Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Making curtains

I've been planning to make curtains for my office for over a year. I don't know why it took me so long. It's a pretty simple project and the payoff is significant. All of the walls in my apartment are beige, so custom curtains are one of the few ways to add colour to the decor.

One of the things that prevented me from starting the project was finding appropriate material. All I knew is that I wanted something colourful with a big pattern. I originally planned to order fabric designed by Amy Butler from Purl Soho. I even wrote it down in my day planner over a dozen times, but I couldn't wrap my mind around the idea of buying fabric without touching it first. I'm sure this won't be such a big deal once I'm more experienced with different fabric types, but I'm still a beginner and it's unnerving.

I looked at Satin Moon, my local quilting shop. While I found something I liked (a pattern with eagles and tigers!), it would have cost me $80. I didn't visit my local fabric stores because Gala Fabrics is the only one walking distance from my house, and I assumed it wouldn't have anything appropriate. When I was forced to go there to buy new needles for my sewing machine, I found out I was wrong. I'll log that away for next time; my bedroom could use new window coverings too. Another thing that I might try next time is painting fabric with my own designs. How About Orange tried it, and I like the results.

In the end, I used a long curtain panel that I got on sale for $20 from Urban Outfitters (surely this was cheaper than anything I could have found at the fabric store, right?). This made the project especially easy, because I merely cut the panel in half and sewed the unfinished ends.

But even though it was so easy, I ran into a couple of problems that were unavoidable due to my inexperience. First, there was the problem with the needle that I just mentioned. My thread was puckering on my test run, and after I exhausted other possible causes, such as thread tension, I realized the needle, which is meant for sewing heavy fabric like denim, was to blame. Experienced sewers will shake their heads when they read this, but I didn't even realize that needle size was that important until I read my sewing machine manual. Now I know.

The other problem resulted from sheerness of the fabric. I had to pick out and redo one of my seams when I realized that you could see the imperfections during daylight hours. I'm happy that I took the time to fix it, because I know how these details can haunt me.

Even though these curtains were relatively easy, I found them taxing because I have a bunch of school projects piling up. I'm excited to try my hand at other sewing projects once my classes wrap up at the beginning of April.


zoe said...

congratulations on the successful sewing Erin! I think any sewing project that gets put into use is a total achievement, and your curtains look like like they add a ton of personality to the room. For my next sewing project I think I want to try a pattern from, just have to find something that I think I can make AND will wear...

Jen said...

ERIN! Nice one! For future reference, Chintz and Company have a CLEARANCE SECTION. There are often treasures there.

I agree with Zoe. MAKING something and then WEARING it (and liking it) is almost beyond my imagination...but I have some corduroy and cute cotton and I really really want to help it on the road to practicality.

Let's talk more when you're finished classses!

kirsten said...

I love Amy Butler's stuff and just last week I bought some of her fabric at the fabric/quilting store on Saltspring Island. They have a pretty big selection of her designs that frequently changes. A trip over there to feel and see the fabric is probably better (and way more fun!) then ordering on-line.
Keep sewing!