Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Everyday I'm Rufflin': Part 1

Julie and I have talked about her wedding events on and off for several years.  She spent a semester abroad in Spain and met two of her best friends there.  When she said she wanted a Spanish themed mehndi night, I thought it was the perfect way to start off the weekend....celebrating some of Julie's journeys while celebrating her new journey as a Mrs.

Over the years, I've filed away several ideas for a backdrop for the mehndi. All of them were extremely labor intensive.  But, I don't mind putting in a little elbow grease when the time calls for it.  So I just kept them filed away in my wish list for Julie's wedding decor.  I had all materials listed out and the cost breakdown for a beautiful backdrop I was going to make for Julie's mehndi when I came across a photo shoot one day while clicking my life away on the internet.  Suddenly all the elements we discussed these past few months came together.  Love when that happens.  I needed that backdrop for Julie's mehndi.  I wish I could post a pic of the photo shoot, but I never saved the source info so I am hesitant to post it without giving proper credit.  It actually wasn't a Spanish themed photo shoot at all.  It was just pretty and the backdrop just caught my eye.  I showed it to Julie and she was won over. Since she wanted to keep costs down for that event, I told her I could make it myself in the colors we chose for the mehndi.

When we went to India, she and I poured over tons of bolts of fabric at a sari matching store and picked out the colors we wanted.

We chose 11 different shades of colors in our color scheme.  I brought this fabric back with me from India in a backpack along with a large wooden elephant for my seester.  Actually that is the elephant in the background.  It looks like all pretty and cute here, but after a couple of hours of carrying them around, I felt like I was in an Iron Man competition.  It took me a few weeks to forgive it. But we worked it out and now there are no hard feelings.

When I told my idea to Anita, she cleverly sent me a DIY link of how to make it. I won't make this a true DIY post because there are plenty out there - I was just going to wing it and then beg her and my grandma for advice - so I will just show you all the pretty pictures of the process.  There are a ton of pictures but I didn't want to play favorites.

I didn't actually follow any one particular DIY.  It was more long brainstorming sessions with my mom and of course, Anita. After this little project of mine, I am surprised Anita still answers my phone calls.  Probably because she knows I know where she lives. I am not above pulling a Single Married Brown Female stunt when I need help.

The Cutting Process.  6 Hours. I am always scared to cut fabric.  Especially when I know that if I mess up, I cannot fly back to India to get more fabric.  So, I had my Seester help me get started.

And notice I made her start the cutting for me. Tnanks, Seester.  I probably did this the long way - pun intended - but I wanted to make sure that every row was exactly the same width.

The Hemming Process.  14 1/2 hours.   I discovered the narrow hem foot when I was trying to find a shortcut to hemming.  I had about 280 feet of fabric to hem. Not only am I not fond of hemming, I am horrible at it.  The two probably go hand in hand, but I wanted the hems to look perfect, so I played around with this hem foot for about 3 days so I could get used to it.

Look how perfect it looks.

And how narrow it is.  I felt like a professional.  

Yeah, that was just some gratuitous shots of the fabric. The colors were fun to work with.  

This was the final product.  There were 17 rows total.  I was tempted to just leave it at this because I was just so proud of myself, but I forged ahead.

It was here that I realized that they shorted me on fabric.  I was shorted an entire meter of fabric on one color and about 2' of fabric on 2 other colors. So, after first my mental breakdown, I made peace with the fabric man and moved on.

Besides, look how pretty all the thread looked together.  It was hard to stay mad.

The Ruffling.  4.5 hours.  This ruffle foot made my May Obsessions because of this little project of mine.  If I hadn't discovered it, I know the few hours I spent ruffling would have doubled, if not tripled.  Total life saver.  Anita and I made a play date of it and played with it for a couple of hours and I spent two days getting used to the the different settings.

More gratuitous shots of the ruffling process. This was probably the most fun part of the entire process.  Besides talking to Anita about it all, of course.

As I finished ruffling each row, I just layed them on top of my ironing board.  

I felt honored to be in the presence of all those ruffles.  I kind of wanted to sleep in them.

The Back Sheet.  9 hours.  I don't have any snaps of the back sheet because they were pretty boring to look at.  This is where I attached all the ruffles. To make it the size I needed, I basically quilted pieces together. To cut down on costs, I asked Julie to give me some old bed sheets from her parents' motel. In hindsight, I would not do that again.  I spent quite a bit of time squaring off the sheets as they were not the same size. Washing them had taken it's toll on the size.  The biggest challenge I had was space.  I do not have a huge home and we were storing most of Julie's wedding stuff in my house. And - the second biggest challenge - I assumed the bed sheets were both king sized.  One was a queen and one a king.  I was not amused when I discovered this after I spent quite a few hours stitching it all together.  It took several more hours to lengthen and square it all off a second time after I added the length and width I needed.  I only hemmed the sides during this part of the process and waited to hem the bottom after I was done stitching the ruffles on.

The Pinning Process.  11 hours.  This process involved another mental breakdown.  I discovered that each color was a different width.  I knew there was going to be a minor difference in measurements simply because of the conversion of meters to yards (to feet to inches).  After I cut the rows, I never measured all of them. Only the dark red. I assumed they were the same width: 8 3/4".  Biggest.Mistake.Of.My.Life.  And that says something.  They were each between 1/2" to 1 3/4" different from each other.  Hence my second mental breakdown.  The way I planned to pin it all together wasn't going to work.  So I had to measure and pin it all the way across about every 4" to make sure that each row showed 7" of fabric.  If I measured it every 6", it wouldn't stay straight.

It took over 350 pins for this top half.  And you can see my pimped out set up.  I grabbed anything I could that had any weight at all to help me keep everything layed out properly so I could keep my lines straight. Including some of the items we were including in the welcome bags. :)


I cut the back sheet into two pieces once I was done pinning the ruffles down on the top half.  Anita had just finished making a quilt, so when I asked her how I was going to stitch all of this on my little sewing machine in my little sewing area - the weight of it intimidated me as well as the size - she recommended cutting it in half and then quilting the two pieces together after I was done stitching it all.  This was probably the best idea she's ever had because all of that fabric was not easy to maneuver.

The Stitching Process.  14 hours.  This process took a lot longer than anticipated.  And when you get to sewing, time flies by a lot quicker than you want it to.  I went really slow since it had more pins in it than a JoAnn's and because the back sheet kept gathering and pinching.  So it was a lot of pulling and tugging to get it all straight while keeping the back sheet flat.  I had to rip out quite a few seams and start over.  The third mental breakdown.

But, it looked like a peacock was coming to life in my craft room, so the third breakdown didn't last as long as the others.

The top half after the ruffles were stitched.  If you want a size reference, that is a full size bed.  It spilled over the sides of the bed about 2' of loveliness on each side.  

And the bottom half after the ruffles were stitched.  I went ahead and hemmed the bottom of the back sheet here.

BTW, if you want to know what those hot pink post-it notes are for, it was my way to track everything.  A post it note was pinned to each row and contained the row number, the fabric color number I gave it and the thread color number.  I also included the row's number in it's color, like "1 of 3."  Meaning the 1st row of this color out of 3 rows total.  

The Finishing Process.  5 hours.  This process involved stitching the curtain rod pocket and stitching both large pieces together.

I jumped the gun and screwed up the right way to do the curtain rod pocket.  It was definitely a make-it-work moment. I had to revert to some ghetto sewing techniques, but it got done.  

Not to shabby, though, eh?

The Party Process.  Still going on.  
{Thanks for the awesome pic, Sarah}
The finished product.  This is my beautiful friend Kelly standing in front of the backdrop the night of the mehndi.  The final dimension was roughly 8' wide by 10' high.  Or as I like to say 8' of love and 10' of sweat. After it was all said and done, the cutting and sewing process took me 63.5 hours in total.  I started it in February and finished it in April, a week and a half before the wedding.

I'm not going to lie.  When I finished it, I sat down on the floor, rolled over, and cried like a baby.  Like an ugly baby.  It was the ugliest, ugly cry face ever and I kept it going for about 30 min.  Mr. Bean didn't know what to do with me.  He kept asking me why I was crying.  When I could talk I told him it was because I was just flat out proud of myself.  The size of it alone made me feel like I had accomplished something big.  And seeing that very first picture I posted next to this picture of Kelly makes me feel like a proud mama.

I think most DIY-ers know that often times the brainstorming and research and planning often takes longer than the actual making.  This process was no different.  I had so many mental breakdowns hiccups. And so many learning lessons.  And so many ah-ha moments. I didn't keep track of that time because when you work on something of this scale, it basically occupies your mind night and day.  And your friend's, too, if you have a friend like Anita.  So, thank you, Anita, for allowing me to put you on my speed dial thru it all.  But, man. It was all worth it, wasn't it?

There are a million more pictures of the mehndi to come.  This one just got it's own post because, well, it deserved it's own.  :)


Anita said...

Whoa!! I got more shout-outs in that there post than Jo-Ann herself!! Thanks! I didn't realize how much time you spent on the beast that became a beauty of a backdrop. INSANE. But everyone who knows you knows that you go ALL IN on your crafting and your loved ones. :-)

shpatel2 said...

I AM IN LOVE. Not just with you, but the backdrop as well. Now that I know all of the hard labor you put into this, I know how much to bid for it. BRING IT ON BIDDERS. This one is mine :)

LLW said...