Crafty stuff

A little house sewing, and a little housecleaning

I’m really feeling the urge to blog today, but have really struggled with picking a topic.  This is partly because while I’ve been doing tons of modern sewing, I haven’t photographed any of it, so don’t have something obvious to blog about.

More importantly it’s  because I’m feeling quite down about the negativity of the internet.  It’s slightly unfair, because there are so many of you who  read and comment and interact and make my corner of the internet a wonderful place, and I shouldn’t let a few negative people who just look at everything and see the flaws in it rather than all the amazing work, and time, and learning that has gone into it poison the experience.  I can laugh at the real trolls, but every once in a while  the people who *think* they are being helpful but do not understand the concept of help, or charity, or kindness who get me down.

So, for those of you who do know how to support, and help, here is a quick little look at some simple sewing I’ve been doing!

Back in June we had a little gathering at the Castle, and the day  before the event I decided I could not live with the terrible black curtains that had come in the house for

I’d picked up some beautiful bird-patterned linen at at Fabric-a-Brac a few weeks before, and it was just enough for the glass doors in the lounge.  I’ve always thought it would look cool to have the blinds that I’m going to make for the other lounge window be a different fabric, so I was OK that there was only enough for the doors.

Making curtains 2 thedreamstress.com2

I just make super simple lined curtains, with the most basic two-pocket tape, and almost no gathering when the curtains are closed, because the room isn’t large, and I want to keep the effect as simple as possible.

Making curtains thedreamstress.com1

While making the curtains I thought to myself “you know, these would look really spectacular with vertical borders of petrol blue or midnight blue velvet…maybe I should go looking for some…”  But then I decided that I’d just get frustrated running around to all the Wellington fabric stores looking for such a thing, and I was extremely unlikely to find it, and my curtains wouldn’t get made.

Naturally, I found the exact fabric at The Fabric Store less than a week after the curtains were made.

Making curtains 2 thedreamstress.com1


So…there is going to be some unpicking and resewing in my future!

Making curtains thedreamstress.com2

These are far from a complicated or flash project, and I want to upgrade them, but they sure did feel good to get done – at least it means I no longer have black curtains!

Since making them I’ve also managed to replace the black drapes in the bedroom (yes, every single curtain in the house was black when we bought it), but have decided I don’t love them (Mr D picked the fabric 😉 ) so I’m making a new set, and the original pair will get moved to the guest bedroom (Mr D doesn’t mind – I’ve agreed to line the new pair in blackout fabric, and he loves a DARK bedroom).

Now I just need to paint out the rest of the purple paint in the house!

Whew.  That feels better 😉



  1. I’m rather fascinated by the different methods for making something as simple as curtains in a different culture. Self-gathering tapes seem to have entered our country, too, but lined light-blocking curtains are not something I’ve ever seen in a Czech home. More often than not, the method is to combine see-through gauzy/lacey curtains (“záclony”) that might remain drawn at all times with another layer of solid-fabric curtains (“závÄ›sy”) that are only drawn at night or if there’s too much light, covering the see-through ones from inside. They are usually attached to the rings at the top with clips, the gathering done just by moving them on the rod, without the tape. I hope that description makes sense.
    It makes sewing curtains even simpler than what you’ve done here.
    I believe the habit of having záclony drawn at all times, indeed of having them at all, stems from the fact that in old European towns, it’s much more likely that the windows lead directly to the street, with no garden or anything to prevent passersby to peer into your home!

    • Elise says

      Curtains certainly ARE interesting across cultures, and I love what you say. If I understand, you have white lace curtains throughout the day, then draw darker ones so that during the evening, you see the lace with the dark curtain background?

      I’m super-duper picky about curtains! In hot places like Albuquerque, blackout curtains are a necessity: the sun is so hot that having the curtains drawn keeps the house cool. (They also protect your furniture from bleaching) Here in Ohio (where I just moved…back), they are a necessity because houses tend to be drafty (draughty to my Commonwealth friends), and they keep the house warm.

      They are also important because they add color to the room. Color really is important to mood, and it makes total sense why you couldn’t have any more black curtains you hate!

      • Elise, it’s the other way round – you draw the night-time curtains over the daytime ones. I think because of the záclony, we don’t need such dark and thick závÄ›sy, because the two layers act together to block the light – but you definitely still want the závÄ›sy to be densely woven (which, as we’ve found out with some looser-woven old ones, is more important than the colour).

        I like záclony simple, but you could also see actual handcrocheted ones in some old people’s windows, and while I would never want those (I imagine they must block the light too much), it’s something to admire as you pass the house. 😉

        Leimomi, that makes a lot of sense, with the draught – most Czech houses I know of have double windows, or double-glazed ones, so that’s less of a problem.

        • Elise says

          Hana-ahhhh, thanks for the clarification!

          And it’s nice to think about how some people view their home as an attraction to passerbyers on the street. It’s a beautiful thing to use your own home to brighten the mood of others.

    • The zaclony you’re describing were very common in New Zealand too, mostly in my grandparents’ generation. You don’t really see them anymore, though you can still buy them so some people must have them. Most houses here don’t front onto the street, but I’ve always thought the style came from Britain where many houses do front onto the street. So I think they are designed for privacy as you say.

    • You can definitely still buy those lace curtains in NZ, and the house actually came with them when we bought it, but I hate them. The windows in the house aren’t overlooked at all, so they aren’t needed for privacy, so I donated them to an op-shop.

      I love curtains with rings at the top that slide along a rod, but they aren’t as practical here because of the gap at the top. Fully thermal lined curtains with close-fitting rods are really important in NZ houses because the houses are so draughty, and double-glazed windows are so rare. So really thick, thermal lined curtains can make a huge difference in keeping your house warm – we could immediately tell the difference with my curtains, which are much better quality than the ones they replaced.

      In Hawaii lots of houses don’t have any curtains at all. There is no need for the warmth, and the fabric just attracts dirt and mold. You only need them for privacy, or for keeping out the light.

    • Isn’t it great? I LOVE it so much! It’s exactly what I wanted, and I can’t believe I found the exact amount I needed at Fabric-a-Brac (a fabric faire) for only $20!

  2. It’s a really nice fabric! And getting something done, that isn’t exactly spectacular and what you have been dreaming of for years, is often most satisfying, I think. Well done! 🙂

  3. Carol says

    Congratulations – isn’t it wonderful to have that feeling of “It’s mine. I can paint any colour I want, I can hang any picture I want. I can change anything I want. Because the landlord is me. I own it.” (to do this properly you have to read that in a tone of startled realization and joy)

    PS I live in a city where your house would cost about a million – so you bought a million dollar house at 60% off. Ha.

    • It is GREAT, though it also comes with the ‘and now I have no money for paint or pictures’ feeling 😛 So getting a great deal on this fabric was definitely a major perk!

      It’s not really fair to directly compare house prices across countries though, because the average income and other costs of living might be totally different where you live. 😉 I totally agree that house prices are just crazy in so many parts of the world right now though, not just NZ. I think I can guess what city you live in from your email address, and yeah, it’s ridiculous!

      In other neighbourhoods in Wellington we might have paid 3/4 of a million. And in Auckland we’d definitely have paid a million in most neighbourhoods. Ridiculous.

  4. We’ve been working on our house too, since we first moved in, and part of that is my making of curtains as well. The new curtains look nice and airy!

  5. Barbara Stevens says

    You obviously have a wonderfully creative imagination if you could see past black curtains and purple walls and still buy the house! I must admit my mind boggles at whoever thought that was a great colour scheme – a real life troll perhaps? Your bird curtains look lovely – just the thing for framing the outdoors. That feeling of satisfaction from having finally done something for the house that you’ve been planning for ages – fantastic isn’t it! Sit back and enjoy.

    • We are pretty sure that the previous house decor involved a lot of fairylights, crystals, crushed velvet, fairy & dragon statuettes, and incense 😉 You do have to be really creative to buy an affordable house in Wellington, but luckily seeing past decor to the bones of a house is something I’m good at! Paint and curtains are luckily fairly easily replaceable 😛

      It’s so good to get these done though! And thank you!

  6. Your bird curtains are so pretty! And I know you hate the purple, but if you have to put up with it for now, the bird curtains go well with it. They brighten it up. They’ll be really cool when you add borders to them too.

    I know what you mean about the internet. Sometimes you really wonder about people, but thankfully those people are the minority.

    • Thank you! I don’t hate purple (though the shade in the bedroom was admittedly heinous), but I don’t love it, and it’s definitely too dark a colour for the lounge, even on a tiny wall. But the bird curtains and the globe do go well with it!

      I just don’t understand people who look out at the world and only see the flaws and the bad things, and don’t see the good, and the amazing accomplishments, and the wonderful things. Sure, there is a lot to improve, but especially with what I blog about do you have to nitpick and criticise everything? Can’t we just celebrate how good we’ve done, and how much each one improves from the last? And have some empathy for a person’s limitations? Thankfully that sort of person is by far the minority!

      • Elise says

        Hear hear! Encouragement is a wonderful thing to give, and a huge thing to get. While critique has its place, isn’t it so much better to start from a baseline of positivity?

        Looking at images of refugees, I wonder: what sort of upbringing did those horrible dictators have? I know personally that sometimes a single kind word would save me from suicide on my worst days. Maybe those people needed some more kindness, and this whole thing could have been prevented.

        And now, we have an opportunity to offer kindness to the refugees who will be the next generation’s doctors, teachers, and leaders.

        Sorry to overrun the post about encouragement for textile art with a call for kindness and encouragement towards refugees, but I truly believe that kindness in one area bears huge effect in all areas.

      • I love the bird curtains! They look so light and airy!
        I wanted to interject about the wall colors with a laughable room I had 3 years ago.
        We moved into this rental home in Colorado and the whole house was painted beautifully, until you came to the basement room. Ghastly!! With 6 walls, each one being different and bold and bright. The colors were Royal Purple, Navy Blue, Canary Yellow, Shamrock Green, Hunter Orange & Blood Red. Totally Horrid!
        It was a rental, so I just decorated each wall as if it was it’s own room! ha ha ha
        It seemed to work, I made it my sewing room and tried not to get motion sick while working in the space! Good luck with your Purple walls!

  7. I really like the bird curtains! It makes me want to make curtains! Right now I have a light summer flower set for the glass doors for hot weather and a heavyweight set for winter to keep out the cold. But I am reluctant to change the flower ones! So maybe I need a prettier winter pair!

  8. Stephanie says

    I love the fabric you used for your new curtains! The light color with the beautiful bird print sprinkled on it is lovely. I imagine they brighten up the room in a happy way. I’m very much a beginning seamstress…I took a year of sewing class in high school but haven’t done much with it other than basic clothing alterations, repairs, and simple curtains and throw pillows. I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and I love it — it’s become one of my favorites. I love historical fashion and you’re so talented, and you explain things very well in your instructional posts. Thanks for sharing your passion and talent!

  9. Lyn Swan says

    The curtains are just right… I am from the coast in Maine and love seagulls. My bedroom and bathroom are purple, so I can relate to the need to change…although I would say that purple is my favorite color. I want to address the issue of negativity you mentioned in your blog. I am not a huge internet user so just found out what the term “troll” refers to. There seems to be something about the anonymity of the internet that gives people license to vent what ever gripe or annoyance they harbor. It also gives many the ability to pose as an “expert” while they are just posting an opinion. I own this a bit with this blog. I am an ardent sewer and a student of history, but am not qualified to judge couture and have no real expertise, yet I join in, rating garments that I doubt that I have the ability or skills to replicate. I think that the “nit picking” may be cultural in some ways. We are taught by example that criticism is often negative. Experts critique…their comments often look at where, whatever it is, falls short of perfection. By being critical, we are giving ourselves the sense of expertness. In person, I am more circumspect. I hope that most “trolls” are not as vitriolic as they appear to be on line. So, this is just my observation and hope with all my heart that it offends no one. Negativity drains the energy from one. One of the reasons I visit here is that there is always a sense of gentle care.

  10. I really like the curtains! The pattern is so so lovely. Seagulls are one of my favorite animals.
    Have a blessed day:)
    ~Kristen Gutierrez

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