By Sean Conway
As soon as I finish the yearly chore of washing all the screens, we open our windows and doors so fresh air can waft through the house. The back door to our house leads out to a patio and is the door used most during the summer months. I often comment to my wife that if we installed a tollbooth at that door we could retire early.
The only one who has problems with the screen door is our dog. It seems to frustrate her that she can see us and smell us through the door, but she can't open it. She usually scoots out as one of us is passing through. But if left on the wrong side, she will whine or bark until someone opens it for her.
Recently, a guest on "Cultivating Life" showed me an innovative solution to this problem: a flexible, curtain-like screen that keeps bugs out but lets pets come and go as they please. This version of a screen door is appreciated most when you have your hands full, as there is no latch to maneuver; an elbow is all you need to push the screen aside. A similar version can be made for unscreened windows.
Stripes look great as a border for the screen, and they provide an easy guide to cut on. None of the sewing required is complex, but if it seems like too much for you, coerce a crafty friend into helping. Here's a helpful video of the process:
1 roll of fiberglass screening; enough medium-weight cotton fabric to make four 8-inch wide strips totaling some 20 feet in length; thread to match the fabric; drapery chain-weight tape (sold at fabric and drapery stores).
You will also need scissors, an iron and ironing board, needle, sewing machine, grommet tool, nails or hooks for hanging.
1. Cut the fiberglass screening to a size that's 2 inches wider and 2 inches longer than the door opening. Cut the cotton fabric strips so that the two long strips are equal to the length of the screen and the two shorter strips are 3 inches wider than the width of the screen.
2. Lay the cotton strips wrong side up on ironing board. Fold each long edge in so that edges meet at the center of strip. Press with iron, making sure folds are parallel. Fold over in half again and press with iron to form a finished binding strip. Repeat with remaining strips.
3. Take one long strip and open it like a book; sandwich a corresponding long edge of the screening inside it, centered on the bottom fold. Baste the strip to the screen about 1/4 inch from the inner edge of the binding. Repeat with other long edge. Now repeat with the shorter edges, but leave a 1 1/2 inch-overhang on both sides (for wrapping fabric around the corners). This is to create corners. To remove some fabric bulk from corners, trim away the inner fold of the cotton strip back to the width of the screen.
4. Baste a length of chain-weight tape on the bottom edge of the screen, leaving a 2-inch strip on each end without the weight-tape to avoid running into it when finishing the edges later with your sewing machine.
5. With a sewing machine, stitch the inside edge of the two long sides, then the two short sides. Mark the unweighted end (this will be the top of your screen) for three grommet holes -- one at each end (about 3/4 inch in) and one in the center of the top edge. Use a grommet tool to attach grommets (or have the grommets professionally done at a local fabric store). Hang the screen on three nails or hooks in the doorframe.
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