Thrift Shop Genie

I’ve been rather teal-curious lately!  So when I spotted this £3 skirt in a Barnardos charity shop (in Bromley), I snapped it up in the hope that there’d be enough fabric to make a toile for a pattern I’ve been designing. 

The skirt is of mysterious origin with the labels cut away.  The original wearer must have been tall with a 24″ inch waist.  A child on stilts?  A member of the Na’vi race maybe?  The fabric is a cheap polyester chiffon but crisp and ultra-clean.  By cutting corners on some of the seam allowances on my pattern, I manage to eke out enough to make the skirt into a generously-sleeved blouse, slashed from centre of the sleeve heads to the cuffs.  The skirt lining was used to block the sheer bodice and both layers were gathered together under the waist in a kind of bubble hem.  

I can think of several things I’d like to change to perfect this wearable muslin but the colour is not one of them.  Ironically, the £14 a metre shot silk in lime green that I bought for the real thing will be more luxurious but not half as vibrant and I suspect won’t give me anything like the oomph I get wearing this lucky-find genie!

Oh, and congratulations to Julie Starr, the winner of the Cocoland Musical giveaway.  I’ll be in touch!


Curtain Training

You’ve heard of lion-taming, right?  And you must have heard of dragon-slaying.  But have you heard of curtain training!  I’m not lying: the man in the John Lewis curtain department told me that’s what you have to do for weeks after hanging up your new curtains.  Every time you open them, fold into identical pleats then tie them gently together.  In time they should assume this shape automatically.

Curtain training!  Honestly… It’s a good job there was a pile of rugs in the John Lewis furnishings department so I didn’t have to roll on the floor laughing.

But apart from the ludicrous name, I confess that’s what I did every morning for at least a week after making these curtains for my daughter’s room. I lovingly 😯 pressed the plump folds into a concertina-like position(tying them seemed a step too far.).  These picture show what they look like after  I abandoned the regime and went back to my usual routine of a rushing thug.  What can I say:  life takes over.

In making them, I followed all the good advice you gave me after I posted pictures of my bicycle curtains:

  • I cut off the selvedges.  Also I pulled at lengths of thread, both crosswise and vertically, to establish the true grain of fabric.  Last time I sewed patterned curtains, I relied on the graphics instead and it didn’t produce a good enough hang.
  • I forked out for a walking (even feed) foot.  This really saved me time when matching up the pattern horizontally.  I still had to use my seam ripper when I made vertical mismatches.  With a pattern like this, a millimetre off the seam line and I risked the curtain opening out to reveal mutant three-eyed kitties!
  • I used bump.  Actually, I used Synthetic Interlining.  Bump is a word I like the correct term for expensive cotton interlining.  But even so, these curtains feel very luxurious and are actually a pleasure to be near!  My best curtains so far and I don’t think these photos do them justice but it’s a small bay window that I can’t stand in front of because of a high sleeper bunk in the way!


A chance to get one leftover Fat Quarter (18″ by 22″) with one Regular Quarter (9″ by 44″) of the fabric: a lovely cream cotton called ‘Cocoland Musical’.  It’s a  Kokka Japan  bought from Frumble.  (Not sure what a FQ is?  All explained here.)  It won’t get you curtains but plenty for a peg bag,  a pencil case or a  door stop.  To go into the draw, leave me a silly comment below and one winner will be drawn on Friday 30th.  Make sure you can be contacted.  

So, tell me about your curtain taming!   Er, training!