Archives For Crafty Goodness

Sometime last year I made these cafe curtains using tea towels and a wooden block wrapped in yarn to stamp a design. I loved the idea, but the execution fell short. They just didn’t turn out the way I’d anticipated and, as much as I tried, I never loved them.

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Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I painted my kitchen. I took the curtains down to paint the window frame and decided I liked the extra light coming in, but I didn’t love the curtain enough to hem them to hang lower. So I hung some fabric napkins up in the meantime while I devised a plan.

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I consulted you lovely people, chose a fabric, and yesterday I finally got around to sewing! I have been without a functional washing machine for several weeks now and I was waiting to be able to pre-wash the fabric, but I got sick of waiting and just handwashed it in my kitchen sink. And since I’ve made curtains a billion times now I decided I’d try something new this time and actually line them with some white muslin I already had on hand. You know, like a real live seamstress would do.

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The care instructions for the printed fabric said not to machine dry it, but I live on the edge so I did anyway. I didn’t want to never be able to machine dry my kitchen curtains for fear that they would shrink and pucker. I have no regrets, despite the fact that I don’t think those horizontal lines you can see running through the blue parts were there before. Anyway, the first thing I did was iron my fabric and then lay it out to cut. I decided to make just one panel using the entire width of the fabric (it’s folded in half in the photo below). I cut it to 36″ long knowing that I would lose several inches to hems.

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With my smaller piece of fabric laid out flat I gave it another quick pass with the iron and then pressed a hem along the two short sides. I did this by spritzing the fabric with water, folding it over 1/2″, and pressing with my iron. After each side was complete I folded it over another 1/2″ and pressed again. This gives a nice finished edge that won’t fray.

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Then I repeated the same process with the top edge, except this time I folded over 1/2″ and then 2″. I was also extra careful here to make sure my folds were straight and even, as a wonky hem at the top could make a geometric pattern like this one obviously crooked.

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With three sides of my fabric folded over and ironed down I brought in the white muslin I was using for the lining only to discover that I had a problem. I hadn’t accounted for the fact that the muslin was not nearly as wide as the printed fabric when I cut it and so the piece I’d already invested time in handwashing was too small.

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So I got out the big bolt of muslin that I’ve had for years and cut a piece long enough to cover the full width of the printed fabric (plus a generous allowance to account for possible shrinkage).

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I quickly handwashed it in my sink, then busied myself with other tasks while I waited an hour for it to dry (it was the only thing in the dryer but I didn’t have the benefit of a spin cycle so it went in sopping). When it was finally dry I laid it out over my printed fabric and carefully lined up one corner, tucking it under the folded edge along the top and one of the sides like so.

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After making sure they were lined up nicely along those two sides I pinned it in place, making sure to grab both the printed fabric and the lining with the pin.

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Then I brought the pinned fabric over to my machine and sewed a straight stitch along both sides. When I was finished I brought it back to my mat and used the iron to get it super smooth and flat. If you’re trying this at home be sure to stop your stitches a few inches before the edge on the top so you can still lift the remaining edge.

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Then I carefully trimmed the lining fabric to be just ever so slightly smaller than the printed fabric.

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And tucked it in along the third side the same as I’d done a moment before, then pinned and sewed.

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Bam. Three sides hemmed and the bottom left raw so I can adjust the length, I brought it into the kitchen and clipped it onto the hooks already hanging on the tension rod. I faked a pinch pleat by pinching the fabric before clipping it a few inches below the top of the curtain. You could also use the hem at the top as a rod pocket if you don’t have clips around.

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As soon as I hung it up and stepped back to take a look Jack scrambled up onto the stepstool I’d just used. He’s really into climbing these days.

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I was thrilled with the look so I folded and pinned the fabric at each corner to mark the length. If you’re trying this at home and using a curtain rod that’s attached to the wall you might want to pin it all the way across, but since the tension rod is easy to move up or down a smidge if needed I just pinned the corners.

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Then I folded the fabric over neatly and ironed it right there on the counter. I didn’t choose the quartz counters but I love that they are pretty much indestructible.

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The hooks are barely big enough to fit around the tension rod and really hard to get on and off so I just brought the whole operation over to my sewing machine. Here’s how the back of it looked after I sewed the bottom (and final!) hem.

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It was a little late in the day to be taking natural-light photos in my kitchen but I really wanted to post these today instead of waiting until next week (which is the soonest I’d be able to time well-lit pictures). I love love love the way they turned out.

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Seeing these photos, though, I’m kind of wishing I’d hung them a little lower. The shadow just below the top is bugging me. I could probably fold the bottom hem over once more and it’d be just right. Thoughts?

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One thing I considered when choosing a curtain fabric was how it would look with the floral fabric skirt in the adjacent laundry room. I’m calling it a win.

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This has been a super long post so if you’ve made it this far, congrats! I’m so proud of myself for trying something new with the lined curtains–they were actually not too difficult! I’m really happy with the finished result. Do you think I should lower them so that the shadow where the window sashes meet is behind the pleats?

Update: I hemmed and lowered them!

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I took down the cafe curtains in my kitchen for a few days while I painted and despite the privacy concerns (we live in an historic neighborhood where the houses are really close together), I kind of dug the added light.

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I decided to keep the cafe curtains but maybe hang them a few inches lower, which would require hemming the fabric panels and, you know, I have just never been in love with those curtains. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to change out the fabric. But before I did anything drastic I decided to try hanging up some cloth napkins with curtain clips as a stand-in.

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I decided I definitely wanted my new curtains to reach all the way to the windowsill, but the lowered height was perfect and the pop of color was fun too. So fun, in fact, that I decided to scrap my original plan to whip up some plain white curtains from fabric I already had on hand and shop around for some more colorful fabric instead. This is only a few feet away from the large-scale floral fabric in the laundry room, so I think that something geometric or small-scale would play nicely. I’m also really digging the idea of navy blue. Here are a few choices I rounded up, all under $12/yard:

geometric and small scale navy curtain fabrics1 / 2 / 3 / 4

5 / 6 / 7 / 8

Here’s a tip when shopping online: pin things you’re interested in to Pinterest (you can use a secret board if you don’t want anyone to see) and Pinterest will suggest other boards that the item has been pinned to. This can help you discover new possibilities through pinners who have similar tastes. I found a couple of these picks that way, and another was through the “you may also like” sidebar on fabric.com. How do you wade through the thousands of fabric options out there to find what you’re looking for (at a price you can afford)? And which fabric do you think I should choose? I have a favorite, but I’m not totally sold.

 

After my moravian star tree topper, the other crafty project I took on this weekend was a finger knit garland for our tree. The purple tinsel garland we already have has seen better days and I wanted to try something more neutral. I already had the supplies on hand so I figured there was no harm in trying, plus this was an easy one to work on while watching TV or even reading a book on my Kindle. I started with this cotton cord, which is actually the very last of a huge spool that’s been used in many, many small projects. I highly recommend keeping some attractive string or twine like this on hand because it is just so useful. I even use it to wrap gifts! Anyway, I did actually end up having to go out for more cord before this project was complete, but I didn’t mind because I know I’ll use it. It was only about $3 with a coupon. For the record, I originally tried to do this project with hemp twine because I had a huge spool of it but it was way too stiff and I gave up after only a couple rows. You could also use yarn, ribbon, strips of fabric, or whatever plentiful, pliable material you have on hand.

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I watched this youtube video to refresh my memory on how to finger knit. You just wrap the string around your fingers back and forth until you have two rows of loops. The video demonstrates it way better than I can–you can even get the gist without the sound on if you’re at work or hearing impaired.

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Then, starting with the pinky, I slipped each bottom loop over the one above it and let it slip behind my finger, leaving me with one row of loops.

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See, my first row of stitches on the back!

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After a few more rows it still doesn’t look like much, but just keep going and going and going.

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Make it as long as you want–you could make a bracelet, a necklace, or a long garland like I did. See the video I linked to above for instructions on how to bind it off at the end.

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I really love the natural/neutral vibe it brings to the tree. I think it will look even better once I get some ornaments up there to fill things in a little! And just for kicks, here’s a picture of Jack clinging to me while I knitted the first few rows standing at my desk. He’d been playing happily only moments before, but as soon as he saw I was up to something he was all over me like white on rice. You parents of littles know what I’m talking about.

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Have a great day, and thanks for reading!

One of the projects I knew I wanted to tackle on this rainy weekend was a DIY tree topper. I didn’t know what kind, just that A) the cheap and glittery topper we’ve had for years has never really been my cup of tea and B) I didn’t feel like digging through boxes of Christmas decorations to look for it. I started googling and searching Pinterest on Saturday morning and before long found this tutorial and template and hatched a plan to put my own spin on it using materials I already had on hand.

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I’ve had this book of music for a while now. I found it at an estate sale and figured I could use the pages for some sweet project down the line and in the meantime it’s looked cute sitting on a shelf.

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I started by gently tearing out ten pages. A lot of them are Christmas carols, which was a happy accident.

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I printed the template and traced the lines with a sharpie to make them easier to see, then taped it up on a window so that I could trace it onto the pages.

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I was able to fit two templates on each page. As is my standard mode of operation, I threw perfection to the wind in this endeavor.

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Then I cut each one out, folded it along the lines, and used some double-sided tape to secure it into a pointed shape. I could have used glue, but the tape was handy.

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I realized after snapping this picture that there were only 19 points and I needed 20. I’d forgotten to cut one of them out!

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This is perhaps my favorite way to spend a weekend afternoon. Jack was napping, Nick was out, and I was free to sit and work on a project of my choosing while watching TED talks (this playlist is great and so inspiring!).

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I printed out the template for the base of the star on ivory cardstock, cut it out, and then after using a pair of scissors to score along the lines began to fold it into shape, using regular tape to secure it as I went. When it was almost finished I took a styrofoam ball that I already had (from shortening Jack’s mobile when he learned to stand. I just removed the yarn that had once covered it) and placed it inside the base before taping up the final side.

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Then I took two pieces of wire and jammed them each through an opening in the base and into the styrofoam ball.

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Next, I started using double-sided tape to adhere each point to a face of the base. The wires really made it easier to handle as the sides filled out.

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Ta-da! I’m glad I used ivory cardstock since so much of it shows between the points. It’s really not noticeable at all, even with the black lines along the folds.

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To secure it to the tree I just cut the top branch to a manageable height and then wrapped the two wires around it (one clockwise, one counterclockwise). I love it.

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I’m going to have to package it up carefully next month so that I can reuse it in years to come! I’m keeping things really simple this Christmas and was considering not even putting ornaments on the tree, but the more I look at it the more I’m itching to fill it in a little more. Hopefully I’ll find the time to get to that this week in between work and playdates and various appointments. I hope your Tuesday is not too dreary. It’s a damp and frigid 36º here in south Louisiana, but I hear that other parts of the country are expecting quite a bit of snow today with a big winter storm. What I would give to have a snow day!