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Make these efficient window quilts.

Windows in a home are important. They invite in the sun with her light and her heat. And in winter we crave both.

But at night, or on cold gray days, those windows aren't so friendly. They draw out our precious heat and light.

However, we can come to a compromise and lend the windows a friendly, warm hand.

Over the years, and many window quilts later, I've learned that a winter window covering needs to be easy to use, both going up and coming down. It needs to be cheery when in place (light colors help). Inexpensive to make is a given in our lifestyle.

For most of our window quilts I used old white cotton sheets for the backs (or outsides). We had quite a few, since when we moved north years back we also moved to year-round flannel sheets. They turned out to be a good choice. The white allows more light in when the curtains are down on those sub-zero, but sunny, days. A layer of cotton batting is next, then the top (or inside). This was a patchwork made of scraps and used clothing collected over the years. I was in a hurry to get most of the quilts up so wasn't very creative. I made a cardboard template, sat down with a pencil, marked and cut out a million or so 4" squares (well, maybe only a half million!). Then I sewed them together in a size to fit generously into (or in front of) our window frames. When you tie the quilt it will "shrink" some, so make it on the large side. You want them to cozy up tight to your window frames to keep the drafts out (or in).

I found that light and bright colors look and feel best. Winter doesn't seem to appreciate the darker, subtler shades. But then, you'll probably just use what you have. It'll work. And of course this can be a great place for creativity and fun.

After sewing it all up tie the quilts about every four inches. Then staple and tack two thin boards to the bottom of the quilt. You'll need another small board to attach the top to your window frame. In addition, you'll need cording (venetian blind cord works well; string tends to unravel and break), two small pulleys and large staples (fencing type). You will need something to wrap your cord around to keep the curtain rolled open. A nail will work but a small dowel is nicer.

You may have to do a little creative adjustment to your window frames to make these window curtains work. Follow the drawing to see how to string your cording. Easier done than said I think. A knot or large bead in the end of the cord will keep it from pulling through the pulley. (See illustration.)

Another method

Another technique I've used in our greenhouse is a rigid insulated panel. Make a frame of 1 " x 1 " wood to fit inside your window opening. Cut a piece of rigid foam to fit within the frame. Cut two pieces of polyethylene plastic for either side. Staple to the frame. I used regular wood glue between the frame and plastic as a sort of caulking or sealant. The plastic keeps the rigid foam from outgassing into the room. Cut two pieces of large cardboard to go on either side of the panel. Staple on. Hammer the cardboard flat around the edges. Tack on small boards (3/4" x 1/2" or so). Paint well with an oil paint (it will take several coats). A light color is recommended to reflect the light and heat, both in and out.

How you keep the panels up depends on your window frame and sills. I've used both simple toggles and small elastic bungee cording. You have to find a place to store the panels when they're down, but they are more moisture resistant than the window quilts, and have a higher insulating value.

Window insulation can be an inexpensive way to cut down your winter energy use and keep your dwelling cozier. It can be fun too!
COPYRIGHT 1993 Countryside Publications Ltd.
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Robishaw, Sue
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Nov 1, 1993
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