Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Curtains

This project began as simply an ideal: I got a sewing machine (thanks Mama Allan) and a serger (thanks Mommy) for Christmas, so now I should make curtains because that would put both to good use (and using new technology/toys is always fun!)

Ideals deviate significantly from reality. Babies, especially, aren't necessarily conducive to sewing curtains. But the biggest obstacles were know-how, cost, and... um... other projects (I've always got loads of them. That's the part where I bite off more than I can chew pretty much all the time). If you want the long, interesting (though not necessarily, if you don't enjoy this sort of thing) saga of curtain production, read on. If not, skip through and look at pictures then comment and tell me how proud you are! j/k. well, sort of. I'd love your comments, but you are not obliged to compliment me if you think these stink. Don't tell me if that is the case, because I don't want to hear anything to deflate my sense of accomplishment! :)

Know-how:
I checked out books on sergers and read until I could TELL you all about what I needed to do to run my machine (though I didn't actually DO any of that until May. I was just plain scared of the thing.) I looked at curtains on line, price checked and double price checked, looked at window treatment design books from the library... until... I finally settled upon grommet curtains. It seemed like a design I could pull off in a modern style that I really like. Simple and sleek. No frills.

One of the books I had (still have, actually. I've renewed it every month since January! Good thing no one else wants to sew curtains in Upper Arlington's library district!) teaches how to make them using step by step photos. I cannot stress enough how invaluable this book was. So, from reading, I took measurements and figured out how much fabric I needed, grommet tape, rings, etc, etc.
Cost:
This is when cost really became a contributing factor. Despite what you might think, it is NOT cheaper to make curtains than to buy them. But, you can get cooler fabrics and customize. (It is cheaper to customize your own curtains than to pay someone else to do a custom order for you.) But if you just want normal, solid color curtains, you can get them for about 1/4 the cost of making them yourself. Just so you know. Eric and I chalked the cost up to "education" in addition to "home decor" since I would be learning some serious sewing skills. (Which I definitely did.) But still, I felt bad spending too much on really cute home decor fabric. So I kinda browsed and browsed, but waited til it went 50% off at Joann's Memorial Day sale. Even with the sale, in order to fit it in a semblance of budget, I couldn't get any of the really pretty stripey patterns that I had been drooling over for months. Instead I made a compromise which ended up adding a stylish design element. I got a small amount of trendy stripes for an accent, but the bulk of the curtains would be a solid blue. Ordering the fabric was an adventure in itself thanks to the less-than-computer-savvy-sweet-grandma who was putting it in for me. There's a story there about an extremely tired baby who whined and fussed pitifully for the hour it took to place the order. I'll spare you any further, excruciating details.
Other Projects:
Other projects interrupted my progress at this point. Garden. Gifts for friends. High chair. Book shelf. Canning. Reading... So many delightful interruptions! I think, deep down, I was grateful for the excuses and postponement. Despite the reading, I was still thoroughly scared to start cutting. What if I messed up? I knew how much that material cost...

I mentioned these fears to Eric about a week ago. He said, "Of course you're going to mess up. This is your first time. Don't worry about it. Making mistakes is part of the learning process. Nobody will care if they aren't perfect, except maybe you. In fact, probably no one will ever know." Well. Huh. I guess I am a worrier. Have I mentioned before how perfectly Eric balances out my imperfections? I love him so much. Eric's encouragement gave me the motivation to dive in, mistakes and all.

Jumping in:
I started cutting on Monday. Since my sewing station/craft desk is upstairs in Gwen's room, I couldn't get much done. Eric was on call on Tuesday night. Gone til 11:00. Before I put Gwen down, I lugged my cutting mat, rotary blade, serger, sewing machine, etc down to the kitchen table and...

WENT TO TOWN!!!

Honestly, the hardest part was dealing with the massive amounts of fabric. I'm just not used to that. I've only ever sewn quilt squares and small things like a crib skirt or a valance. The bulk made EVERYTHING more challenging: measuring (who has a ruler long enough for projects like this!), cutting (my mat didn't even come close to being long enough), ironing (how do you iron one half without wrinkling the other half?), and- of course- sewing (the bulk was so heavy and thick it kept falling off the table if I didn't use one hand to hold it up. How does one normally sew these things? Seriously... ) I'm curious. Anyone have any tips for any of the above issues? Not that I plan to make more curtains any time soon, but just for knowing's sake.
Last night I finished hemming the edges, cut out the grommet tape, inserted the grommets, ironed everything, installed the curtain rod hardware, and put up the curtain. Project complete! Yippee! A project 7 months in the making. Finished.

P.S.
(To complete the new "look" for our living room, I was inspired to make matching pillow accents to tie in the blue (to an otherwise mostly cream and brown room)... and commissioned our quilting/sewing club to help me! I haven't made the pillows and table runner yet, but they will be some time this year (after I finish other projects in the wings).)

18 comments:

  1. AMAZING!! Seriously, you are my hero. I have not reached the point where I am confident even to try such a task. I'm impressed you actually understood the sewing books you read...it's a complete foreign language to me. They look great. Seriously, bask in the glory!

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  2. Those turned out so cute! I love the accent stripes. I think all stripes could have been too busy. I am also very impressed with your motivation to learn a new skill. I really should want to learn to sew more, but I just don't. I have a machine, but like you said, little ones are not very helpful, so I just never bother. Anyway, definitely exciting! Go you!

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  3. Just like I thought...fabulous!

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  4. I am extremely impressed!!! Great job!!!

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  5. I am seriously impressed with the grommets! Good job, Elisa! I also like the colors you chose. They really look great.

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  6. absolutely awesome!! you are so talented it amazes me! how do you have time for all these projects? I just don't get it! beautiful!

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  7. Wow! That is incredible. You will be so proud everytime you go into that room- as you should be!
    I have only ever sewed a big so I think that's amazing that you did those curtains. Good job!

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  8. They turned out great. I am so glad all your hard work payed off.

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  9. They look WONDERFUL!!! You did an awesome job! I'm so proud of you!

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  10. holy shmoly those look awesome! Seriously impressed with the domestic skills again!

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  11. Congratulations!!! A home isn't truly complete until the curtains are hung! :) Great job! Now I'll be asking for your expertise when we move in and I want to hang my own curtains!! (Even though I'd LOVE to try your serger, I don't think I'll be MAKING my own curtains. My cop-out is IKEA!) :)

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  12. Love the curtains - they look great! Way to go!!

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  13. Um...wow!!! You rocked those curtains. We need to get together and sew. That would be SO fun! We have a sandbox...if that encourages you to come over. ;)

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  14. Oh, I totally understand where you're coming from. Earlier this year, Mark and I wanted a change for our living room, and since we couldn't afford nice brand new brown leather couches like we wanted, I decided to make some curtains that we would be able to put in the room when we someday had said couches. Well, I only called my mother-in-law to ask for advice, not using a step-by-steo guidebook, but it turned out alright. I also have spare fabric for making pillows someday.
    I also made a queen-sized quilt last summer, and that fabric was big and heavy too. The only way I was able to work with the quilt or the curtains was to roll the end I was not working with, or use heavy stacks of books to hold it in place and not slide off the table. It is tricky to work with such large bulk in one project, but you can make it work one way or another. Congrats on finishing such a great project! Don't you just love feeling accomplishment in stating that you made something that is now a part of your home decor?!? They look great, and I think the accent stripes are perfect!!

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  15. You did such a great job. They look so good. I would have guessed you purchased them at a store.

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  16. Awesome curtains and good job on teaching yourself to sew the curtains.That is dedication. I was going to try and make slip covers for my couches but I lost all motivation.

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  17. I love them Elisa! Well done. Bulky material- i work in stages. I prop the material for about an arm length, sew and then reposition. You just have to be careful or that fabric will have a mind of it's own!

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