Tuesday, April 21, 2009

In Continuation


Work on the curtains continues.

My admirable mother, with equal parts nobility and doggedness, is still sewing away. One of the interesting things about sewing is that you have to do everything twice (or more). You measure several times, cut out and sew muslins before sewing the real thing, hang without hemming and measure, then iron before re-hanging and remeasuring, then machine-sew part of the way, then hand sew the rest. An exercise that very clearly elucidates some of the differences in personality between my mother and myself, as I would have safety pinned the fabric together, thrown it over the rods, and called it a done deal about 2 hours into the project. Fortunately, I'm not the Chief Architect on this one.

Mom, hand-stitching one of the brown panels

Moreover, I seem to have chosen the fiddliest possible fabrics to work with. I helped Mom with cutting the organza-ish stuff on Sunday. It absolutely does not form a square. You lay it out as smoothly as possible, and it still forms ripples and bulges in the middle and weird S-curves along the selvage edges. And then you cut it (it all the while writhing and wriggling all over the place), and it shape-shifts into something completely un-rectangular. We had to tape pieces of posterboard to the floor to give a perpendicular baseline for measuring and cutting.

The Organza System

We also instituted a sophisticated system of soup cans to hold the stuff in place. Mom tells me that sewing the organza was even more fun than cutting and measuring it, but she got it miraculously parallel somehow.

The embroidered blue is also annoying because the embroidery bulges, making measuring and folding a challenge, while the silky blue background slithers all over the place.

Meanwhile, the thickness of the ultrasuede makes it especially difficult to hand-stitch.

Lining the blue

This hand stitching, which I've now done quite a bit of, isn't as onerous as I expected. It's just very, very difficult to make the stitches anything like regular or even. I'm lousy at anything that requires consistency, so having to make stitches the same length the same distance from the edge is... frustrating. Happily, the stitches are rather magically invisible, so no one will know how far I fell from the Mary Ingalls standard of stitchery.

The good news is that the curtains seem to be turning out very well, and all the working and re-working Mom's been painstakingly doing is yielding wonderfully professional results. I know I say that as a person who's had an old fitted sheet and a dismembered seat cover hanging in her window for over a year--i.e., as a person eminently not qualified to judge--but it all looks so marvelously crisp and regular and perpendicular. Moreover, my faith in my vision seems to have been justified--the colors all go together really well. The blue is comlplements the orangey-tan as well as I had hoped, while the brown harmonizes with the bookcase and frames the curtains nicely. The brown also adds an element of austerity that tames the exuberance of the embroidered pattern. And the organza lets us have a clear view of the trees outside our windows. All very, very handsome.

Here's the first completed window, with a piece of fabric hung behind it to partially simulate the under-panels that will provide extra insulation and sunblocking come August.

The first completed curtain, with pretend partial under-panel

In other news, I popped a few more crinum in the ground this morning (my state agency is closed today in celebration of San Jacinto Day. I kid you not. And me without a single traditional San Jacinto Day cake in the house nor an album of beloved San Jacinto Day carols to play on the stereo.) I had ordered a Crinum jagus scillifolia from the Southern Bulb Company last fall. The bulbs weren't as big as the growers had anticipated by the ship date this spring, so they nicely sent me a regular Crinum jagus, a Crinum × powellii 'Album', and three Lycoris radiata in addition to the rather petite little C.j.s. I felt amply compensated. So I planted them all this morning. Which was nice, up to the point that my head exploded. Oak pollen is up today, and I forgot to take a Claritin before going out, and I've spent the rest of the day sneezing violently, snuffling, and trying to avoid dripping trails of snot on the fabric. I've used up over half of a brand new (large) box of Puffs already. Ug. Pity me. Whiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine.....

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