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Remaking room isn't sew simple

I hear that sewing is making a comeback, and if the trail of thread leading from our dining room to an upstairs bedroom is any sign, I think I believe it.

I don't sew, but I have an old sewing machine that has been in my family forever. Recently, my mother and my aunt volunteered to sew two sets of curtains for our daughter's room. They could get it done in a day, they told me.

They could not.

Anyway, the Washington Post recently reported that sewing machine sales are up and that the resurgence in sewing reflects demographic trends, "including a growing number of retirees with the interest and time to make custom curtains and clothes."

Home decorating TV shows have also fueled the trend -- inspiring even young people to learn to sew.

The curtain style I chose -- a pocket of fabric slipped onto a continental rod with two panels on either side -- was simple. So, too, was the fabric -- checked sheets that matched the ones on the bed. The white lining, too, was made from sheets.

My role in this project was clear: Stay out of the way.

After, of course, we hauled out the machine from the basement and set it up on the kitchen table ("the sewing station"). Dragged out the ironing board and the pads for the dining room table ("the layout/pinning station"). Replaced the ancient machine bulb. And brewed some fresh iced tea.

The project went on for days. There were friendly arguments about accurate measuring. Debates about proper hem length. Stitching and restitching. And jokes about how much this would be costing me if I was actually paying them -- by the hour.

The curtains are done, I am happy to report.

"Come upstairs and look at your new curtains," I said to our daughter.

"They're nice," she said.

The curtains are the final step in an on-again, off-again summer-long redecorating project. When I look at our daughter's room now, I don't see a preschooler's room anymore. I see a first-grader's room, with jewelry boxes filled with homemade necklaces, a collection of Junie B. Jones books and floral-covered spiral notebooks on her desk.

The curtain sewing coincided with the start of the new school year -- a new teacher, new classroom, new schedule. While her grandmother and great-aunt were at our house making curtains, she was at school making new friends.

"What ever happened to DW?," I asked her earlier this week, as we were driving along in the car one day.

DW, our daughter's longtime invisible companion, is named for and modeled after the pesky little sister on the PBS kids' cartoon series "Arthur."

"I don't need an imaginary friend anymore. I'm 6. Someday, I'll be 8," she replied.

As for the curtains and the women who sewed them, my mother has big plans. She wants me to bring the sewing machine over to her house. Maybe she will make herself some new curtains. Maybe she will sew our daughter a Halloween costume. Maybe, just maybe, she will start sewing some clothes for herself.

Whether she starts sewing again or not, I will always remember the Curtain Project -- the whirr, whirr, whirring of the machine. The chatter, laughter and arguing. The scraps of fabric everywhere.

I may be wrong about this, but at one point I think I saw DW peeking through the window, watching the whole thing.


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