Making new curtains for an Airstream is both easy and hard. Overall, sewing curtains is pretty easy (compared to, say, upholstery), but dealing with blackout fabric and those little curtain elastic tabs can be challenging. I’ve seen quotes from $400 to $1000 for Airstream curtains, and in the end, I hope everyone is happy with their choice, but personally, I don’t need $1000 curtains. And most likely, you don’t either.
I’ve made 3 sets of curtains in 2 years for us, and was a little hesitant when Aluminarium asked me to make a set (living room and bedroom) for them. I can live with mistakes I might make, but could they? I mean, I’m by no means a professional.
After a few months (or several, really) I delivered the curtains this weekend, and I have to say, I was pretty happy with the outcome. Are there mistakes? Yes. Some of the hems don’t square up perfectly on the reverse. Do they line up perfectly? Not always, but they’re the best I’ve done so far.
I’m not sure I want to make curtains for other people. Everyone has different standards and expectations and I don’t think I can live up to most of them, but we’ll see. I’m thinking about it.
I made these for Leigh and Brian because I know their taste, I spent time with them and we talked a lot along the way about they wanted the curtains to look, and I think that was an important part of how it all played out. Leigh spent a lot of time looking at fabric and really focused on what would change the whole look of their Airstream, and I think she picked out the perfect pattern.
See this look on my face? Its relief they worked out.
All photos except the first one by Leigh. You can see the finished result here: http://www.aluminarium.com/blog/custom-airstream-curtains/
Depending on how you use your Airstream, and what layout you have, you might love or hate your curtains. After 18 months, our curtains were stained from water condensation and we constantly got awake when the sun came up due to the lack of blackout fabric.
I wasn’t sure I could tackle curtains — but what did I have to lose?
Finding fabric was tough. In such a small space, you better really like the color and design! About 5 years ago, I picked up some vintage curtains at a flea market in Chicago. We had them in our apartment in Chicago and I couldn’t part with them when we downsized. Deke suggested cutting them down for the Airstream —
Since they already had a blackout liner, and we needed some color, they seemed like a good fit. They were also really big, so we could make the fabric wider and not have those super annoying gaps between the original curtains. Seriously, aren’t we all tired of pulling hard to get the velcro to touch?
Because they were going to be wider, I needed more G Glide hooks to eliminate any sags at the top and bottom of the curtains. You can find G Glide hooks here: http://www.curtain-tracks.com/recmar-3044-g-glide-elastic.html. It’s the only place I could find them! 14 of them for $5 seemed reasonable.
The bedroom was going to be harder — I had to add the blackout lining, which I bought at Target as an already assembled curtain liner and just cut down. For fabric, we wanted something dark, and we just started the whole Bora Bora theme, so we wanted it to be a bit rustic as well. I chose linen in the color Tobacco, and doubled the thickness. I sewed the blackout lining on the back and added the hooks after a lot of measuring to make sure they fit the curtain rod. I might add velcro where they come together to really block the light. Im not sure yet! They certainly aren’t perfect, but I learned a lot of good things for next time!
I used about 6 yards of the linen which was around $25 dollars, and the blackout liner from Target was $15. The vintage curtains were $30 and the hooks were $5. Overall, I think it worked out great for that cost. You could definitely do it cheaper, depending on what fabric you got!
We’ve done a few things around the home lately that don’t necessarily warrant their own post, so I’m grouping together a few odds and ends! For such a small space, it seems like there’s always something changing….
Where do you hang coats?
In Texas, we didn’t really need coats — a few layers and you’re fine. But here we need a fleece, a hoodie and a raincoat. All at the same time.
Hoodie, fleece, raincoat.
And our closet isn’t big enough for coats, or even a few jackets, really. It took a bit of trial and error, but we’re sticking with this for right now — Missoni for Target office clips a la coat hanger.
We tried big S-hooks from Ikea (see it there on the far left holding the flashlight?), but if you grabbed your coat too forcefully, the hook flew off. When you’re not using the clips for your coats, you can display cute notes you get from other Airstreamers.
Unfortunately, the fabric Airstream uses is pretty crappy for fulltime use. It might even be crappy for casual use. When we had the Little Weaz, I reupholstered the powder blue dinette to something that would hide dirt a little better and was a tad stain resistant.
Original Weaselmouth Upholstery: Before.
Original Weaselmouth Upholstery: After.
Back when I did that, we still lived in a house, so I had rooooom to sew. When we bought the new Airstream, I had high hopes for the new upholstery we chose (red and light gray),
So clean. For about 5 minutes.
and didn’t anticipate having to sew new covers, but those hopes were quickly dashed, especially with Lucy lying all over the couch. Sewing in this place is challenging, but I get creative —
The picnic table is the biggest work space I have.
and I think the new stuff looks good. I used Sunbrella — an idea I completely ripped off from Josh and Jessa when I saw what they did with it at Alumapalooza. I did NOT clean these cushions before I took the photos, because, well, they’re never clean. Also, I made the cushions a little loose – we’ve noticed that the cushions we sit on the most aren’t bouncing back to their original shape, so we’ll have to get new foam cut in the near future.
I actually spilled an entire glass of red wine on this one. No stain.
Lucy’s bed matches the couch.
She doesn’t like that super lux REI bed.
And even though Lucy has a bed from REI that you can fill with air or water so she’s as comfortable as possible, she still prefers lying on the bathmat.
Granted, the Airstream accordion-fold room dividers are a good idea in some instances. But what we’ve noticed is, when in use, the bottom hem floats a good 8 inches off the ground, and a whole lotta cool air was passing into our bedroom during the day when we were trying desperately to keep that air in the living area during our record-breaking hot summer. Hmmm…what to do?
Then we remembered what Jessa did — made curtains! We saw Jessa’s Airstream at Alumapalooza this year and it was hands down one of the best redesigns ever. If you scroll through the pictures at 1337stream.com, you’ll see the curtain, and several other truly awesome modification. How she attached the curtains to the ceiling, I’ve never figured that out, but after a few weeks of searching, we found these little gadgets at IKEA that slip into the existing track pretty well.
I don’t know what these are called! Sliders? Fasteners? Hooks?
I’ll call these The Clips.
After taking the track down and removing the blinds (they’re for sale if anyone needs one or two!) and finding new hardware, the biggest decision was what material to use. Since this curtain will actually serve a purpose other than decorative, we needed a material that was thick enough to keep the air in or out, block the view of the bedroom if needed and look nice. After several trips to the fabric store, we decided on a narrow wale corduroy in light gray.
The measurements I used for the fabric were just the same size as the original blinds, with about a foot added onto the length so it hit the floor.
I just sewed two panels of fabric together like a giant pillow case and slip-stitched the bottom, and viola!
Open House Day!!
For us, the Open House was one of the most anticipated programs on the schedule at Alumapalooza and really one of the most inspirational events for me personally. More than half the group opened up their trailers to show off their remodels and modifications both inside and out, and there were more than a few truly awesome Airstreams.
Seeing the full range of models and years was great –but we were most curious to see what people with 27ft Internationals had done and got to see a few great ones including Josh and Jessa’s fabric reupholstery and bunk bed modification. Jessa made new sofa cushions with the same Sunbrella fabric that the awning is made from! Genius — most likely I’m going to steal this idea. But their biggest modification was putting upper bunks in the back above two twins. I encourage all of you to look at their site and see the remarkable transformation! There were also the small things we saw — popping out rivets to put up an ipad, installing motion sensitive night lights in the bathroom and repurposing and recycling items from other Airstreams. It was just the kick in the pants we needed to create something really unique in the Weaz.
I’d like this one please.
One of our favorites was a remodeled 1960s unit — I’m embarrassed to say I can’t remember the name of the woman who owned this one, but I was truly in awe of the inside and basically couldn’t think straight. I thought I took a few photos, but apparently I was just wiping the drool off my chin. If you happen to be reading this, Talented Owner, please get in touch!!
Master Rivet contest
You would THINK four hands are better than one….
On this faithful day we also lost any opportunity we had for working in the Airstream factory. High noon-ish began the Rivet Masters Contest in the Service Center where 20 couples were judged on the quality, not quantity, of the rivets they bucked into a predrilled sheet of Airstream aluminum. After a quick tutorial from Dave and Dan (who didn’t do a very good job at hiding their laughter at us), we had one minute to make the best installed rivets we could. This is not easy — in fact, it’s rather difficult as we found out.
After everyone was finished, the experts judged the rivets and at Happy Hour Deke and I discovered we had the worst record — 13 rivets, zero acceptable. At least we were consistent. I’d like to thank everyone for trekking over to the service department to watch, and congrats to Kerri and Russ who did a respectable 60+% successful rivets!
The Golden Airstream
Everyone should add their names on the outside!
Earlier in the week during our Airstream factory tour, we were told Wally and Stella’s gold Airstream was on the lot (YAY!), but we wouldn’t be seeing it. (boo!) On a bike ride around the grounds we spotted it and took a little detour to check it out. We were sad to find it in a gravel lot behind the factory rusted and in disrepair, but did hear that one of the service guys was adopting it and going to see what he could do. It was still great to see this very cool part of Airstream history!
DAY 6 — The End
We drank a lot of coffee.
We were so sorry to see Alumapalooza end. It was one of the best trips we’ve had in the Big Weaz and we can’t wait to do it again next year. If you judge your experience by the amount of things you give away, we did pretty good. I only have 3 coffee cup sleeves left! Or wine glass sleeves, if you’re Kate. 😉
Rich and Crew!
We’re so grateful to Rich and his crew for working so hard in the heat to make it comfortable and super fun for everyone who traveled from all over the country to attend. We also met so many people who immediately became friends (Kyle, I feel like we’ve known you forever!) and through our travels know that we’ll see again. I can’t wait to eat at Kate and Al’s Airstream food stand, Mabel on the Move (look for an upcoming post on Mabel), see what David Winick creates next and maybe, just MAYBE see a few people at Burning Man in 2012.
More Photos from Day 5 and 6