Posts Tagged ‘curtains’

It’s been a year now since I picked up sewing.  I have to say it’s absolutely exhilarating to be able to make my own life this way.  But, you know, I think it’s a shame that I waited so long.  I was definitely under the impression that sewing would be hard, really haaaaard.

Sewing is actually a lot like driving a car.  Sure, it can be dangerous and you do need some training, but anyone can do it – really!  But, you’re never going to learn to drive if you don’t get behind the wheel and start.  Sewing is just the same.

Step #1 – Own a sewing machine.  If you really want to sew you need to make that initial investment to get a machine in your home.  For a long while I told myself that I could sew at my mother-in-law’s.  But, it’s like exercise – if it’s that inconvenient you’ll likely never do it.    Here’s a post at Sew Mama Sew about how to shop for your sewing machine, along with a link to machine reviews.  I bought a $200 machine from Sears, and it’s working out quite nicely.

Step #2 – Choose a project.  You could take a sewing class or read a general “how to sew” type of book, but who really has time for that?  I took that first step by deciding to make flat valances for my kitchen windows.  A “useful” project was the motivation I needed and the key to receiving the initial go-ahead from my husband to buy supplies.

Step #3 – Get Help.  Do you have a sewing friend or relative that can help you get friendly with your sewing machine?  Be sure to read your machine’s manual (and keep it handy)!  It may help to refer to a general sewing book as well for the basics.  I learned a lot from Bend-the-Rules Sewing by Amy Karol.  Also connect with the sewing community online through blogs and Flickr (oh, great – you’re already here!).

Step #4 – Finish! It won’t be perfect; it probably won’t be easy, but you’ve got to finish!  All the imperfections seem glaring when you’re in process, but once you hang those curtains up (crooked stitching and all), you’ll forget about all that.  Your friends will notice you beaming and finally realize that you’re all giddy about your latest sewing project as you gesture wildly in the direction of your windows.

First sewing project ever

And then… compliments!  Success!  Wow, I did that!  And, you’ll be off to your next project, officially “sewing.”

Read Full Post »

Come, take a peak at a project I’m working on, inspired by “Sew Liberated: 20 Stylish Products for the Modern Sewist” by Meg McElwee! Meg’s book is a gorgeous introduction to the art of applique – sewing fabric patches or shapes onto a background fabric. Her directions are clear, detailed and accompanied by great pictures. She even gives specific recommendations for sourcing unusual supplies.

I am a newbie to both applique and embroidery. Meg’s excellent how-to primer at the back of the book, enabled me to use both skills with ease and utmost enjoyment on my latest project: Panel Curtains for Aria’s room. Take a look at Meg’s design for “Woodland Curtains” straight out of Sew Liberated:

I love everything about these panel curtains – the use of 2 background fabrics, the ribbon used as a dividing line and as curtain tabs and the applique design. My daughter’s old curtains were made of a bold stripe fabric from Ikea. I decided to use the stripe as the upper fabric and some solid pink I had on hand for the lower third. Since I didn’t have enough pink fabric, I chose to add a natural linen rectangle in the center of the lower third portion of the curtain. That natural linen serves as a perfect background for applique. With a few quarter yards of dot and stripe Lecien prints for the applique pieces, I had my fabric pool:

Now I LOVE Meg’s squirrel, but I felt it would add just one more design element into my daughter’s not-so-pulled-together room. One night as I sat in Aria’s room, mulling this over, I realized I could take pictures of some designs already in her room and then print them out to use as applique patterns! I’m sure this is not a new idea, but I have to say it makes it so easy! I took the bird from Jellybean Tree, which hangs above her dresser, and a flower motif from her lamp. Before printing, I used photoshop to create several sizes of the flower motif.

Next came the best part – using fusible web (thanks to Sew Liberated) to cut out the applique pieces from my fabric stack. Fusible web sticks to the wrong side of your fabric, to stabilize and make cutting small shapes a breeze. Then you simply place the pieces onto your background fabric and iron to fuse them in place. You can add decorative stitching… or not. I chose to make the bird applique without fusible web, using the raw edge applique method. Fusible web does add a stiffness to your work, which might interfere with the drape of the curtains if used on the large bird shape. Thanks for that tip, Miranda!

So fun! Lastly, I used some newly learned embroidery stitches also from Sew Liberated to add simple lines to my picture. And, let me tell you, embroidery is a great way to pass the time in the car or while watching TV. So mindless and so very satisfying. I used a chain stitch for the ground line and a stem stitch for the stems. Do you think I should add leaves? I like the simple/modern look of the design now, but wonder about adding leaves…

Now I just need to finish up my second linen panel for the opposite curtain and then do the final piecing together with the solid pink and bold stripe portions. I found some natural linen ribbon for the dividing line and curtain tabs. I’ll have to update this post when it’s all put together!

If you’re interested in seeing more from Sew Liberated, check out Meg’s website and blog, where you can see a detailed preview of the book, including the forest scene framed clock that I’m also working on! My thanks to Meg’s publisher for my own copy.

UPDATE: Here are some finished pictures of Aria’s Wildflower Curtains. I did leave the embroidery work pretty simplified, without leaves, trying to retain a modern vibe (though I couldn’t resist adding a pink decorative stitch to the linen ribbon). Now I’m dreaming of a quilt for Aria, to finish off her room….

Read Full Post »