Thursday, November 27, 2003


Shortly after we arrived in Italy, I found a great fabric shop and bought material to make curtains for most of the windows. The great thing about fabric in Italy is that it comes in many different widths. Because there are many narrow windows here, the fabric comes in more narrow widths. You can make curtains with these fabrics by simply putting a rod pocket in the top and hemming the bottom. The edges are nicely finished, and in some cases are even color coordinated. So, this seemed like a fairly easy project. A simple rod pocket, a quick hem, and VOILA! Curtains!, or so I thought!

I was going to borrow a sewing machine from a friend, but she had lent it to someone else, and they were still using it. No rush. I ironed the edges over, and had all the pieces waiting for the sewing machine. For the master bedroom, we had picked out a gold sheer, then a darker fabric for the outer curtain. The more I thought about trying to sew this very sheer material on an unfamiliar machine, the more nervous I got. Tension is one of the most important things on a sewing machine, especially when you are sewing very sheer fabric. With my mom no longer here to help me with those delicate adjustments, I just knew I would make a mess of things.

One day while we were in Self, one of the Home Depot type stores, I saw some ready made curtains. It’s fairly unusual to find ready made curtains in Italy, and these were the first I’d seen. As luck would have it, there were some gold sheers that would work in the bedroom, and all I had to do was hem them. Since the material was cotton batiste, I felt confident I could handle the project.

The curtains had a tab top, and I decided the easiest way to create my new curtains would be to simple cut them off from the top, then I wouldn’t have to re-hem them. I could add a rod pocket at the top or simply finish the top edge. I was glad we had the curtains when we had to move into the guest room, since they were long enough (and then some!) to cover the window. Once we moved back into the master bedroom, we hung the rod and I put the curtains up. At first I thought I would try the “puddling” effect, but then decided the fabric was too heavy. Or maybe that’s just the sort of thing that only looks good when you see it on HGTV or in some fancy decorating magazine.

Anyway, I played around with several lengths, ironing and pinning the fabric over and over and over. Once I decided that normal, floor length worked best for me, I was ready to cut the material. That’s when I discovered that the rod wasn’t quite level. So now I had to make my adjustments from the top, and believe me, that is NOT the way you want to make curtains. Had I been making these from fabric, I would have put in the rod pocket, hung the curtains up, and then I would have marked the hem. This way I could make allowances for any differences. Trying to do it from the top made things a lot more complicated. And of course, my original goal had been to make things easier, not more difficult!

Eventually, I managed to get the hem right, and the sheers, along with the curtains, are now hanging in the bedroom, waiting for the sewing machine. If I had some “stitch witchery”, I could use that to finish the curtains, but I don’t know if they have stitch witchery in Italy. Since I have never actually used it before, I’m not even sure how well it would work. I went ahead and hung all the other curtains too, making rod pockets with pins. Once I get the machine, things should go quickly! And of course now that we have been here a while, we have decided that we would like a more sheer fabric for the window in the living room, which means I will probably have to sew on some type of sheer material sooner or later. The good news is we really like both the sheers and the curtains in the master bedroom. It’s starting to look like a home, not just a house.