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


My New Sewing Machine

I am the proud new owner of a Janome Memory Craft Horizon 7700 QCP!  This is my dream machine.  I spent all day yesterday “playing”.  With all the bells and whistles this machine has, I think one of my favorite features on it is the automatic thread cutter.  I also love the knee lifter.  Although I’m finding myself forgetting that it only lifts the foot.  It doesn’t run the machine.  I grew up with a Singer where the knee lifter was used instead of a foot pedal.  Another cool thing, is that there is 11″ between the needle and the machine.  All that wonderful space to fit a quilt. I could go on and on with all of the features this machine has to offer, but I think I’ll save some for another day. 

I’m going back with my machine tomorrow for a free lesson in using all the features.  I’m not sure how much I will remember, but every little bit of information is very welcome.  The machine is extremely heavy and large, which will make it difficult for me to tote around.  I’ve ordered the tote that Janome made especially for this machine and it should be in shortly.  For now I will use a small rolling luggage dolly we have.

I really want to take advantage of their free monthly classes for Memory Craft owners.  I wouldn’t mind taking a few other classes they offer either.  Who knows I may even look into joining a  quilting group!  I guess you can figure out where I will be today!   Yep, in my sewing room – playing.   Happy Sewing!

Shopping for a New Sewing Machine

Today I am going to check out sewing machines.  I’ve needed to upgrade for a while now.  I used a Singer for 30+ years that my husband and I bought when we first got married.  It was a great machine, stitched like a charm.  My mom sewed on a Singer and she could make anything!  When it was my turn to buy a machine I never even considered any other brand.  After many trips to have  my machine looked at, because I couldn’t get the tension to work properly, I gave up and bought an inexpensive Brother from Costco. 

The Brother I have is a nice machine for someone who sews occasionally, but I’m having tension problems.  I’ve tried to clean it the best I can, changed needles, re-threaded it, everything I can think of, and it still isn’t working right.  Very frustrating.  I would love to have this machine work properly so my granddaughters can have something to sew on when they come to visit.  I just don’t know what to do.  Taking it in would cost more than I paid for it.

This is why I am looking for a new machine.  I had to stop sewing altogether.  Not fun!  After researching machines on-line and reading a gazillion reviews, I’ve decided to check out the Janome.  I am torn between purchasing a sewing/quilting machine or a combo machine.  I do not sew clothing.  My mom was the seamstress.  I do not enjoy making sure clothing fits our imperfect bodies.  I enjoy creating crafty things, like bags and quilts.  It would be nice to be able to embellish my creations with embroidery.  But is it worth the extra money?  And, what would I be giving up that I would get with a nice sewing/quilting machine?  I love the long arm on the Horizon machine for quilting and a few of its other features.  I also am admiring the MC9700 –  drooling over the MC11K-SE but I can’t afford or justify $8,000.  I do not sew to earn money.  I am simply not that good.  I sew for enjoyment. 

I have no idea which machine I will bring home, if any.  I will go and look and try them out.  It should be a fun day!

Woo-Hoo! Spring Has Sprung!

Carolina Chickadee


Woo-Hoo! Spring has sprung!  The birds are back!  I was up in my sewing room stitching away when I heard this sound outside and I couldn’t figure it out.  I looked out my window and saw these cute little birds fluttering around.  They were chickadees and as they wouldn’t sit still long enough to get a picture of more than one together, you will only get to see the one I did get up close. 

The other lone bird in the tree with them at the time was a cardinal.  But, again I could not get a picture of the two birds together.  Those little chickadees are active.  I hope they come back.  I love watching them and listening to them sing.  Maybe I will have to get a bird feeder.  But then, wouldn’t that be teasing my poor cats?

With our one day of beautiful weather (a high in the mid 80’s), I decided to venture out to Joann’s and see what I could find.  Was I glad I went!  They are having a fantastic sale this week on all sorts of items I needed.  All of their thread is 50% off, so I stocked up on some of that.  I also got rotary blades and sewing machine needles at 50% off too.  And, I did manage to snatch up some nice remnants and other material.   It looked like everyone else had the same idea as me.  The store was very crowded but the shoppers were very nice and polite as we waited to get are material cut.   I love seeing what everyone is making. 

Today is rain and thunderstorms.  A great day for staying in and sewing.  Happy creating!

Shopping for Fabric Tote

Incase you didn’t know, I love to make totes and bags.  I’ve made many from small to large, square to round, with pockets and without pockets, lined and unlined, for kids and adults alike.  I just like to create new and different bags.  Anyway, I had some leftover material that I purchased as a remnant and that I originally used to make a sewing machine cover.  I rediscovered this piece of fabric when I was cleaning up my sewing room and organizing my material.  I decided what better way to shop for material than to bring a bag with a sewing room on it!  So that’s what I did.  I made a bag specifically for the purpose of shopping for my craft items.

For this bag I used scraps of leftover material from other projects.  I made pockets on each side to hold my flyers and coupons on the way to the store.  The pockets are also a nice place to put the little notion items you purchase; such as thread, needles, elastic etc.  My finished bag measures 13″H x 6″D x 15″L. 

I cut:  Bottom – 7″W x 16″L  (cut 2 – 1 for lining).  Handles – 5″W x 21″L (cut 2).  Sides 7″W x 16″L (need 4 total, 2 for outside & 2 for lining).  Front & back panels – 14″H x 16″L (need 4 total, 2 for outside & 2 for lining).  Side Pockets – 7″W x 14″L (cut 2, 1 for each side & fold in half with fold at the top).  I also cut 2 – 7″W x 7″H pieces of medium weight stiffener to place inside the folded pocket material.  I used a lightweight fabric stiffener inside the handles for body.  It seems to work out nicer in the long run than not having it in there.

I tested out the bag last night and it works just fine!  I’ve been using my own bags for shopping for a long time, long before it was popular.  I can remember all the funny looks I’d get when telling the sales clerk that I have my own bags.  Now, bringing your own bags is becoming more accepted – although, not always appreciated!  Last night while at JoAnn’s, the store manager waited on me.  I told him I had my own bag and placed it on the counter and started emptying my cart.  He rang me up, took my coupons and my money and handed me my purchase in his bag!  I smiled, opened my bag, still on the counter, and transferred my items from his plastic bag to my nice new cloth bag.  I handed him back his bag with a big smile and said “there you go, now you can recycle!”.   Happy Sewing!

Yarn & Material Shopping

 I got a chance to go shopping this week-end and of course I hit JoAnn’s.  I really didn’t see any yarn that interested me this trip.  Maybe I’m getting finicky or maybe they aren’t carrying as much.  I don’t know.  I do know I was disappointed in what they did have.  I couldn’t find the right colors in the right weight or fiber content in the yarn they did have.   

So made my way over to the material.  There I did find some great remnants.  I’m not quite sure what I am going to make with all of the pieces I managed to amass, but I love to build up my stash so that I have something to work with when I am ready to start a new project.  

I got a couple of pieces of this really cute material with cats enjoying the beach on it. (Click on the photos for a better look).  My granddaughters will be coming for a visit when school lets out and I thought I would make them beach bags with it.  I can’t think of anything else to do with it.  I need some ideas, please.  I have extra.  I already made them each schlep bags last year, which they love.  I don’t have pictures of those, as I lost them when I had to re-format my hard drive. 

I also picked up a few black and white prints.  Again, I have no clue as what I will do with them, I just know that something will come to mind when I need them. 

The other piece I am particularly fond of is the green and brown flower print.  I also got the other piece of green that goes really nice with it and I already had the piece of cocoa brown that is perfect with it.  I just need to come up with the perfect projects.  

I enjoyed my trip out and about.  It is always fun shopping and looking at yarn and material, especially when the weather is nice. 



Some people love shopping for clothes and shoes.  Others like grocery shopping.  Me, I love craft and yarn stores.  I love walking up and down the aisles, feeling the yarn, touching the material, looking at patterns, just staring at all the possibilities.  Time gets away and I can’t figure out where it went. 

I’m lucky.  My family may not understand, but they humor me by allowing me all the time I need.  They also enjoy receiving the end results derived from those shopping trips. 

I’m not sure which I enjoy more; the planning and shopping for the next project, actually making the project, the satisfaction I get when the project is completed, or seeing my work appreciated by others. 

I’m not an online shopper because I can’t tough and feel the products.  But, I sure love looking!  I love looking at all the new items coming out, reading about the different types of yarns and seeing what others have done with it.  I especially love admiring all the different ways crafters can make the same project, getting ideas from them, then planning and shopping for my next project.