Monday, November 26, 2012

Kitchen Curtain -- Burlap Valance

This is a project we did over the Thanksgiving weekend.

We decided that the kitchen window needed some color, some softening, some fabric!  So my sister, the family seamstress, went to Hancock's and brought back 4 fabric samples -- a tan burlap, a red burlap, and 2 red&black plaids.  I hung them up on the window molding with push pins to see what looked best.  Here's the window with no curtain but with the 4 sample fabrics:

We liked all four samples which didn't help the decision-making! I was leaning towards one of the red ones but then decided that had something to do with the upcoming Christmas decorating!  We finally settled on the natural-color burlap because it befitted a house in the country, because decorating with burlap is all over Pinterest (!!), because the black countertop has little flecks of tan in it, and because it reminded Farmer Lynn of being younger and part of a farming community.

If you'll notice, the ends are already sewn through and have a finished edge.  That helps a lot with the sewing part of the project. My sister was able to use that to her advantage.  The width of the window opening is 67" and the width of the burlap is 47" so she sewed two 24" pieces together for the width, which made for sides that did not need to be hemmed because they are already finished.

The window frame is between the upper cabinets on that side of the room.  So rather than screw a curtain rod into the wood, I got a tension rod that would be long enough to fit that gap and we fed the valance through the tension rod.

Trial-hanging the tension rod without the valance had been simple!  However, once the burlap valance was hanging from it, that was a different story.  I got it hanging this far up --

but was afraid to go any higher without a 2nd person because it had to go exactly in the right area between the window wall and the lights, and because if it had fallen (which would have been very likely in the case of me doing it all by myself), it would have hurt plants and glass in the sink counter area.  So the project paused for several hours.  Then Farmer Lynn got freed up to help and we got it hung up the rest of the way.  (Notice the sample piece of burlap fabric still hanging up, hehe -- we noticed it in time to get it down before the valance covered it up.)  Isn't this pretty?  There's a little bit of fabric above the rod to make a nice cheerful look, then the rod pocket, then the rest of the valance hemmed at the bottom.  Alternatively, you could let that bottom edge be fringed.

I'm very pleased with the way it turned out.  The burlap carries an authenticity to it as part of the Yadkin Yard community and its past.  The color picks up the light wood floors, the specks in the countertop, and some of the dining room furniture.  And I just plain ole like it -- so there!  Many thanks to my seamstress sister for making this for us.

Burlap sacks were once a familiar sight for farmers and shoppers.  Today, thanks to the popularity of plastic bags, it's almost possible to go your whole life without seeing one.

Farmer Lynn remembers using and reusing burlap sacks on the farm when he was growing up. Using burlap in the Yadkin Yard house seemed appropriate to him therefore.

Burlap is a coarse material woven from jute or hemp. Burlap sacks were once used to store and transport vegetables, flour, livestock feed, and other goods. Today, they are still often used to store large quantities of coffee and rice.

Commonly called burlap in the United States, it is known as "hessian" in parts of Europe because it was used in the uniform of soldiers from the state of Hesse. A bag made from the material is called a "gunny sack" in some places. And, of course, burlap is the rough material that makes up the bags used by children in potato sack races. It's also sometimes blended with other fibers to make yarn, rope, cordage, nets and other similar products.

It originates from India where it was used as backing on rugs and linoleum.  India produces most of the jute that is spun into burlap. The two main sources of jute are C. capsularis and C. olitorius, which are grown in the Ganges and Brahmaputra valleys. The plant has only been known to Western trade since the 1800s.

Burlap's distinct smell is from linseed oil used in the weaving process, to make it run through the looms, otherwise the coarse plant material tears and gets caught in the looms.  It's itchy to sew with but fortunately this particular project did not require much sewing.

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