)

Top with another thin coat of Mod Podge, making sure to go around the sides of the letters/numbers. Let dry 15-20 minutes. Repeat 3 more times.

After you finish one side, flip over and repeat with the other side. When finished, each side should have a total of 5 coats of Mod Podge.

Last step here! Pick out coordinating 1/4"-wide ribbon to cover up those lovely rough edges. After covering all the edges with matching ribbon, I decided a coordinating-but-not-matching color actually looks better. So ripped it all off and did it again.

Using a hot glue gun (I like the low heat version), generously glue the ribbon along the outer edge of each divider. Press down firmly.

And ta da! Finished clothing dividers. Place them in your closet and admire your handy work.

Final price to make your own dividers?

2 6mm-thick pieces of foam board (2 @ $0.89) = $1.78
3 sheets Scrapbook paper (3 @ $0.59) = $1.77
3 colors acrylic paint (3 @ $1.00) = $3.00
1/2" foam number and letter stickers = $2.39
3 spools 1/4"-wide ribbon (3 @ $0.50) = $1.50

Final Price = $10.44

Of course, if you plan ahead and hit up some sales or use 40% off coupons, you can always do this for cheaper. In comparison, you can buy 5 plastic rings with stickers printed and stuck on for about $13.50 from Etsy. Not a huge difference in the long run, but I still like picking my own coordinating pieces.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies

A little over a month ago, we found out the bad news that one set of our good "couple" friends was moving. To Texas. Forever far away. Sad day.

When you're not from the area originally, it's kind of nice to have other friends in the same boat as you that you can lament to about the horrible drivers, ridiculous roads, and Pittsburgh-ese accent. It's also nice when these friends will come over to help you finish getting ready for a beer tasting party or help you throw a baby shower or play soccer with you on Thursday nights.

We found out about their decision with not a ton of time before the husband left to begin training at his new job, so his going away party was unfortunately squeezed into the middle of a week when we knew everybody could make it. (I swear free weekends are like gold around here!) However, with the departure date for his wife looming at the end of this month, some of our other friends decided to throw one last small get together. I, of course, waited until the last minute to decide on what to bring, but I knew it had to be dessert.

After some scrolling through my recipes and pins on Pinterest, I opted to go with these Chocolate Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies. a) They're portable and easy to grab as you walk by, b) I knew she was a fan of the chocolate peanut butter combo as she's made a killer chocolate peanut butter pie before, and c) I've been craving baby girl loves her some chocolate and peanut butter together. What can I say? It was an easy decision.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies
Adapted from: Eats Well with Others

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract, packed
1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
7 ounces marshmallow fluff
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (or silpats), set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the first four ingredients (through salt).

In the large bowl of a mixer, cream together the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy, 3 - 5 minutes. After scraping down the sides of the bowl, add the egg and beat on low for one minute. Stir in vanilla.

Add half of the flour mixture to the mixing bowl and stir at a low speed. Once ingredients have mostly combined, slowly pour in the buttermilk. As soon as the buttermilk is fully incorporated into the batter, add the remaining flour mixture. Stir until all ingredients are well blended.

Scoop a heaping tablespoon of batter onto the prepared baking sheets. Leave at least 1 inch of space between cookies. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until centers of cookies are cooked, but still soft. Repeat with remaining batter. Allow cookies to cool for 10 minutes on the pan before transferring to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat together 1/2 cup butter, marshmallow fluff, peanut butter, and salt. Once there are no more lumps, slowly add in the powdered sugar and vanilla. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat for 3 minutes, or until fluffy.

Once the cookies are completely cool, pipe the filling onto the upturned bottom of one of the cookies. Top with a second cookies. Repeat with remaining cookies and filling.

Makes: 18-22 whoopie pies

The problem with great dinners thrown by friends is that there is never enough room to eat everything you want. As was the case this time. But, after sitting around the awesome fire pit for a while, there seemed to be juuuust enough room for dessert. Several disappearing and one toasted whoopie pie later, and it was determined that these were a hit. You know they're good when people who have a ton of leftovers actually want to keep a few for later.

Nutrition Facts (1 batch = 18 whoopie pies)
Serving Size 81g
Amount per serving
Calories 301Calories from fat 134
% Daily Value
Total Fat 14.8g23%
Saturated Fat 7.6g38%
Cholesterol 38mg13%
Sodium 395mg16%
Total Carbs 39.1g13%
Fiber 1.2g5%
Sugars 23.1g
Protein 4.1g
Vitamin A 7%Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 3%Iron 6%

Friday, October 19, 2012

Crafty Fridays: How to Make Curtains with Ruffles

Since I have a ton of crafty projects I want to work on for the baby, I've decided to start a new little segment called Crafty Fridays. I'm not guaranteeing that I'll having something new every week, but when I do, it'll be up bright and early Friday mornings.

Wait, what? A sewing project on this blog?

I know, I know, a little out of character. BUT I've taken on the massive project of making all the bedding/fabric type stuff for baby girl's room so I figured I would document the process and it may help someone else along the way. (What can I say, I have picky taste and refuse to shell out the big bucks for it.)

So, if you're one of those people who are looking for the "how-to", here we go. Warning: this is long and picture heavy.

First off, if you absolutely hate/can't stand/would do anything but iron, you might as well hire someone to do these for you. I would say close to 75% of the time that goes into making these is spent on ironing hems. Fun times, let me tell you.

Still here? Okay then. Let's get started.

Things you need

~6 yards of fabric for the main curtain panel (I used Premier Prints Emma Twill in Wisteria)
~6 yards of fabric for the ruffles (I used Kona Cotton Solid in Corn Yellow)
2 twin flat sheets (I used white sheets from Walmart since my main panels were white, but they come in lots of different colors)
1 spool of thread that matches the main panel
2 spools of thread that match the ruffles
Good scissors
Seam ripper
Measuring tape (preferably the long heavy duty kind)
Yardstick or other long straight edge
Dressmaker's pencil

*Amount of fabric will vary by the width of your fabric

Part 1 - How to make lined curtain panels

I found an awesome lined curtain tutorial over at the House of Hepworths and decided to follow that tutorial for the main panel portion of my curtains.

First, open up your flat sheets. I chose not to wash any of my fabrics to ensure that there was no shrinkage and that it stayed as straight cut as possible. Cut off the hems along the sides and bottom of the sheets.

Then, take your seam ripper and open up the large hem at the top of the sheet.

Now it's time to start becoming BFFs with your iron. Iron out all the folds in your sheets and set them aside (laying them out across a bed works great to prevent more wrinkles).

Next, lay out the fabric for your main panels, leaving it folded down the center as it most likely came. I purchased 54" wide twill fabric, and it worked wonderfully for my 49"-wide window. Generally the rule is to aim for 2 to 2.5 times the width of your window. I think 44/45" panels would work just fine here, too.

The side edges should be lined up fairly evenly based on the center crease, but if not, line the edges up. I've noticed that when fabric is cut from the bolt, the cutter usually does it free hand and it ends up somewhat jagged and uneven. Use your long straight edge (I used a long level, but a yardstick would be perfect for this) and another straight edge to form a "T". Line your shorter straight edge up with the selvage side (what will be the long edge of your fabric and is typically frayed) and lay the long straight edge across the fabric near the top. Mark your line, then cut off any uneven portions of the fabric.

You really want this top line to be straight as all of our future measurements will be based on this edge.

Now, it's time to cut the main panel. Measure out how long you want your curtain, plus an additional 10 inches. Repeat the straight edge cutting procedure. Then repeat it all again for curtain #2. You should now have your two main curtain panels. Open the panels up to their full width and iron out any wrinkles.

Next, we need to create finished edges along 3 sides of our panels. Starting with the long selvage edges, fold over 1/2 inch and iron down to hold in place. (In my case, the selvage itself was 1/2 inch, which made it much quicker to eyeball it rather than measure it.)

This gives us one finished edge.

We need to fold this ironed hem over one more time to give us a nice finished hem on both sides. Simply fold the edge over the width of the first fold.

Repeat with the other long side. If you need to use a ruler, feel free. My 1/2-inch eyeballing typically ends up growing to 3/4" or 1" (I had to measure out the folds for the top).

For your top hem, iron a 1/2-inch fold like you did with the first two sides, then iron a 3-inch fold. This gives you the nice pretty wide hem at the top you can use to slide your curtain rod through or to place your curtain clips.

Whew. Let's take a break from ironing for a bit, shall we? You should now have two long sides with finished ironed edges, and a 3-inch top hem with finished edges. Leave the bottom of the panel alone for now.

Spread out one panel with the right-side (side with the pattern) facing down. Try and get out as many of the wrinkles and bumps as you can.

Remember those plain boring sheets we took the hems off and ironed? Time to bring those back out. Lay one of the sheets on top of your panel, lining up the top and left edges (the sheet wasn't cut perfectly so I had to do a little trimming).

Now tuck the edges of your sheet underneath those pretty ironed folds along the top and left side. Ignore for now the fact that the sheet is hanging over your right edge and bottom.

Pin the edges down, making sure your sheet is almost touching the side of the panel under the fold. Smooth out any wrinkles or bumps.

And it's finally time to actually use our sewing machine! Start stitching down either the top or left side with a 1/4" seam allowance (don't forget to backtack!). Begin stitching the left side where the fold intersects the top fold (do NOT start from the top if you plan on using the top hem to slide the curtain rod through). Stitch all the way down to the bottom and backtack at the end. Begin stitching the top fold where it intersects the left fold and end just before the right fold on the main panel starts.

Spread your panel with sheet back out. It should look like this, except with, ahem, more wrinkles and bumps smoothed out:

Now it's time to take care of that pesky excess fabric on the right side of the panel. Cut the overhanging fabric off, leaving the sheet about a 1/8" more narrow than the panel.

Tuck the sheet under the right fold, then pin into place (make sure you get as many bumps out as possible). Sew down the length of the fold with a 1/4" seam allowance starting from where the right fold intersects the top.

Yay, now we have 3 finished sides! Hang in there, we're almost done making our lined panels.

Cut off that extra fabric hanging out past the bottom edge of your panel. It really doesn't matter how much, this just makes it easier to work with.

Hang your almost finished curtain up on the curtain rod. Pin the bottom of the curtain up so a folded edge is touching the ground. Take the curtain back down and spread it out in your work space again. Measure from the top of the curtain to the bottom (mine was 86"). Pin in place, slide the measure tape over a few inches, and measure again. Continue to measure and pin the entire width of your curtain.

While you can totally pin up the hem by eyeballing, I am not capable of that and getting it very straight, so I prefer to go by actual measurements.

Now if you were just going for simple lined panels, here is where you would measure out your hem (however big you want it), stitch across, and call it a day. Since we're adding ruffles, I didn't want a huge hem that I would have to sew over. I decided to go with a small, 1 1/2" hem. However, there was way more than than 2" folded over, so I cut off a couple inches of the extra fabric (making sure to leave enough for an additional 1/2" to be tucked under).

Tuck the remaining raw edge underneath to create two finished edges.

Remeasure one more time from the top of your curtain to the bottom (at multiple points) to make sure your curtain is the same length all the way across.

Stitch across your fold, making sure to backtack both at the beginning and end.

And huzzah! You are now done with your lined curtain panels. Hang them up and pat yourself on the back (and check to make sure those bottom hems are straight).

Take a break, watch some TV, regroup, do something, anything else, then come back for part 2.

Part 2 - How to the make the ruffles

Figuring out just how much fabric you are going to need for the ruffles can be kind of bothersome. Most people claim that for a "good" ruffle, you need about 2.5 times the width of whatever you're adding it to. In this case, I went with 2.25x, although I really think you could get away with only 2x. My ruffles were plenty fluffy.

So, how do we figure out how much fabric to get? Here's the money saver method, which involves piecing together a few ruffle strips. This way saves you about a yard of fabric, but if you're lucky and found some super cheap fabric, you might just want to save yourself an extra step or 2.

First, my main curtain panel fabric was 54" wide. Thus, I needed 121.5" long ruffles (for 2.25x the width). I decided to go with 5 (per panel) 7" wide ruffles, which will shrink to roughly 6.5" after we hem them. 6 strips will fit across a 44/45" wide piece of fabric which leaves us with 4 more strips to account for. If you go horizontally across the fabric with the strips instead of down the length, you will need two 44" pieces and a 34.5" piece to make one long strip (I added an inch to account for 1/4" seam allowances). This equals slightly less than 6 yards.

It looks like this:

Or just add on another yard and you'll have extra material the width of 2 strips for the full length on the second piece.

SO. Now that the math is done, let's get started. Leaving the fabric folded, trim the top short edge until it is straight (like you did with the curtain panel material way back at the beginning). Then measure and cut a 121.5" piece and a 84" section.

Measure your fabric width from inside the selvage to inside the selvage. Mine was 44".

Place the beginning of your measuring tape even with the inside edge of the selvage and mark off the fabric horizontally in 7" increments. Move the tape down a few inches and repeat for the length of the fabric.

Using your straight edge and pencil, connect the marks to form lines running the length of the fabric.

Cut off the selvages (about 1/2" each side).

Cut strips apart along the drawn lines. You should now have 6 121.5" strips.

Lay out your 84" piece of fabric. Repeat the same procedures, but instead mark 12 7"-wide strips going horizontally across the fabric (so each strip should be 7"x44").

Cut strips apart along the drawn lines. Cut off the selvages (about 1/2" each side). You should have 12 44" strips.

Take 4 of your 44" strips and cut them down to 34.5".

To make things easier, separate your short strips into 4 piles. Each pile should have 2 44" strips and 1 34.5" strip.

Pin together the "right" sides of one set of short strips facing each other. If you have pencil marks from the lines on one side consider that the "wrong" side. Make sure your seams between the three pieces are facing the same side.

Sew together the three pieces in each pile with a 1/4" seam allowance. You should now have 4 121.5" strips that have been pieced together.

Time to make friends again with your iron. And this time it's for the long haul. (Oh! Make sure you have plenty of distilled water on hand if you use it.)

Starting with a short 7" side, pin down a 1/4" fold. Press with an iron. Repeat along 1 121.5" side and the other 7" side.

As before, turn your fold over so the raw edge is tucked underneath. Iron. Make sure any wrinkles in the strips are ironed out and the seams in the pieced together strips are ironed flat.

Repeat 20 bajillion times. Okay, more like 9. Once finished, stitch along folds creating a hem on 3 sides of each strip. Don't forget to backtack here.

Now, along the raw unfinished side, you will be adding 2 rows of basting stitches. Start stitching along one side about 1/4" from the edge with the machine set to the longest stitch length (DO NOT BACKTACK). Stitch the entire length of the strip until the end, then leave long tails of thread. Make a second row of basting stitches about 1/8" inside the first row. Make sure you do not cross the rows. (Note: check the bobbin before starting each basting row -- if you run out in the middle of a strip you will have to pull the entire row out and start again, these must be one long piece of thread.)

Separate the top two threads from the bottom two threads. Pick one set of threads (either the top ones or the bottom ones) and pull gently, scooting the fabric down as you go.

Continue gathering fabric until the strip shrinks to 54" long. Repeat with remaining 9 strips.

Now it's time to get a good look at what the finished product will look like! Lay one of your finished curtain panels out, right side up. Take 5 gathered strips and lay them out width-wise along the bottom of the curtain, one on top of the other.

Adjust the overlap of the ruffles to what looks good to you. I decided on 4" between the top of each ruffle, giving me about 2.5" of overlap.

I also wanted just a little overhang from the bottom strip, so I decided to place it 5.5" from the bottom. Remember how I was such a stickler for making sure the curtain top was super straight earlier? This is where it comes in handy. Measure down the length of your curtain and mark it 5.5" shy of the bottom. For my 86" curtain, I placed a mark at 80.5".

For the next 3 ruffles, I placed a marks 4" apart (so 76.5", 72.5", and 68.5"). For the final top ruffle, you will be sewing it on upside down (so it folds over and you don't see the stitching). I placed the mark for the top ruffle 2.5" above the previous one, but I think 3" might be better. So my final mark was at 66".

Shift the measure tape over a few inches and repeat the marks all the way across the width of the curtain. Use your straight edge to connect the marks and draw lines the full width of the curtain.

Place your first ruffle right-side up along the bottom-most line, lining up the very top edge with the line. Pin in place, making sure the gathers are evenly spaced and the ruffle fits perfectly from side to side without pulling on the opposite end (bunching up the curtain underneath).

Sew down the length of the ruffle with about a 1/4" seam allowance, backtacking at both the beginning and end. Take care to keep the top of the ruffle against the line. Repeat with the next 3 ruffles.

Place the final top ruffle wrong side up, upside down (hem is exposed and pointing to the top of the curtain). Line up the top of the ruffle with the final line. Pin into place.

Sew the final ruffle down. Flip the ruffle over -- you shouldn't be able to see any unfinished edges, just a clean seam. Iron out any remaining wrinkles in your curtain panel, and lightly press the top ruffle downwards (I did this by slightly pulling down on the ruffle and lightly ironing the top 1/4" of the ruffle).

Hang up your curtain and ooo and ahhh. Then repeat with panel #2 and remaining 5 ruffles.

Once your curtains are up and you decide they look awesome (i.e. you don't have to move and fix any ruffles), remove any basting stitches that are showing on the top ruffle and any loose hanging threads.

Now. Step back and check out those fabulous curtains. Then round up your husband for a back rub.

Final tab for these homemade beauties?

6 yards twill fabric @ $5.61/yd (on sale) = $33.66
6 yards cotton fabric @ $4.79/yd (40% off) = $33.53
2 flat sheets @ $4.87/sheet = $9.74
3 spools of thread @ $1.26/spool = $3.78

Final Price = $80.71

Not too shabby considering one unlined panel like this would go for at least $50. And you can totally pull this off for cheaper if you don't end up using the most expensive broadcloth in the store (because, of course, that's the only one that matches). Best part? You get exactly what you want. No compromises here!


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