Curtain Chronicles: Tales from the Tribal Nursery

How to turn a boring thing like drop cloth into a dazzling display of Native American whimsy: Kelly tells all

When we initially decided to transform my brother’s office into a fantastical, dream-catching nursery where their newest little wildebeest would spend his young adult life, we knew something had to be done to cover up a twelve foot wall whose only purpose seemed to be blinding people upon entry of the room by means of a magnormos window.  Thus, the “hey, why don’t we make thirteen foot curtains out of drop cloth?” idea was born. Since Laura, my design teammate, had busied herself with buying all of the wall decor for the nursery, shopping until she literally dropped (that’s a long drop guys…), I wanted to do my share of work so that Laura wouldn’t punch me in the face for not pulling my weight. On Friday afternoon, while all three of my extremely well behaved children (for ape species, anyway) napped, I started the job of custom making 155” inch curtains for the nursery project that I was excited to begin.  We wanted the curtains to span from floor to ceiling (a 144 inch span), and we knew we wanted them to puddle. These things needed to be as big as a truck, but the process needed to be easy like Sunday morning (the Sunday mornings you had before you decided to make the grave error of having children to feed, dress, and usher out the door on time for church.)

The first step was going to be to finding a pattern that would go with the theme that Laura and I finally agreed upon after hours of deliberation. The “Cutesy/Native American History” theme was a solid choice as it complimented the rest of the decor that my sister-in-law has displayed throughout her house. These guys (Kelsey and Trey) just love the natives.  And as I took refuge from my small, ever present children, I looked up from my secret mom throne in the bathroom , and thought that my shower curtain would blend perfectly. I had always liked the gray and white, diamond pattern, and for a brief second, I considered cutting it up to make these new curtains.  However, while my husband’s morning shower might be appealing sans curtain, taking it down would probably make a giant mess. It was time to do some shopping.

When my husband finally relieved me from parental duties on Thursday evening, I decided to venture out into a lost-to-motherhood-but-not forgotten, magical, little place called “HomeGoods” (the heavens part and doves fly out). After spending way too much time breathing deep, walking normally without fear of a child disturbing something fragile, relishing in the fact that I was, for ONCE, all by myself, I came across the aisle of curtain panels (cue the Beethoven “duh duh duh” music). Walking nervously through the aisle, I literally prayed that Tommy Hilfiger lightening would strike twice, and the shower curtain design would show up on a pair of curtain panels. Guess what? You guys… God heard me, as he does every day when I ask for strength not to kill one of my small humans, and there they were, two panels, 95”, pattern: my shower curtain. “Tommy, you’re a genius,” I said to no one. The length really didn’t matter because I would be cutting them and adding in a massive piece of drop cloth anyways…sorry Tom. Happily, intentionally, and slowly, I went home and started the cutting process while my little tykes were dreaming about what they could pester me with when they awakened.

I began by trimming along the diamond pattern, zig-zagging across the panel. I wanted the “Aztec” design to be noticeable, but at the same time, I wanted to blend the layer of drop cloth behind it to make it look like one big flowing piece, rather than something that I had cut and pasted, even though I did. I measured 32” from the top of the curtain and made a mark with a pencil. I made my cut just above the 32” in. mark, cutting triangles along the bottom. I mimicked the same cut for the top and bottom of both panels of Tommy curtains. The drop cloth would be placed in the middle with aztec triangles pointing towards each other at both ends. I used the 9ft. side of a 9×12 ft drop cloth for the length of the panel. After cutting the drop cloth, there was one side (the side I cut) that was frayed. In order to make this look like a seamed dream piece from the newest Louis Vuitton collection, I ironed the sides and made a crease in line with the Tommy tops and bottoms. I then, to make them stay in place, I glued the creases with my trusty little hot glue gun that I’ve named Harry. Harry is my best friend, because let’s be real, I can’t sew! I’ve hot glued everything from shoes to lamps; I practically keep my life together with the stuff, and I’m a firm believer in it’s power. And for that, I love you Harry.

With one curtain panel done, and one to go, I was feeling excited about finishing the project. But suddenly, the mother throne called me back to it’s safe harbor. As I sat alone for a moment, enjoying the peace and solitude that the bathroom brings, I looked up at the shower curtain and, once again, admired Tommy’s hard work, silently thanking him for selling curtain panels in the same design. I then softly but slowly glanced toward my feet, which were resting atop a jute rug, and then….BAM, inspiration hits. It usually does while I’m in my safe space. The color and texture of the jute rug complimented the fabric and design of the shower curtain SO well. I knew I had to incorporate it into the curtain panels somehow. Since there was so much blank space between the two sections of aztec design, I decided I would fill the drop cloth with different lengths of twine hung from the bottoms of the triangles. The texture and color of the twine resembled the jute rug, and I knew it would work like a little charm. THEN another idea hit and just knocked my little….ahem big…socks off. Why not put different colored beads at the bottom of the twine with….wait for it….wwwaaaaiiit for it……FREAKING FEATHERS?!We were already doing the Native American tribal thing, so it worked perfectly. What I didn’t realize was how long this would take and how much help I would need to assemble to get this job done before the big reveal on Sunday. I am so grateful to come from a hard working, helpful family, and even more grateful that my workhorse of a momma was in town for the weekend. She stayed up with me Friday night as I finished curtain panel #1, and then I had my boys help string the beads. They loved it! Remember gang, the family that beads together, stays together!!

The finished project turned out fabulous. We paired the curtains with a cute little arrow shaped rod, and they really gave the room the vibe we were looking for. All in all, it was a fun family project that our clients loved. Special thanks to Tommy Hilfiger for his tireless work in selecting the perfect fabric pattern.


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