The first thing I ever sewed was a quilt:
(Yes, I promise it has a binding now!)
I now know how crazy I was, but it’s what I wanted to make. So I sat down with my Viking Huskystar machine (which did not make it out of the ordeal alive,) a book on basic sewing techniques and a web tutorial, and I made this thing! It took a few months, but you know what? When I finished that quilt, I knew how to sew. And that I needed a better sewing machine. This is why I always ask beginners what they would like to make. It’s like learning knitting – yes, I could set you up to make a simple garter stitch scarf, but if that’s not what you want you’ll go mad with boredom long before you finish.
After finishing my quilt I started making dresses and well… that was that. In spite of the fact that I originally bought my machine to make curtains, the most I’ve done is a super utilitarian set of shades for the skylights in my third floor.
When I started my redecorating project this summer, one thing I knew I wanted was to sew my own things. Storebought curtains are expensive and boring, which is the reason why my home only has roman shades and sheers from Ikea. In addition, regular curtains and shades don’t fit my windows very well (I can use the ikea ones only in the extra long length without hemming, and all blinds/shades have to be custom.) I have a few questions for the more experienced among you:
1. Is it ever ok to use quilting cotton for curtains? I love the prints, but I don’t use them for garments due to stiffness. I’d imagine I’d need to line a curtain made of this fabric, but I’m planning to do that anyway. I found mixed opinions when I went looking online. My concern is that they might not drape well.
2. Do you have any sources for home decor fabric? I have to shop online, and I’m not looking to pay crazy decorator prices. I’ve ordered swatches from fabric.com (some Amy Butler home decor prints and a few Waverly and Robert Allen fabrics) but I’m open to ideas. I find the idea overwhelming, as I have the worlds most giant windows. We’re talking tons of fabric here! Since I have to buy so much I don’t want to make a mistake. I’d rather not pay more than $16 a yard.
3. Any favorite resources for sewing curtains or roman shades? When I made the curtains for my skylights I winged it, but I’d rather these look nice. I’d love to make pinch pleated curtains, as I think those look much nicer than plain gathered curtains.
In addition to the curtains, I’m planning to replace my blinds (different window) with a custom roman shade. I found this tutorial which uses the innards of a cheap mini-blind to make them. This is brilliant! I remember my Mom making them once, and I’m pretty sure it involved the use of dowel rods and a lot of cursing. I can reuse my blinds, which would be great.
It uses one jellyroll (skinny pre-cut strips,) some piping, and 2.5 yards for the back to make two floor pillows. I think calling them floor pillows sounds much better than what they will no doubt be in my house – cat pillows! And it’s a good think it makes two, because they will fight over a pillow for weeks. I’m going to use Amy Butler’s new Cameo line of fabrics. I found them when I was looking at home dec, and I was very sad to realize they don’t come in a sateen.
I think it will go really well with my new green wall. I’ll be waiting on my fabric.com order for awhile longer (they have been moving their warehouse) but I should have my jelly roll soon.
Update on the rest of my diy living room makeover:
This past weekend I replaced both the horrid ceiling fans in my living room. This was an accomplishment, as one of them was hung over the open stairwell, and both were installed with a junction box that didn’t actually fit into the ceiling. I replaced the junction box in both and changed the fixtures, trying not to look too hard at the wiring (our electrician assures me that it’s fine, but we do have some of that old cloth covered wiring – not knob and tube, just cloth covered, and it looks kind of scary!)
Here are the ceiling fans – from some past decade, they were noisy, leaked oil, and didn’t even come close to lighting up the room.
Ceiling fan #1 was replaced by my rehabbed chandelier. Here is the before:
and the after:
It gives off more light than it appears in this photo. I spray painted the chandelier glossy black. The shades were replaced, and applied this faux mercury glass treatment to the glass. I don’t know how obvious it is here, but they give off a pretty speckled light, like this only a bit less yellow:
The effect is very realistic. I recommend that tutorial. The key is to spray vinegar/water first, then the paint. I sealed mine with heat resistant clear coat, and I use fluorescent bulbs which don’t get hot, and which don’t touch the shades, but I’m still not sure I’d do this around a candle.
The second fan was replaced with a basic track from Ikea. I love it – you can see how nicely it lights up the wall (paint is Iron Mountain from benjamin moore, the color for my hallway) and it also makes the stairs easy to see. Good lighting makes quite a difference!
I’m taking a break from dusty activities, so it will bit before more progress – hopefully I can figure out my fabrics in the meantime!