Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Giant Curtains of Doom

Or - How I Spent My Memorial Day Weekend.

I responded to a Facebook message in late April, calling out for someone who'd be willing to alter a set of acoustic curtains.  The request was to make them smaller.  Sure.  How hard could that be?

Pile of six finished drapes (and a 12' of chain link)
Ten days later I took delivery of three massive duffle bags.  It took a few days of contemplating those bags before I had the courage to pull out the smallest curtain and assess the work to be done.  What had I gotten myself into?  These things measured 12 to 16 feet wide and were just over 14.5 feet long.  HUGE.  They each weighed a ton.  Well... maybe closer to 50 lbs apiece.  Still.  Just dragging them out across the floor was a workout. 

I spent a day or two examining the drapes' construction and educating myself.  It helped to have an aunt who does upholstery work.  I learned that the red stripe on the jute webbing across the top of the curtains indicated the weight it could hold.  My aunt described what kind of thread I needed and we discussed the alterations.  She also offered me use of her industrial strength sewing machine if my Singer was not up to the task. 

Seam ripper in hand, I tackled the first curtain on Saturday afternoon.  After several discussions, the final decision was to simply cut them in half, top to bottom, so they'd be smaller and lighter.  I lucked out that all three drapes had a center seam I used to split a straight line.

A sea of blue velvet
My sewing machine did well stitching through the velvet and jute.  The woman at the fabric store assured me my machine could handle the upholstery thread.  Hmm.  Technically she was correct.  However, it required adjusting all the thread tension settings and the Singer wasn't happy about it.

The anticipation of the project was probably worse than the actual work.  I ran into a few snags as I do with all my sewing projects.  There were jabbed fingers, broken needles and swearing at misbehaving fabric and thread.  Rob threatened to video me after my rant on Sunday.  Sewing against the nap bunched up the fabric until I switched to a walking foot.  A big problem was getting the presser foot and needle up high enough clear six layers of fabric on the bottom hem.  And of course there was the effort of wrestling 25-50 lbs of velvet into my sewing room and onto the Singer.

Success!  By noon on Monday, I had finished ripping seams and hemming edges.  Oh!  The smaller drapes were much easier to work with.  I imagine this will help the crews with setup and transportation.  Good timing - I understand the smaller drapes will debut on June 8th.


  1. Oh my goodness. These DO look like the curtains of Doom! How great you have them done.

  2. yikes! this project sounds exhausting! way to go for persevering!

  3. have I mentioned that you're slightly crazy, in an EPIC and AWESOME way? :)


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