In Favorite Projects/ Quilting/Home Dec/ Sewing

Octopus Curtains Are The Answer

I really need to write a blog post called “A long overdue life update filled with exciting announcements” and/or “I have an epic backlog of projects to photograph and share” but I know that will take a good long chunk of time to make happen, so instead I’m popping in quickly as I finish my morning coffee to share a few thoughts on an understated sewing project I finished last month that is bringing ‘KonMari-level’ joy to my life.

Yes I’m talking about octopus curtains.

Never underestimate the power of sewing something you actually need. Especially when you can display that something in a place where it gets daily love and appreciation. And even more especially when the fabric that something is made from makes you smile! Those are the types of projects I want to share whether they’re “exciting” or “blog-worthy” or not.

It’s so rewarding to make something with your own two hands that serves a real purpose for you, whatever that thing may be. I know we Makers tend to read blogs for inspiration, and though two squares of fabric covering a window aren’t particularly inspiring by themselves, what they represent is. I’m talking about sewing with intent.

I want to create more things with intent. I want to spend more time evaluating what I actually need in my life and consider what projects and materials I’m spending my money on. I want to sew more things that make me really, really happy. For me that might mean never sewing a pair of jeans or attempting to make my own bras (even though I feel like I should to prove …something) and I’m totally okay with that.

The theme of sewing with intent is stirring up a deeper conversation within myself about doing more with less and being happier for it. It’s a pretty heavy subject lately, minimalism and fast-fashion and ethical making and all of that, and I’m considering all of those things seriously. But I can’t take anything in life too seriously or it sucks the joy right out of it, so that’s where octopus curtains come in.

These curtains make me happy. They’re also useful and I appreciate them every single time I see them. I used a piece of fabric from my stash to make them. They’re minimal in their purpose and construction, yet they don’t feel sterile. It’s tough when you want to work towards a more minimal life but all the minimalist inspiration out there suggests every surface of your house should be white or grey. I’m experimenting with ways that I can invite more color and fun prints into my life and still work towards a more mindful, minimalist lifestyle.

Octopus curtains are the answer!

Does anyone else struggle with this? How are you working towards a more minimal life and still maintaining a thoughtful fabric stash full of fun color and prints?


p.s. this amazing fabric is from the 2014 collection Tokyo Train Ride, designed by Sarah Watts for Cotton & Steel.

  • Elizabeth

    Those are fabulous! Everyone should have some octopuses in their lives. I’ve got a cephalopod-obsessed son, so we have octopuses and squids everywhere, and you can’t be sad when you’re looking at them.

  • Ellen Malone Sherman

    I do indeed. We are prepping our house for sale and I am embarrassed by the amount of yarn and fabric I have. Hopefully I can temper my desire to have the beautiful fabrics and yarns available and use what I already have.

  • Rochelle, I have been following your blogs from the last two months, beautiful collections of ideas. I also have octopus curtains in my little one room, and I stitched them. Whenever his friends comes to his room, they say wow, and he proudly says that my momy stitched them for me. You know how feel it good.. no doubt there has been time when I had wasted fabrics, whenever I used to see it, I was feeling bad, one day I decided that if I don’t want to use or don’t have time to use these wasted fabrics, I should at least give it to someone who will use it, so I gave it to my Granny and believe me she made so beautiful home décor that I cant express, although I did not made it but I always feel happy when I see them. So what matter is your happiness! Instead of cribbing on the waster fabrics, it’s good to give them to someone so that you can be happy to see the end results!

  • DIY Wardrobe

    I love it when you get so much joy from an unexpected source like this. I absolutely loathe sewing curtains (too much fabric to wrestle with, and I always end up thinking that made-to-measure store bought ones would have been neater), but there’s always value in making something that you love, but that you couldn’t possibly have bought. I agree with Nicole on the William Morris quote, and for me, sewing with intent means shopping with intent too. And I’m totally with you on sewing bras – never going to happen here.

  • I love your new curtains! Octopuses are definitely the answer 🙂 I always think of minimalist living as the quote by William Morris, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” And if you love colour instead of white, and you think something is beautiful, (even if the minimalists don’t) it has a right to be there! I don’t think minimalist living has to necessarily be sterile. Like octopus curtains- white curtains would save the same purpose- but they wouldn’t be nearly as fun!

  • Two Christmases ago I decided to make pot holders for my kitchen-centered family members. My mom, my sister, and her boys all love to cook. So I went through my stash of fat quarters that I hoard like a greedy dragon, and I chose some cute circus animal fabrics for the boys and some floral/Texas themed pieces for my mom and sister. It was hard at first to “share” my precious fabric… But as I got into the project, the joy of giving and sharing far outweighed my desire to keep. It was a fun project and I smile every time I see the circus lion and balloons or the Indian paintbrush and bluebonnet fabrics. I remember when I chose the fabrics, and now I see them in a completed project where they’re being used every day. 🙂

    • That’s such a wonderful story! Isn’t it so satisfying to see your handmade items out there in the wild getting love? I’m inspired by you. I should go through my stash and see if there’s anything else I could make and give as gifts 🙂

  • Yes!!! I struggle with the sterility of minimalism as I am a definite rainbow lover. I am striving to do more with less, too, but without sacrificing the joy.

    Octopus curtains are definitely the answer. I recently made new patchwork living room curtains using leftover fabric from years of projects. Simple, easy, and so full of joy, right?

    • Those curtains sound awesome, Sarah! What a great idea to do patchwork! I need to make more quilts, or at least donate the scraps I know I won’t be using any time soon. I want to get into more Home Dec stuff as well since I’m almost reaching the point where I don’t “need” to be sewing any more t-shirts.

  • Christine Griffin

    Clearly octopus curtains are joy.
    I’m a big fan of intent, but I tend less to minimalism. There’s this new study that experiences and things really do have the same level of happiness. I try to approach my sewing that way. It’s a journey. I also wear my clothes a Lot, every day, so I don’t worry about sewing things I won’t use. Having a closet full of clothes that make me happy is fine with me!
    I sew household things, like oven-mitts, too. It’s nice to use them and remember, I made this!

    • That’s a really excellent point and I think “minimalism” tends to get a bad rap when it’s interpreted to the extreme. I personally just want everything in my home to have a real purpose AND make me happy. I want the things I own to get used and not collect dust. I’ve slowly been donating the things that I’ve been holding on to and can’t remember why. It gives me a sort of anxiety to see things collecting dust when they once served a purpose. There’s nothing wrong with holding onto things that make you smile and feel fulfilled, it’s just an added bonus when you made it and you use it all the time! 🙂

  • Those are very happy curtains! I don’t love doing home dec sewing, but I always enjoy the end result when I do!

    • I’m always surprised how much I love sewing Home Dec stuff AFTER I’ve finished it lol. It does seem rather boring sometimes to make curtains and throw pillows compared to clothing but the end result still makes me happy 🙂

  • Eve

    I too have been mulling over minimalism and living with intent. I have several bins of fun fabrics set aside for projects that I no longer have as much time for. After a lot of thought, I decided that I was going to use much of the fabric to make fabric table napkins, handkerchiefs, and curtains. I too love seeing those happy prints every day. Win-win. Love the octopus fabric.

    • Excellent idea to make table linens! I should do some more of that, too. I keep peeking around the house looking for new surfaces to cover with fun, colorful fabric 🙂