Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Embroidered Curtains: Another Upcoming Project!


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We can never have toooooooooo much to do, can we?! Especially when it comes to needlework, we can’t, anyway! It’s not quite like cleaning bathrooms and grading papers and things like that, is it? (Oh, no!! It’s not!!) So, with that in mind, and knowing that the time is tick-tick-ticking away and summer will be gone in just over a week, I’m frantically preparing in advance the projects that I want to work on in the next few months. I don’t want to be hindered by the preparation work when I finally have time to start stitching!

With all that in mind, one project that I definitely want to do (and to complete fairly quickly) is embroidering my curtains for my room. They’re not really curtains – they’re cotton voile sheers, and I want to do some simple embroidery on them. The stitching I’m thinking about will be light. Heavy embroidery wouldn’t quite fit cotton sheers, would it?

I want to go simple, but at the same time, I want them to be fun. They can’t be “too fun,” though, because the room isn’t really “fun.” It’s cool and calm.

These are the colors I’ve picked out for embroidering the white sheers – and probably these will be reduced to about four colors, and maybe only three:

Threads for Embroidered Curtains

That’s the range. The room itself, once the paint job is done, is a darker periwinkle, with white trim. The new carpet will be… I don’t know yet… All the furniture is white, the bed linens are white… you get the idea.

But the curtains (we’re back to the curtains again) will be embroidered!

I figure by the end of September, life will be in good order again – the house finished, the school year underway and in a regular routine, and fall weather upon us – a perfect time for open windows and breezy curtains. Think I can finish this project by then? Hmmm….

Have you ever embroidered on sheer cotton voile? Have you ever embroidered your own curtains? Any ideas?


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(14) Comments

  1. My maternal grandmother lost the use of one arm to breast cancer, and did needlepoint very well indeed despite it…she had a glassed front door with a monkscloth curtain that she put some kind of random flowers/greens butterflies etc on–it was really minimal but very pretty.

  2. Great Minds Think Alike ! ! ! Deja Vu is surely happening. I was at the Joan Fabric Store yesterday looking at fabric for kitchen curtains and thinking I'd like something that I could embroider for a real "homespun look" …..so much looking forward to your mentoring on this Mary. Again…your website is the first thing I look at while my old eyes are just starting to focus, coffee in hand, in the morning ! ! God Bless You. Judy in Pittsburgh

  3. I've embroidered many curtains, and a lot of drapes, including bed draperies. It's fun, and when I've done them for myself, I've loved the fact that they are right THERE, where I see them and enjoy them several times a day.

    My most recent project was a pair of long cafe-style curtains I'd given someone as a gift. She'd asked for "plain" curtains, wanted something she could see through. I'd made them of a very open-weave linen, almost like a gauze. She liked them at first, then realized that someone outside, at night, could see right through them, so she brought them to me to 'fix'. What I ended up with was doing a wide band of "Swedish weaving" through the gauze at the height folks would have otherwise been able to see through. They are white and I used white linen thread, slightly heavier than the yardage-threads, for the thread weaving. Came out really nice, still drape and wave in the breeze, and have now been tested: can't see through that band at night. Susan Jane

  4. I never thought about embroidered curtains…I hope I hear about some pattern ideas from people that read your blog…sounds interesting!
    Thanks as always for your inspiring ideas! And you do get me into trouble…ha,ha!
    It seems everytime you mention a type of needlework I want to do it! Not your fault! 🙂

  5. Hi Mary,
    At my sister's urging I did embroider my kitchen valances. I used some good white muslin, or osenabeger? and created a border of blue flowers. I used a varigated blue floss and once I began, like with most projects I was sad to be finished. They look just right. I never would have thought to do it if Sister had not suggested it.
    Janice Miller.
    PS: The sheers will be a bit of a challenge but excited to see the results.

  6. I was thinking of embroidering my curtains for the living room. To me they are just too plain. They are a heavier type fabric than the ones you are using though. I have a book of Japanese flower and other nature designs that I was going to use to get a nice pattern.
    Good luck to us both!!

  7. Sheer fabric and curtains especially are ideal media for shadow and cutwork, shadow work because it adds opacity, and cutwork because it makes clear spaces. Both work well in combination. There is a special stitch for shadow work. The principle of cutwork like Richelieu is to outline some or all the motifs with a thick line where the fabric will be cut out and to stitch small bridges ("brides" in French) in buttonhole stitch across the cutout lines to prevent both sides from pulling apart.

    Italian publisher Mani di Fata (Fairy Hands) has several embroidery albums aprox 60 pages each, dedicated to curtains. The Italian word for curtain is "Tende". They're about 4euros+ shipping from the publisher in Italy or you can get some of these albums from Lacis.com.
    Brigitte in Paris

  8. I was just thinking last night that I might hang curtains in front of the unsightly wet bar in my living room – and I was considering embroidering them!
    Since they'd be used more like a tapestry, I wasn't thinking sheer, but I was thinking that it would be fun to have a huge swath of cloth I could work on over time.

  9. I've thought about embroidering curtains, but then I took my meds and became sane again. (Well, I have to admit that I'm never completely sane when it comes to embroidery. I just bought a plain linen duvet/sham set that I want to embroider on, 🙂

    Seriously, I love embroidered curtains, but I would never be able to get rid of them when they needed to go (nothing lasts forever). Also, the places where I'd most like to have embroidered curtains are all south facing windows with hot southern Californian sun all day long. Fabric takes a terrible beating so it's just not practical for me to put a lot of time into embroidery that will fade and ultimately rot fairly quickly.

    I am, however, going to try stencilling curtains for my kitchen because I'll get the customisation that I want, but without the time commitment. They aren't supposed to fade too quickly either. (We shall see about that.) Also, I'm going to use a linen to see if it holds up better than cotton. The cottons disintegrate after just a few years. (Man-made fabric holds up much better.) I have some linen/poly blend from fabric.com that I'm going to try.

    I am looking forward to seeing your curtains, Mary. I'm sure they'll be lovely. I wish you'd do some of the Italian cutwork designs from Mani di Fata. I'd really like for someone else to do some of those so I can enjoy them vicariously. 😀

  10. I'm thinking along the same lines for my new "forever home" when I get it. I'm after an Arts and Crafts sort of look, and I was feeling a heavily embroidered silk band at the bottom, or perhaps down the edges (or both).

    I was also wondering about very light voile or muslin curtains done in simple bands of tambour work in a sort of scrolly design.

  11. Hi, All –

    Well, I'm glad hand embroidered curtains don't seem like such an inane idea after all!

    Margaret and Brigitte – I've got one of the Mani di Fata "Tende" books from my relatively recent trip to Lacis. It's got some great ideas in it, and I love looking at it – but it's not quite what I was leaning towards, style-wise. The cutwork is a bit too formal and dressy compared to what I wanted.

    What I have in mind is more along the lines of ravenrigan's last suggestion about the scrolly design. My finials on my rods are scrolls. I was thinking of kind of tying in the design somehow. We'll see!

  12. There's an English show on TV – shows people building unusual homes.
    One couple were doing a medieval theme -sheet copper on the walls in the kitchen (caught the afternoon sun – gorgeous) and brocade curtains – with groups of beads sewn into the centres of the tiny flowers that appeared in the brocade. The wife did that with her best friend, and I always wondered how much of a best friend the girl was after finishing that huge huge project, that she HAD to finish coz the cameras were on them. It did look absolutely totally lovely tho, as another big light catcher in the room.

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