Nina Murden - The Lewes Seamstress

curtains

Goblet Pleat Pelmet

Making a set of goblet pleat headed pelmets for gentleman’s country house bedroom. He chose Markham’s Warwick Delft, and I suggested that we add an Ian Mankin cotton stripe, the ‘Ticking o1 Sky’, this being a good contemporary contrast to the formality of the Markham fabric.  Here are some photos of the different processes  of me sewing the goblets and inserting the buckram that keeps their shape. This customer also had the same fabrics for his dressing room curtains.

Reverse side of pelmet

Reverse side of pelmet

Reverse side  IMG_20190607_080554 IMG_20190607_080617

Machine Sewing Pinch Pleat Curtain Tops – tutorial

The Swiss Job…

The Swiss Job has started…. an ongoing large project , making all the curtains, blinds and other window treatments for a client living in a house in Küsnacht. Beautiful materials chosen for the first of three part project, and I have taken delivery of a Villa Nova fabric, @ £1042. It’s of a Chalky colour – always a dangerous thing to work with, so NO cups of tea in the workshop, NO chocolate until tea time, and god forbid that I should prick my finger. Tense times. There are not many curtains and so curtain makers in Switzerland apparently, and so she has come to me.

 Küsnacht_-_Zürichsee_2010-08-08_18-51-34Swiss-flag

Me and the Team – Pre Christmas

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Janet Reger nightdress, post repairs

Some of what we have done….. as well as the silk curtains and the velvet curtains that is.

Two friends who have been coming to sewing workshops with me have nearly finished their retro 1940’s dresses-  and yes it was a very difficult pattern which has been trying but we have almost got there girls.

And lovely Donna, another student. Well done, who has now completed her lined spot dress, and is maybe going to wear it on Christmas day!

Lots of the usual mending, and hemming and altering , so some Jeans’ hems , and the slimming of the legline of, for tall lady who has much trouble finding the right fit.

Taking in sides to stretch skirt, for my smartest most elegant retired customer; Anna you’re fab!

Further repairs to several pairs of much loved jeans, thanks Justin you are saving the planet single handed here. Medal on the way.

Repairs to some professional cycling gear (returning customer, Ross, thank you), from ‘Proper Cycling’, of Hassocks.

Hems to several pairs of lovely soft new cord trousers, for a beloved husband currently in a hospice.

Repairs and alterations to a lovely Janet Reger silk nightgown, what a beautiful gift to Sue, Michael.

Removal of hated epaulettes to a birthday gifted leather jacket.. and hoping the husband doesn’t notice they’re gone.

Hems to pyjamas for lady who is NOT 6ft 6”  tall – manufacturers what are you doing, who is that tall? Lizzie you did so well to remember where I am up here, walk all the way up here and get home again to your husband Alec.

Fixing up of a  young lad’s ‘find’… a faux suede 70’s coat, Mum paying for her son’s Christmas present. Good for you Rachel, and maybe he’s just fine with it, it’s trendy and no he won’t look like ‘car salesman from the 70’’s to anyone of his own age group, that’s just our association!

A new zip for a really well made wool jacket, for her husband, – why bother shopping for a new one which will probably be vastly inferior in quality anyway.

The curtains,  and dining room chair cover ups and piano stool cushion for Jan.

Curtains for Angela, glad you found the right fabric at at last – yes these things can take time – although a year and a half is quite a long time!

And lovely cushions for Lara.  Louise Body fabric left over from the blinds made a few years ago, just about squeezed in the three out of that.  Collecting tomorrow, just in time for Christmas.

And a now curtains for happy Bob, retired early from being a stressed out overworked Paramedic, who told me he was so overworked he couldn’t eat his lunch AND go to the toilet.  One day he thought ‘ I know , I’ll do both together, eat my sandwich and sit on the loo’, and then that was when he decided , enough’s enough, this is MAD. He retired and now is attending to curtains and being creative in his home. Lucky you Helen.

So to all my customers, thank you for your work, for your stories. Hope you have a good Christmas.

X Nina

 

 

SILK CURTAINS

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Curtain under construction, interlined, awaiting lining.

I have been making some 3m high beautiful silk interlined curtains for a Victorian house in Lewes.  Sumptuous and fab to work with if a little scary @ !!$$££ per metre fabric. (These– James Hare silks, can be bought via me and the sample books are to be found at Foam and Fabrics Seaford – I have a good deal with them so if you’re interested please contact me.

Silk curtains look particularly wonderful in a bedroom setting  There is nothing like silk, and all the synthetic copies in the world will not look like silk, feel like silk or behave like silk. AND are petroleum based so personally I am not in favour; if there is a choice to be made I would always choose a natural fabric.
These are quite theatrical in their look being salmon pink  and compliment the blue velvets of another guest bedroom for this client who works  in the music business.

The only downside to silk curtains is that they are really susceptible to ‘sun rot’ so it is essential to line and interline and to bring the lining as far over to cover as much as the silk as possible.  The windows for these curtains face north, north-east, so not too much of an issue, but in time though the leading edges -where the curtains meet in the middle and are exposed to the light- will rot and fray.  These can however be taken back to the undamaged silk relatively easily when the curtain is completely hand made like this one.

The header we used on these is one particularly suited to silk, a 1” cotton loose gathering tape, this gives a really casual but soft gather to the top of the curtain.

Brass poles and fittings from the long established Charles Rowley company complete the look, and are well made enough to the take the weight of these heavier curtains.

Vintage Givenchy fabric – upcycling old curtains

I have a wonderfully creative and very stylish customer who happens to be French, I think this can be no coincidence…!  Over the last few years we have worked together to adapt, alter, upcycle and re-engineer some of her older beautiful curtains and blinds, many made with  outstandingly lovely Givenchy fabric.  I have just finished one such project for her;  a pair of curtains with a contrast leading edge in the older fabric, and also a further adaption to a roman blind that has had some contrasting fabric re-cycled from the older curtains.  This Lewes lady has a very individual interior to her house, that honours some of the elements from her previous house in France, whilst weaving in some new linen fabrics.  It is a delightful project to be involved in, and it is great to see such lovely fabric continue its useful life in a new way.  What is also great is that the house interior has evolved, quietly and calmly, with pauses for reflection, appreciation of each stage and time for studied decision making, whilst also of course being I should imagine a financial consideration.  It’s all so gloriously unspoilt in manner and execution.  givenchy fabric

CURTAIN QUALITY = CURTAIN LONGEVITY, WWII CURTAINS STILL IN USE

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I can and do make curtains of quality that will last. The relationship between buying quality and the likelihood that such curtains will last is still attainable.    With other items such as white goods, the ability of actually finding something that is designed to last is actually really difficult if not impossible. Such is the nature of capitalism which is at odds with such a principle.  Fast turnover of goods is supposed to be good for the economy and for ‘growth’… an interesting term that has co-opted nature into an abstract concept that drives the world at present and that actually causes untold harm to the natural environment.  This is the dichotomy we face if we want to live sustainably on this one earth.  But it is possible to invest in quality curtains that will last a long time – if you want them too?  My grandmother  did just that in the 1940’s and invested in three sets of beautiful velvet curtains, that my family not only still have but still use, to the present day.  They are made from thick cotton velvet, and are lined – this being a must for preventing or allaying UV light damage, and dust and dirt damage.   They have had to be re-lined, twice in the last 70 or so years. Have been washed – yes washed, carefully with soap in the bath.  We pass them around our family according to our respective needs at the time, and personally I love and cherish the connection that they embody with our ancestors.   Of course what is it that comes with this choice – to go with something already made?  This will unnerve many, and there would be a degree of resistance to the very idea.  Why? – Because we are so wrapped up that our sense of identity being expressed mostly through the STUFF that we surround ourselves with.  There is disquiet because we haven’t exercised our choice in the matter; that these particular items were not expressive of us and our aesthetics, ( and I have known people who were literally disgusted to have something in their home that had belonged and been touched by someone else).  The décor might have to be built around the curtains, or heaven forbid they might not ‘go’ at all!  Perhaps last but not least by just going with what is means that a valuable shopping opportunity – the No. 1, leisure activity of us 21st people – would be lost.

 

What kind of things do I repair and alter?

People are often unsure what sort of things I can alter and repair. So here’s a list of some of what’s been brought to my workshop[ in the last month or so weeks, includes curtain and blind makes too:

A very cute teddy bear – poor teddie’s neck was hanging off, he’s now got a fetching scarf.

Skirt waist reductions for an elderly lady who is losing weight.

3 alterations to the length of some shop bought curtains.

Busy cameraman’s ‘vest’ and rucksack, in need of hand stitching repairs.

Jeans patches – I do a line in under-patching which will keep a pair of jeans going for apparently at least another year or so, and looks good too.

T- shirt hems, and sleeve width reduction – yes really!

Zip replacement to running trousers

Floor length, lined, hand made curtains, two sets of

Men’s tailored jacket sleeve shortening

Hems, hems and more hems – skirts, trousers, dresses

Zip to a rather expensive down filled jacket.

Workshop on how to copy and make a pattern of a favourite garment.

Reduction to width on trousers’ legs, and reduction to waist022

 

Working with some lovely fabric at the moment, which is being used for some floor length hand made curtains for a returning client,  Dawn Stacey. Being an artist herself, Dawn  has I think, wonderful taste and has chosen ‘Foxglove’ by the talented English designer Louise Body who works out of St Leonards in our very own sunny Sussex. It’s a 55% linen, 45% cotton mix fabric with a really good handle to it. See Louise ‘s other fabrics here:

http://www.louisebody.com/shop/Fabrics

Foxglove 2