Sunday, April 25, 2010

Bright and shiny new curtains

With all the lack of posting lately you could easily have thought there was no crafting/sewing activity going on around here. Actually, that is quite the opposite of life chez moi over the last few weeks. It's been a frenzy of sewing activity because I was making some huge and fluffy warm new curtains for my living room, and I was on a strict, no-procrastinating-by-blogging schedule.
We live in a really old house. Well, really old by NZ standards. It was built sometime between 1870 and 1880, back in the days when people didn't worry about insulation cos they just stoked up their coal ranges and stayed warm that way. The other thing about wooden houses is that nothing is quite square any more, so there are lots of draughts around doors and windows. Hence, we needed a giant curtain that would cover a draughty window and a draughty door that open straight into our living room. The quote to get a custom-made curtain came in at over $1000, so I laughed in its face and said, "Ha! I'll make them myself!".
First, lets meet the fabrics: Cotton ticking, because I love it, and some incredibly fluffy James Dunlop lining fabric (polished cotton on the back with a core of dacron, like a duvet really: $10 per metre at Morelands fabric- a bargain really). I needed 12.4 metres of each. Aiyee!

The sewing. Oh my. It was a big job, because that lining has to be sewn in. Here are some of the other titles that were running through my head for this post:
24 metres of torture
Sewing helllllllllll
The perils of being a tightwad
Anyway, they're done now. My fingers are covered in punture wounds from all the stabbing-myself-with-pins incidents. Simon said that my language while sewing would make a sailor blush. But blogfriends, it was all worth it. I love them.

This little tool is a trick my neighbour uses when she makes curtains. It's just a piece of cardboard with all the measurements I needed marked onto it. You measure up your curtains, decide on the finished length, then decide what your seam allowances and fold-overs are going to be. You make yourself a wee one of these and go around your curtains measuring and pinning as you go. This way the pinning is pretty quick and each curtain ends up exactly the same length.

And finally, since it is ANZAC day today, here is a letter written on a small scrap of paper by my Grandad on the day before he went to fight at Gallipoli in 1915.

It's quite difficult to make our the words, so here's what it says: "Lemnos, 3.6.15, There is a mail going ashore, this is probably the last opportunity that we will have before we go forward. We will have a chance of doing a bit soon, some of us will come out of it alright, and will all do our best. Love to all, Rawei."

It sends shivers through me reading that, partly because of the scrap of paper it was written on- all he could get old of- partly because so many young men didn't come out of it alright, and partly because Simon always ends his txts to us "Love to all", so this letter feels so very real. Grandad spent 4 years of his life fighting over there. I can't imagine the horrors he must have seen. If he was alive today I would say, "Thanks for doing that". For me, that's what ANZAC day is all about.
Posted by Picasa


  1. Oh my, the amount of sewing involved...well I hope to do some curtains next summer so I better not think about it too much! But they look great and you must have saved a bomb with a quote like that! Now I want ticking curtains in my house, I love ticking.

  2. well done Miss Smith that was a massive job and you were very very brave. What's more you got your reward which are coooooool curtains, or should that be warrrrrrrrrrrm curtains.

  3. ps I love the new header. My computer however, keeps stalling on it and I have to reboot the modem. This is what it does on my site too, which is very annoying. For my birthday, I have requested a new modem.

  4. thanks for sharing that note from your grandfather... wow they were some brave men, weren't they.
    those curtains look pretty amazing and i'm inspired by your stickability sewing them! they'll keep your little house so warm this winter.

  5. I think your curtains are fantastic. It is always scary taking on something like that because the outlay in time and money is just so big. I like your idea for hemming too. I've been having my own thoughts about the same subject but your idea is quicker.

    That note from your grandfather is very moving. It is so hard to imagine what it was like for them and for everyone left behind. Here's to ANZAC day and continuing memories.

  6. That is a lovely note from Grandad. I
    was remembering yesterday how dad always went to the ANZAC service. He never missed. I didnt know till recently that his own father had been at Passchendale. Your curtains are great, what a difference they will make.

  7. Those curtains are fab! I did'nt even know you could get that curtain stuffing stuff!!
    I recently made some roman blinds cause I thought they would be easier than curtains, well they weren't, I think the hardest part is all the fabric bulk.
    By the way where did you get the ticking from? I've looked everywhere for it.

    That note from your Grandad is so special, what a great treasure to have.

  8. Hi Frith, I got my ticking at Spotlight- it seems to come and go a bit, but it's usually with the "unbacked" curtain fabrics. It's 145 wide and costs $15 a metre but quite often goes on sale for about $12 a metre (that's what I paid for mine).
    BTW I've always been terrified of making roman blinds, perhaps with good reason?!

  9. Sorry to hear you have hurt your shoulder. Hope you make a fast recovery!

  10. Those curtains are a triumph. It will be like pulling a duvet in the evenings. Your post came to the rescue for Johnny's Anzac project because we copied and enlarged Grandad's letter, soaked it in tea and attached it to his poster: perfect, and the teacher was thrilled.

  11. Love the new header!

  12. I know what you mean about curtains - just spent several weekends doing my own - hate the achy arm bit from putting them all up (and down and up if you make a mistake!!). Love the cotton tick - looks great up.