My most valued possession is my family. Even if you are living in a box
somewhere, and you have the love and support of your family, you will always be
wealthy. Love really is all you need. From love, great things will emerge. From
your thoughts, you can create greatness.This is what I need to remind
myself of everyday to be the best person that I can be. Live your life with
gratitude. Be thankful for all that you have everyday, even if it is your eyes
to see or your ears to hear or your feet to walk or your hands to create.
Understand your place in this Universe; how infinitesimally small you are, but
how huge a contribution your Spirit is. Don't wear blinders to the world around
you, you're not the only one here. Be kind, considerate, don't be judgmental,
love others, and yourself. Know that you are perfect inside; that you are

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

(Pretty) quick sew-yourself kitchen cafe curtains

Hello, friends!
Well, I didn't get to the compost project like I wanted. Saturday Noah and I had to travel the hour to my parents house one last time (hopefully) to drop of the key to the realtor and pick up the last of the stuff leaving the house empty once and for all...

That took just about the whole day, seeing as we worked Friday night and had to get a little sleep Saturday morning before getting started.
Our ideal weekend was going to go something like this:

     Wake up leisurely...have some hot tea with cream and sugar on the patio...plan out our compost project, and all of the other projects we wanted to get to over the weekend, and work to our little hearts desire.

Instead, we woke up late, jumped out of bed, rushed to get going, stopped for a couple gas station sandwiches and made the hour long drive in two separate vehicles. We arrived at the old house and packed up the remainder of the stuff needing to go and did the last bit of tidying and left the key for the Realtor and headed for home.

Sweaty, tired, and hungry, we were able to at least have a bite to eat at one of our favorite places-Panera Bread. We sat in the air conditioning and talked over Greek salad and panini (we might have even shared a Chocolate Chipper cookie, too!)

Back at home we unloaded stuff, showered and settled in to at least get some of the things done that we had wanted. We straightened up my craft/sewing room (it needed it as I have inherited all of my mother's scrap booking/crafting/sewing supplies), straightened up the foyer to the upstairs of all the leftover totes and shelves from my parents house, and then I was finally able to start on my curtains.

Sunday was a little of the same, a lot of running around and doing things for my dad and getting our son to places he needed to be, but I managed to finish my second pair of curtains, complete with all the photos. Here's my tutorial of  pretty quick and relatively painless cafe curtains you can sew yourself.

All you need is a basic understanding of a sewing machine, 2-3 yards of your favorite fabric, pins, pin cushions, measuring tape, an air/water soluble quilter's pen, a yardstick, your old curtains and a little patience.


                                    First, measure your old curtain valance; length and width.

Measure the folded down hem at the top that forms the channel for your curtain rod...


                                                    ...and also the turned under hem...

              (you will also need to do this for each side and the bottom of your old curtain to ensure you have enough new fabric to allow for hemming before you cut it to size.) Make sure to add the folded over hems to each length and width measurement.

 Start with the sides of your curtains, you'll want to hem those first. I just fold mine over the 1/4 to 1/2 inch that is already marked by the edge of the fabric. Pin that in place.

Then, fold once more to make a double hem. It keeps the raw edge folded in and it looks nice and neat.

To pin that for sewing, I just fold it over the same 1/4 to 1/2 inch, for easy measuring, using the first fold over as my guide. Then I'm able to slip the pin out while holding the fold in place and re-pin. You can get used to this pretty quick, it really does go fast once you get going.

                                                    Place on your machine and sew...

You can start anywhere you like. It's up to you how close to the edge you want your seam. The closer to the bottom of the fold, the better, so that you don't have too much of a 'flap' past your seam, but not so close that the seam is able to come undone. An 1/8 " seam allowance is good. Note where my needle is going in in the photo below.

You'll need to remove the pins as you go. I pin mine this way, which looks awkward, but I'm prone to doing it right to left, so when I place it on the machine, my pins end up facing the 'wrong' way...

I just pause and push them out, grab it, and drop it into a little bowl. It takes too long to stick them back into a pin cushion.

Most people pin perpendicular to the sewing line. If you do this, you can sew right over your pins. I do this also, for most projects. But when I'm keeping little hems together, especially double hems, I like more surface area covered with my pin. I don't have to use as many and it hold the hem tighter so that it doesn't slip out and cause me to sew a crooked hem. It's a nightmare to try to rip a machine sewed hem.You can see the difference here. Now, If you iron your hems with the horizontal pinning before you sew, your hems will stay, but I wanted to get these done fairly quickly, so I only wanted to drag everything to the iron once...when I was DONE!

Next, after your sides are hemmed, you will do the exact same technique for the bottom hem. Measure the old curtain to get an idea for the fold length. I used about 1/2 inch again (twice, making one inch total). Fold once and pin, fold again and re-pin, just like before. Sew your bottom hem. Reinforce your corners! I show this below, too.

Next, you need to make your channel for your curtain rod. You need your old curtain, of course and some pins, (a cute pin cushion), and this time you need the air/water soluble quilter's pen.
Line up your old curtain to the bottom of your new curtain and make a mark at the top of your old curtain with your pen. That should be where you will fold over your fabric to make your channel.

Now, when you first measured out your fabric for the new curtains, you left the extra fabric to allow for hems, right?  Mine, after my double 1/2 inch hem (1 inch total) is 2 inches.

  I first made my double 1/2 inch hem at the top ( I sewed it first, folded it at my mark, and then re-pinned) or
  if you're feeling confident, go ahead and fold it over forming your channel and slip the pins out of the 1/2 inch double hem and repin in place:

Use your measuring tape to measure it every few inches all the way down the line of your curtain to make sure it is the same uniform width (2 inches for mine), so that you don't have an uneven hem. Your curtain will hang lopsided otherwise.

Now you can sew your hem to your curtain forming the channel. If you sewed the double hem already, be sure to sew right over or at least just above or below your hem sew line. This will show up when the sun shines through your curtain, if you look closely enough. This is why I just pin mine to the curtain and sew once. I used an 1/8 inch seam allowance:

If you want a ruffle at the top after you put your curtain on the rod, you will need to sew another seam at the top of your channel. You determine how much of a ruffle you want, but be sure to leave room for your curtain rod! I just wanted a small ruffle effect, so I sewed at 1/2 inch from the top. Place your curtain on the sewing plate. There are guide-lines in plate 'A' and two in plate 'B'. By using a 1/2 inch seam allowance, my fabric ends right at the channel I'm pointing at below (it's right at the edge of my fabric, sort of in the shadow.) Just keep your fabric along that guide-line, and you'll sew a straight line.

Reinforce your corners by using the reverse function on your machine, and back again. Snip, and that seam is done!

What I did for my panels was to just lay out my new fabric, and lay my old curtain right on top of that. My fabric was a toile pattern that ran the long length of my fabric, not the width, so I had to be creative. I knew that my old curtains were plenty big enough for my windows, so I knew I had plenty of wiggle room to make them a bit smaller, due to the fabric I had. Keep that in mind when you purchase your fabric. What I had happened to be folded right down the middle, so I just made sure that, even after the hems, the curtain would be wide enough if I cut right down that fold. It was, so I just made sure I had enough from top to bottom and used my yardstick and quilters pen to make a straight line to cut them out.  So, grab a yardstick, and your quilters pen (and a four legged helper, if they insist) and lay out your fabric and curtain:

After I layed out my curtain leaving the room I need for my hems and channels ( I eyeball mine, mostly, but you can measure it just like in the steps above), I used the yardstick to keep my line straight and marked with my pen. (My cat is beyond curious and has a thing for pens and pencils and I could hardly get my line drawn.)

After following all the same steps for the panels as for the valances above, I iron my curtains for a nice crisp finish.

                         Here's my before curtains that I made a few years ago for my kitchen...

 And here are my two windows after, with my new black and cream toile cafe curtains. I will be painting the sashes white next, to match the frames...

I hope this was helpful enough to encourage you to attempt your own cafe curtains, bathroom curtains, or even living room curtains. You can get beautiful fabrics for way less than ready made drapes. Try looking for sheets or shower curtains on sale, or using painters drop cloth from a home improvement store. It can be so much more cost effective to make your own, and it really is not all that difficult. It doesn't have to be absolutely perfect, as long as they hang straight. No one will notice ;)

Have a great rest of the week. Friday we are going to finally get to work on that compost area!

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