Curtains and Catch Up to 28/11

Firstly a big thank you to Jenn for letting me know that on the 16th November Bargain Hunt had a special bit all about Emily Blagg as this year is the 100th anniversary of The Palace Theatre. Very interesting to see Emily’s grave, not a big thing as the locals still had a problem with her demolishing the Chauntry to build the theatre. Also I’m glad the researchers didn’t manage to find a picture of her, as I spent ages trying to do the same. Here’s a link to the episode. If you are ever in Newark when the Antique Fair is on it is worth a visit, it costs to get in but is crammed full of interesting things. When we went there was a free bus from near Newark Northgate Station.

Tilly doing her best not to shred the lining before it’s on the curtains

Back in Scarborough I’ve been busy with the sewing machine. I started off small relining curtains for Oleanna, just to get myself and my machine warmed up, much bigger curtains were to follow for the house.

I’d ordered a big roll of thermal lining, enough for boat curtains as well as the bay window. The other day I’d unpicked the stitching on the dark blue curtains from the saloon and dinette areas. Doing this I’d discovered that Kim (who made the curtains in Sheffield) had used some wonderweb on the side hems. This seemed like a good idea, so before lockdown 2 was imposed I’d had a walk to Dunelm to stock up. After several washes the wonderweb had disintegrated and as I pulled the lining away I was left with a big mess to clean up.

I measured up the lining, not as much as Kim had used as I hope I can get away with having not quite so much bulk. The rectangle of lining was pinned in position, having to tug to the curtains to their full extent as no matter how much ironing they simply didn’t want to lie flat. Wonderweb held the sides in position, then I was able to pin round all sides, hopefully where they were before, then I sewed round each panel.

Well that was the plan, but on my third curtain my machine jammed! Oh B**er!! As it was late in the afternoon I called it a day. Good karma at a sewing machine usually works and maybe coming back to it another day would be a wise idea.

Filthy inside, what did I expect!

It was time to give my machine some TLC. The advantage of being in the house was that it didn’t take too long to find the oil that had come with my machine along with the original manual. This showed me how to take the bobbin and what lies behind to pieces and apply one drop of oil.

Then I removed the plate around the teeth, then the teeth themselves. Here was my main problem, fluff, lots of fluff! With all this cleared out and the one drop of oil applied I wondered if I should oil my machine anywhere else. Not according to the manual. I looked on line, no luck, then asked on Facebook after all I know quite a few wardrobe supervisors who should know. Thank you to those who made suggestions, including Dave and Chris who both suggested applying a touch of oil to anything that moves.

Gary White from All Seasons Boat Covers hunted round the internet for me and eventually found a file for my brand of machine suggesting a few more places to oil. Thank you, I promise to do this before I pack my machine away before Christmas.

I soon discovered that my machine and needles were not capable of going through all the layers in the corners, so I decided that I’d finish these off by hand. All six dark blue curtains were soon finished.

Before moving onto the bedroom curtains for Oleanna I decided to make the living room and dining room curtains for one side of the house. I’m very glad we’d not moved fully into the house as once I’d had a good tidy up, rationalisation of Franks and my tools I had a lot of floor space to play with, needed when you want to have floor to ceiling curtains round your bay window.

Are you sure you are helping?!

Rolls of fabric had arrived, first thing was to square off the end and then cut the correct lengths. Tilly decided she’d hold down the fabric for me and supervise the end of my steel ruler. I on the other hand pretended that I was cutting up dance floor for a show (a frequent job in my theatre life usually with at least one other pair of hands). Hands are much better at doing this job than paws, but I was glad of the company.

The fabric I’d chosen had a very small pattern, so not noticeable should I not quite line everything up properly on the wider curtains, although seeing some of the salvage edge peeking through wasn’t good, I revisited such areas.

Lining and curtain fabric were both hemmed, then sewn together. I’d checked that my lining was narrower so that the main fabric would fold back round the sides, but sadly once I’d turned everything the right way round I had a very narrow bit of fabric. So one side of each curtain was unpicked and a couple of inches trimmed off the lining, then everything resewn.


Curtain tape sewn onto the tops, job done. I just needed my assistant Mick to help with the hanging of them and enough hooks and runners. The bay window track had enough but the dining room track had a mixture of runners, most of which weren’t the right size! A hunt through my stash of such things, we didn’t have enough. One window elsewhere had the right ones so they were stolen.

Hooray they’re up!

Some curtain weights are required and the ends of the bay window track are leaning a touch, these may need trimming back as my curtains are partially on the floor. However these were my first ever properly made curtains, not bodged for use on stage, but proper fully lined curtains. I’m quite proud of them and have ordered more fabric for curtains in another room, but they will have to wait to be made next year.

It was back to boat curtains, bedroom curtains. A couple of years ago I’d bought some more of the original fabric in a sale, having more than enough lining now meant I could reline the original curtains and make a brand new pair too. Tilly has managed to make them look quite shabby.

This fabric however is quite slippy and slidy, not wanting to keep it’s shape and could be pulled in different directions to make it fit, but what would the end curtains look like?

The old linings were unpicked, new added and sewn in. Using wonderweb proved helpful with this fabric. Then a hole new set were cut out, sewn, ironed and all the corners hand sewn in place. In all twelve curtains finished and ready to go up at Oleannas’ windows again. I just hope they fit on the poles properly! I’ve put together a ‘just in case’ pack, should I have sewn them too tight and they need unpicking.

All finished with ‘just in case’ sewing kit

We’d been planning on a trip down to check on her as soon as lockdown was lifted. The tier in Scarborough surprisingly will be tier 2, the number of cases here shot up and at one point we were highest in the country, then they started to drop, Hull forging ahead of us. However Goole will be in tier 3, an area you can travel through, but not go and hang your curtains and give your boat the once over running the engine for an hour etc, not essential. I’m sure some are visiting their boats, some jobs are essential over winter.

They are plotting behind Mum’s nursing chair

With curtains hung in the house we could move ourselves into the living room properly, well as properly as you can when most of your furniture has gone by the wayside through the years with tenants. We moved the sofa in, side tables, plumbed the TV in and standard lamps. Then we fought with my Mum and Dad’s chairs down the tight stairs from upstairs upstairs. We’d put them up there, so they had to be able to come down! My Mum and Dad bought these chairs as wedding presents for each other. Not your average three piece suite, but I quite like it. When funds allow we’ll replace the two seater sofa with a three seater sofabed and move the smaller sofa back to the other side. But for now we have a comfy sitting room. Just pictures to hang, coal for the fire and we’re there.

It was now time to have a day off, I put my feet up and did a few hours of a thing called work!

Most theatres around the country have cancelled their pantos this year, but have been forging ahead with paired down Christmas shows in the hope that once lockdown 2 is lifted they will have a show to bring cheer to their audiences.

Chippy this year is offering A Christmas Carol, with David Bradley. The SJT here in Scarborough The Snow Queen a one woman show and an audio recording of Haunting Julia, a ghost story by Alan Ayckbourn (a great play I’ve had the pleasure of designing twice).

Thankfully these shows will be able to go on, but many other theatres who find themselves in tier 3 will not be able to open their doors. Some of these will be going on line, others mothballed for Easter next year.

A nice relaxing read

Will, the producer at Chipping Norton had been in touch, the second draft of the script for Panto was sent out and now they were ready to contract myself and others to start work, well ahead for next year. On our last visit to the boat I made sure I brought all my work things back with us, but had forgotten the plans of the theatre. I’ve now received copies and a model box. So it was time to read the script.

The last couple of days I’ve been starting to reclaim my work rooms at the top of the house. A damp problem on the chimney breast meant it needed stripping for a builder to check over.

Then I’ve started to try to make space at my model making tables and cleaned the windows. Plenty more room than I had on the boat, but I have yet to gain access to my drawing board which is still engulfed by boxes. I’ll get there.

It’s in there somewhere, no that’s Tilly

One handy tip though, don’t leave water in a hotwater bottle for six years. Not only will it have lost it’s heat but the rubber will perish!

A Beautiful day

Last week on our Sunday walk we braved a visit to the South Bay beach. A beautiful day, chilly but sunny and the beach wasn’t too busy. We marvelled at the blue sea and white light house and then decided to avoid the harbour where the footpaths are a bit too narrow for the amount of people about.

So we headed up Bland’s Cliff. This steep hill used to run up the side of the Futurist Theatre which was sadly demolished in the last couple of years after huge outcries. In it’s place is the Scarborough Eye, better views are free up near the Castle, and a crazy golf pitch!

However Blands Cliff has become very colourful. An art gallery had just opened when we left and now the surrounding walls are covered in murals and mosaics with local topics depicted. Really rather jolly.

0 locks, 0 miles, 0 visits to Oleanna, 1 cleaned sewing machine, 9 relined curtains, 3 new curtains, 2 pairs of proper house curtains, 1 living room moved into, 1 not so helpful assistant, 1 wall stripped, 0.25 work room reclaimed, 2 clean windows, 1 cat loving the views, tier 2, 1 boat in tier 3!

Where were we

2019 On the South Oxford Canal, Somerton Meadows to Kings Sutton. LINK

2018 On the South Oxford, Somerton Meadows. LINK

2017 On the Llangollen, Wixall Moss to the border. LINK

2016 On the Macclesfield Canal, Macclesfield Pontoon and a visit to Sheffield. LINK

2015 Kings Marina, River Trent. LINK

2014 On the Grand Union, Nether Heyford to Stoke Bruerne. LINK