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Easy Sunglasses Case – Free Pattern for Pre-cut Leftovers

I love finding projects to use those leftover pieces from pre-cuts and I always have a couple of leftover pieces of 10″ squares that are perfect for this project.  This can be done in less than 30 minutes (15 once you’re good at it) and it’s a great last-minute personalized gift.  I love this project because I get to keep a little bit of a quilt I made and it reminds me of happiness every time I reach for my sunglasses.  I recall the shop hop where I found the fabric or feel a kindred spirit to the person who received the quilt.  This project is a win-win all the way around.

I wear big sunglasses (wrinkle prevention you know) and not all of them come with cases.  We are on the water a lot and I prefer to wear Costa sunglasses but the case they come with is hard-sided which is like digging around a brick in my purse.   The hard-sided case took up entirely too much room so I needed a soft sided case.  My sunglasses needed a quilt!

This is from Nature Walk by Michael Miller.  I used two 10″ squares and a 10″ piece of batting.  Lay them together with the outer fabric face down, batting in the middle and the inner fabric or case lining face up.

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The pattern piece is the LargeSunglassesCase.  However, if you need a custom fit, you need to measure the widest part of the sunglasses, while closed, from one side to the other to get a measurement.  Mine were 3.5″ (x 2 front and back circumference) for a total of 7″ width and I wanted a little extra on the end so I added 1/2″ for a length of 7.5″.   I made the corner of the pattern using a roll of duct tape as a template.  Very high-tech around here folks.  If you are making your own pattern, do not add any ease in the circumference.  You do not want the case to be so loose that the glasses will fall out.  The case should fit snugly around the glasses.

Once the pattern is cut, I folded it in half to see where the rounded end met the side.  That’s 2 1/4″ down from the top so I marked the spot on the pattern on both sides with a little line using a Frixion pen.  Mark this little dash on both sides of the lining and the outer fabric where the curve ends.  It’s where you will begin and end stitching.  Note:  If you don’t have time for the whole curve thing, just sew up the bottom and side of the case and be done with it.  Easy-peasy.  But I like the fancy look of the curve on the outer fabric.

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I cut all three pieces at once.  Of course, once cut, they shift around and don’t line up perfectly but I turned mine to the right side and maneuvered the fabrics so everything lined up just right.  Then I pinned to hold it all in place.  This is not an exact science and I don’t get all bent out of shape about the edges meeting because they will be trimmed after sewing anyway.

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This is a great time to try out those pretty decorative stitching patterns on your machine that you never use.  If you don’t have any, a zig zag works nicely.  I want caution you however, if you choose a decorative stitch, go a little slower than normal.  I went too fast on my first attempt, jammed my machine, and threw out the timing.  This bad sewing mama learned a $75-trip-to-the-repairman mistake.  Before sewing the real deal, I tested my stitch choice on the left over scraps.  Another boost to this project is that when you’re finished, you still have a nice sized piece to add to your scrap bin.

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This next part, sewing the curve, is a little counter-intuitive and a bit tricky.  Starting with the lining side up, flip the sandwich completely around (top at the bottom) and beginning at the dashed mark on your left, sew what is actually the top of the case.  I kept the fabric lined up with the left edge of the presser foot.  Sew down to the “top” edge, turn the fabric and continue to stitch around the curve and then stop as close as you can on the other dashed mark.  If you are sewing a decorative stitch, try to stop at the end of the stitching sequence before it begins another.  When you reach the end, do not backstitch but do cut the threads.

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When you reach the dash on the other side, remove the case from the machine, fold it as it would look when finished, and begin sewing on the front at the stopping point where you left off.  You may need to rearrange the pins to get them out of the stitching line.  Now keep the fabric in line with the right edge of the presser foot.  The idea is not to see a visible stop/start point in the stitching.

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Sew down the front side and make a definite 90 degree turn to sew across the bottom of the case to end at the fold.  Do a tie off stitch and remove it from the machine.

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It looks a little rough now, but clip the loose threads and take a pair of pinking shears to the edges.  I begin on the long side and then continue around the curve, opening up the top edge as I go until I get down to where the back/front meet so I get one smooth cut.  Then I cut off the bottom edge.

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It fits perfect!  My sunglasses are peeking out but when I tuck them fully in, they are completely covered and protected.

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It was about time to replace the other one.  You can see where my fancy stitch jammed up my machine and I had to stop stitching along the bottom.  But that didn’t stop me!  I’ve been using it anyway.  After I posted this, I went ahead and finished off the end and gave it a press.  Good as new!  I got that mint colored fabric at a shop hop through Rockport, Texas.  See?  Great quilting memories!

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Super Hero Cape!

What 5 year old doesn’t want to be a super hero with a cape?  Remember tying a towel around your neck and flying across the living room furniture or jumping high on your bed until your Mom yelled at you?  I sure do!  But really, bath towels are so yesterday.  Enter, the Super Hero Cape!  This is for my grandson, Super Calvin.
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I followed this tutorial to make it.  http://www.momsrising.org/blog/how-to-make-a-superhero-cape-by-lara-from-howdoesshe .  However, this power-tooling grammy must customize of course.  I ended up making it 13.5″ across the bottom vs. just 11″ and the length was 33.5″ vs. 31.

I found the emblem at Planet Applique and the fabric was a stretch twill with a beautiful drape I got at Hancock Fabrics. I like to do a preliminary stitch out just on a piece of stabilizer to see the size and shape.  Note the shape outline of the hoop?  It is stitching horizontally vs. vertically.  When hooped, the bottom point of the emblem is pointing toward where the hoop attaches to the machine arm – away from the machine body.
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Up front, I could not hoop properly until recently.  The words torqued, wonky, and AARRRRGH! come to mind when I attempted to hoop.  Hair pulling ensued and I’d give up on the project.  Then one day, I got an email from Eileen Roche from Designs in Machine Embroidery and it had an advertisement for the PAL. The Perfect Alignment Laser.  OMG.  Hooping Nirvana.  This bad boy provides a perfect 90 degree crosshair laser light on your hooping surface.  Slick!  I love technology.

You mark the design center of the garment with a crosshair.  I’m not going to tell you how to do this because it’s totally subjective depending on the item, but folding in half, and then quarters, and then ironing a cross-crease began the process for this project.  Because this is a lightweight fabric, I’m using a heavy duty regular stabilizer (it feels like sturdy interfacing) and Sulky Sticky+  for two layers of stabilizer.  I’ve found that when you have lightweight fabrics, using two layers of stabilizer prevents the puckers.  Puckers suck.  I’m certain there’s a better or more professional/efficient way of doing this but I don’t know what it is.
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I use a pin to score the paper and pull off the top center of the sticky backing is up.  Then I mark on the stabilizer using the plastic guide thingy that came with my machine to mark the center, sides, top and bottom.

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Then I mark a crosshair with a pencil using the dots I made.
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Now PAL comes into play.  Press the button to turn it on and TA-DAA!  A laser crisscross!  I align it exactly over the pencil marks.  Seriously, how stinking cool is this?!
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Then it’s just a matter of aligning the fabric in the hoop so that my ironed creases match up with the laser light.
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That center dot is a placement sticker from Designs in Machine Embroidery.  Hubs gave me the Perfect Placement Kit for Christmas (because I asked for it and he’s a good Santa) and these markers are included as part of it.  You can buy these stickers separately for $20 but honestly, you can get the same result with those sticky dots from the dollar store and mark a 90 degree crosshair in the center.

Now you can’t see it in the image above but I almost TOTALLY screwed this up!  I originally aligned the cape with the neckline at the top of the hoop.  No, no.  Remember on the sample stitch out it was horizontal?  Thankfully, I remembered that just in time.  Total disaster averted.  Whew!  I also like to put a few pins to help the fabric stay in place on the sticky.
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The next images are the machine doing its thing.  In machine applique, the first stitch is called a placement stitch and it outlines the amount of space your fabric needs to cover.
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Then place the first fabric over that stitch line and the machine will tack it down over the first stitching line.  The only solid yellow I had was a little transparent so I used two layers.
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When that’s done, remove the hoop and cut away the excess fabric around the design. I use those curved scissors so I don’t cut the under fabric or stitching line.
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Then the machine will do a couple more rounds to tack it down real good and then do a satin stitch around the first fabric.  No worries about extra threads.  It gets a good haircut at the end.
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Change thread colors and repeat with the other fabric.  I always cut jump threads (those long crossing threads) whenever I can in between the stitching cycles to prevent them from being anchored down where they don’t belong.

Then I stitched the top of the cape to the back RST (right sides together), turned, pressed, top stitched and added Velcro to the neck closure.  🙂
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Yeah, I know, the cape clashes with Dolly’s skirt.  lol  Here’s the neck closure.  All done!  Yeah…Who’s the super hero now?  🙂  BANG!  POW!!  BOOM!!
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Quick Pressing Pad

Most three-day weekends, we turn them into four by taking vacation on Friday and traveling somewhere. Tomorrow is the MLK federal holiday and I was itching for a road trip somewhere. A couple of weeks ago I got an email that Jay Leno was playing in Kinder, Louisiana at the Coushatta Casino Resort. Yay! We love to go there! Vegas it ain’t, but it’s a beautiful casino with great food and a gorgeous RV park. A couple of years ago they even installed a water park with a couple of those tall twisty slides and after an afternoon there, I realized I had muscles I forgot I had. I must have gone down those slides half a dozen times and could hardly move the next day! But oh it was SO much fun being a kid again! One of my favorite parts of coming here is that there is the Oberlin Quilt Shop just six miles up with road. Win Win! And winning is the point of coming to a casino, right?

So I bought tickets to see Jay Leno (who was awesome BTW!) and we arrived here Friday afternoon. When we travel in the RV, I usually bring along some project to keep me busy in the quiet hours of the morning because I’m normally up before Keith. I love this time of day – just me, a coffee mug, and peace. Ahhh. This trip, I brought along an applique project I’m working on to hang over our bed at our house at the coast. This is Beach Livin’ by Coach House Designs. I love this! It’s 52” wide and so perfect to go over our bed.
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I have been meaning to make a pressing pad for ironing small things. I can’t believe I don’t already have one. Naturally, I decided this on Friday morning as we were preparing to leave. So I fished around in my stash and couldn’t really come up with anything I liked or was willing to cut into for a pressing pad. I recall that I’ve seen them made of a couple of placemats sewn together and decided to go digging for treasure in my linen closet. I had purchased six placemats probably at World Market or Target or somewhere that were beautiful, bright, bold chevrons. Of course I couldn’t decide which to get so I got one of each color: teal, gray, pink, yellow, green, and orange. The pink and yellow really don’t work in my house anywhere so they were orphaned in the linen closet since the other four are currently on my kitchen table. Perfect!
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They didn’t really need any batting because they are already pretty dense by themselves. So I clipped them back-to-back (no turning here). I tried quilting pins but they just made it all lumpy and I didn’t think it would sew straight.
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Then I dropped my upper tension down a bit to accommodate a hand quilting thread. I’m not sure if I really needed that thick thread or not, but better safe than sorry.
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I made sure to change my needle to a huge 110/18 so it could handle the thickness of the two placemats and the hand quilting thread I used.
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And in about three minutes, I had a bright, cheery pressing pad!
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Now if I would have just remembered to bring my Clover Mini Iron I’d be in heaven! Really, that thing is awesome and deserves a permanent home in my projects travel bag. Don’t be fooled by the smallness of it. It has three heat settings and gets plenty hot for fusing or creasing seams. It’s specifically designed for applique and this kit even includes a cutting knife for small pieces!
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I’ll blog on this pretty wall hanging when I finish it.  Enjoy the weekend everyone!  Oh, and the trip to the quilt store was a bust.  😦  She’s only open now Mon-Fri and Saturday’s on-call.  I couldn’t reach her so… bummer.  I usually drop some decent Craps winnings in that store so I’ll be sure to call prior the next time we travel here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sewing Classes & Essentials for Newbies

Many of my friends have told me that for Christmas or in the past year, they have a new sewing machine in their life. The popularity of this hobby called “Sewing” has exploded recently and I’m not sure why, but I’m going to chalk it up to an inherent need to put the phone down and get back to basics.  There is something so comforting about the entire process of putting a needle into a piece of fabric and forging ahead on the desire to create.  This is true whether you are sewing quilt tops, bedding, tote bags, or clothing.  Or maybe you just want to hem pants, sew on a Scout patch, or make a zipper repair.  Whatever you’re about to dive into, here’s some classes and advice to hopefully make your life much easier.  Some of the classes are free and some are paid, but all are worth your time.

In the previous paragraph, I mentioned four types of sewing: Quilting, Home Dec, Bag Making, & Fashion Garments.  While each of them share many skills that can build off one another, each one has its own special construction techniques, fabrics, threads, and machine accessories, not to mention its own share of frustrations.

This post is about what I wish I’d known years ago or sources to valuable things I’ve discovered in my sewing journey.  The very best piece of advice I can give to newbies is to take a class before your first project, and that includes those who have sewn before but it’s been years and years.  Today’s machines are very different from the non-computerized machines of the past.  You will save yourself time, money, and an incredible amount of disappointment, frustration, and swearing by taking a class before you ever make a bobbin.  You WILL make mistakes…a lot of them (and you’re in amazingly good company!).  The second best piece of advice I can give is to be patient and accept any failures as a lesson.  Learn from them, chalk it all up to experience, and press on.

If you don’t have a sewing machine yet but you want one, you’re going to want to know the best one to get. The best one to buy is one that you can afford and there’s a factory-authorized maintenance shop nearby.  You don’t want to have to send your machine away for maintenance and incur the expense of shipping as well as the repair or tune up.  If you have a non-computerized machine, your local machine repair shop will work fine.  However, if you’re getting a computerized machine (and I highly recommend that you do because they’re nothing like the old ones and they make life SO much easier) then know that a local machine repair shop may not be able to order new parts from the manufacturer.  They cannot do much more than a simple tune up or make timing adjustments.  When the power supply on my Brother PE-770 embroidery machine blew up during a storm, I had to take it to an authorized Brother repair shop after I spent the time and money to be told by the local repair guy that he couldn’t order the part.

Classes – The classes I mention below are courses that I have taken myself so I can recommend them from first-hand experience. I must be enrolled in 50 Craftsy classes and while the information is sound, sometimes the instructor can drives you bats.  I’m only going to recommend classes that have good basic instruction and info that I really got something out of and I was able to listen to the instructor for a couple of hours.  Any money spent on classes will be worth every penny even if it is to just brush up on your skills.

If you are just getting acquainted with your sewing machine, this free class, Sew Ready, Machine Basics will get you started with understanding how today’s computerized machines work.  This course covers everything from how to make a bobbin to the different types of sewing machine feet, threads, needles, troubleshooting, etc.  In this video, she is using a Baby Lock machine, but it is identical to the Brother machines on my Power Tool Arsenal page.  They are the same company!  The Brother machines are less expensive than Baby Lock and I’ve not found a difference between the two at all.  Think of them like GMC and Chevy.  Same-same.
Craftsy Sewing Basics ClassQuilting – For basic block construction, your best bet is any video produced by the Missouri Star Quilt Company.  Jenny Doan makes the complex seem simple, and the introduction of fabric pre-cuts solves the basic problem of “Do these fabrics match?”  A single pre-cut will contain a sampling of each design in a fabric line and will be cut in anything from 10″ squares to 2.5″ strips.
Missouri Star Quilt CompanyIf quilting is your thing, or you want it to be, sign up for Missouri Star’s Daily Deal, add it to your favorites, and hit the site first thing every morning.  Shipping is always $5, and the cost of the deal is around half or less than what you’d pay in a store.  They also recommend the right shade of background fabric and a pattern to use that goes with the daily deal.  You simply can’t go wrong!  The daily deal can be anything from fabric, to rulers, or quilting accessories like thread, pins, clips, …you name it.  I’ve built my entire stash from the MSQC for a fraction of the cost I’d of paid at a quilt shop.

Please don’t let me dissuade you from frequenting your local quilt shops – they are a wonderful experience (most of the time), and you’ll be able to sign up for classes or Shop Hops (tours), fondle yummy fabric, and make many new friends.  I also hit the local shops for backings, batting, and specialty threads.  What I’m about to say however is very controversial, but it must be addressed if you aspire to be a quilter.  I believe that forewarned is forearmed about what I consider to be quilting’s dirty little secret.  Don’t be intimidated when you walk in your local quilt shop – just waltz in like you own the place and browse or shop to your heart’s content.  If your local shop is full of quilt snobs – and they are out there in droves – find the fabric you want, then go home and buy it cheaper online or look elsewhere locally where you feel comfortable in the store.  Do not reward snobby shops with your money.  These snobby quilt shops are behaving to their own detriment and being replaced one-by-one by technology.  As Jenny Doan from MSQC says, “Finished is better than perfect.”  Find a store that supports you no matter your skill level.  And if that shop is online, then so be it.
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A note about quilting cottons from big box stores like Wal-Mart, JoAnn’s, or Hancock Fabrics.  You get what you pay for in feel, color fastness, and wear.  Balance the level of effort you’re going to put into the project against the cost of the fabric.  As your skills progress, you’ll want quality quilting cottons for projects whether heirloom or not.  However, if you’re just starting out with your first table runner, it might be a good idea to start with less expensive fabrics until you figure out the piecing aspect of the blocks.  It’s so frustrating to spend a ton on fabric only to screw up the project.  Again, the MSQC Daily Deal is a good way to start so you get quality fabrics at a fraction of the cost.

When it’s time to put the quilt top together and make the magic happen, this is probably the best class I’ve found. Ann Peterson is very thorough and explains the why’s and how’s of making all your time and effort on the quilt top turn into a successful finished quilt.  Small Machine, Big Quilts, Better Results  You don’t need a big long-arm quilting machine to finish your quilt.  If you’re just starting out, use some clear thread and stitch in the ditch through where the blocks intersect – easy peasy!  All the fancy quilt designs can come later.  My first quilting project was a MSQC Christmas table runner and it was a success.
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For Home Dec – This is a great class for making duvet covers. Custom Bedding: Designer Duvet Covers.  If you want to make curtains or learn how to recover a chair or make cushions & pillows, search Craftsy and find a course you think will work for you.  I haven’t taken any so I can’t recommend one.
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Bags & Totes – Bag Making Basics by Kristen Link.  This is a free class on Craftsy and will show you how to make two different types of tote bags.  This is also a good basic sewing class.
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Are you pretty familiar with your machine and just need to brush up on some garment skills? Then Design and Sew an A-Line Skirt and Mastering Zipper Techniques are for you.  The instructor in the zipper class is Sunni Standing and from this class I began to also follow her blog, A Fashionable Stitch.  She’s an amazing garment seamstress and her blog links to many advanced sewing tips and tutorials.
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Making clothing for adults or tweens with curves is a real challenge. Fit has always been my nemesis.  Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, can take a commercial pattern straight from the package, make your size and have it fit right on the first go.  So don’t even bother.  Most commercial patterns are a B-cup, and even if you are a B-cup, there are a ton of things that need adjusting before it will fit right.  If you are going to attempt to make clothing from scratch, do yourself a huge favor and invest in Sure Fit Designs.  It is worth every…single…penny.  The basic dress kit contains everything you need to make your own basic body blueprint with step-by-step DVD’s and templates for full-bust adjustments, darts, plus size, and a gazillion other things.  There’s also a segment on adjusting commercial patterns to your perfect fit.  You need the commercial patterns for design elements and instructions, but you’ll need your body blueprint (called a sloper in the industry), to make adjustments to the commercial pattern lines.  Really, I mean this…just pony up the cash and consider the investment in Sure Fit Designs just as important as the machine itself.  I can’t tell you how much time, effort, and money I’ve wasted making myself garments that don’t fit.  There are some SFD videos on YouTube so you can check it out before you buy.
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So that’s it! I wish each of you the best of luck in your new sewing adventures!  I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and I wish you all a Happy and Safe New Year!

A Cute Curtain Solution to an Ugly Door

When hubs and I bought our little trailer down on the Texas Gulf Coast, it had some serious issues and required a total interior remodel. Believe me when I say this place has good bones.  You wouldn’t know it to look at it then. We literally gutted the place…new paint inside & out, new flooring, new cabinets, new tile, new plumbing, new kitchen and bathroom sinks, new, new, new.  We love coming down here now for the weekends and I can’t wait to get my grands here for a week in the summers when they get a little older.  Yep, I’m the proud owner of Texas Wheel-estate! HA  Beach anyone?

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NOWWP_20150808_14_10_57_ProIn one of the extra bedrooms, the closet door had a big hole in it from some brain surgeon who probably punched it. It was shoulder height and was the size of a man’s fist. Rather than attempting to repair the door, I told hubs to just pitch it.WP_20150808_08_21_22_Pro

We have friends coming down next weekend who will be using that room, so I wanted to lose the ghetto look and dress up the door.  Nothing like company coming to make you get moving on unfinished projects. I found this super cute fabric at Hobby Lobby and decided it would make a nice curtain to hide the cleaning supplies and charcoal we keep in that closet. If you haven’t been to Hobby Lobby lately, they have REALLY upped their selection of fabrics – and quality fabrics at that.  I buy a lot of high-end quilting cottons at quilt stores and this fabric I bought is right up there with some of the best I’ve purchased before.WP_20150808_08_22_06_Pro

The door is 24” x 80” so a single width of fabric would work fine and I purchased 3 yards to make sure I had enough length for hem and the casing for the tension curtain rod I wanted to use. I folded in ½” on the sides and then folded in another 1 inch or so (I just eyeballed it) to hide the raw edge down both long edges.WP_20150808_08_31_26_Pro

Then I finished off the top of the curtain by doing the double fold again but this time I folded down the top about 4 inches and stitching it in place. Then I put another line of stitching about 1.5” down from the top to create the casing for the rod. I hung the curtain to determine the final length.WP_20150808_09_49_26_Pro

WP_20150808_09_49_48_ProOne thing I learned in one of my Craftsy videos, was to use washers from the hardware store as curtain or drapery weights. They make the drapery hang straighter and help to provide a nice drape to the fabric.

So I hopped on my little scooter and toodled over to the local hardware store to find some washers that would work. While I was there, I snagged some larger washers to use as pattern weights! .99 cents each! Score!WIN_20150808_105554

I used some of the extra fabric I cut off from the hem to create a little pouch for the weight and stitched the pouch to the inner portion of the hem so its invisible from the front.WP_20150808_10_01_33_Pro

Then I stitched the hem into place and was finished! TA-DAA! I think it looks great and I’m sooo happy with it! Goodbye Ghetto Closet!WP_20150808_002

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