Curtain fabric bundle

Lately my thoughts have wandered into the realms of sewing home furnishings (at the moment curtains), and even into cross-stitch, embroidery and patchwork. It grew out of a need for curtains. The house renovation project that Mr L and I have been working away at for months now is, dare I say it, nearing completion. We are about to start the penultimate big job, so two big jobs to go means, to me, light at the end of the tunnel. Even if that’s sometime in the New Year because we are clueless as to how long one of those jobs might take (more about that later).

It occurred to me that it would be helpful not to be ‘curtainless’ when we move into our new ground floor (well, new to us). Curtains wouldn’t be the first item I would be keen to run off my sewing machine – I’d much prefer to make new clothes, but the lined and interlined curtains I see insulating the single glazed Victorian sash windows at the front of the house don’t come cheap. Like you see on all the property development programs on TV our remaining budget is disappearing alarmingly fast, so my mind is working on a thrifty curtain making plan.

I tore this out of a magazine last year, and brought it out again. Despite not being a great fan of patchwork, I like the curtains in the photograph, and fancy this idea for our back room/dining room.

Large-scale patchwork

Ah ha, I thought, a thrifty curtain plan is hatching. I’m still thinking through cost cutting ideas for curtains for the front bay window, but for this all I need is about six different fabrics, and only just under a metre of each at standard curtain fabric width. So I rummaged around in the loft for some long lost curtain fabric, cut some up into squares, and tried it out…but it just didn’t quite cut the mustard. I hot-footed it around the local charity shops but found everything a little, well, ho-hum and not quite right. Obviously, choice of fabric makes all the difference.

I worked out how much it would cost to make this set of curtains in a single average cost fabric, then aimed to halve the cost with the large-scale patchwork idea. The truly thrifty option was slipping away, but for a semi-thrifty option I tried a curtain shop that has a great range of remnants. I even managed to drag along Mr L (a mini-coup to sidetrack him from putting up coving… into a curtain shop). We fought our way through piles of remnants and luckily agreed this looked much more hopeful. We easily found five fabrics that looked right, and at about the right price. The sixth was a problem. There was one large remnant in a faint textured, striped cream and lilac fabric, but it was pricey. Spotting a remnant of cream cotton sateen lining material, I thought ‘how about adding a little stitching to that to create the right fabric?’. Kantha stitching sprang to mind as I’d seen it in a new book I’ve bought (see below).

I had the five remnants laid out so I put the cream sateen down to visualise what a little stitching could do. Mr L swapped it for the pricey remnant while my back was turned, and then I swapped it back. We were almost in a tug of war over the two remnants. Mr L says ‘I’m just trying to save you some work’. I say ‘but you don’t understand [I want to make work for myself – no I didn’t say that], I fancy a little stitchery in my curtains’. Kantha stitching is simple but effective, and I like that. Or does that mean I like to make work for myself? We came out with the cotton sateen lining remnant, so it looks like I do. The cost for the bundle – a little over half that of a single average cost fabric. I have some work to do.

While browsing a bookshop for something on sewing home furnishings, more up to date than I have, I came across this….

The Gentle Art of Stitching

Not home furnishings, I know, but it had to come home with me. A Celebration of Stitch event I went to recently reminded me that once upon a time I quite enjoyed a little embroidery (yes, even crinoline ladies), so it re-ignited my interest. I was in a knitting lull because I had finished knitting a skirt to go with the vintage style top seen in my last post. I was in a repeat washing phase to remove colour run before crocheting on a cream edging to the hem, and then it steadfastly refused to dry. So I browsed through the book and before I knew it out came the needles and threads. I stitched this while mulling over curtain ideas…..

Alphabet sampler
Back to front alphabet sampler. Design from The Gentle Art of Stitching by Jane Brocket

And dragged out some old needlework…..


Just a little aside. Whilst in a charity shop, looking for curtains to chop up and make into new patchwork curtains, something in a glass cabinet caught my eye.

Sirram picnic set

….a 1960s picnic set. I know it isn’t curtains, but it comes under the heading of homeware doesn’t it? I see a theme developing here. I go into a shop looking for one item and come out with another. It’s asking to go on an outing with a granny square crochet throw. Now I’m not short of things to do, but there’s an item on my ‘to do list’, and talking of things to do, somehow I need to fit all this in with the penultimate big house renovation job.

Here it is. Along with many salvage or second-hand items for the house by far the largest is the salvaged parquet flooring (eBay find) which once graced the floors of a Welsh village school. It was a steal. The only problem is that the oak blocks come with some of the original bitumen in which they were laid still attached. They have to be de-gummed and there are over 2000 of them. After much research on methods we think we have one that will work. Mind you, the light at the end of the tunnel might fade a little once I start on this little lot.

oak parquet floor blocks