Sunday, July 24, 2011

What was the Chance I could make a Valance?

Very slim. But against all odds I have managed to sew not one, but two valances for our kitchen windows. Holy moly what a process. But before we get to all that, here's a little sneak peek for ya.

My friend Amber recently sewed some valances for her own kitchen windows and I just loved them with their little pleats on each side. My kitchen windows definitely needed some accessorizing so Amber let me borrow her pattern and we went together and picked out some fun fabric at Joann's. Originally, I was looking for something with green in it but I could not find a pattern I really liked (well, I did find one but the price was wayyy over budget) but in the end I am glad I chose the black pattern because it gives me a wider range of paint colors. Our house is currently up for sale but if we don't sell soon I am painting this kitchen! It's been the same builder color for nearly five years and I  am sooo over it. But I digress.

This is the pattern I actual pattern is Option C, the one with the little blue bird. I did not add the bird applique, just used the pattern for the actual valance. Notice the little "Easy" symbol there...definitely not the case for embarrassing.

One confusing thing about the pattern was how much fabric I actually needed for two windows. I ended up buying five yards and it was definitely too much. I think I used about three yards. More fun sewing projects to come with the leftovers. 

Here is the lovely fabric all laid out and ready to cut. Yes, I did my measuring on the carpeted floor. It was more comfortable for me.

This is the center pattern that is the biggest piece of the valance. You use your your window width and match it to the appropriate mark on the pattern which will determine where to cut. I should also note that this is with the fabric folded. Once cut, the fabric piece is twice the size of the paper pattern. And for some reason my center fabric ended up being a little too long. Geez, there's no telling where I went wrong. Just a small glitch though, no biggie. 

One of my helpers got bored with my slow pace and decided to take a break.

After Too left me to sunbathe, I measured with a straight edge and drew a cut line with my little white pencil. I meant to pick up a yard stick and forgot it so the little ruler came into play instead.

For each window, I had a total of five pieces of fabric to cut. One center, two sides and two insets which form the pleats. 

I cut the sides and insets just like the center (with the fabric folded) and then simply cut them in half.

Here is one valance with all five pieces all cut out.

And this is what my directions gave me...

I tried many a ways to get this thing pinned correctly but it just wasn't happening. I called on Amber for assistance over the phone but it still wasn't clickin' for me. THANKFULLY she was leaving work and coming close by my house so she stopped by to save help me. Oh man, what would I have done without her? My poor valances would probably be trashed because I know I would have t.o.t.a.l.l.y messed them up.

Here's the back pinned up.

And the front. Please note this is exactly what it should look like when sewn. But sadly, one of mine does not. The pleats are formed when you pull the inset fabric to the center from the left and right side.

This is the first valance I sewed, not even realizing when I took the picture that the seams should not be showing at this point. I sewed the pinned part to the actual valance (thus, the visible seams) and I should have sewed the small part pinned together. Confused yet? Oh and how about I did not notice any of this until this first one was up and hanging and I was working on the second valance. Live and learn...

Yeah, here's a picture of what NOT to do. Here I am thinking I am photographing the correct way but you can see I am stitching it straight to the valance instead of just the inch-and-a-half-or-so piece pinned together.

It's not the end of the world. You really can't see the stitches unless you look closely...but I'm still a little miffed about it.

I sewed all five pieces together and then worked on hemming.

I didn't line my fabric so I simply hemmed the bottom and sides all around and then made a rod pocket at the top, being careful to make sure I allowed enough room for the rod itself. I did have another glitch on the second valance. One of the pleats was sewn incorrectly causing my rod pocket to not work properly once the pleats were folded over. Anyone surprised? Yeah, I didn't think so. I rigged it up in the back which no one can see so it's all good. 

I bought two of the cheap-o rods at Target for $3.69 each. Had my window width been about 6 inches shorter I could have gotten the even cheaper ones at $1.89 each. But hey, it's still a good deal!

Here's a view of the rod pocket being pinned. I pinned and then stuck the rod in a bit to make sure I had enough room. 

So after several days of cutting, stitching, seam ripping and hair pulling, they are complete! Are they perfect? Well gosh no, but I am still proud of these little lovelies and they definitely make the kitchen look better so they are okay in my book :) 

Here are a few Before shots.

And After!

The one on the left is the one with the visible pleat seams. It kind of makes the pleats stick out a little bit but I'm going to try and find a solution for it - cause I ain't re-doing it!

This one has the correctly sewn pleats and they lay more flat.

Wow, so they are done. I can't believe it! It was a great learning experience and I'm excited to try some more new things soon and hopefully build up my sewing knowledge...I definitely need it :)

Partying here this week!

Keeping It Simple
Chic on a Shoestring Decorating
The Shabby Nest

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

So-So Sewing and some Pillow Talk

I finally did it. I broke out my brand new sewing machine that I got for Christmas...7 months ago (hangs head in shame). I really had good intentions of getting my new Brother cranked up but kept stalling since I knew I would need plenty of time to read the manual and play around with it. Oh, who am I kidding? I was scared to death of it. Yep, never have I ever used a sewing machine but by golly I wanted to learn!

So last week I pulled everything out and spent an hour learning sewing lingo and exploring every nook and cranny of my sewing machine. Then I wound my bobbin with some pink thread, loaded the top threader and ran through some scrap fabric. And away the needle went, sewing away. Or so I thought. I was beaming with pride for about two minutes when I realized that nothing was happening to my fabric. Turns out my needle did not thread properly. After a few tries I got it fixed and FINALLY saw my first stitches come to life. What a glorious moment. They weren't pretty but gosh darn it they were mine!

As I mentioned back in my yellow phone bench reveal, I had extra fabric from my office chair that I wanted to use to make a pillow.

See the nice and folded fabric sitting there, waiting patiently to be made into a pillow.

Yeah, it sat there for a while...but after much procrastination, I have completed the pillow and my first real sewing project. Yay!

I know to any seasoned seamstress a pillow sounds very basic and yawnish but I couldn't be happier that I finally overcame my silly fear of the sewing machine and gave it a shot. Next up? Sewing some curtains this week! But more on that later :)

For anyone out there like me who had no clue where to even start on a pillow, here are the basic steps I followed:

Just a heads up that the tutorial pictures are cell phone photos. Sorry, camera was dead.

1. Decide on the size for your pillow and add an inch or so on all sides to allow for sewing room.
2. Measure with a straight edge and cut out your two pillow pieces.

Can you see my teensy little mark to the right of the ruler? I marked and drew a light line to have the as even a line as possible.

Sorry no photos for the next few steps. I was in full concentration mode on the sewing machine.

3. Place the two pieces facing each other with the wrong sides out and pin together.
4. Sew three sides in full and the fourth side about one half to three-fourths closed.
5. Flip pillow right-side out and stuff with filling or fill with stuffing, whichever you prefer :)

I used Poly-Fil that I had on hand.

6. Hand-sew or machine-sew the remaining side closed. I chose to use the machine and although it doesn't look very good, you can't tell unless you look up close :) Hey, it's going to take some practice.
7. Fluff and enjoy!

Here's some afters for ya.

Really and truly, I did not do a very good job on the stitches. I let the fabric drift too much and had to realign everything causing the stitches to be wayyyy uneven. I was pleasantly surprised though when I flipped the pillow right-side out. Errors hidden - score!

Like I said earlier, I'm working on some curtains this week and I'm so nervous! Wish me luck!
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Saturday, July 9, 2011

What's Hangin?

Well that would be a collage above the credenza...that I am finally getting around to posting about. The wall is pretty big and basically the first thing you see when you walk into the room so I thought a collage of things would be a good choice.

We recently purchased several white frames from Ikea and I knew I would use those but I needed something else too. I came across this set of 3 matching mirrors that we have owned for several years. I used them in our first home almost five years ago but I never found the right place for them in this house...until now!

I started out by laying patterns in the floor with the mirrors and frames to get the right look and then started measuring. We measured and hung the mirrors first in a diagonal pattern and basically placed the frames around them.

The lovely orange paper is what I used as my faux frame placement. It's actually from a roll of plastic tablecloth material leftover from little guy's birthday party. And the plastic was full of static so most of the sheets I cut to use clung naturally to the wall. Although this particular one did need a little bit of tape.

I was actually one frame short and since the nearest Ikea is two hours away, I improvised. I found the empty white frame on clearance at Hobby Lobby for like $5. I bought a big key to go inside of it but it's too big :( So now I'm on the look out to find something to fill it. 

And since my office colors are grey, pink and yellow, I wanted the frames to showcase the colors as well. We had little guy's 18 month photo shoot back in May along with some family photos and we all wore yellow...perfect!

The super cute printable was a freebie from Aimee over at Sprik Space. Big thanks to her!

The two small frames up top are older pictures, one from little man at 3 months old and Big Mama up there is one of my maternity photos...about two weeks away from giving birth. What a belly!

One more full shot for ya.

Oh, please excuse the bottom left drawer that is cracked open. Little hands tend to try and get in my stuff so apparently it wasn't closed all the way back. 

But there you have it, my sweet little wall collage. I'm sure it will be tweaked and maybe a few more frames added but I'm loving it right now!

Linking up here!

Chic on a Shoestring Decorating

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