Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Upcycling Curtains

The weather has been strangely humid and warm this week. It's made sewing a bit uncomfortable in my non-air conditioned studio. I snapped this photo yesterday evening at dusk. You can see the sky has two layers to it. The outer layer was a thick cloud, and right above it was the last glimpse of yesterday's sun. I rarely notice the shift from day to night, but the clouds depicted the transition perfectly.

I have been the recipient of free fabric. We have had a few fabric stash swaps at a couple of our sewing meetings where I collected some really nice fashion fabrics. I got some home decor fabric from FABMO, a local non-profit organization in Mountain View.  If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and particularly on the Peninsula or South Bay, get yourself on the mailing list and calendar over at FABMO. They basically collect donated home decor and numerous odds and ends from designer showrooms that a creative mind can upcycle into new creations. They also accept donations from individuals or other retailers or wholesalers. FABMO opens once a month to the public and once you reserve a time to go in, you can gather supplies and pay a small donation before you leave.  Suggested donations is based on how much you take. It can be zero dollars to $100-plus.  Remember that some home decor fabrics costs as much as $50 and up a yard, so the savings are significant. I might have to devote a whole separate blog on FABMO later this Fall.

I've collected a handful of FABMO-donated fabric swatches and very nice sample curtain panels. One was in a cute cream and tan gingham heavy cotton that I used as a muslin for a pant pattern that I was trying to fit. The curtain panels were full length and about 30 inches in width.  Even though they were more narrow than regular cut fabric, There was enough length to create this muslin, and with a little leftover.  The muslin is wearable, but not the best fit. I'll need more adjustments to the crotch area, but at least, I don't have to throw this muslin away because it's still a functional pair of throw-around pants! The canvas is a bit thick for our hot summers, but great for Fall and Spring.
A second curtain panel was a lovely heavy blue and tan linen. I turned it into a tote bag and lined it with new owl printed cotton. Sewn on the curtain panel were swatches of the same fabric but in different colors. The swatches were piped with navy blue around the edges, and a perfect size for pockets on the tote. I left the embroidered name of the fabric and style number on the swatch adding to the bag's character.  My daughters were impressed with the fabric and requested their own bags.


This first prototype will be a birthday gift for a friend next week. It's an owl-themed gift, and I'm using the tote bag as the "gift box" rather than wrapping her other gift which is a ceramic owl. I really like the idea of DIY gift wrap.  In fact, I'm thinking of making functional gift bags for future use. Some of FABMO's fabrics are very elaborate, and perfect for gift adornment that can be easily re-gifted! I interior lining and the pocket trim is made with a cute cotton owl print.

This tote bag gave me a chance to practice on some of the interfacing stabilizers that I plan on using for my next project, the Amy Butler Weekender bag. I used a woven fusible interfacing on the exterior linen fabric and not only did it give it shape, it also kept the linen from stretching too much during the sewing process. I did not line the interior piece, had I done so, the bag would probably be able to stand up.

For the lining, I added an inside pocket, and sewed a thick piece of Pellon called Peltex to the base. This was not the most efficient way to put it together. I learned this later after watching the bag making video on Craftsy. But for the first time, I don't think I did too bad. Because of the owl theme, I couldn't use all recycled fabrics for the bag, so it was really about 40% if you include the new interface and woven strap handles.

I used the owl fabric to create a bias tape to the
opening of the fabric. 
Inside lining of the bag.
The bag is actually reversible.  
Here are more home decor fabric sample swatches
that I pieced together to make my Bernina cover.
Here's the completed cover...sorry about the lighting. I need
to make about three more covers for my other machines.
Here's the cover inside out. It could have been a tote bag too.