HAPPY NEW YEAR! I resolve not to make any resolutions. That is my New Year’s resolution. ’nuff said!

It was a very busy and enjoyable Holiday season. As I hope was yours. I enjoyed almost a week with my big sis. But …. back to real world. GRIN.

I’ve been working on some curtains for my kitchen. Here’s my prototype:

Prototype

I decided to play with some cut work. My daughter found the red material at Pier One, on clearance of course. And yes, they were place mats. Just perfect. I love red. The yellow is a nice soft sheet that I found at Value Village. But onto how I did it:

First start with the stencil. Decide upon the image or theme you want to use. Three more of our Canadian soldiers were brought home along the Highway of Heroes. You can’t stop the lump in your throat when you hear this news. Imagine yourself in the shoes of this person’s mother or father; sister or brother. To reflect these times I decided to “Make Cupcakes Not War”. Self explanatory. GRIN My sister shows her respect to these brave Canadians on her blog, Ides of May.

stencil1

To make my stencil I enlarged the image (which I found on the web. I can’t remember where it came from but I will find out and give the person credit.) so that it spans over four pieces of printer paper. Using two pieces of freezer paper, lay one piece with the waxy side up. Lay out your image on the first piece of freezer paper. Make sure it all lines up and that you have a few inches of freezer paper around the edges of your printed image.

Now, put the second piece of freezer paper over the print with the waxy side down. I’m sure you see where I’m going with this now. Make sure you have the edges of the freezer paper aligned with each other. You want this nice and neat.

Heat up that ol’ iron to a nice high setting. I used the “cotton” setting on my iron. This is going to take you a bit of time. Run the iron over the whole surface, slowly and gently. Be careful of air bubbles…you don’t want any if you can avoid it. Once you are happy with the whole piece let it cool for a few minutes.

Prepare a cutting mat or something that you can cut on. With a very sharp craft knife carefully cut out the image to create your stencil. I won’t lie to you, this will take you a long time to do, but it’s worth it.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Don’t forget to think about adding bridges where you will need them. Look at my pic of the stencil for an example. You don’t want a “P” loosing the center hole. Keep the details in mind before you start each section of your stencil. Sort of like a carpenter, “Measure twice, cut once”. I use this method all the time. It really pays.

When you are finally done cutting out your stencil, iron it again. Be careful not to bend up any of the edges. Now lay out the material you want to stencil on. Place it exactly where you want it and carefully add a few pins to hold it in place. I chose to use red craft paint because the material being sewn for the letters is red. Use a nice large brush. A stencil brush would be best but as I didn’t have one I cut down a varnish brush. Make sure it is nice and stiff. (okay…enough snickers, we are supposed to adults GRIN) Dip your brush into the paint and blot on paper or a piece of rag so that you don’t end up with thick blots of paint. If you end up with blots of paint on your fabric you will end up with specs of your color all over as it flakes off. You will be handling your work extensively.

Start dabbing the brush until you have a even coating that clearly shows your image on the fabric. When you are done let it dry. Don’t try to remove the stencil while it’s wet as you could end up with smudges.

Once it’s dry remove it and ooggle your work. Yah, that’s right! Enjoy the fruits of all that labour. And picture in your mind how awesome your finished piece will look! This will keep you going as you realize just how much work you’ve got yourself into. But you will enjoy it.

Now we get to start playing with color. Carefully pin your contrast material to the back of your base so that it covers all of your image. Pin in place and decide weather you want to start at the top or the bottom. I chose to start at the bottom but I’m not really sure it matters.

IMPORTANT STEP: Use some scrap material and play with your zigzag stitch until you have the width and density of stitch that you want to use. Don’t go too small with your stitches because you want the piece to have some stability.

Start sewing around your image. Make sure to sew across your bridges. How you attack this step is up to you. I like instant gratification so I sewed the word WAR first and proceeded to cut away the base color. You need nice small, sharp scissors. Pinch the material from the front and the back to clearly separate the two colors. Once you have them separated remove your hand from the back, contrast color, grab your scissors and snip an access hole in the front material. Continue to carefully cut away the front color, being cautious not to snip the contrast, back material or any stitches. Continue on until you’ve completed the image.

Okay, now flip it over and start cutting away the contrast color from the outside lines of your image. These are curtains so you want as much light to come through as possible. It does make them look much nicer!

I have set aside my curtains for a few weeks because I wasn’t sure I wanted full panel curtains in the kitchen. I love the sunlight coming in the windows and watching the birds in the tree from my kitchen table. So I’ve decided to make window toppers. The windows are old, turn of the 20th century, and tall so I’ll just cover the top half of the window.

Stay tuned for the second half of my kitchen curtain adventure.

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