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Aug 4, 2014

My Home Dec Challenge



If you've been following me for a while, you probably know that I don't sew home dec.

I mean, I could sew home dec, it just has never called to me, you know what I mean?

Once upon a time I was very into decor, but when I started sewing and collecting sewing machines, patterns, notions, and fabric, I realized that I was going to have to sacrifice my formerly uncluttered living room to my new obsession (and the bedroom's even worse).  A different person could have both: neatness and sewing supplies.  But not me.  I am the opposite of anal retentive -- which is, what, anal expulsive?  Sounds icky.

I prefer to live in a neat environment; it's just not a terribly strong preference.  Not strong enough, say, to get me to put away all my sewing supplies or bags of fabric as soon as I finish a project, or to find a place for all my flea market treasures the same day I bring them home.  And yet, finding that large painting and hanging it on the wall last week has inspired me to (try to) keep surfaces tidy. 

And this:

Mood has opened a separate street level home dec store!  It's BIG - a ground floor plus half a mezzanine level (unfortunately, you can't get to the regular store through the home dec space, but it's right next to the ground floor elevators).  I've checked out Mood's home dec fabrics many times in the past because I'm not above making clothes out of home dec fabric (like those toile de jouy pants).  But I've never taken on a home dec project.

This month, however, I was offered the opportunity to whip up a home dec project to help them celebrate their new space.  Initially, I turned them down: again, I'm not a home dec person.  But after discussing it with Michael,  I changed my mind -- our living space could use some freshening up (and Mary Porter insists on a flattering backdrop).

I decided to choose something that's relatively easy: curtains.   My apartment doesn't have great views -- mainly identical apartment buildings across the way -- but it does get a lot of light, and I don't want to lose that.  So any fabric I choose has to be somewhat translucent, but still provide some privacy.  The curtain panels we currently have (purchased about seven years ago at West Elm) are an off-white linen, but they never had much fullness and have hardly any drape.  Also, since that time, we've changed sofas and have a different rug.  And then there's that painting...



I love many of the Scandinavian (and Scandinavian style) cotton prints at Mood, but with all the colors and patterns already in the room, I think they'd make too strong a statement.  Plus they're opaque.  I thought about print panels on either end and solid sheers in between but even that sounds too busy.



I looked primarily at linen and linen-look fabrics, either solid or simple stripes.  In a standard width (approx. 54"), I would need twelve yards; yikes! 













I chose...one of the above (you'll find out soon).

Fortunately, creating curtains should only involve sewing a hem at the top and bottom (the panels will attach to the rod with the same clips as our old curtains), and finishing the sides.  I'm crossing my fingers and hoping this project is as straightforward as it sounds.  I mean, it's hems--hems!  It's the measuring that scares me.

Do you sew home dec?  I know people who have sewn entire slipcovers for their sofa, and at great savings compared to what a re-upholsterer would charge.  I don't see myself ever doing that, but you never know.  First, let's see if I can whip up some curtain panels.

Have a great day, everybody!

41 comments:

  1. You name it, I have sewn it, including home decor. Pinch pleated drapes, comforters, bedspreads, valances, sheers, and I have even reupholstered some chairs. I love easy curtains -- they hardly take any time at all. I am sure yours will turn out beautifully!

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  2. I love sewing fiddly, complicated things but struggle with simple stuff like curtains. Think it is all the straight lines. Was it the lovely gauzy one second from last? Such lovely fabric would make great semi-sheers. Making curtains could be creating a rod for your own back you know. Once people find out you can do it, it is the end. ;)

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  3. I find curtains confoundingly difficult. It's all the measuring - I've never sewn two that were the same exact dimensions.

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  4. I purchase fabric in the home decor department and sew clothes out of it! And occasionally I make home decor items (mattress cover, curtains, tablecloths, napkins, place-mats, furniture covers, cushions, bows for the christmas decorations at church, etc.) But it is not my favourite type of sewing. Sometimes I have to sew things I really don't want to.

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  5. I HATE sewing home dec. At least once a week someone jokingly suggests I should sew them some pillows...how awful to sew something you can't even wear!

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  6. I think the difficulty is the massive amount of fabric. Even prewashing is a chore, especially in a NYC apt.

    You may want to get a poly-blend which helps it stand up to the sun.

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  7. Table space is the name of the curtain game. Otherwise you're on the floor for a long time. I use two 8 foot folding tables. Good luck and have fun!

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  8. I'm a "nester" so I love making curtains and slip covers. It was my introduction to sewing. If I could, and time and money were no object, I'd change everything every year. Looking forward to seeing what you whip up.

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  9. Quiltfool has it right: large tables are the key to home dec. Take heart, Peter. I used over 100 yards of fabric for two pair of lined and interlined triple width draperies in the last house. Twelve yards is still a lot if you don't have the space. Beg, borrow or steal (or dumpster dive) for a big folding table.

    I like sewing home dec: the house never talks back or won't sit still for fittings. I get to have co-ordinated closets with matching garment/shoe/purse storage, and my blankets are all in bags. It looks nice, and it costs pennies compared to your average closet store.

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  10. No home dec here! I made some curtains once, for a sailboat, and I didn't enjoy it all.

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  11. You name it, I have sewn it as far as home dec is concerned. But let me tell you, hemming curtains is up there with the most traumatic sewing experiences, at least for me (and I have had plenty of trauma with fly fronts, made a few car crashes out of welt pockets and have set in some tragic sleeves). But somehow, hemming curtains seems the worst. So I look forward to seeing yours, for a lesson is living vicariously-

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  12. Light grey is a great neutral.

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  13. I made curtains out of a linen look fabric this year - the polyester was a savior, because the fabric didn't shrink in the wash, making the whole thing considerably easier.. Hemming is straight forward, but handling the yardage is not, sadly. My longest ones were about 12 yards, at almost full 54" width.

    I find them a bit tedious, and you need good reference points, but otherwise they go pretty quickly.

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  14. My favorite is the one you've got your thumb on. Fwiw, my advice is to go with floor-length (or close to it) drapes. A lot of fabric but they look so much better (to me) and they insulate sound and temperature as well as light. You'll have to decide the level of opaqueness you want: completely blocks the sun to sheer (and I've never understood sheer -- what's the point?) and whether you'll need a lining. I'm very interested in your approach.

    P.S. Have you considered changing your wall color?

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    Replies
    1. I would love to but it's such an ordeal. I'm over the color we have and it's not ideal with the sofa.

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    2. Sheers block the glare and offer light with privacy. You can line the drape with sunroof fabric to keep it from sun rot and fading, and interline the drape to make the curtains thermal. I did this for our bedroom and it really does finish the windows beautifully.

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  15. That is all I have been sewing for the past 7 years. I have only just started sewing clothes again for a toddler. I love being creative and sewing for the home or things for friends.

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  16. I used to sew more home dec. I was quite broke then. I carried home (I had to put it down so I could rest every half a block or so) an ottoman from a church rummage sale and made a slip cover for it. I even took sheets and recovered a sofa. I am exhausted just thinking about it.

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  17. I do all kinds of home dec. I've upholstered, slip covered, made curtains/drapes, you name it!

    My biggest tip is to make absolutely sure the panels are on grain. Use a slight zig zag otherwise the seams will draw up. Cut an extra deep hem. Finish the two sides first, sew the header and hang before you hem. Let hang a week or so and then hem. You can pin the hems right at the window.

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    1. Good advice. Also, use a walking foot and a longer stitch length than you use for clothing. Hanging before you hem lets the fabric relax. This is your chance to use the blind hem on your sewing machine!

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  18. Guilty as charged. I prefer fitting a slipcover to a skirt. I've reupholstered multiple chairs three sofas (and getting ready to do another). I love to make pillows and curtains (even potholders). Yup. Clothes are (sometimes sloppy) seconds when it comes to my sewing time. That Mood home decor store has me pretty excited about MPB Day.

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  19. I have always sewn home dec. as did mother. She did drapes and upholstery and slip covers for paying customers between all the bridal attire, cheerleader uniforms and most of my clothes. It barely occurred to me that you could buy them. I did all the drapes and curtains in my house and then in my sons houses. As I get older , though the thought of struggling with giant yards of fabric is more daunting. My best tip is cut them longer than you think you need and hang them for awhile before hemming. I have he less drapes in my bedroom because I cut too short.

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  20. You don't have to prewash, Peter--home dec fabrics keep their finishes if you sew as you bought them, and plan to have them dry cleaned when they need it. Sounds counterintuitive for clothing sewists, but it really is true, and even laundromat machines can't handle the volumes of big curtain/drape lengths. The one exception is kitchen curtains as they absorb steam, grease, etc. imho.

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  21. I once made a portable darkroom out of PVC pipe and bellows cloth. It took three full days of cutting and sewing. I've done curtains, pillows and upholstery. Quiltfool is right, you need space for drapes. I moved the furniture and used the living room floor.

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  22. Making drapes and duvet covers & pillow shams is one of my favorite things to do. I can use fancy stitches for pillow ends. If the selvedge is good enough I won't even hem the sides. I like to change them out alot so I keep it pretty simple.. Just measure and tear my lengths. I do want to try scrim, I think that might be real interesting. Luckily, in the fabric district in LA, I can get some fun fabrics at $1 yard so it's not a costly endeavor.

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  23. I don't like doing home dec, but will do so as necessary.

    I will leave you with a very scary concept - I remember my MIL re-upholstering (not a slipcover, proper upholstering) a couch in plaid fabric. It is possible.

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  24. Ouh yes, home dec is my guilty pleasure! And sewing a slipcover for my sofa was very exciting but sadly now it needs a new one since last summer I decided to take a cat and the hairy bastard destroyed it along with curtains... still love my cat thou!

    I like to have weights in the bottom hem of panels. Helps to keep them straight even when window is open on a windy day. Also definitely use some sort of lining for them like someone suggested above. Makes the lifespan of drapes longer.

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  25. home decor? I sew lots of home decor and lots of things to fix problems. I make curtains out of tablecloths. Comforter Covers. dust ruffles, Now I am working on upholstery. When will it end?

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  26. I once made enormous roman blinds for my mum - an awful ordeal, brut she looks after my daughter two days a week, so fair's fair. One needs a huge amount of space to lay our the fabric. And the figuring out the dimensions made my head hurt (and that's with a degree in maths)

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  27. I love being able to make our curtains, cushions and all, including recovering the pouf, dining chairs etc. It saves a fortune. GIven our taste is for the opulent, and our apartment's living space window is about 16 by 9 feet, making curtains would have cost us $1000s. I made them for about $500 -35 yards of fabric, 35 yards of lining, 15yards of header tape. The part I disike is how physical it is, moving the damned things around!

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  28. We have just purchased 45 metres (about 50 yards) of drape fabric that is 2.8 metres wide because I am going to sew the drapes for our new house. Haven't got the lining fabric yet but in a worst case scenario I will have to buy 90 metres of 140 cm wide fabric and join the drops to make the lining. I am just quietly wondering how long this is going to take me.

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  29. I was delighted to read you are moving into home dec. I love it. I have made some lovely patchwork duvet covers and pillowcases. Tablecloths are easy and useful. Peter, you will be moving on to quilting next ! Gemma (UK)

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  30. I guess I have sewn home decor. I took some fabric I had woven and made a pillow cover. I have also made window treatments for every place I have lived.(but I have always bought any sheers that were needed.)

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  31. I enjoy your brave move to blog and I cut patterns out and have a hesitation to sew. Clutter is a large problem. Thanks sooo much. HB

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  32. In some respects, home dec sewing is easier than garments - think of the fitting issues so many of us have with patterns! I haven't made any pinch pleated drapes, but so far, all the curtains and valences I've made have turned out better than the garments I've made.

    Regarding the large amount of fabric - if you know how long the curtains will be, have the fabric store cut them that length plus a bit for shrinkage in pre-treating. In other words, if you need 12 yards total, but are making 4 panels, have them cut 3 1/4 yards x4 panels. I'd rather end up with a few odd bits left over than pretreat the fabric and end up a few inches too short. Those odd bits can be used for curtain tie-backs or other coodinating items. Or use strips to bundle up interfacing or fabric rolls.

    JustGail

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    1. What a good idea. Why didn't I think of that! So sensible!

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  33. I need to do some sprucing up of my old farmhouse. But I'd rather sew an evening gown I'll wear once than a much needed duvet cover.

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  34. My suggestion on home dec is the following:

    Choose your fabric wisely. If you have dogs or kids, you need to make sure everything can be washed in the machine. The fabric needs to be durable. It should also be stylist and simple. Loud prints get on your nerves after a while.

    For curtains, what I have done is purchased pre-made panels on sale, typically 50% off or more, and I sew them all together to make one large curtain, for example, dining room window, i used 3 panels of premade curtains for each side. It was a real time saver.

    I have also made duvet covers matching pillow covers, fitted sheets and my least favorite home dec project is slip covers.

    Slip covers are a necessary evil when you have 4 dogs that go in and out of the house all day, lay all over the furniture, pillow etc. So fabric selection was critical for durability, style and being able to strip it all off and put it in the washing machine.

    Just some suggestions.
    -Corey

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  35. Home dec is fun--especially when people come to your place and admire curtains, table linens, pillows that are unique. Found a print at JoAnn of various cats on a beach background. Made a swag valance and shower curtain for the bathroom. Soooo many comments and chuckles! Also mistakes aren't always as obvious in home dec!

    I cringe at the prices of curtains and other home dec items at retail. Pick up some sheets from the clearance bin and whip up some neat items. Lots of fabric for a decent price.

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  36. Anal exclusive? Rofl. That is just too funny!

    I've sewn home dec..... even made slip covers for chairs and sofas, but it isn't my favorite thing to do. Although, slip covers were a challenge I sorta enjoyed the first couple times.

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