Thursday, May 31, 2018

Curtain Refresh - What’s Old is New Again with Jill McDowell

Hi Everyone,

Jill McDowell here, welcoming you into my creative space for my first post as a member of StencilGirl’s Creative Team.  In my heart I’ve been a StencilGirl® for a long time so being on this team holds special meaning for me.  I'm privileged to have been given this opportunity to officially represent this company and the inspiring group of stencil designers they've gathered. 

I’m excited to be kicking off a new monthly team feature for StencilGirl® Talk today.  It’s called "what’s old is New Again" and it’s all about highlighting local thrift stores and the impact they have in our communities.  Throughout the year, members of the StencilGirl® Creative Team from around the globe will highlight their favorite shop and the good work it does. Then they’ll search for a treasure to breath new life into using their creativity and of course their StencilGirl® stencils.  I’m eager to visit thrift shops around the world, learn about the good work that they do, and be amazed by projects they inspired. 

I spruced up the windows in my creative space with $5.99 Thrift Shop Stenciled Curtains embellished with Fabric Collage Medallions.
Where I live in Connecticut, there are three major thrift stores: Goodwill, the Salvation Army, and Savers.  I shop in and support all three, but today I'll be taking you to Savers where I found both the inspiration and the materials to spruce up the windows in my creative space.  

Savers has a Community Donation Center that benefits mentoring programs for at risk kids ages 6 through 18 throughout Connecticut.  They are also a poster child for Mother Nature and the environment, keeping over 700 million pounds of used goods out of landfills each year. 

So come along with me to my local Savers in Manchester, Connecticut where I'll search to find something old to make new again.  Afterwards, I'll share my process for refreshing my curtains with stencils and creating Fabric Collage Medallions with upholstery samples and cannibalized vintage clothing.

I used two StencilGirl®️stencils in this project:

Thrift Shop Curtain Refresh

  • Thrift store curtains, (Preferably 100% Cotton)
  • Stencilgirl® Stencils, (I used Straight Stems by Terry Stegmiller)
  • Low tack tape to isolate areas of the stencil, (Washi or Painter's tape works)
  • Acrylic paint, (I used a mix of Golden’s Fluid Acrylic and Holbein's Luminous Opera)
  • Fabric Painting Medium, (I used Golden’s GAC-900. Note that it needs to be heat set for 30-40 minutes in the dryer or for 3-5 minutes with an iron)
  • Small Container, mixing spoons, and a stir stick, (Used to mix paint and Fabric Painting Medium)
  • Make-up sponges or other paint applicator
  • Micron PN pen, (Be sure to test any pen you use on fabric first for bleeding).
I purchased a pair of 100% Cotton Curtains at my local thrift shop 
and washed them in my washing machine to ready them for stenciling.
I turned my acrylic paint into fabric paint with Fabric Painting Medium and then striped the panels with Terri Stegmiller's Straight Stem Stencil.
And then outlined and added details on each stem using a Micron PN pen.
I folded the tops down and machine sewed a new sleeves for the curtain rods.  This saved me from having to hem them later and gave me another surface to stencil on.
I cut the tabs off completely and then heat set the panels
in my clothes dryer for 30 minutes on high.

Fabric Collage Medallions

  • Vintage fabric scraps 
  • Wonder Under by Pellon, (Heavy Duty, Style #725R)
  • StencilGirl® Stencils (I used Doodle It Blossom by Maria McGuire) 
  • Pen, pencil, or marker used to trace the stencil with 
  • Scissors 
  • Iron, (hot and dry)
  • Embroidery floss
  • Thread and needles 
  • Assorted beads
I picked up a grab bag of material at the thrift store.
This drool worthy upholstery sample was inside. 
I cut out elements to use in my collage.
Then I went through my stash and found more textiles from past thrift shop excursions to work with.  (This fabric was cannibalized from a vintage blouse, skirt,and apron and the doily was a hand-crocheted score.)  
I used Wonder Under to "glue" my collage pieces together.  The first step was to fuse it to the back of the fabrics with a hot, dry iron.
I used Maria McGuire's Doodle It Up Blossom stencil as my pattern.
Then I fused all of the elements together with Wonder Under .
I got out my needle and added some free form embroidery.  
(I'm a big fan of French knots if you could't tell.)
And finally I added some beading.

Here's some pics of the finished refreshed curtains and fabric collage medallion  I made for the first window in my creative space. 

And here's pics of the finished set I made for my second window.

I hope you're inspired to take a trip to your local thrift shop to find something old to make new again.  The money you spend there will most likely go directly back into your community, making it a better place to live.  And you can feel good knowing that you've kept something that still has value and purpose from going into the landfill.  Thanks so much for joining me.  

Hugs until next time......   Jill

Other places you can find me:


  1. I love this Jill, the video is so awesome & inspiring! We don't have thrift stores as big as that here in Sweden!

  2. Savers is HUGE and your curtains are amazing, fantastic job!

  3. What a lovely and ambitious project! Great video!

  4. Nice to read your article! I am looking forward to sharing your adventures and experiences. things to talk about with a girl

  5. WOW Jill- exquisite makes! I always love your upcycling and here looks like you have brought it up to new heights! Amazing!
    Jackie ")


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