Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Spruce of Pelmet Boxes

Hey y'all. I was inspired by this week's challenge over at the CSI Project to create something for my living/dining room windows that wans't going to break the bank or be something I couldn't conceivably do in a short window of time. I looked through some differing window treatment projects taht didn't involve curtains, and I came up with...

Pelmet Boxes!

My original inspiration was from Jenny, though let me warn you in advance, she makes this project look like an absolute dreamy breeze. But for me, it took a bit more hard work and duct tape masonry. I still love the way it turned out, but yes, it required a bit more money than I was originally intending (totaling about fifty dollars all things included, such as tools and fabric that I didn't have lying around), but I was still able to do it. So, go me! Now, let me share with you how I accomplished this feat.


-Linen (I used something called Duck Cloth)
-Styrofoam Board (will talk about this in a minute)
-Staple gun & Staples
-1/4" Bias Tape
-Fabric Glue
-Duct Tape

Now, before I forget. In Jenny's rendition, she describes using something called foam core board. I went to a few different places and I can't seem to figure out just what in the heck she's talking about. So, my mom and I decided that we were going to get this insulation Styrofoam board that we found at home depot for about 2 bucks a pop for a 2x4. Now this project might have been a bit cheaper if I hadn't decided to cover an 80" window in my living room. Regardless, moving on.

First things first. The best way we found how to get your idea from your sketch to your foam is using a cardboard stencil. Make sure you add about an inch to your measurements of your window, giving you a half inch wiggle room to let the box settle over your curtains, it worked well for us. The stencil we used was half of our full design, so it was easier to transfer to two seperate pieces of foam, since our large main window was longer than what we could find. It was pretty simple to freehand and then trace, though I'm sure there could have been a more precise measurement system we could have involved ourselves in. I was happy how it worked out though. We also just used one of the thousands of folding knives my husband has laying around the house to cut the pattern once it was laid out.

As some of the more astute members may have noticed, yes, my duct tape is bright flamingo pink. My hubby bought that for me, and I don't hate it. But don't worry about your duct tape really, it won't show. Promise. Besides, you cover up almost the entirety of your base anyway, so it doesn't really matter if it's too pretty or not.

Next you're going to cut out pieces from your remnants of foam that extend back from the front of your curtains to the wall for your corners. Ours measured about 5". After you have that all cut out, it's time for your first bit of duct tape masonry. I'm going to say, the stability of all of this was actually pretty good. And it keeps it all light so you don't have to put a bunch of holes in your walls, just a few. (We have already come to accept we won't be getting our security deposit back). Attach your sides to the front structure of your box, attaching in the middle if needed if your structure is of the longer variety. I just used to strips, overlapping slightly at the top and bottom, and that gave me enough stability that I was happy with it.

After you've got that done, you're going to want to lay out first your linen like fabric, and then your batting. Lay your newly constructed box shape over the top of it, and do some pre-measuring. Make sure you're going to have enough to fold up over the ends of your design and upholster it. When you're satisfied, cut away the excess, and you're ready to do the most time consuming part of it.

This is where it got a bit complicated for me. I have never really worked with a staple gun. It took a full day for me to recover after my project was done for my hand to quit aching. And at the end of finishing it, my fingers were partially numb. I may be a sissy, but it was a time consuming effort. There was also the learning just what worked and what didn't, which was pretty much a trial by error. I will say, having some sewing experience helps with this in order to shape fabric to a curve, if you know what you're doing not so difficult. I had to have a bit of a trial and error refresher course.

But through the next step, you're going to be upholstering your pelmet box. Folding over the edges and stapling them down, enforcing them with a bit of duct tape in the corners if you need. Promise, it won't show and you won't have to tell a soul. Here are some helpful tips that I learned.

You can't have your staples too close together.

Let me let you in on a secret. Staples like to have more to grip onto than styrofoam. You can make this work, but you just have to be careful, and make sure your staples have lots of support. Mainly, other staples. It's best, I've found, if you can mount this project fairly soon after you finish stapling it up. Because the more you mess with it and toat it around, the more the staples are going to want to slip loose.

Don't get too far ahead of yourself.

If you start on a roll, and just get stapling away at your little curves and dips, I'm going to pretty much say you'll rip out your staples accidentally because you realize you have to pry up a bit to get a little helpful snip in or tuck or dart. And this will grow frustrating after a while. So my advice is to take it slow and just work a little at a time. And duct tape when you're not certain it will ever stay.

Creative solutions are a crafters best friend.

For instance. My design had a bit of a sharp dip right before the center, and my fabric wasn't cooperating very well, wasn't stretching the way I needed it to, and I was afraid the styrofoam was going to peek out if I cut too close. So my mother and I came up with this solution. I took a bit of scrap and tucked it around the styrofoam, and then felt confident enough to split the fabric far enough to get it where it needed to be. You can't tell on the finished project anything is different, and I'm sure it would have showed anyway, but it gave me the reassurance that it would be covered either way.

After you have all of that fun stuff done, you can flip your beauty over and look at it and make sure it's to your liking. Now is the time to make adjustments, make it lay just how you want to, so on and so forth. Mine were pretty good once I figured out how to staple them.

Next, you're going to want to add the boarder if you want to. If not, I think that'd look fine too, especially if it was a patterned fabric. But for me, I added a bit of chocolate colored bias tape along the bottom curvature of my pelmet box. My husband and I worked as a team on this, he laid the glue, I followed along behind with the tape. I'm not sure if hot glue would work as well here, especially with teh strings and the heat, but you are more than welcome to try it. I stuck with fabric glue since I had the time on my hands to let it dry. In the end, it should come around to looking something like this maybe!

In order to attach our pelmet boxes to the wall, we used these little brackets, which we also got at home depot. (Gotta love a craft project that you buy equal measures of supplies at Joann's and Home Depot!). I used two on each side for my long box, and one a side for the littler one. (Will be pictured at the end). I basically was able to finger screw these into my foam, careful not to tighten them to the point where I'd be shredding my foam. I felt they were pretty sturdy, and so far nothing has come crashing down, but I also practiced some duct insurance, and slapped a bit of flamingo paint on em just to make sure.

Then you get your husband to climb up and screw them to the wall, and voila! Instant color and class to an otherwise drab living room!

The little one is our dining room, and that window basically just is a holster for our air conditioner. The little box only took me probably an hour from start to finish, unlike the three or four that the bigger one took. But you know how that goes, you do it once, you're a pro after that.

But I hope this brings inspiration to someone out there! Because I know I was super stoked to see such a simple project that would add such a nice note of color and interest in my humble little living room. And while it wasn't perhaps as simple as the original tutorial made it out to be, I hope mine has helped open the possibilites for something truly great! I can't wait to hear from others and see how this might take off for other projects. I'm actually thinking if you flipped it upside down, it'd make a wicked headboard, something I've been dying for. So we'll see!

P.S. I finally got to enter into the CSI project's weekly link project party. Visit

Until next time fellow bloggers!


  1. Thanks for sharing such an easy to follow tutorial! Your pelmet box looks great.