When my daughter-in-law asked me about making curtains I realized that I have quite a bit of experience. It was always easier to make what I needed instead of going shopping to get it. First of all, I had to drag the children along when I went shopping because my husband was either in the barn or in the field so he was not available to babysit. Then, the trip to town was not a quick jaunt. It was at least fifteen miles either direction. I did not just run to town for supplies.
The trailer we lived in had really bad curtains. I hated the colors and the patterns. They did not look very "country".
The first curtains I made were for our son's bedroom. When Grandma finished making him a blanket I took the leftover material and made curtains to match. They were really cute with baby items sprinkled throughout the pattern.
Next I made curtains for the kitchen. I bought material with a white background and reddish designs. There were three windows in the kitchen that were all different sizes. I measured, went to the store and bought the material.
I should explain here that when I cut something out I put the material on the floor to do it. My sewing machine went on the kitchen table. The only down side to that was that I had to put everything away whenever we were going to eat.
The real test came when we moved into Hickory Heights. I had many more windows in this house. I decided to make pure white cotton curtains with ball fringe. I ordered the fringe from a small company that I had a catalog for, but purchased the material locally. I actually bought a whole bolt of white cloth for this project.
The move to a house meant I had a more convenient spot to sew. I set my machine on the table and left it until my project was complete.
First, I made five pairs of curtains with two panels each plus a valence. With the long windows that graced the downstairs, that took a lot of material. I washed the material before I did any cutting or sewing. I loved that material. It was as soft as a handkerchief. I always had to iron those curtains, but since they were straight that was not a problem.
When I tired of using them downstairs, I moved them up to the bedrooms. They worked there with just some minor alterations.
One year when I visited my grandparents I noticed that their kitchen curtains really looked bad. That was my cue. I knew just what I was going to do for them for Christmas. It was always hard to find something for them because they really did not need anything. I measured the windows and took the measurements home. For their curtains I chose a brown and white check. After each panel was done I embroidered a design with floss. My gift was a hit. Grandma was very happy to get those curtains. Although Grandpa appreciated my efforts, I do not think he really realized how bad the old ones looked.
When my mother saw the curtains I made for my grandparents, she put in a request. I made curtains for their anniversary that year. I also did some embroidery on those.
That was not to be the end of the homemade curtains. With very long windows on my doors in the kitchen and living room I always had to custom make curtains for those.
When we bought a camper, I found that I really did not like those curtains. By that time the era of sewing things cheaper than you could buy them came to an end. I found kitchen curtains for my camper when they were on sale.
Now, I have not sewn curtains in a long time. It seems that if I look and watch for sales I get what I need that way. The curtains that my daughter-in-law wants to make are not that difficult. I looked at one purchased panel and told her to make a pattern from that. We then looked carefully at each piece and put together a plan.
My son now has my old sewing machine. The repair place where they had it looked at told them it was better than those you can buy today, unless you spend an arm and a leg to get one of those new computerized models. They are having fun with it so more power to them.
Over the years that sewing machine had a workout. In the years that I was a stay at home mom I sewed a lot. I made outfits for the children as well as things for my husband and me. I even altered a dress given to me by a neighbor to make an outfit for our daughter. She looked real cute in the polka-dotted outfit.
Then, of course, there was the mending. There was always a stack of jeans and flannel shirts that needed mending. My discipline was that I forced myself to clean up the mending before I started a new sewing project.
The most unique thing I ever made was a dress that I made out of damask drapery remnant. Our friends asked us to go out with them New Year's Eve. I had nothing to wear. I grabbed the drapery material and had a dress in just a day. We had a wonderful time and I had many compliments on that dress! Never let it be said that country people are not resourceful.
Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, PA. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org