Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Scrappy Curtains

My wonderful husband bought me a sewing machine for my birthday and I needed to learn to sew, practice sewing straight lines and figure out what I can do with my machine.

When we moved into our new house we gave up one of the bedrooms to the cats and the snakes. It is great because it gives the cats their own safe room, stops the puppy getting into the cats food which is on a shelf in the cupboard and also stops the puppy getting into their kitty litter. My cats are very scared of visitors and unfortunately our new house doesn't have any built in cupboards for them to hide in (and fortunately for me I don't have to rewash and fold the laundry because of them!). Which leads to my idea to make a curtain to cover the tables that my snake cages sit on, then put a couple of their beds behind it.
The snake cages in the cats bedroom.
For the cats curtain I decided to use our old flannelette pyjamas - thanks to Trixie as a little puppy our clothes got lots of holes in them which lead to rips and piles of unwearable clothes. I normally recycle scraps from old clothes to make cat nip mouse toys for the cats but that pile would take a lifetime to use! 

I used some dodgy red thread I bought from a cheap store (I urgently needed it to fix my outfit before a party) since the whole thing could have ended up as a big disaster anyway!

As a beginner sewer I thought I could show you the steps as it may help others learning to sew.

For my curtain I measured the height and width of the two tables as one and added 6cm to each measurement for seam allowances. I didn't really decide on the length to make the complete curtain, instead I decided to add 60cm to my measurement as a minimum.

When cutting the strips I kept the length of each strip the same, but I did all different widths. Because I am lazy instead of measuring the width for each piece I made strips that were one, two or three ruler widths wide.

After I had cut the strips I sorted them into the four different piles to make it easier to lay them out ready for sewing.

Next I used my coffee table to lay out the pieces as I wanted to sew them. I used the length of the table as a guide so I knew if I had cut enough strips. Make sure to overlap the pieces to account for your seam allowance if you decided to measure it my lazy way.

Now all we need to do is sew all of the strips right side together along one side only. The first one is easy but for all of the following strips make sure check that you have added the new strip to the last one you added. Use 1 row of the simple straight stitch as we will be using decorative stitching to stop the fraying.

Once I finished sewing all of the pieces together I held the curtain up to the snake tables to check the length - and I ended up adding a few more pieces. 

As you can see all of the edges stand up so we need to iron them flat in order to do our decorative stitching.

Now you just need to select one of your sewing machines decorative stitches. If you don't have decorative stitches you can just use a zig zag stitch to stop the fraying. Grab a scrap piece of material and try them all out. Make sure you look at both sides as I found that some of my stitches looked better on the side that faces the top when sewing. 
The other thing you need to work out is which guide you need to line your material up to. I found that I had to start the material further back as the decorative stitch moves the material front to back and left to right and would cause the material to get stuck. 

Next I ironed the bottom and side hems so that I could sew around those three edges in one go.
Note that I folded and ironed the corners in so there were no raw edges.

As you can see I chose a different decorative stitch for my edges - this stitch only looked good from the top. 

I found that because of all the seams sitting on top of each other I had to pull the material through the machine a little at each strip. Be careful when pulling your material as it can bend your needle.

I chose to use some rope instead of a rod to hang my curtain. Place your rope at the top of your curtain and fold the material over the top then press it down.
Again I folded and ironed in the corners.

Now sew your rope hole down using your decorative stitch, making sure you catch those corner edges.
If you like you can trim any excess edges from the seams.

Use the safety pin method to pull your rope all the way through the hole.

I used 3M brand removable hooks to hang my curtain as I didn't want to bother with screws.

Tie a knot in your rope with a loop at the end, then repeat as tight as you can for the other end.

And now you are finished your scrappy curtain!

If you have any questions, just ask.

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