Penny Lane Interiors

Custom Draperies and Bedding for Your Home
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Occasionally things come up during my daily sewing regiment that I would like to share with others. So, I'm going to post weekly tips for my DIY friends. Enjoy! And please let me know what you think at or offer suggestions for me to address at

Sewing Tip Tuesday
- Don't be afraid to mix fabric patterns (3/10/15)
- We're gathering now! (2/17/15)
- It's all about the Roman shade (2/3/15)

- New projects for the new year (12/30/14)
Beware the linen (12/23/14)
Get out your old machine (12/16/14)
Don't fear the silk (12/9/14)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015: 

Don't be afraid to mix fabric patterns!  You can mix stripes with florals or swirls with checks or damask with plaid or . . . . .   Sometimes when you mix a solid with a patterned fabric, it gets a little boring.  If you mix a pattern with a pattern then it has a more custom look.  You don't need to include every color in your coordinating fabric but the colors do need to blend.  Think outside the box - you can do it!   

Tuesday, February 17, 2015: 

You can gather ANY fabric!  If you need to gather chenille, burlap, quilted fabric, or any other heavy fabric, go ahead, just don't do it the traditional way.  We learned how to gather by setting our stitch length as large as we could and loosening our tension knob.  Then we would sew a straight stitch about 1/2"-5/8" away from the edge of the fabric and then pull the top thread and the fabric would start to gather.  You can still do it this way but it only works well with light-weight fabrics.  If you gather heavier fabrics this way, the thread usually breaks and you end up wasting a lot of time.  To gather heavier fabrics, you will need some fishing line, then set your stitch length to 4-5 and use a zig-zag stitch on your sewing machine.  Then lay the fishing line about 1/2" away from the edge of the fabric that you want to gather and then zig-zag over the fishing line without piercing the fishing line with the needle.  This makes a casing for your fishing line.  Then pull the fishing line to gather your fabric to the width that you want.  After you've secured the gathered edge to another piece of fabric or to a bulletin board or other project, I usually go ahead and pull the fishing line out of the zig-zag stitch.  It tends to leave your project a little stiff and you don't need it anymore after you've gathered your fabric.  If you don't have a zig-zag stitch on your machine, you can use a large needle and baste with heavy dental floss (make stitches about 3/8"-1/2" apart).   You'll love the end result!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015:
It's all about the Roman shade!!  Roman shades are ideal for narrow windows, especially French doors.    They can be attached to the door so that you can open and close it without a curtain getting in the way. You can always use Roman shade on one window and a curtain or valance on a wider window in the same room as long as the shade and the curtain are made out of the same fabric.  They are fairly simple to make as long as they are plumb and you have metal rings, polyester cord, eyescrews, cord locks, and a 1"X 2" board that is cut the width of your shade.

Placement of rings is very important to create the folds that you're looking for.  I have had people tell me that they made a Roman shade, then they pulled the cords and the back (the lining side) folded nicely but the front of the shade was just a big blob and didn't fold at all.  This happens when you use iron-on ring tape or if you sew the rings to the lining only.  Shades will only work well when you sew on the rings, you need to sew through to the front of the shade - the fabric on the front must be attached to the lining on the back at every ring.

One of the best things about Roman shades is that you don't need a lot of fabric and they are fairly easy to make.  They also give a custom designed look to any room!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014:
It's almost 2015 and I'm sure we all have a list of projects that we would like to complete. The key word is "complete" so set attainable goals. For example, if you would like to learn how to quilt, find some fabrics that you like (maybe 3 or 4 fat quarters) and piece them together to make a 30" x 15" piece. Then quilt it together with batting and backing and make a tote bag instead of starting with a large quilt. This way, you can gain some experience before you tackle a large project.

When I was 14, my mother gave me a book- Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing*. It has detailed instructions and wonderful illustrations for all types of sewing needs, from putting in a zipper to making a slip cover. I've been sewing since I was 10 years old and I still refer to this book.

Good luck with your projects and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

*Copyright 1976 Reader's Digest Association

Tuesday, December 23, 2014: 
If you want to use linen - BEWARE!!! Linen is beautiful and makes lovely curtains but cutting on a bias or near a selvage tends to cause the linen to grow and lose shape. If the selvage edge is wavy and you're making panels, cut off the wavy edge before you hem the sides. Use with caution and enjoy!!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014: 
This is a great time of year to get out your sewing machine and work on some new projects (or finish up some old ones). Just remember that before you turn it on, replace the thread with new thread on the top and in the bobbin. Sometimes, when you get your machine out after it sits for several months, and then you just start sewing, the thread breaks and you think something is wrong with your machine. It's usually just the old thread. Your machine probably works well with a little cleaning and adjustments. Gently use your vacuum hose to remove lint, check your tension knob and settings, and start with a straight stitch. And treat yourself to some new thread!!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014: 
Don't fear the silk. If you need new drapes and you would like a nice fabric that comes in several colors, don't fear silk. Silk curtains drape well, it's easy to work with (unlike the myth), and you can mold pleats and tucks with your fingers. The only thing to remember is to use a nice, dense, interlining so that your drapes will have enough body and will be protected by the sun. Also, silk is reasonably priced at drapery fabric stores.