Tuesday, April 8, 2008

First Sewing Project

This past weekend my mom came up to help me with a sewing project I've been meaning to tackle for several months (since this post, anyway). She helped me to make a valance for my kitchen window to finally add a burst of color to the room. My mom has made nearly all of the window treatments in her house over the years--from living room drapes, to dining room swags, to puffy valances for my late 80s/early 90s bedroom. For my bedroom she also made the comforter cover, dust ruffle, pillow shams, and a cushion for my wicker chair. I was very lucky to have a mom who sewed because it meant I could change the decor in my room more often than most of the kids I knew. My mom also also made curtains, pillows, and a window seat cushion for my college dorm room and throw pillows for my various apartments.

On Sunday my mom passed the tradition to me. I had sewn some growing up both by hand and by machine, but I haven't touched a sewing machine in at least 6 years. The good thing is, it's like riding a bicycle, it does come back. Armed with her handy dandy sewing book given to her at her bridal shower in 1970, my mom showed me the various ways to line curtains and then, like any good parent, taught me the cheater method to make it easier--after all, valances are high up and no one will be able to see whether my lining is professional quality.

This is my mom and her sewing book:

Next we tackled the size length and width of the valance and what size we would need to cut the fabric. D helped out on this by holding a dish towel up to the window so I could judge what length I would want. I decided on 12" because I didn't want to cover too much of the view. We added a 5/8" bottom hem, a 5/8" top hem, and 2" for the rod heading. Then we cut the main fabric and lining fabric. I was lucky the main fabric was an all over pattern with a short repeat since I had only bought 1 yard of it and needed two 15 1/2" lengths. My mom helped me cut my fabric, pin my seams, and figure out the order in which to stitch the seams, but I did all of the actual sewing myself.

I didn't take many pictures of the process of making the valance, but I did take a few. One thing I did which proved very helpful was to make some seams on a scarp of the lining fabric with the machine set at various tensions and stitch lengths. This was my first time using my sister's sewing machine, so I had no idea what settings to use. By trial and error, I determined the proper stitch length and tension for the majority of my seams. Then, when I went to sew the rod heading, which was 6+ layers of fabric, I used my scrap again to adjust the tension and stitch length.

I almost finished the valance on Sunday night but I was getting frustrated trying to get the right tension for my final seam. I had to rip out almost an entire 102" seam. I called it quits, mom went home, and I finished the valance last night. here it is hanging in my kitchen window this morning (my mom brought me the pansies).

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