Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Decoranza III: Behind the Curtains

I am finally ready to share a pair of the curtains I made. See them in all their loveliness? Weelllll, you know that I can't just give you a picture without a story, right? It never fails that I have a few trips before I complete a project, but the positive side is I get to share them with you so you don't make the same mistakes.

Let me start from the beginning...

I searched and searched for affordable curtains for our dining room (affordable being the key word) before deciding to make them myself. I knew I wanted panels that were a neutral color because we had chosen the sour apple paint color and I didn't want them to clash or contrast. I also wanted the curtains to be light and airy, allowing sunlight through without being sheer and they had to have texture. So, after determining the criteria of what I was looking for, I searched numerous fabric stores online and in person. This helped me narrow down my material to silk, but even then, I needed three yards for each panel and at $10-$40 per yard, I was not happy with any of the retailers' options. That is, until the day I found the holy grail of fabric in Chicago, the Textile Discount Outlet (sorry out-of-towners!).

The descriptions of this place on Yelp do not even begin to describe it to the fullest but I'm going to give it a shot to set the scene. Imagine a maze of rooms with hundreds of fabric options that line the walls and aisles, racks stacked with bolts from the ground to the ceiling, continuing for three floors that seem like a whole city block long, that is the Textile Discount Outlet. I arrived thinking that I knew exactly what I wanted, but after perusing the aisles my head became clouded and excited about other fabrics that would work for other projects in my home. Fortunately, I have a strong will and stayed on track. About an hour into my search, I came across a wide selection of silk and this is where I scored six yards of the most perfectly colored antique silk. At $2.95 per yard, the price was right too. After doing a celebratory jig, I grabbed a cart and finagled the super-heavy bolt into the basket. The total for the fabric: less than $20. Score! AND it couldn't have matched my vision any better. See the beautiful texture the threads create?

As I explained in my teasing post about my sleeping quarters at the Craftin' Cabin, I brought with me a handful of sewing projects to keep me occupied for the weekend and I thought I was being smart by putting this task last on my to-sew list. I reasoned that I should warm up with the other easy projects before tackling these since they were going to be hung in a public space in our home. It should have been easy-peasy and I flew through the first panel, but my luck ran out towards the end of the sewing marathon at the Craftin' Cabin. Little did I know that I was going to be on the home stretch of hemming the last side and my little-engine-that-could (my sewing machine) in fact, couldn't. That's right, mid stitch, she jammed and that was the end of her work day. Even after my Grandma's, my mom's, and my efforts to revive her, she still wasn't budging, so I figured it was the indicator to pack up, pop in a movie, and grab a glass of well-deserved wine. Heck, I did get a lot accomplished!

So, you're wondering, "Well, how did it get done?" Da-da-da, Mom to the rescue! The last panel went home with my mom for the week and as easy as stitching up a minor cut, she finished it in a few minutes.

An added detail that I am proud of are the rings that I affixed to the top of the panels. The curtains in our living room, adjacent to the dining room, hang from round metal rings and I wanted to duplicate that look in the dining room to provide subtle cohesion in the open space. Once again, I was on the hunt. I looked at countless online stores and brick-and-morter shops, but the only rings I found were either too small, cheap looking, or too expensive ($20! You have got to be joking!). Then, while on an errand run to Target, I found two sets of seven rings that had removable clips on clearance for $2.48 a set, cue celebratory jig #2. I removed the clips and sewed them on 7" apart along the top of each panel. Then I hung them up and admired my handiwork. The total for the curtains: $26 after tax.

So, what ever became of my down-and-out machine? I gave it to my Grandma who dropped it off at my other aunt's house. My aunt knows a sewing machine repair man named Ralph that our family has called upon to fix a machine or two. I fully expected to get a call from my aunt telling me that I had ran it into the ground and it was going to cost more to fix it than to buy a new one, but happily, I received an email a few days later informing me that she took a look at it and fixed it herself! Go Auntie! All my little engine needed was a good cleaning and a fresh oiling. Who knew that sewing machines needed to be maintained like a car? Well, I do now! So let that be a lesson to everyone, in order to keep your sewing machine working, make sure it is clean and oiled under the hood. And don't forget to check back tomorrow for the second to last decoranza post!

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