Make It Yours: Reversible Curtain Sewing

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By now, you’ve measured your space and bought or found the fabric you’ll need.

When I said this project was simple; I meant really simple. First, you’ll need to cut out your rectangles to the measurements you made earlier. Measure twice before cutting. Sometimes I measure twice incorrectly. That is really annoying. So just be careful with your measurements.

The example curtain I am using is from Captain America fabric that my daughter wanted. The store only had enough for a single curtain, and it was 42 inches wide. So I adjusted my secondary fabric to 42 inches wide as well. I needed to change fabric the pictures of the original fabric were completely blurry and unusable, so I changed to another pattern. A little cutting with the rotary tool, which I highly recommend when cutting rectangles, and I had my cut pieces.

pinned before sewingNext, pin your two fabric together right sides together. The order for sewing on this project is probably a bit different than you are used to or will be told to do so in the future. I make sure the top and bottom line up perfectly, or as close to perfectly as possible. I sew the top first using a one-half inch seam allowance. Then, I press the seams open. You definitely want these seams pressed open.

Then, I sew the bottom seam allowance of one-half inch. This can be tricky if there was any error in cutting, sewing, or drape that escaped noticed – this happens, don’t worry about it. Press these seams as well, but they don’t have to be open. Next you will need to measure three-to-four inches down from the top on both sides. You will leave this portion open for the curtain rod. It also is big enough to accommodate a hand for turning and enough room to stitch the seam allowance down with the sewing machine later.

pressed outSew both sides leaving the gaps and backstitch a couple stitches at the opening. Press the seams open. You want to press the seams open all the way to the top.

sewing the curtain rod opening downFor the next step, you have a few options. First using your sewing machine, you can sew the seam allowance down being careful not the close the gap or stitch what will be the circle for the curtain rod closed; this is what I do. You can also hand stitch your seams down. This will take longer, but has the advantage of being easier. You can use fabric glue to hold the seams in place; the disadvantage is that you can’t hang your curtain up immediately. Last, you could leave it alone and risk fraying later. It is up to you.

Hang your curtain up, and you are done.

Advanced techniques for this curtain would be to sew a straight line from the bottom of the left side gap to the right side gap. This creates a channel. You can also top stitch around the curtain to give it a more finished look.

captain america curtain marvel character curtain

Make It Yours: Reversible Curtains Preparation

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A selection of the boring curtains available in local stores.

A selection of the boring curtains available in local stores.

“Make It Yours” is my series of projects you can do to make your house, and yourself and other items that you own, more friendly to your design tastes. At no time am I going to claim that this is cheaper than the alternatives. For example, if you want curtains for your home, it could be cheaper to buy them. However, you are limited to what you can find pre-made. There might be a custom option that is cheaper than making them yourself too.

For me though, it is generally easier if I just make it myself. Maybe, my tastes run a little too esoteric for prime time.

This week, we’ll learn how to make very simple reversible curtains because I like my curtains to look nice from both sides. Nothing fancy here, a novice can complete this project, and you can have them finished within an hour.

You will need:

  • Sewing machine or hand needles
  • Exterior fabric, yardage will be determined
  • Interior fabric, yardage will be determined
  • Thread to match
  • Pins or bulldog clips

First, measure the width of the window, including any additional area of the wall or window frame you want the curtain to cover. You can also measure the length of your current curtain rod to get an idea. Now, measure a second time just to be sure. Add one inch to your measurement. For example, the window I want new curtains for is 34 inches wide, so my first measurement is 35 inches.

Keep in mind that the width measurement is for a single very simple curtain. With these measurements if you make a single curtain, you will not have much in the way of gathering (folds) when you put your curtain up. Many will want a pair of curtains per window. To determine the width each curtain will need to be, you will need to do a little math. Each curtain should be about 75% of your total width. In my example, I would then need a width of 26.25 inches. Or you could just make two full size curtains have a lot of folds – this technique can be very pretty with lightweight fabrics or cumbersome with heavier ones.

Next, measure the length you want your curtains to be. This is up to personal preference. Perhaps, you want a half-curtain with a valance in your kitchen window, or you want a floor length curtain for the living room or you want the curtain to stop at the end of the sill. Decide and measure; measure again. Remember measure twice, cut once. We’ll repeat this mantra over and over again. Add one inch to your measurement. Add additional inches equal to the depth of your curtain rod if you have a rod that bends around the side of the window. In my example, I have 37 inches that I want to cover. So I need 38 inches.

If you don’t have fabric, now is the time to figure out what you will need. The fabric you purchase factors in your width, and you are limited to the stock on hand there. Most fabric at a typical American fabric shop (local quilt shop, JoAnns, etc) come in widths between 36 to 54. You may find some specialty fabrics come in other widths, so this is just in general. The length of your fabric will determine the number of yards you need. If you need help with the inches to yards math and don’t want to use a calculator, there are all kinds of apps that can help. In general though divide your inches by 36. My measurement ends up being 1.06. I round-up to quarter yards, so I need 1.25 yards of each fabric.

Remember to consider, how many curtains you are making as well. Using my example, if I wanted two panels out of each cut I would need a fabric that is at least 52.5 inches wide. If I fall in love with a fabric that is only 44 inches wide, I will need an additional 1.25 yards (for a total of 2.5 yards) to make two curtains.

Once you have your fabric, launder it. Wash it on the highest temperature the fabric can handle and dry it. This should take care of any shrinkage. My method is to wash my fabric on speed wash with about one-quarter to one-half the normal amount of detergent. Do not use fabric softener. I dry my fabric based on what it is. Then, iron your fabric.

In the next post, I will share step-by-step instructions on making your curtains.

Legend of Korra Cross Stitch 1

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Before my computer died I was working on a detailed Korra cross stitch, but it was lost. And I hadn’t started working on another one yet. But I read this morning that Nickelodeon’s Legend of Korra has been taken off the air and moved to online only. I was initially disappointed, but the silver lining is now I can binge watch on my own time, so it’s all good. Still, I’ll miss Korra as part of Nickelodeon’s line up.

In honor of her, I created a fast cross stitch pattern this morning. It is not as elaborate as the designs I typically like. I used a Minecraft style base and was able to whip it up quickly. Enjoy, and feel free to change the colors to your favorites. I only did a DMC legend.

DMC Legend:

0: 310 Black
1: 3781 Dark Mocha Brown
2: 3031 Very Dark Mocha Brown
3: 3033 Very Light Mocha Brown
4: 3843 Electric Blue
5: Ecru

korrasprite

Fabric Gathering Hack

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My daughter loves gathered clothes. When left on her own to pick out an item for me to make her she inevitably picks one that features large sections of fabric gathered tightly. Sometimes it feels like miles of gathering.

The traditional method of gathering involves sewing a loose basting stitch, and then pulling the bobbin thread to the desired fullness. The problem with this method is inevitable the thread breaks. Then, the sewist is left hand arranging the gathering to the right fullness or trying another basting stitch. It sucks. I hate it.

I read about gathering with crochet thread somewhere. I’ve used it exclusively on five projects now, and I am happy to pass it along to anyone that might have need of a less frustrating way to gather fabric.

First, set the sewing machine to a zig-zag stitch. Set the stitch width to wide and the stitch length to long. The width will need to be within the stitch allowance of the project. Make sure that your stitches are close the edge of your fabric. Lay the crochet thread in what would be the center of the zig-zag.

The crochet thread should be placed where it will be captured in between the zig-zags.

The crochet thread in the center allows the thread to be captured by the zig-zags.

When finished with the zig-zag stitch, the fabric will slide easily along the crochet thread making it easy to not only gather but attain even fullness along the length of the gather. Once the gathered fabric is attached to its partner fabric, the crochet thread can be removed.

 

Slide the fabric along the crochet thread to the desired fullness.

Slide the fabric along the crochet thread to the desired fullness.

I vary this technique based on the type of fabric I use, and the length of what needs to be gathered. For example, on my daughter’s satin steampunk skirt I used a zig-zag stitch to create a tube around the crochet thread. This gave a finished look to the tops of the tiers. It also held the tight gather required on the project in place to make pinning and sewing easy. On a gypsy skirt, I broke the crochet thread sections into easier to manage regions due to the length of the fabric that needed to be gathered. One stretch was nine feet long!

Hope this helps someone out there!

 

Cloak Making: The Beginning

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This weekend I decided to finally cut out the fabric for my cloak. It only took all of Saturday to get all of the pieces done – largely due to the fact that the only place large enough to accommodate the patterns pieces is my kitchen floor. Pro tip: the hard kitchen floor is not the ideal place to cut out fabric.

I started sewing the cloak on Sunday, and it was going very well. I was practically zipping through the sewing. Pressing the seams took a long time, but that was expected as the untrimmed length of the cloak is about five feet. So I was a bit disappointed when our block lost power for a large chunk of the day.

Boo! Our neighborhood seems to lose power a lot. Weekly, at least. I guess when the zombie apocalypse starts, we’ll have an edge on all those folks that live in neighborhoods with competent light companies. We’ll be prepared to deal.

Back on topic, my cloak remains in several pieces. Hopefully, I’ll have time to finish it this week. In the meantime, I have pictures of the cloaks and shirt I have finished for my spouse. (My cloak is going to be very similar to his.)

I made the cloak and shirt to give my husband another option for the Renn Faire.

I made the cloak and shirt to give my husband another option for the Renn Faire.

Wizard Robe

For many years, my spouse had been an orc or a gargoyle for Halloween. In our new neighborhood younger kids come by to trick-or-treat, so I made him a wizard robe. This way he doesn’t scare the little ones. Plus, it’s warm, which has been important. We’ve been here for four Halloweens so far, and it’s been snowing or raining on Halloween each year. Too bad, it took me four years to make him a new outfit.