Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree

One of the books I read over the summer was The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree.  It is the first book in Susan Wittig Albert‘s new series set in Darling, Alabama in 1930. In this small southern town a group of ladies belonging to a garden club, named the Darling Dahlias, inherit the home and beautiful gardens, along with two cucumber trees of an elderly member when she dies. The ladies in this book are a delight. I’m sure we have all met someone just like  them at one time or another. 

When the drugstore make-up girl is found dead in a car accident and has been accused of stealing the car, the ladies are determined to clear her name and find out what really happened. They are also told a ghost inhabits their new club house and walks in their garden. If that is not enough, the town bank appears to be in trouble.

Something many of us enjoy are references to our own hobbies. In this book, many of these ladies knit, crochet, quilt and sew. All things I love. This was a very enjoyable book and I can’t wait to get my hands on the 2nd book in the series that came out this year, The Darling Dahlias and the Naked Ladies.  Happy reading!

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Sewing Up a Kitchen – Part 1

One of the first things I wanted to do this summer was brighten up my kitchen.  We’ve lived here for a number of years now and I still haven’t done anything to make it inviting and warm.  I looked around and thought how sad it looked.  The window wasn’t even adorned with a curtain!  There was no color in this kitchen at all!  Ugh!  I’ve got work to do and I’d better get started.

I spent a good many trips to different fabric stores before I found material I thought would work well in my kitchen.  My discovery was made at one of the JoAnn stores by our home.  The fabric has many colors in it and it is definitely for a kitchen.  I had no idea how much to buy and when I saw it I didn’t want to go home without it.  Who knew if it would be there the next time I shopped.  I knew I wanted enough to make a valance for the window over the kitchen sink and I thought a valance over the doorwall would add a little pizzazz to the room.  I also wanted enough material to make a couple hot pads and maybe use it in placemats or a table runner.  I left the store with whatever was left on the bolt.  I believe I ended up with 7 1/2 – 8 yards of fabric and I either used a coupon or it was on sale.  I never want to pay full price if I don’t have to!  Wow, that sure seems like a lot of material! 

I was feeling a little overwhelmed and daunted by having all this material at one time.  My next step was to figure out how to cut and sew the valances.  There is a first time for everything and I did not want to make a mistake.  I measured both the window and the doorwall and then measured how long I wanted the valance to be.  I read through all my books and googled everything I could on making curtains and valances.  (One site I found helpful was here.)  There are so many different ways to do this and I was feel exhausted and drained.  Was I in over my head?  Can I really do this?  We will soon find out.

Step 1:  Starting with the window over the sink, I cut three 25″ x WOF strips.  I needed the 25″ so that I could match up the pattern and the three strips would give me just about the 1 1/2 – 2 times the width of the window recommended for fullness.   My window is 50″ wide.

Step 2:  I took time to match up the pattern and made French seams. If you’ve never sewn a French seam it really is easy.  All you do is sew wrong sides together with a 1/4″ seam.  Trim the seam slightly (about 1/8″), then press the seam flat to one side.  Next, turn and sew right sides together with a 3/8″ seam.  Press seam flat to one side.  That’s it.  Turn your fabric over and you will notice you do not see any raw edges.

Step 3:  Sew side seams.  I pressed sides in 1/4″ and then again 1/2″ and stitched close to the edge.

Step 4:  I made the top of the curtain by pressing down 1/4″ of the fabric, then folding that down 2″ and sewing very close to the 2″ edge.  To make the opening for the rod, I then sewed 1 3/4″ up (or 1/4″ from top).

Step 5:  Making the hem.  I pressed up the bottom 1/2″.  Then I tucked down in 1/4″ and stitched close to the edge.  The finished length of my valance is 18″.  

I think they turned out perfect.  I used a total of 2.08 yards of fabric.  I have enough material leftover to make a valance over the doorwall.  I’ll tell you all about that another day. 

Thanks for stopping by.  Have a great day and happy sewing.   Kathryn

Summer Hiatus has Ended

I hope everyone has been enjoying their summer.   I can’t believe how fast it went by!  School has already started for some and it will soon start for others.  Fall is just around the corner.  I love fall.  It is such a pretty season for us who live in the midwest.  I love watching the leaves turn so many different colors, picking apples at the orchards and going for walks.  Don’t you just love fresh-baked apple and pumpkin pies?  Just another thing I love about fall.

 I know I’ve been gone a while, but I haven’t stopped creating. I’ve been busy all summer enjoying sewing on my new Janome Horizon 7700QCP.  I really can’t stop singing its praises.  What a fantastic machine!  I love the large harp space, fantastic lighting, and everything else about it.  I haven’t had any problems with it except operator error ones.  Just dumb mistakes I made because I was tired or I just wasn’t thinking.  It does happen, sometimes more than I’d like.  Oh well . . . .

Over the next few weeks and months I will be sharing many of my new “creations” with you, as well as what I’ve been reading and doing.  As for “doing”, we’ve been busy trying to fix up our home inside and out.  A new roof was desperately needed, plumbing issues needed to be fixed, as well as the always necessary outdoor and indoor painting.  I’m now not so panicked when it rains and it can snow as much as it wants.  I’ve been doing a little of “my thing” to make our home a little cozier by sewing a few “creations”.   I can’t believe how making small changes here and there can make such a big difference.  I’ve also been busy on other projects which I will be sharing with you along the way.  Anyway, it is good to be back.  Happy Creating!