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A really good, layered, winter curtain system

 
master pollinator
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It’s turning cold here in NJ and want to do some basic things to help save on heating bills and make my home warmer. I’m renting and will be leaving in six months, so I’m doing things that make sense considering my circumstances.

I was reading the excellent thread 31 ways to save on winter heating posted by Amit Enventres four years ago. This looks like a great place to start.

The first item is quilted window coverings:

Quilted window coverings. Most windows, including double pane have an r-value of 4 or less, whereas  a modern insulated wall has an r-value of 15 or more. Quilted covers, or the like, can be made from emergency blankets, moving blankets, or fancier material, and will easily  double the insulation on your windows.



My sons room is in the attic and he has three external walls, an external ceiling and two big single pane windows. We have steam radiators and his is the end of the line. His room is the coldest and probably the least well insulated. I want to make quilted window coverings and seeing as their’s a Nest badge : Install a really good three layer winter curtain system
- makes sense to follow the guidelines, make a few more and get a whooping four points, which I think will give me my Straw Badge.

These are the requirements:

This is a badge bit (BB) that is part of the PEP curriculum.  Completing this BB is part of getting the straw badge in Nest.

In this Badge Bit, you will install a really good, layered, winter curtain system.

To complete this BB, the minimum requirements are:
  - at least 3 windows
  - valance
  - washable sacrificial layer (next to the glass)
  - at least 3 layers (blinds can count as a layer)
  - won’t mold easily
  - natural fabric

To show you've completed this Badge Bit, you must provide proof of the following with pictures (or a video < 2 mins long):
  - before, during, and after of installing a really good, layered, winter curtain system
  - demonstrate it meets the above stated requirements



I’ve gone through all my boxes of blankets, old clothes etc. and I don’t have any materials to start with that meet all the requirements except a couple of old bed sheets that could be considered washable and sacrificial. The cheapest option at less than a dollar per square foot is polyester everything but I need natural materials.

My preliminary search brought up products like this:
Warm Company Batting 120-Inch by 124-Inch Warm and Natural Cotton Batting, King
The bullet point description says : 100% Cotton
Read the full description and it’s not 100% cotton, it’s 12.5% polymer fibres.
This 100-percent USA grown cotton is punched with hundreds of needles through a thin base material (polymer fibers) to prevent tearing; shifting; migrating or creeping through the cover fabric making it 87-1/2-percent cotton/12-1/2-percent polymer fibers.

The more I search the more I discover that just about any product on Amazon that says 100% natural is a lie.

And then these products like this:
Gypsy Quilter Cotton Batting which appears to 100% natural but lists 11% Scrim but no description of what scrim is. There’s no listed thickness and many reviews saying it’s very thin. As for R numbers, I haven’t found anything describing how warm these materials are.

And wool blankets that are only 80% wool:
Military blanket

I’m starting to think the cheapest and most reliably natural route to take is to buy a quilt / comforter / duvet and chop it up
Queen size down comforter
Which seems like complete madness!

So this is a plea to the quilters and craftspeople here, what do I use for a good 100% natural insulation layer?
Staff note (Jay Angler) :

This thread spawned the thread about alternative sources for things we have to buy:
https://permies.com/t/169516/quit-Amazon-alternatives#1331033

 
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I'd recommend a general web search (not just Amazon) for 100% wool cloth, which can turn up places like this - https://wmboothdraper.com/Wools/wools_broadcloth.htm that sell the raw fabric. Buying the fabric in bulk will very likely be cheaper than buying something pre-made, such as a blanket. You might also check your area for military surplus stores, they may have actual military wool blankets, not the "military style" knockoffs, and likely at a good price. I once ran into a whole pile of wool blankets (roughly twin sized) at an auction, I kick myself now for only buying 3 or 4 of them; we could have had a whole pile for super cheap.
 
pollinator
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I really like kume curtains, as explained here:  Instructables - Kume curtains  These use fleece, as well as a plastic moisture barrier, so you would have to substitute some other material.  You could probably use 100% cotton duck cloth for insulation.  You may need to make more layers for extra insulation, but the air trapped between the layers is the actual insulation.  The wooden strips between layers would allow an air pocket that would probably still insulate a great deal.  I don't know what a person could substitute for the plastic sheeting that acts as the moisture barrier.  Maybe some type of lanolin/beeswax mix could be soaked into another piece of duck cloth?

I found a number of places that sell 100% wool fabric, but it's pretty expensive, $25-$30 a yard.
 
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Hi Edward,
Since you are moving in 6 months, and you've never done a project like this, I wouldn't spend much if any money on this project. Consider this a wonderful practice opportunity and use free resources.
To make your batting, start by going through all the closets and gathering material you plan to throw out at the time of the move such as:
Anything flannel, cotton towels, dish towels, socks, underwear, clothes that are too small, clothes that are out of style, T-shirts, cloth diapers from your son's baby days, old jeans, moth-eaten wool sweaters and scarves and any other fabric cast-offs.
When you have your big pile of clothes, get a scissors and a seam ripper and create flat pieces of fabric (any shape). Now gather a needle and thread and layer these pieces together into large battings sized for your window project. No need to cut pieces to fit together at the edges: just overlap the pieces so you get a somewhat uniform thickness. Now tack this large rectangle into place with a needle and thread: use a large basting stitch. The natural fiber layers of this batting will hold the air that will serve as you insulation. Once you have this recycled flannel-type batting, you can cover with your more attractive repurposed quilt cover and backing.
Flannel is a great alternative to expensive batting and repurposed flannel from the thrift store can help fill in the gaps if you don't have enough.
Good luck and let your imagination run wild with this absolutely no-risk fun project!
 
Edward Norton
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Trace and Amy - you are both awesome and between you have solved my problem. I only have one apple to give away today, so I will be back to award tomorrows apple.

I will build Kume curtains with what ever materials I can salvage at home. I have found an enormous second-hand clothes store, so I can supplement if needs be. Could be fun going through that checklist - is it natural? How much does it cost per pound? Doesn’t mater what size, shape, style, gender or anything else . . .
 
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I have a couple of damaged terry towels I was given and it's on my list to make them into filling for a pair of wool/cotton oven mitts for my sister. I made some for a friend years ago, and have made new covers for them at least twice since, but she hasn't burned her arm or hand since I did so. As I was reading this thread, I immediately thought of thrift shop terrycloth as having potential for your project. Check the Housecoat aisle, although it's getting harder to find terry cotton ones than it used to be.
Another good insulative fabric would be corduroy. Unfortunately, it's not as popular now as it used to be either.
For sources of wool, watch for men's wool jackets/pants or if you spot a women's pleated plaid skirt it could well be wool.

Good luck and please take lots of pictures!

 
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What I did for my windows was go to the local thrift store and dig around for cotton curtains. I got lucky and they had both white and dark blue cotton curtains. I sewed these back to back, so the white faces outside, and the blue faces inside (My husband works night shift, so I needed black-out curtains.). I have these on a separate curtain rode from my old (sadly polyester) black out curtains. So, if I need to wash the curtains, I just remove the inner curtain rod, take the cotton curtain off, and wash it and put it back.

You could do something similar by getting cotton curtains for the inner layer. OR, you could just go to the thrift store and find a good ol' king or queen sized sheet and use that as the inner layer. You could have it on it's own curtain rod, or just have it attach to the rest of the winter-curtain system by ties, buttons, snaps, or metal zipper, etc.

Below are some pictures I took of my curtains when I was sewing them. (Sorry I don't have any pictures of it hanging--my family is sleeping in that room right now!). I highly recommend thrift stores as ways to get cheep cotton fabric. I lucked out and got a twin sized sheet for $3 the other day. It'll be my husband's pirate sash (his pirate shirt was made entirely out of an old white sheet. My kids' medival garb is also made from thrift store curtains/table cloths). Sheets are great, too, because you don't usually have to sew a bunch of pieces of fabric together to get fabric wide enough for your purposes--the sheet is already nice and wide!
20210114_192135.jpg
Big white cotton curtain I found at the local thrift store for like $4. I cut this in half.
Big white cotton curtain I found at the local thrift store for like $4. I cut this in half.
20210115_193932.jpg
White curtains sewed on to the navy blue cotton curtains. A nice, thick, washable curtain!
White curtains sewed on to the navy blue cotton curtains. A nice, thick, washable curtain!
 
Edward Norton
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Jay Angler wrote:I have a couple of damaged terry towels I was given and it's on my list to make them into filling for a pair of wool/cotton oven mitts for my sister. I made some for a friend years ago, and have made new covers for them at least twice since, but she hasn't burned her arm or hand since I did so. As I was reading this thread, I immediately thought of thrift shop terrycloth as having potential for your project. Check the Housecoat aisle, although it's getting harder to find terry cotton ones than it used to be.
Another good insulative fabric would be corduroy. Unfortunately, it's not as popular now as it used to be either.
For sources of wool, watch for men's wool jackets/pants or if you spot a women's pleated plaid skirt it could well be wool.

Good luck and please take lots of pictures!



Well I confess, I didn’t really know what terry cloth was until this post. It’s one of those words that lurks in my mind with memories of matching hoddies my mother made for me and my sister back in the 70’s. I assumed it was brand, but no! It’s an 1850’s English invention. Who knew! Well I didn’t . . .

Thank you Jay, some great ideas. I’m a big fan of corduroy trousers (pants) and wore them a lot back in the late 80’s when I was at college and known as a young fogey. I bought a pair a couple of years ago and love wearing them in the winter. It’s ‘Frock up Friday’ in our household, so I’ll break them out this evening.

If I find any pleated plaid skirts then my wife will have first dibs.
 
Edward Norton
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Nicole Alderman wrote:What I did for my windows was go to the local thrift store and dig around for cotton curtains. I got lucky and they had both white and dark blue cotton curtains. I sewed these back to back, so the white faces outside, and the blue faces inside (My husband works night shift, so I needed black-out curtains.). I have these on a separate curtain rode from my old (sadly polyester) black out curtains. So, if I need to wash the curtains, I just remove the inner curtain rod, take the cotton curtain off, and wash it and put it back.

You could do something similar by getting cotton curtains for the inner layer. OR, you could just go to the thrift store and find a good ol' king or queen sized sheet and use that as the inner layer. You could have it on it's own curtain rod, or just have it attach to the rest of the winter-curtain system by ties, buttons, snaps, or metal zipper, etc.

Below are some pictures I took of my curtains when I was sewing them. (Sorry I don't have any pictures of it hanging--my family is sleeping in that room right now!). I highly recommend thrift stores as ways to get cheep cotton fabric. I lucked out and got a twin sized sheet for $3 the other day. It'll be my husband's pirate sash (his pirate shirt was made entirely out of an old white sheet. My kids' medival garb is also made from thrift store curtains/table cloths). Sheets are great, too, because you don't usually have to sew a bunch of pieces of fabric together to get fabric wide enough for your purposes--the sheet is already nice and wide!



Thanks Nicole - great ideas. I’m feeling inspired! Looking at a thrift store as a resource for materials has my head buzzing.
 
pollinator
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I've been wanting to make insulated window curtains for some time and probably have enough materials amassed to do it.

The thrift store sheet idea is awesome!   I quilt and often use a cotton sheet for backing.  When we were doing the flea market I'd pick up solid sheets to use as table covers too.  Now I'm on the hunt for flannel sheets to use in rag quilts..  I've also found thrift stores an invaluable resource for fabric.  Recently I purchased 8 1/2 yards of quilting cotton for $8.50 but usually bundles of fabric are $1-2.  Corduroy and double-knit polyester (I know not suitable for this project) can generally be picked up for next to nothing because it's considered undesirable nowadays.   Occasionally I can find denim by the yard but usually resort to old jeans.  

You may want to ask around too.  When my mom mentioned I was making a denim quilt for my daughter one of her elderly friends invited me over and I left with a garbage bag full of denim, flannel and cotton.

Oh and the terrycloth idea is good too!  I'm toying with the idea of making a rag-style bathmat using old towels and cheap washcloths.  
 
Jay Angler
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Michelle Heath wrote:Oh and the terrycloth idea is good too!  I'm toying with the idea of making a rag-style bathmat using old towels and cheap washcloths.  

I have a simple woven mat on my bathroom floor I made with cotton warping thread and strips of fabric as the weft. It's been in daily used for over 20 years, goes through the wash on "delicate" and hangs to dry on a rack and is large enough, one doesn't have to worry about it slipping around. It could be done without a fancy loom -  just a simple frame -  although mine was done on one.

Instructions for a simple frame-based rug are here:
https://permies.com/t/40025/ungarbage/twined-rag-rug  (thanks to Judith Browning for posting it)

So I vote you go for it!
 
Trace Oswald
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Jay Angler wrote:

Michelle Heath wrote:Oh and the terrycloth idea is good too!  I'm toying with the idea of making a rag-style bathmat using old towels and cheap washcloths.  

I have a simple woven mat on my bathroom floor I made with cotton warping thread and strips of fabric as the weft. It's been in daily used for over 20 years, goes through the wash on "delicate" and hangs to dry on a rack and is large enough, one doesn't have to worry about it slipping around. It could be done without a fancy loom -  just a simple frame -  although mine was done on one.

Instructions for a simple frame-based rug are here:
https://permies.com/t/40025/ungarbage/twined-rag-rug  (thanks to Judith Browning for posting it)

So I vote you go for it!



I have to learn that!  Fantastic!  Now time to start collecting old t-shirts.
 
Jay Angler
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Trace Oswald wrote:

I have to learn that!  Fantastic!  Now time to start collecting old t-shirts.

Extra hint - decide where the carpet's going so that you collect t-shirts that blend together and with their planned home, and then mix the colours so that there's a semi-regular repetition rather than the carpet being blue at one end and red at the other, unless of course, that's the effect you're going for.
 
Trace Oswald
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Jay Angler wrote:Trace Oswald wrote:

I have to learn that!  Fantastic!  Now time to start collecting old t-shirts.

Extra hint - decide where the carpet's going so that you collect t-shirts that blend together and with their planned home, and then mix the colours so that there's a semi-regular repetition rather than the carpet being blue at one end and red at the other, unless of course, that's the effect you're going for.



All my t-shirts are black so there is that...  :)

I may have to branch out to family members and friends.
 
Jay Angler
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Trace Oswald wrote:

All my t-shirts are black so there is that...  :)

Ah yes - one of the "don't like to have to decide what to wear" Club - my son agrees except his choice of colour is gray!
 
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We did some simple ones that worked really well (don't know whether they fulfil the PEP requirements if that's what you're going for)

What we did was to make a "pillow case" by stitching two layers of polar fleece together inside-out and then flipping.  We chose black fabric for the outside in case there's any solar gain to be had - plus they look good from the outside.

Inside this "pillow case", we cut a sheet of that foil bubblewrap-style insulation.

This solution was simple (no need for wood battens like a lot of them use), looked good, and insulated extremely well.

The biggest problem we had was coming up with a good way to fasten them to the windows.  Not to thread-jack, but if anybody has ideas on that, i'd appreciate it!
 
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K Eilander wrote:The biggest problem we had was coming up with a good way to fasten them to the windows.  Not to thread-jack, but if anybody has ideas on that, i'd appreciate it!

No matter how nice the drape is, it won't help if it's not hung!

The easiest I know of is a wooden rod that pinches the drape against the window frame and is held there by a few cup hooks.

Velcro isn't biodegradable, which is preferred here on permies, but for small drapes I hung before I was converted to permies, I installed a square wooden rod above the window frame and put the velcro on the top of it so the drape did a 90 degree bend, but that way you don't see the velcro.

Lee Valley tools has these neat screw in holders for rare earth magnets and I used some to hold insulation to a metal garage door that we didn't want to make inoperable. I always  wondered if I could use a system like that for interior shutters of some sort? I'm *really* going to try that if I get some sort of a small greenhouse made.

Part of the issue is if you really need or want the drape to be held against the wall on all 4 sides. Just holding at the top still allows a fair bit of air flow, but that's still better than no drape at all, or something flimsy rather than several layers that slows air flow. Also of course is the issue of how much you feel willing or able to put holes in walls or add permanent fasteners to a window frame.
 
Michelle Heath
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For hanging the curtain, you could sew a sleeve at the top and bottom and use one of those tension rods in each.
 
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Here in the UK, the best and cheapest way to get insulating inner layer material for this sort of project is charity (thrift) shops that have a box of "dog blankets" for sale. In amongst the acrylic crud, they'll often also include some old-fashioned thick woollen blankets that might have a hole or a stain so are not good quality enough to be sold as human bedding. They usually sell very inexpensively. I've bought some wonderful wool blankets with minor damage for next to nothing this way.
Maybe worth checking if your local second-hand stores have something similar. One local place even gives away any used bedding that's not in perfect condition.
 
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My go to fabric for temporary is wool army blankets.  They are relatively inexpensive and can be worked with.
 
Edward Norton
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Success!



On the right is a queen size cotton bedspread
In the middle is a massive 100% cotton quilted blanket - it’s 8ft by 8ft and heavy. Should be great for insulation.
Top left a 100% king size cotton sheet which I will treat with a hot mixture of beeswax, jojoba and pine resin to go next to the window
Bottom left, a bunch of old bedding I already had

Cotton was way more expensive than polyester and only made up about 5% of what was available.
Couldn’t find a single item made from 100% wool from four 50ft racks of clothes . . . But that’s another BB . . .

Total cost so far $34.14
I think I can make 6 curtains

More fun to come . . . Measure, cut and stitch.

Thanks agin for all your help.
 
Edward Norton
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I know I probably should ask this in the PEP forum, but seeing as I have had such great response, I’ll start asking here.

Why does it need to have a valance? I’m really not a fan of valances . . . Isn’t a bit like saying, it has to have tassels? This could be a show shopper for the BB even though I’m going to make them anyway.

A window valance (or pelmet in the UK)[1] is a form of window treatment that covers the uppermost part of the window and can be hung alone or paired with other window blinds, or curtains. Valances are a popular decorative choice in concealing drapery hardware. Window valances were popular in Victorian interior design. In draping or bunting form they are commonly referred to as swag.



Alas . . . Total show stopper . . .
 
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A valance further blocks air movement from between the window and the covering, adding greatly, to the overall insulation effects.
 
Trace Oswald
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Edward Norton wrote:I know I probably should ask this in the PEP forum, but seeing as I have had such great response, I’ll start asking here.

Why does it need to have a valance? I’m really not a fan of valances . . . Isn’t a bit like saying, it has to have tassels? This could be a show shopper for the BB even though I’m going to make them anyway.

A window valance (or pelmet in the UK)[1] is a form of window treatment that covers the uppermost part of the window and can be hung alone or paired with other window blinds, or curtains. Valances are a popular decorative choice in concealing drapery hardware. Window valances were popular in Victorian interior design. In draping or bunting form they are commonly referred to as swag.



Alas . . . Total show stopper . . .



Not so fast my friend.  What if we can put our collective heads together and figure out a way to make a temporary valance so that you aren't changing the house structure at all?  I'm assuming you don't want the valance because of having to screw it to the walls?  Or is it another reason entirely?  Maybe you simply don't like the appearance?  I have a couple ideas for a valance that wouldn't need to be permanently affixed if that is the issue.  I don't like the frilly looking ones, but have seen ones I like, generally made from wood.
 
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I wonder, how tall does the valance have to be to qualify? And if the drapes/coverings were inserted inside the window frame, sealed at the inner top edge, wouldn't that be as effective as a valance? Looking for a simpler, easier to keep clean, yet still maximally effective design.

The earlier-style "Warm Windows" Roman drapes we made and installed at our previous abode cut off the cold air *very* effectively. They used the sealed at the inner top edge design.

Meanwhile, I'm puzzling over how to use the rare earth magnets and screw in holders to install them in this house. Thanks for that heads up! We'd rather not put the magnetic strips on the window frame side and bottom molding as the previous design called for.
 
Trace Oswald
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V Kay wrote:I wonder, how tall does the valance have to be to qualify? And if the drapes/coverings were inserted inside the window frame, sealed at the inner top edge, wouldn't that be as effective as a valance? Looking for a simpler, easier to keep clean, yet still maximally effective design.

The earlier-style "Warm Windows" Roman drapes we made and installed at our previous abode cut off the cold air *very* effectively. They used the sealed at the inner top edge design.

Meanwhile, I'm puzzling over how to use the rare earth magnets and screw in holders to install them in this house. Thanks for that heads up! We'd rather not put the magnetic strips on the window frame side and bottom molding as the previous design called for.



I agree with you.  I can't believe a valance would be much help above what a thermal curtain would be if it were sealed at the top and tucked tightly against the sides and bottom like you mentioned.
 
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So, I have another idea for hanging thermal curtains.  Suppose you made the curtain out of your thermal material and made it an inch or so bigger than the window on all sides.  In other words, two inches wider and two inches taller than the window.  More would be better.  Then you could make a simple wooden rectangle out of 1"x1" wood that was an inch narrower and an inch shorter than the window.  You could use that to push the thermal curtain into the window frame and the material of the curtain trapped between the wooden frame and the actual window frame would friction-fit the thermal curtain just into the window frame.  It would be ugly of course, because you could see the wooden frame.  Two possible solutions to that would be covering the whole thing with another curtain, or gluing your thermal curtain to the wooden frame so you could push it into the window with the wooden rectangle towards the glass.  I'm not too fond of the gluing idea because at some point, you may want to remove your thermal curtain to wash it, or use it elsewhere in a smaller window, or the wood frame might break, and so on.  
 
Jay Angler
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Edward Norton wrote:

Why does it need to have a valance? I’m really not a fan of valances  

Most curtain rods stick out from the wall by 2-3" so that pleated curtains can slide along the rod to open and close. In those situations, what Carla said totally applies. However, the "valances" that were in our motor home were very simple wooden structures with the front upholstered - *no* tassels or frills I assure you! In fact I see no reason that it couldn't be a nicely sanded and oiled wood valance, although it might not seal as fully. Windows tend to set up convection currents - I think the idea is to prevent that.

I'm having a little trouble picturing what Trace Oswald suggested, unless the idea there was to leave the thermal curtain in place 24/7 rather than opening it for light during the day? If it was going to be opened and closed, I think I would attach the curtain to the frame and add a couple of handles to the frame (old drawer handles?) and make sure to put triangular supports in the corners. Grab the handles, pull it out and lean it on the wall when you want light. Push it back into the window frame at night. If the frame was a bit too loose to stay, an extra layer of a thick fabric in key spots would likely be enough to tighten it up.

The way I hung my Roman shades eliminates the air-flow at the top because the wooden 2" by 1 1/2" wood that it hangs from acts as the block. However, that doesn't stop the air moving in and out at the sides. Something along the lines of a "door snake for drafts", but hanging down each side might do the job? If it was long term, a wooden frame at the sides to fill in the gap would help a little, and I have seen houses where they actually have hinged boards that they close over the edges at night. By the time I was messing with that level of complication, I think I'd be making indoor, insulated wooden shutters which I'm beginning to seriously consider for my bedroom which was built by a previous owner who thought that sliding glass patio doors with a metal frame was fine on a north wall!
 
Edward Norton
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You folks are amazing . . .

I confess to being a bit mad with myself for not reading all the requirements, or at least not the bit about a valance. I went off line for a bit and finished my knitting BB which is very comical.

I need to process all the ideas and do some more searching online for a good solution. Ultimately this is about keeping my house warm, reducing fuel bills and not PEP . . . PEP is just a bonus. I’ve nearly finished Nest Straw - the last available Nest badge. I’m only one point off Sand Oddball - so I’ll just post there instead. I can get four nest points for washing the outside of the house - I just need to figure out how to get my unfriendly Russian neighbour to move four cars . . .
 
Trace Oswald
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Jay Angler wrote:Edward Norton wrote:

Why does it need to have a valance? I’m really not a fan of valances  

Most curtain rods stick out from the wall by 2-3" so that pleated curtains can slide along the rod to open and close. In those situations, what Carla said totally applies. However, the "valances" that were in our motor home were very simple wooden structures with the front upholstered - *no* tassels or frills I assure you! In fact I see no reason that it couldn't be a nicely sanded and oiled wood valance, although it might not seal as fully. Windows tend to set up convection currents - I think the idea is to prevent that.

I'm having a little trouble picturing what Trace Oswald suggested, unless the idea there was to leave the thermal curtain in place 24/7 rather than opening it for light during the day? If it was going to be opened and closed, I think I would attach the curtain to the frame and add a couple of handles to the frame (old drawer handles?) and make sure to put triangular supports in the corners. Grab the handles, pull it out and lean it on the wall when you want light. Push it back into the window frame at night. If the frame was a bit too loose to stay, an extra layer of a thick fabric in key spots would likely be enough to tighten it up.

The way I hung my Roman shades eliminates the air-flow at the top because the wooden 2" by 1 1/2" wood that it hangs from acts as the block. However, that doesn't stop the air moving in and out at the sides. Something along the lines of a "door snake for drafts", but hanging down each side might do the job? If it was long term, a wooden frame at the sides to fill in the gap would help a little, and I have seen houses where they actually have hinged boards that they close over the edges at night. By the time I was messing with that level of complication, I think I'd be making indoor, insulated wooden shutters which I'm beginning to seriously consider for my bedroom which was built by a previous owner who thought that sliding glass patio doors with a metal frame was fine on a north wall!



The wooden valance you talked about is exactly the kind that I like.  I'm picturing one like you said, a nicely done, hand rubbed wooden one.  I would put a thin layer of felt or the like on the wooden edges that are against the wall to seal it.

My idea is the same as you mentioned about my "curtain on a frame".  It would press it in during the night, and you would just pull it out during the day.  I was just picturing pulling it out by the wooden frame itself rather than by handles, but the handles are a great idea and would be the better option.  Triangular supports are a great idea as well.  They wouldn't need to be very large to support something like this, but would add rigidity.  I was just picturing gluing and screwing the frame together, but the supports would add greatly to longevity I would think.

Can I just take a minute to say that your post is the reason I love this forum and the people on it?  Good ideas build on good ideas and on and on until some really wonderful solutions are arrived at.  
 
Trace Oswald
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Edward Norton wrote: Ultimately this is about keeping my house warm, reducing fuel bills and not PEP . . . PEP is just a bonus.  



I made a post similar to that a while ago in a thread about what would get you doing PEP or something like that.  I think PEP is a great idea and I really think it could help people get land that owners don't want to go to relatives that don't care or won't preserve what they are doing.  It doesn't apply to me because I'm older and have my land, so I "check the blocks" of some PEP requirements if they are things I was going to do anyway.  It only takes a few minutes to take some pictures of the process and post them.  It's fun, I like the badges, and hopefully, someone may see something that helps them or gives them an idea.  Like you, the PEP things are just a fun bonus for me.
 
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Hey Edward! Your enthusiasm and heartfelt call for us to help you come up with ideas is truly inspiring. You have certainly come a long way from your original question:

So this is a plea to the quilters and craftspeople here, what do I use for a good 100% natural insulation layer?



Those materials that you picked up at the thrift look great for unseen insulation. Your treated-king-sized sheet sounds like it will work for the inner facing material touching the window. Now you have some valance ideas as the finishing touch. Maybe I missed it but, what are you planning to use for the outer facing curtain layer that everyone will see? Where, dear Edward is the beauty?

If you don’t have the facing covered, may I suggest a roll of garden burlap? It is very inexpensive and since it is biodegradable, may be easily repurposed in the garden after your move. In my minds eye, I see you creating a swag valance with vertical side tails. Such an effect requires lots of draping fabric, kind of like an extra long scarf. Since garden burlap is super cheap, you could channel your inner interior decorator and drape the swags and cascades with wild abandon. Of course your son’s room would be masculine, given burlap’s warm brown tone, but it could also become enchanting if you used string-lights as your finishing touch....
 
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Jay Angler wrote:I have a couple of damaged terry towels I was given and it's on my list to make them into filling for a pair of wool/cotton oven mitts for my sister. I made some for a friend years ago, and have made new covers for them at least twice since, but she hasn't burned her arm or hand since I did so. As I was reading this thread, I immediately thought of thrift shop terrycloth as having potential for your project. Check the Housecoat aisle, although it's getting harder to find terry cotton ones than it used to be.
Another good insulative fabric would be corduroy. Unfortunately, it's not as popular now as it used to be either.
For sources of wool, watch for men's wool jackets/pants or if you spot a women's pleated plaid skirt it could well be wool.

Good luck and please take lots of pictures!



Be careful with this answer for oven stuff..  Be sure the towels don't melt doing oven stuff.  There are some bamboo towels that are faux bamboo towels that are actually an easily meltable man made material.  If you don't react fast enough when it melts it cans stick to the skin and make rough burns.
 
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If you make something out of various materials sewn or glued together what ever is inside might show through in daylight. But maybe a crazy quilt idea is the look you want. Seams of a quilt can show through too. Getting a shade or covering to fit snuggly without being over or under sized is a lot of planning and trial and error - just do one first. Fastening it in with a rod is as good as how level and plumb the windows are. In my van, I screwed washers along the edges then used magnets to keep it all in place. Paint the washers to match the wall or trim or just go for a steam punk look. The other thing I tried was hanging lots of layers of curtains on a hefty rod. It doesn’t look wonderful when each piece is different but it holds the air in. Wool is good next to your body because it breathes - curtains don’t need to breathe - they need to block air movement. Velvet or corduroy might be a better choice than wool. Terry cloth sometimes isn’t all that insulating it’s just thick. Old lined curtains can be found at thrift shops or yard sales and those are fairly insulating. If they get ugly use them for drop cloth when you paint.
 
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Australian’s wanting to try this should check their local thrift shops for woollen blankets. South Australians in particular should look for old ‘Onkaparinga’ blankets which were made from 100% Australian wool. Some have a satin ribbon edging (not sure if the edging is 100% natural, but easily removed) though older blankets have a simple blanket stitch on the edge.
Now that we’re coming into summer in the Southern Hemisphere, blankets will be more plentiful in op shops, but they’re as rare as hen’s teeth in the cooler months, which is when I usually try to find them for dog bedding.
 
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This shop is in my hometown! Great wool products. http://www.courtneywoolenmill.com/
Click on products to know what is available.
 
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I live in Appleton, WI. Check out Courtney Woolen Mill!!  http://www.courtneywoolenmill.com/
 
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Congrats on finding a solution.

Connecting with some local thrift stores might be an option for either "cheap" or "waste fabrics"  there are a lot of donating clothes (blankets, sleeping bags, coats,etc) that end up simply being thrown away. If you let them know what you are looking for they may cheaply sell you garbage bags full from the sorting process. Anything donated with holes, stains etc is automatically tossed, and costs then disposal fees when it fills their dumpster.

We have a window and sliding glass door in the apt we rent that came with "quilted" window shades, and they do really work.

When we build our house we'll be using a similar design for all the windows (including the greenhouse).

Sewing tip: use Tyvex thread or something equally sturdy.

 
Edward Norton
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I thought I should post an update. At the weekend I got a lift to Home Depot and picked up the wood for the frames.

Here's one of the windows - I have two in total and they're exactly the same size:



I cut a frame and used staples to fix all four corners, three staples each side. I did this because the wood is very thin and light pine. Any joint work would be hard and I don't have a fine tooth saw. In addition, the joints would benefit from glue and I don't want to use glue.





I made some oil cloth for the first layer, the layer next to the window. You can read all about that here - Oil Cloth Badge Bit



This is a sacrificial layer that also has to be damp / mould proof. It might need replacing, so rather than staple it to the wood, I used eye-lets and screws so if it needs replacing, it can easily be done.



I flipped the frame over and stapled the thick insulated cotton blanket





Then went on another woven blanket and then two laters of cotton duvet cover





The frame is a snug fit. I thought I'd need to make some toggles to hold it in place. Next up - add two handles and make the second frame.

 
Trace Oswald
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I love it. In addition to saving on heating bills, the room will feel much warmer at the same temperature. Everyone has probably noticed how much colder you feel when you are near a window in cold weather. Thermal curtains increase your comfort factor a great deal.
 
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