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Old 03-24-2016, 06:17 AM   #1
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Dyeing curtains

Good morning friends!
I have a question, I have airstream curtains in my trailer that are various shades of the cream color Airstreams used throughout the years. I was wondering if it is viable to die them blue or some other color so they all look the same color. I'd love comments or opinions on this.

Thank you!
Dave


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Old 03-24-2016, 07:15 AM   #2
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Hi mccrosti,

I tried dyeing the curtains that came with our trailer but it didn't work the way I wanted it to. I did manage to make our curtains dark blue, but I resorted to fabric paint. It's a messy and time consuming process. If you want to read about it I have a blog post titled "Dye is not a Girl's Best Friend" on www.thestellarlandyacht.blogspot.com

Besides the information provided in that post, I can tell you another reason dye won't work on fabric that's discolored. It's transparent, so your curtains still won't be the same color.

Hope this helps!

Kristal
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Old 03-24-2016, 09:17 PM   #3
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Hi mccrosti,

I tried dyeing the curtains that came with our trailer but it didn't work the way I wanted it to. I did manage to make our curtains dark blue, but I resorted to fabric paint. It's a messy and time consuming process. If you want to read about it I have a blog post titled "Dye is not a Girl's Best Friend" on www.thestellarlandyacht.blogspot.com

Besides the information provided in that post, I can tell you another reason dye won't work on fabric that's discolored. It's transparent, so your curtains still won't be the same color.

Hope this helps!

Kristal

After reading this, I am loving my 70s white more and more..


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Old 03-24-2016, 09:23 PM   #4
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Dear Dave..

Have you considered killing two birds with one stone? Take a sewing class - Handcock Fabrics and dozens of other locations offer them. Look for one that specializes in curtains and upholstery.

You're a guy. So? A sewing machine IS a power tool.

You'd be in a class with 15 - 20 women. Is that a problem?

You'd have great looking curtains and maybe someone to help you hang them.

Paula
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Old 03-24-2016, 09:53 PM   #5
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A guy here, and a neighbor asked me to find her a sewing machine at Goodwill, where I go for fun. I told her that I didn't know anything about sewing machines. Well, I started buying them and repairing/restoring them for fun. Maybe 70 + machines have gone through my hands now. So, I finally decided to learn to sew with them too, not just make sample patches to show they worked.

I got a little basic help from a friend and boldly went where few men go. To JoAnn's fabric store. I learned to make very nice curtains, pleated top and bottom, how slides work and what pleat tape is. I branched out and learned that a serger can also be helpful, and learned to repair those too.

I now have a top quality German Pfaff sewing machine worth over $500 used, which I paid $12 for at Goodwill. Needed Oil only to make it work. I have a nice expensive Singer Serger too, for $30, not hundreds. I can make very nice Airstream curtains, and this season will replace the pathetic ones in my 2014 FC 20. The old pano window curtains were vastly superior to the ones that Airstream now supplies. In the late 60's to the 80's Airstream really made beautiful curtains.

So, screw up you manhood and learn another machine. It really is as satisfactory to do good work with cloth as it is with wood or metal. Women can learn too, very few of either sex know how to sew anymore.
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Old 03-24-2016, 10:43 PM   #6
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I have the sewing machine my husband gave me for a wedding gift and it still works. It wasn't an expensive machine either. I've sewed curtains, balloon shades and Roman shades for home years ago, so I've decided to do the sewing for our '64 Overlander. Haven't decided on style yet and the interior is totally gutted, tracks and all. Any advice on what style window coverings to make is appreciated... Hoping to hear from others that made DIY curtains or shades. 😃


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Old 03-25-2016, 04:31 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by idroba View Post
A guy here, and a neighbor asked me to find her a sewing machine at Goodwill, where I go for fun. I told her that I didn't know anything about sewing machines. Well, I started buying them and repairing/restoring them for fun. Maybe 70 + machines have gone through my hands now. So, I finally decided to learn to sew with them too, not just make sample patches to show they worked.

I got a little basic help from a friend and boldly went where few men go. To JoAnn's fabric store. I learned to make very nice curtains, pleated top and bottom, how slides work and what pleat tape is. I branched out and learned that a serger can also be helpful, and learned to repair those too.
I've got four sewing machines - and probably should downsize once I retire. A singer Featherweight which was the original "Airstream" machine and a Janome Serger, about 10 years old, and a Singer 319 from circa 1953 - and a 306W - same vintage, and almost the same as a 319. I keep the serger and the 306W at my office. I also had a mid-level Janome about 12 years ago, but good old vinyl gears - designed for planned obsolescence. That one was acting up, not switching between straight stitches and others - and 2 or 3 calls to repair shops? Gee you paid $199 for the machine, cost to repair is going to be almost as much as a new one. Never occurred to me to give it to a charity, just tossed it into the trash. That I replaced with the 319.

I've got to say that the mid century Singers are the last great "almost industrial grade" machines Singer ever made. But I also have to admit that the "lug around" factor of the new plastic machines is far superior - and most of them have special stitching adapted for stretch materials, though that's where the serger really shines too.

Congrats on learning to repair sewing machines and taking up the craft - I am seeing a lot more men doing and enjoying it. I've actually considered that doing the same thing might be a retirement hobby/activity. And I am pretty mechanically inclined. How did you learn to do the repairs? Class or just getting the tech manuals, or just figuring it out on your own?
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Old 03-25-2016, 07:27 AM   #8
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I went the route of painting my original curtains because they are a nice, thick fabric and lined. I felt they were worth saving and making them the way I wanted.

I also made blinds for the remaining windows. Those are on the "Low Tech Blinds" thread. A link to the instructions can be found there. I made 4 of them in less than week just working on them for an hour or two each evening.
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Old 03-25-2016, 09:50 AM   #9
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Have you considered killing two birds with one stone? Take a sewing class - Handcock Fabrics and dozens of other locations offer them. Look for one that specializes in curtains and upholstery.

You're a guy. So? A sewing machine IS a power tool.

You'd be in a class with 15 - 20 women. Is that a problem?

You'd have great looking curtains and maybe someone to help you hang them.

Paula
OK, I'm a guy, and although I had absolutely zero sewing know-how or experience, when I decided that we really, really wanted to replaced the cursed mini-blinds in our [ex]Casita with curtains, I dug out my mother's old sewing machine. I looked on line to figure out how top thread the thing and made a few 'practice' runs at sewing. Then we bought Roc-Lon blackout lining and some really nice fabric. You can see my finished curtains in the photo below... we loved them.

And now someone else is enjoying their beauty.

Now, about those Oceanair shades in our Airstream. Hmmmmmm
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Old 03-25-2016, 12:16 PM   #10
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Congrats on learning to repair sewing machines and taking up the craft - I am seeing a lot more men doing and enjoying it. I've actually considered that doing the same thing might be a retirement hobby/activity. And I am pretty mechanically inclined. How did you learn to do the repairs? Class or just getting the tech manuals, or just figuring it out on your own?
Goodwill machines are usually between $10 and $35, so I just started buying them and opening them up to see how they worked. In most cases, all they need is a good lube job. I use an extended tip oil I buy at Jo Ann's fabric, and a small tube of white grease I got at ACE. When I got too many machines, I started giving them to a sewing club who make quilts and stuffed animals that they give to police and fire houses for children in distress in nasty family situations. Then people started to come to me for machines and cheap service. So, I am self taught in the repair business.

On machines: Good Singers were made until the mid 70's when some incredible slant stitch worm gear beautiful machines were designed and built here in the states. Unfortunately, that was the last of the good Singers. They went overnight to terrible Singer "Merit" machines, plastic internals, poorly designed and built, then to off shore production. However, almost all manufactures of sewing machines worldwide did the same thing. Nylon gears and cams, high tolerances and sloppy stitching. And they broke, with parts not available or were more costly than the machine was worth.

The joy is to find a well designed and built machine, like an Elna, Pfaff, or Viking which only needs oil to bring it back to life. The one stitch at a time snick snick snick through multi layers of cloth is a pleasure of a fine tool. But those good close tolerance machines do need service, and service is expensive if you don't do it yourself. $75 to $125 for service, when you can get a new throw away "computerized" machine for less than $200 is why many machines wind up at Goodwill. Quite sad actually.

The new very inexpensive Asian built machines are actually quite good, but they don't last very long, and are not worth professional service. They are used until they don't work then discarded. I have brought many back to life for a second round, but after that, they simply get too sloppy to bother with. Inexpensive (that is the lowest cost in their line) Elna's, Pfaff's or Vikings are still very nice machines and worth the extra money to begin with. And the high end versions are a thing to be proud of, like an Airstream.

Actually there is a pretty good correlation between SOB wood and staples trailers and inexpensive sewing machines. Both are good to begin with but don't last very long and are discarded and replaced.

Argosy trailers were like an inexpensive but high quality Elna low end priced sewing machine. Well built, and could be renovated and still hold up. And the top of the line Elna's were like Airstreams, worth saving at most costs.

I ramble on, but sewing machines are fun to work on, and then can be fun to work with, like sewing new pleated curtains, and figuring out how to do that job right.
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Old 03-25-2016, 12:46 PM   #11
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I dyed my Argosy curtains but these were the original curtains & the curtains shrunk slightly because they were polyester. The dye didn't take that even on the material either.
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Old 03-25-2016, 01:45 PM   #12
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Huh, I dyed our original curtains in our 1989 Excella and they turned out good and it was easy as I did it in the washing machine per the instructions on the package! The curtains were yellowed and slightly stained but they ended up a nice aqua which matched the blues of our interior !!
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Old 03-25-2016, 02:02 PM   #13
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I currently own 2 sewing machines, a digital Brother and a basic Husqvarna-Viking. I use the HV for my heavier sewing projects, like the blinds I just finished.

Part of the reason I decided not to make new curtains, but to paint the ones I already had, is the fact that our trailer is a renovation project. Besides the electrical and plumbing, we're building new cabinetry from scratch and fabricating custom counter tops. Plenty of big projects, so I tried to keep the window covering situation as simple as possible. Though it's likely my definition of simple is probably different than someone else's.

For those who might want to salvage the curtains they have, perhaps the adage "Many hands make light work" might help. It may not be necessary to make the curtains a solid color. Instead choose 3 -5 of your favorite colors in smaller amounts, get some inexpensive paint or sponge brushes, and have some friends over for a party. Provide food and their favorite beverages, then turn them loose on the front sides of your curtains. Just maybe come up with an abstract design theme first - squiggles, criss-cross, etc. Take photos of the event and frame a couple to put in your trailer.
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Old 03-26-2016, 10:17 AM   #14
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Huh, I dyed our original curtains in our 1989 Excella and they turned out good and it was easy as I did it in the washing machine per the instructions on the package! The curtains were yellowed and slightly stained but they ended up a nice aqua which matched the blues of our interior !!
Yeah I have been thinking about dyeing the curtains in our 1990 AS but these are cotton & should take dye well & can do in the wash. The curtains in the Argosy were made in 1974 & were made of some blend of who knows what. They washed great but are still the same ugly gold that they were in 1974. Amazing how ugly design is still ugly some 40 years later.
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