DIY Yarn Block Tea Towel Cafe Curtains

Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap  —  March 21, 2013 — 4 Comments

I mentioned last week that I’d been inspired by a couple of modern cafe curtains spotted on the interwebs. But since I’m trying to take it easy on the spending for a few weeks I didn’t want to shell out cash for designer fabric. I’d been wanting to give yarn block printing a try for a while and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. If you don’t know what yarn block printing is then stay tuned, I’m about to show you. But first let’s review my materials: I already had the yarn, paintbrush, plastic cup for mixing the perfect shade of gray from black and white craft paint, and textile medium (turns any paint into fabric paint). The only things that I bought were the wood block (99 cents) and two-pack of flour sack tea towels ($9 but I had a coupon so it was $5.40).

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After spreading out towel #1 on a sheet of protective paper, I mixed the black and white paints to create a nice charcoal gray, then added in some textile medium to make it more fabric-friendly.

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Then I wrapped some yarn around my wood block, painted one side, and practiced blotting it on the paper a few times.

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Once I was ready to start printing the fabric, I started at the bottom left hand corner and worked in rows, turning the block 90 degrees each time I put it down. I found I got the best results if I painted it lightly and then blotted it once on the paper before moving to the fabric. I could get sometimes a whole row out of it before having to load it up with more paint.

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This would be a good activity for art therapy. It was very relaxing and low-pressure, since the very nature of it was imperfect and a little messy. There were a few times I messed up with my whole horizontal-vertical checkerboard, but it really was not a big deal at all. Kind of a Zen activity overall. It would be easy for kids to do, too.

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The only thing I wasn’t happy with was that the gray paint looked so much darker on the fabric! I was really hoping for a light charcoal color but ended up with a high-contrast black/white look. Not my thing. So I hung the two towels up on my clothesline for a few days, even spraying them with lemon juice a few times and at one point washing them with bleach. This picture is totally washed out but it gives you an idea of the intense Southern sunlight these babies were exposed to. The paint still didn’t really lighten, just got a sort of distressed look to it. After a few days I conceded defeat and decided to hang them up in my kitchen anyway.

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But first I had to sew a rod pocket. I ironed and sewed a hem wide enough to fit this tension rod I’d bought for $3 from Amazon. Easy peasy.

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And here they are in my kitchen, taking me a little bit out of my comfort zone with their starkness but delighting me with their lack of chickens (cafe curtains in my mind are traditionally laden with chickens). Now I can see the giant magnolia tree two houses down instead of into the neighbors’ laundry room.

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And in the spirit of keeping it real, this is what my kitchen counters¬†actually look like ON A GOOD DAY. High chair tray in the sink, random dishes perpetually waiting to be put away over to the left, empty wine bottle I’m too lazy to finish peeling the label off of, ugly blue dishwasher basket holding dish sponges, scrub brush and bottle of dish soap on the sink, random crap over to the right.

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How nice would it be to knock out that beige-y backsplash and replace it with some white beadboard? And paint the walls something a little less flesh-like? I dream.

I had a lot of fun with the yarn block printing and I think it would be an easy way to create some modern, graphic art (especially if you had a large frame to fill), but I’m not sure I love the look for fabric. Of course I’m too lazy to do anything about it anytime soon so I’ll probably live with these for months until they either grow on me or I get motivated to make something new, but the really revolutionary thing here is realizing that I can use tea towels so easily! Of course I have a giant bolt of white muslin left over from sewing curtains for the rest of the house, but it’s nice to buy something already sewn for once (I only had to add the rod pocket, but you could even use curtain clips if you wanted. I just didn’t think the clips would be a good look here). I’m even thinking about maybe dying them with tea to tone down the contrast a little bit (besides, the bright white is making my cabinets look a little dingy in real life). Regardless, I’m calling this a win because functionally they are great–privacy on the bottom, sunlight and pretty views up top. Can’t beat that with a stick.

Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap


4 responses to DIY Yarn Block Tea Towel Cafe Curtains

  1. I have the same fleshy walls in my bedroom! I dream about repainting (we’re renting) but I have to admit I have grown fond of them in a weird, probably creepy way.

    Love the curtains! I’ve been thinking of doing something like this for a tablecloth but that would be a LOT of stamping!

    • Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap April 3, 2013 at 10:08 am

      It would be a lot of stamping, but it would be so fun! I really enjoyed the stamping part of this project!

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

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