Monday, December 06, 2010

She walks! She talks! She SEWS!!!

Every body remains in a state of rest . . . unless it is acted upon by an external unbalanced force. Especially my body. After years of shopping (or rather, dithering) for a sewing machine, I finally bought one – in August – and it sat in my front hall, still in the box, until Thanksgiving weekend. It got unwrapped, set up, and used the Saturday after Thanksgiving only because the forecast was for very cold weather, and I needed a duvet cover to put on my comforter so that I could put the comforter on my bed, and I hated all of the duvet covers I saw in the stores.

Bedding design is currently reflecting the national moods: fragile, dark and depressed, or crass, loud and dumb. I saw entirely too much solid brown, blue and grey, punctuated by neon-colored Pop-art designs, all on sheet-weight fabric, and all costing wayyyyy too much. What is it about duvet covers? They're mostly just two sheets sewn together, mostly without trim, yet they cost more than comforter sets.

Anyhoo, I didn't see anything I wanted; I wanted pink, bright red, yellow, the girlier shades of orange, and flowers, flowers, flowers. Why yes, I am a woman living alone – but let me tell you, no man who loses his hard-on when confronted with a floral print is worth keeping.

And most importantly, my duvet cover has to stand up to kitty claws and hide cat hair, because, in truth, it's the cats' bed; they only let me sleep in it.

So I decided to make a duvet, using the directions I found here, and on Black Friday I went to Jo-Ann fabrics, which is, sadly, the only retail fabric store in town.  It was a total madhouse, and because I don't do Christmas any more, I have no idea why.  Anyhoo, I replaced all my missing sewing accessories there (except I forgot to buy a ruler), then sped off to the local discount home fabric place, aptly named Home Fabrics and Rugs.  It has a website, but clicking on it just gets me a screaming full-screen warning from my antivirus program, so no link.  The supermarket-sized store, however, is wonderful, jammed floor to ceiling with bolts of fabric arranged by color (although among all the shades of red I couldn't find pink. What?)  Even better, it has a tennis-court size section filled with close-out fabrics at $ 3.00/yard, including lots of floral prints, toiles, and other feminine goods guaranteed to send the average NASCAR fan into full-blown homosexual panic.  Considering the usual price of home fabrics, $ 3.00/yard is a fantastic deal.

My original goal was to get two coordinating prints, a floral for the large center panel and the stripes for the side panel, but sensory overload set in, and I eventually walked out with two floral prints, chosen by I don't know what process.  (Except I keep thinking about that damn toile, red print on a yellow background.  Dammit, I love toile -- I might have to go back and get some.)  The main print, a Covington 5th Avenue Design, (the whole line has been discontinued) is just called "red floral," and indeed it is: 

The coordinating print, little red roses on a yellow background, rather Laura Ashley, is by the D'Ascoli Company and called "Addison Rose." Google couldn't find a picture of the fabric for me, but it did direct me to several sites featuring a teen pornstar named "Addison Rose." Figures.

So on Saturday morning I sat at my sewing machine thinking "How long could this take me? There are really only four straight seams. I'll be done by lunch." Then I worked on the duvet for about 10 straight hours, which included learning how to use the machine, cutting the fabric without a pattern, figuring out how to make the reverse side out of a queen-size sheet, doing French seams and top stitching the front seams (alas, I've lost my top stitching mojo), and finishing the rough edges. Here's the finished product:

I'm not entirely satisfied with it, the inside side seams could be cleaner and it probably would have looked better using the small print as the center panel, but it holds the comforter just fine and hides cat hair like a dream.

The pillow shams only took me three hours, and probably would have taken a lot less if I knew how to measure, and practical things like that. Here's the finished sham, small print as the main panel for a little variety.

And for a breakdown of the cost: Singer Curvy sewing machine, $ 199.00 - $ 229.99; sewing accessories and notions, $ 68.00; fabric, $ 36.00 (I actually bought twice the fabric necessary, in case I screwed up.  I can either make another cover or lots and lots of throw pillows); 13 hours of my time at my lowest billable rate – yeah, well, it was a bargain, and I got my damn flowers!


Joan said...

Good for you! I'm always amazed at how much MATH is involved in any sewing project, no matter how simple it looks.

Gidget Bananas said...

Remember that president of Harvard who said that women couldn't do math? Obviously, he didn't know any quilters. This project made me think that it's worth buying a cutting board, rotary cutter, and straight edge, even though I don't quilt. Nothing beats a nice, straight edge.

Suzanne Bonham said...

Hi I'm all for buying the mat and cutter and rulers. I use mine for everything, including paper and veneer! I have a separate cutter for fabric and one for paper and I use an exacto for veneer. I haven't quilted in a long time, yet I would find it impossible to be without the mat an rotary cutters.
Nice article about the duvet and kudos! Looks great.