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curtains, sewn.

April 18, 2011

I finished the curtains (for 2 windows).

And you were all right. It was easy, except for the fact that everything went perfectly only in 3-5 minute stretches. And how I loved those stretches – where the needle was zipping along with that satisfying hum, and I could have pushed ten acres of fabric under the presser foot, stitching white zig-zags across the universe.

And then the needle would suddenly break, or I’d discover I had been sewing without any thread in the needle, or the bobbin needed winding, or I’d realize I sewed the curtain openings shut, or hemmed the wrong end of a curtain panel, or the kids spilled approximately 324 straight pins on the rug.

The kids were enraptured with the sewing. They were like groupies in front row seats, the newly-sewn fabric hitting their faces as it exited the sewing machine. Every time I paused and then got riding back on the foot pedal, Rose would cheer “step on it girl!”

The kids finally grew bored and moved on to “fishing” with fabric scraps. And even though it was a relief to not have fingers jabbing at the mysterious innards of the sewing machine, I actually missed their nearness, which is, I imagine, how it feels to have your children grow up.

So, the curtains are done. They’re far from perfect. I used 4 different colored bobbin threads, including pink and turquoise. My lines are crooked. I secretly safety-pinned a section of liner to the outer fabric where the needle failed to join the two fabrics together.

I have the feeling that sewing is something one needs to keep up with just to stay even marginally proficient. It reminds me of this time me and Dan and some friends packed out Dan’s elk after hunting season (meaning ferrying a large animal out of the woods on our backs). We were short one person and a storm was rolling in, and in our haste we invited a friend who was strong but rarely hiked and had uncorrected vision problems. Our friend showed up in soft-soled yacht shoes and a light sweater. After slipping around on snow in rough country all day, he said “I’m either going to have to do this all the time or never again.” That’s exactly how I feel too.

So I guess I need a new project. Ideas?

35 Comments leave one →
  1. April 18, 2011 8:08 am

    my adventures in sewing sound very much like yours so i decided to stick with knitting. i do love the fabric for those curtains though!

  2. April 18, 2011 8:27 am

    oh i can relate to this rachel!!

    the 3-minute stretches of sewing. the helpers hovering nearby. sewing without thread in the bobbins. oh yeah. sounds very familiar!

    congrats on completing your project!!!



  3. Molly permalink
    April 18, 2011 12:12 pm

    A rustic raggedy doll or two for the kids, maybe Easter themed for baskets? Bunnies? Carrots? A cool lunch bag for Col, or a summer day outing bag with space for plenty of water bottles on the OUTSIDE? I’m not sewing my girl’s clothes right now b/c she has a bajillion handmedowns and grandma-bought clothes… Very nice curtains. I put velcro tape on my girl’s, so if I ever washed them or made new ones the blackout liner could be removed and washed differently, reused or something. Not sure what I was thinking, since I’m a skimpy cleaner and not about to make new curtains…

  4. woowoomama permalink
    April 18, 2011 12:22 pm

    something else with straight lines? i want to learn to sew but i tend to stick to knitting. not sure why that is…

  5. woowoomama permalink
    April 18, 2011 12:23 pm

    oh wait – make your self a skirt with pockets! that is what i most want to do….

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      April 18, 2011 12:31 pm

      I was thinking maybe a bird-fabric skirt for Rosie.

  6. April 18, 2011 1:30 pm

    I was thinking maybe a nice purse out of the same fabric for ME. Because I am selfish and greedy like that.

    I took a sewing class with the city once. I felt like the one special needs child in class. I was given a special foot that would help me keep a straight stitch (didn’t help), came in early so that I could keep up (still had to stay late). In short, I sucked at it. But, of course, I am really good at being a sucky beginner.

    Thankfully, my time bank has a gal who is offering more lessons. But I think your soft shoe buddy is right. And I have a pattern for a messenger bag. Sigh. I suppose I can sew my own purse then, eh? Gah.

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      April 18, 2011 5:02 pm

      Being a sucky beginner may be the trick to life.

  7. Jessica permalink
    April 18, 2011 2:36 pm

    I LOVE those curtains! In my world, the different color threads make it better.

    You are so right about the sewing. My mom and her sisters are great at it. My mom made many of my clothes growing up, including an awesome prom dress and she and my aunt sewed my bridesmaid dresses. Yeah, that talented!

    Me? I’m lucky to sew a missing button back on. Don’t ask me to make a straight line with a stitch. I am a firm believer that the sewing gene skips a generation. I just don’t have it in me.

    A couple of ideas for projects: Tote bags for the kids art supplies, with or without pockets. Bermuda shorts with drawstrings. The tote bags also make great gifts.

  8. April 18, 2011 2:38 pm

    “step on it, girl!” rofl what a great line.
    i couldn’t help but think of this carrot-goodie-bag tutorial i came across this morning, what with your carrots now up. i’m going to make some of these tonight. they look like they’d take roughly 3-5 minutes: perfect.

  9. April 18, 2011 2:46 pm

    LOVE that fabric. Those curtains turned out pretty fantastic.

    My husband says when I sew, he hears more ‘colorful’ language then he hears actual work going on. And don’t start me on the whole silliness of lines being straight…. At least the curtains are in a straight line along the bottom. Which is more than I can say for the ones I made hanging in our den.

  10. April 18, 2011 3:48 pm

    Oh hey! We must have gone to the same Sewing School for the Inept! I had Mrs. Muffer-Effing as my teacher, did you have her? Thanks to the skills I obtained, I have set a world record for Most Irritation Endured for Least Satisfying Sewing Project.

    Seriously, those curtains are too precious. I bet the diff bobbin color actually goes with how colorful they are. How did the kids like the finished result? Big kudos to you, I think they came out great.

    Next project, hmmm….a banner? The kind with little triangles strung together? Or a hand puppet. Or simple costume pieces for the kids, to inspire new levels of bedtime procrastination.

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      April 18, 2011 6:46 pm

      Well, funnily, I didn’t realize the bobbin color came through the fabric (because of the colorful fabric) until I used black bobbin thread. My friend Steph said, kindly: people usually use the same color bobbin thread as their main thread. The kids are completely unimpressed, or just onto other things. I like the banner idea.

  11. Patty permalink
    April 18, 2011 5:30 pm

    Great fabric and the curtains look perfect to me. Here’s a fun and simple sewing project:

  12. April 18, 2011 5:38 pm

    Hey, guess what? Without hearing that you were considering curtains (at least not formally…) I was cleaning my bedroom today and said, “I think maybe while the blue-eyed people (that’s how we identify my husband and daughter who are college shopping) are away, I’ll make those curtains.”

    So, curtains must be hangin’ in the air.

    Mine will be very different.

    Though full of similar thread problems perhaps.

    Love the hunting story. Some things are once is enough things. Collect my story and move on.

  13. April 18, 2011 6:43 pm

    Ugh, I’m reading this in my “sewing” room. The table is dominated by this sewing machine that looks at me, bewildered, from under its dust. Guilt, thy name is the planned yet never done.

    My rainbows’n’unicorns project was (past tense, bad sign!) patchwork quilts for the kids, using their favorite, outgrown clothes.

    I thought of this before they were born. I bought the sewing machine on the steam of this dream.

    You’ve gone way farther already, don’t stop now. And step on it, girl!

  14. Dan permalink
    April 18, 2011 8:52 pm

    Love the new banner! And curtains, through the trials and childbulations! Great Job, Honey! Love, Dan

  15. Kim permalink
    April 18, 2011 8:54 pm

    If you have enough left over, consider doll clothes! My girl loves to dress all of her babies up in clothes I cobbled together from fabric remnants. It’s a bonus that those babies don’t really mind when the seams are uneven or glued together.

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      April 19, 2011 1:51 pm

      That is so sweet that your daughter likes to dress her dolls in mama-sewn clothes. And yes, thankfully dolls are very forgiving.

  16. April 18, 2011 9:12 pm

    You could make treasure collecting satchels for the kids.
    I think the secret to sewing is starting 5000 projects and never finishing one, and collecting all kinds of random bits of half-dead clothing because it has neat stars on it, and so on, and then having to buy a bigger house store it all.
    I keep meaning to make treasure collecting satchels for the kids, but I get tired just spitting all those syllables out, so instead, I hem pants.
    I have unwittingly sewn my own sleeve to whatever it is I am mangling/making more times than I care to admit. And the sewing with nothing on the bobbin is truly expletive-worthy.
    If the ground would just thaw, I’d head outside and plant something. Sigh.

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      April 19, 2011 9:17 am

      > I have unwittingly sewn my own sleeve to whatever it is I am mangling/making more times than I care to admit. You crack me up!

  17. Steph permalink
    April 18, 2011 9:54 pm

    LOVE the material!!! It reminds me of the material from J’s infant sling that A’s mom made. (Said sling is now somewhere across the country, being used by the sister of an old friend). Anyhow, kudos to you for getting thru the sewing project. I’m actually a pretty good sewer (is that a word?), when it comes to the basics. I think I inherited a pretty good becky-homecky gene from my mom. IF there is ever a next time for you, I’d be glad to help! xxoo

  18. jojo permalink
    April 19, 2011 12:01 am

    Good job Rachel! Who’s the hunk that’s hangin the curtain? How about a cover-all for Col for the next project? I’m confident that you could do it.

  19. April 19, 2011 8:33 am

    yay! they are beautiful! and i LOVE the fabric.

    and, i don’t know any groupies who scream in front rows, do you?

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      April 19, 2011 9:45 am

      Thought of you as I wrote that, music-traveling friend.

  20. Christy permalink
    April 19, 2011 8:58 am

    Love the way you described the kids watching. I think a skirt would be cool. Cause that fabric is awesome. Maybe try some quilt piecing? (Great for old clothes and scraps.) I actually like to do this by hand, but have found I should stick to small projects like baby quilts or pot holders. Big ones seem to get started, but never done!

  21. April 19, 2011 12:51 pm

    Oh how pretty! I’m so jealous of handy people. I am thinking of tie-up shades for my daughter’s new bedroom but even though I own a (brand new, in the box) sewing machine and went to a sewing class once, I am a little daunted in trying to tackle the project myself. I just don’t trust myself with craft.

    Since you’re looking for another project, care to sew a pair of tie-up shades? I’ll provide the fabric…just sayin’. ;-)

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      April 19, 2011 1:50 pm

      Okay, you’re already ahead of me because what the heck are “tie up” shades?

  22. April 19, 2011 12:53 pm

    Yikes! That was my comment above. Didn’t realize I was logged in for the new blog I’m working on for my company. Oops.

  23. Chi-An permalink
    April 19, 2011 10:45 pm

    Hooray for curtains! When you say “new project” you’re looking for a new sewing project? How about:
    – matching pillows
    – skirt for Rose and/or Col: super easy, you make a large tube that is hemmed on the bottom and top, and put elastic through the top hem.
    – napkins and/or placemats
    – something for yourself- there are lots of really super easy patterns that are fun to make.

    I love the treasure collecting satchel idea too.

    About doll clothes, that’s something I started doing when I was a kid- actually for stuffed animals as I didn’t have dolls.

    It’s a fun thing to do with the kids- let them pick out the fabric and a button, wrap the fabric around the doll/animal, cut armholes, a buttonhole, and sew the button. Ta-da! A vest! I never bother hemming the edges unless the whole thing looks like it’s going to unravel.

    I don’t really agree with the idea that you have to sew all the time or not at all. I think after you get a few projects behind you, you’ll gain confidence and it will all become easier. For some of us, those first few hurdles are crossed when we’re young, for some of us later, but there you go. I believe it’s never too late to learn.

    I love Rose’s “Step on it, girl!” That sure beats Manda’s “It takes an awfully long time to finish this quilt”, delivered in a particular whine every 5 minutes.

  24. April 21, 2011 10:35 am

    Matching pillow covers? You can do an envelope style so there is no buttons or zippers involved. Magnets are the best for cleaning up spilled pins…. the curtains look great!!

  25. April 21, 2011 8:11 pm

    i’ve sewn up a bunch of sweet, simple summer skirts for my girl and my friends’ girls in the past few days. i used the tutorial here… my daughter loves them because she can put them on herself, over pants or under dresses, and sometimes with pajamas, with boots or crocs or barefoot. skirts are a hit with my girl.

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      April 24, 2011 9:48 pm

      Thanks Liz,

      I totally stole that ribbon hem idea!


  26. April 29, 2011 9:13 pm

    cute! and they look even in length… always my downfall :)


  1. Bathroom Curtains | BATHROOM SET

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