Thursday, August 06, 2009


Graphic from Baptist Bible Hour
(A story with a moral -- maybe more than one)

It was the best of times... That is, my sister-in-law apparently caught me at a good time when she asked me to consider taking on this project.

It was the worst of times... When I actually got into working on the project.

One day some months ago Mr. T's sister showed me a set of pretty floral sheets she had bought at a yard sale with the idea of making them into curtains. They had been stashed in her closet since ever since and she was wondering if I could take on that project for her. She would pay me to make four curtains from the sheets. It would be a "no pressure" project since she was in no hurry for the curtains. When I agreed, she brought out one of her current curtains -- an ecru lace number -- and said she wanted the others made just in the same style, only a bit longer if possible.

Who knows why I took the project on? In retrospect, I should never have said yes. But I thought it sounded simple enough, and we were feeling rather poor at the time. Also, she is a great sister-in-law and I would certainly like to help her out if I could. Even as I agreed, though, I knew that I could never and would never charge her for as much as my time would be worth to make those curtains. And now I know that to be an understatement.

I bravely tackled the project not long after that. The first step was to make a pattern from the existing curtain. It had one main piece plus a ruffle (a fact I had somehow overlooked at first sight. I hate making ruffles). The pattern making was quite a process and I ended up having to do all of my measuring on the kitchen floor. I also ended up having to tape sheets of newspaper together to get enough paper to make the ruffle patterns out of. Finally, all of the measuring and pattern making was done, so I pinned the pattern pieces in place and boldly cut into the sheet.

Here is where my recollection becomes somewhat fuzzy. At some point in here, I suppose after I had started sewing the first curtain, I realized I had calculated wrong and had cut the main curtain pieces all too long. I refigured things and adjusted the first curtain to the right length, but apparently did not re-cut the other pieces.

Then I started the ruffling process. Not fun, but it never is (for me, anyway). Pinning it on and basting is even less fun. It just wasn't looking good as I pinned, and finally in frustration I decided to set the curtain aside for awhile. There were lots of other things going on in my life right then.

Awhile later, with house guests expected, I wanted to complete the curtain project and get it out of the way. So I picked up the curtain again. Part of the problem was that the lace curtain, the one I was to copy, was made in such a way that the ruffle attached to the curtain on the outside... a small but significant detail. One was supposed to pin the finished top edge of the ruffle to the topmost line of stitching on the curtain piece, according to books I consulted. I started out doing that but it was extremely frustrating. I finally asked Mr. T what he thought, and he suggested I simply attach the ruffle to the wrong side. Yes, it wasn't as decorative, but then what I was ending up with was not decorative either. So, I followed his advice and it was much simpler and actually looked okay.

So I worked on the other curtains and did them all the same way. I finished them the day our house guests were to arrive and called my sister-in-law to report that her curtains were done. She came to pick them up that very day. I had carefully pressed them all and hung them neatly by twos on skirt hangers. And, in the very act of handing them to her, I noticed something I hadn't seen before. One of the curtains was a ruffle's length longer than the other three! What a disaster! With a sigh I took them back and promised to fix them after our guests left the following week. Thankfully, they could be shortened from the top edge and I wouldn't have to mess with those ruffles again.

How had such a mistake happened? Remember, months ago I had discovered I had cut the curtain pieces too long -- but I only fixed the one I was working on at the time! How stupid!

I won't bore you further, but my troubles were not quite over. When I cut them off, I cut them too short... but fortunately I discovered this before I had actually done any stitching/hemming of the headers. So I re-cut them and finally, finally finished them. They are out of my house and off my list.

Why do I tell you all this trivia? Because of a funny thing that happened later. I was declaring to my husband and son that I had learned a lesson from all this. "I'll never agree to make curtains for anyone ever again!" I vowed. My son burst out laughing and asked, "So that's the lesson you learned?"

That got me thinking. Exactly what had I learned?

* I had obviously learned (again) that I don't enjoy sewing for other people.

* I had learned (again) the truth of the maxim "measure twice, cut once".

* I had learned (again) that it doesn't pay to procrastinate. If I had gone ahead and cut off all four curtains at the time when I noticed they were too long, I wouldn't have forgotten about it and had to fix three of them later on.

* Most important of all, I had learned (again) not to make any decision, no matter how seemingly small, without praying about it.

I'm so thankful that God doesn't give up on us, but that He helps us learn and relearn the important lessons of life... no matter how long it takes.

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