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Wednesday 31 October 2012

More sofa slipcover thoughts

Someone helpfully suggested the book 'Slipcovers and Bedspreads' which arrived today. Its an original from 1979, but seems to cover what I need. Interestingly whilst some of the styles are very dated, others would work fine in modern decor, and ironically look fresher then my 1980s Laura Ashley soft furnishing book.

Usefully the yardage estimates chart includes styles very similar to my furniture, so with a tailored skirt and the fabric used across, I need 19 3/4 yards (18 metres) for the sofa and 9 yards (8.2 metres) for the chair. I also have a basic beanbag footstool which needs 1 1/2 yards (1.4). The UK went metric for fabric sales some years back so I have converted using an online calculator.
This totalls 30.25 yards or 28 metres of fabric.

Now this is 45 to 54" wide fabric, and mine will probably by 60" wide, but still however you skin it that's a lot of fabric.

Its raining heavily here and the trick or treaters are few are far between. My thoughts are with the folks affected by Sandy over in the US.
Stitchers Guild seems to be down so I'm guessing they've lost power in the storm, and hope everyone is OK.

Tuesday 30 October 2012

Burda November 2012

Bought this yesterday. Quite like the trousers and the asymetric hem dress.

Monday 29 October 2012

Christmas Decorations

Air drying clay Christmas tree decoration blanks, cookie cuttered today, will be painting up once dry.

Kinda like gingerbread cookies, only I used talcum powder instead of flour to stop it sticking.
Each shape will get painted fairly simply on the front, but I may add a message on the back with a Sharpie. The holes are for ribbon loops.

There may well be spraying of gold paint in a box in the garden (or garage sans car if its freezing).

Also bought Burda today, though will read properly in bed tonight. Is it me or is there more shapeless stuff in there these days?

Friday 26 October 2012

Sewing dilemma: Autumn or Christmas

I have a sewing dilemma. I'm currently sewing things for my Autumn collection
but then I heard today that I have a table at the village Christmas Market in 2 weeks time, and although I have some stock, I have loads of ideas of things I want to sew and craft.

I have a project half done though, do I blast on through and try to finish it before moving on to sewing for the Christmas Market, or do I pack it up neatly and get going with my Christmas inspiration?

I started to do fabric decoupage baubles, but they are not working out so great, I think my glue was watered down a little too much and the fabric is too thick to bend nicely round the curves.
I think dinner is the way forward and I will decide later.....

Monday 22 October 2012

4" Christmas tree

I decided I wanted some handwork to do whilst watching TV after dinner, and cut out a 4" felt Christmas tree. I'm adding beads to represent the garlands, baubles and star, and then will sew it to another one, stuff gently and add a hanging loop.
It's very sweet and I'm already quite fond of it!
The felt is from the stash and is very scratchy, so may be wool.

Sunday 21 October 2012

Autumn Print Cami

I made this little cami from some of the leftover knit scraps from the John Kaldor leaf print I'm using in my Autumn collection.
For extra length and added security I added a band around the top. The straps cross over so there is no danger of them falling off the shoulder and its a neat and snug fit. This will be worn under wrap and knot front tops/dresses to avoid wardrobe malfunctions! I have LOADS of brown and ornage things, including a dress in this same fabric, so I expect it to get a lot of wear.
I didn't use a pattern, instead tracing a pattern off a purchased cami, and then modifying construction to suit my purposes. This could be a great way to use up small scraps of knit yardage left from other projects, so I am sure the pattern will be in regular rotation in future wardrobes. I didn't make a pattern for the bands/straps. They are cut from the leftovers and are 2" wide before seaming. I made them longer than required and trimmed to fit.

I have only small scraps left of this lovely fabric, though if there's enough for cap sleeves I may modify the sleeveless shell at some future point.

I did a few small repairs/alterations today, but need to get on next with the striped jacket, as I would have a suit immediately as I have trousers already sewn up.

Friday 19 October 2012

Which simple jacket/coat style to choose?

Recently I've come across 3 different iterations of a similar theme - rectangle based jackets, and I'm not sure which one to go for.

The first was the Geometric Dreams Jacket by Rhonda Buss
Next there was a pattern in October Burda

and the last was a clever bog coat (blanket jacket) pattern in Threads' Quick Stuff to Sew.

All variations of rectangles.... which to pick?

Monday 15 October 2012

Standing desk

I read an article at lunchtime about how standing desks were better for you than always sitting.
So I cleared off the top of a 3' bookcase and stood at it working on my laptop for the afternoon. When my feet got sore I sat on my bar stool from the kitchen for a few minutes before standing again.
Anyway it felt like I was more alert working like that, and I was definitely moving around more, so I decided to completely reorganise the space by putting the current desk top on top of two bookcases. This has of course completely messed up the whole study and there is piles of random stuff everywhere.

I've moved the gateleg table through into the room as well so I can sit down if I decide standing is a daft idea. I will let you know how I get on with it once its done.

Quite a lot of the stuff in boxes on the bookcases needs sorting through anyway, so having it all out is not necessarily a bad thing, its just made rather a mess for now.

I hope this is not going to prove to be one of those  - what WAS I thinking???? moments :D

Sunday 14 October 2012

Inspiration and SWAP chat

Stitcher's Guild have started to talk about SWAP (Sewing with a plan) again - though the rules for next year's contest are not yet posted. If you are interested in having your say or reading the suggestions you can join in here.
SWAP 2013 prediscussion

I was going to NOT do SWAP this next year for various reasons, but I will wait until I see the rules, and because its one of my favourite things, may well still have a go!
On Saturday evening I had the opportunity to go and see Northern Ballet's Madam Butterfly production, which was mesmerising. The costumes were particularly beautiful and I was inspired by their take on the traditional Japanese clothing. You may find this influences future collections a little!

Friday 12 October 2012

Knot front leaf print dress

I decided to stop planning things and actually finish something off. This dress needed sleeves, side seams and hemming, so I finished it off this evening.
So here is another part of the Autumn 2012 sewing, a knot front print dress. Imagine it with a chunky orange necklace, brown suede knee boots and a wide stretch belt.
 This is from New Look 6071, and I'm going to use the scraps to make a little cami too I think :-)
L asked about the fit of the pattern and I thought others might be interested.
I have tweaked the fit of the dress becuase I am not standard. I have a forward head/rounded upper back, so I've removed a wedge from the front neckline and added it at the back neckline. It's still very low and I generally wear a little cami underneath.
I am a pear shape and a whole size bigger on the hips/thighs, so I've also flared out to the next size on the skirt.
Mine is a skimming fit rather than fitted, and makes the most of my smallish bust and skimms over my tummy/hips etc. New Look seems close to envelope size, so I am sewing the size which matches my measurements.
This is a style which works for me - emphasis at the bust, lots of shaping though not tight through the waist and gently flaring skirt. This is flattering for my pear shaped figure. I could see it working well on an hourglass too, though it might be too much bust empasis. An apple/straight figure would probably need to alter the waist shaping to be straighter. So I think how good a fit it is depends on how well this style works for your shape. Like other New Look patterns I've tried recently it has a relaxed but not oversize fit (seems less ease than Simplicity for example). I like a lot of New Look as the alterations seem fairly consistent and I get good results often.
I know it really helps to see the items being worn and I will try to model at some point.

More slip cover thoughts

OK so apparently it'd be a good idea to underline the patch worked pieces with a solid fabric in order to avoid the seams straining open across seat cushions etc.
This is sensible but frankly a pain. I am digesting the advice lol.
I don't want to use the current covers as a base, because I want them available if it all goes wrong and I want to put it back.

I am now collecting practical directions and so share them here for anyone else to make use of.

1. I dug out a pattern I have Simplicity House 8404 which is patterns for the cushions, table cloth etc, and instructions for the slipcovers. This gives advice that you need HUGE yardage for making your slipcovers and I fear they may well be right.

2. I have ordered a used copy from Amazon of Sunset's "Slipcovers and Bedspreads" as recommended by Bunny on SG.

3. I read some stuff online about making your own slipcovers.
there are others too.

I will try and document my process as I go along in order to help others out there.
I will keep you posted!

Based on the advice in SlipCoversPartOne, I would need something like 20 metres of upholstery fabric to make slipcovers for just the sofa. Argh! A chair takes nearly as much, maybe something like 16 metres.

This is a SERIOUS undertaking and I'm slightly intimidated by it now.

An alternative would be to buy myself a big pack of dust sheets from a DIY store (unbleached cotton), and make the slipcovers entirely from them. I could then gain my contrast by making interesting cushions which I could change on a regular basis.
At Christmas I could whip myself up some red felt cushions, in spring something with a fresh green, in summer cool blue and in autumn rich fiery pumpkin orange.

Meanwhile I noticed the local Christmas faye is on in 4 weeks time and I'd quite like to contribute some home sewn items to help raise funds. We may have a diversion for a few weeks into Christmas craft/gift sewing.

Wednesday 10 October 2012

More thoughts on patchwork sofa covers

Thanks for all the feedback, I have received here, by email and on SG. I am listening to it all and feeding it into my creative process.
I've been analysing the components of the ones which I think work best, and taking into account the fabrics I have.
One has 6 plain colours and then 4 prints which only use 3 of those plain colours + white.
I definitely want to use some terracotta close to the current palette as it'll avoid me having to change the existing co-ordinating accent rug, pictures etc immediately. I also want to use some blue, as this has come up repeatedly in my inspiration photos.
Plains: green, blue, gold, orange, coral, burgundy.
Floral: indigo with floral crewel print
Am lacking non floral prints which pick up 2 or 3 of the colours used elsewhere in the sofa so these are what I need to look out for, the more high street version (which I do like) uses a 'script' type fabric and two abstract prints, so I shall keep my eyes peeled for something suitable going forwards.

Tuesday 9 October 2012

More patchwork sofa cover

OK, so hopefully you can see where I am going with this, so I have a few questions...

Currently I have one print and several plains, do you think I need some more prints? I tried some others from my stash (little leaves etc) and they didn't really work.

I feel my rainbow is a bit lacking on the whole blue/purple front and want to add more in this, do you agree?

How large/small do you think I need the pieces to be in the patchwork to give a nice aesthetic?
How much does the chair need to be like the sofa to look like it was deliberate?

Do you think I can use larger pieces on the sides and back, or should I have similar sized piecing all over?

Fabric content - I have some cotton, some poly. Can I mix them successfully if everything is prewashed and pressed?

Closures - do I need to go with long zippers on the cushions, or could I use buttons, velcro etc instead.

My plan was to start first on the chair as it is slightly simpler, and much smaller. In order to share the fabrics between the pieces, I planned to give the chair 1/3rd of the fabric yardage, and the sofa 2/3rds and try and balance the design between the two, so whilst not the same they look like they belong together.

Any other tips from anyone who has made loose covers for furniture? (I've covered beanbags, cushions, made duvet covers, pillowcases and curtains as well as clothing, but never loose covers for a sofa or chair).

Patchwork sofa cover

Inspired by a print of the photo I took in Barclona of a beautiful modern stained glass window
I'm then thinking of a dark and brights theme for my patchwork sofa cover, as per the fabrics I threw onto the sofa in this picture.
The indigo based floral print fabric looks like crewel embroidery but would be too dark alone, however when used with a rainbow of other colours it adds the darker element I was looking for in contrast with the brights.

I have a chair and a sofa plus giant scatter cushions, plus the chair and sofa have large double sided cushions, so it is going to be a LOT of fabric. More than is used in the directly upholstered pieces. I may therefore use larger pieces, or single colour for large sections like the back and sides. I get the feeling this may be a rather mammoth undertaking and I might've bitten off more than I can chew!

Detail of colour contrasts on Miro public art.
Miro at Barcelona Airport

Monday 8 October 2012

Fabric Purchased

So I wasn't going to buy anymore fabirc, but I purchased some nice charcoal trousers on sale a little while ago and wanted a charcoal grey top to make a column. The stash had nothing suitable in stock, as grey is not one of my best colours.
The fabric has been lightened by the flash and is a darker grey than shown. This is a really nice ponte da roma type fabric, so should wash and wear like iron. I plan to make a soft roll collar top as this is a very practical winter style for me, and then a knee length elastic waist skirt from the leftovers.

Although simple that will then give me a charcoal grey trouser column or a charcoal grey skirt column which can be worn under various strong colour jackets.

I've another 5 projects first, though may switch the order if this one starts bugging me to be sewn!

I suspect stashes could do with more basics and less sparkly shiny stuff!

I am still thinking about patchwork loose covers for my sofa and armchair.
And really enjoyed these designer versions from Kelly Swallow.

Saturday 6 October 2012

Mini Wardrobe Voting

I failed to even finish the first item in my mini wardrobe plan but 27 other people have managed to finish, photograph and post their entries and they are all here on the Pattern Review Mini Wardrobe 2012 page, where you can view them all and vote for up to 5 which take your fancy. You need to be a PR member, but its free to create an account.

I must admit there were several that I wanted to have directly in my wardrobe as long as the sizing was closer to my owm, and as always found loads of inspiration in how people had put their collections togather.

I will do an Autumn summary at the end of October, see if I've actually managed to produce anything resembling a co-ordinated collection!

Friday 5 October 2012

Hand luggage only

Hi all thought you might be interested in how I found my recent hand luggage only trip to Barcelona.

It worked OK but there were some little tweaks I would use in future:-

Bag - make sure your bag comes in under the size for your airline. We flew with Ryan Air who have smaller dimentions than others (55cm x 40cm x 20cm). We measured all the bags we had and in the end took a standard rucksack each which did not go anywhere near the limit except the depth of the rear pocket but was challenging from a packing perspective.
If you do take a small wheeled suitcase, you have to watch for the weight limit - ususally 10kg, and remember you cannot have a seprate hand bag, camera bag etc, everything has to go into the one bag which has to go into the size checking device. You'll need to pack some sort of day bag for when you are out and about. I'd recommend a simple drawstring style bag.

What I took
Wearing on the day
- underwear, t shirt, travel shirt, fleece jacket, cotton jacket with pockets, trousers, socks, lace up sports shoes. I took the fleece jacket off later and placed it in a drawstring bag I had folded in my pocket.
In the bag
- clean underwear and tshirt for each day (5 days), a spare pair of socks, walking sandals, one alternate pair of trousers. Toiletries, small guide book/papers.

The tshirts were simple ones with cap sleeves in quick drying fabric, these washed fine in travel wash and dried quickly. I would still only take 5 even for a week.
The trousers were zip off shorts style in two different neutral colours. These had lots of pockets so no handbag was needed.
I got blisters the first day I wore my sandals and had to switch to wearing my trainers (sports shoes) with socks. So I had to wash the other pair of socks each night to have a clean pair to wear the following day. It would have been good to have a third pair of socks, or ones which dried more quickly.

Camera - we took a hybrid camera witha powerful zoom lens. This was relatively heavy and bulky, but we wanted the capabilities it had. Have a think about if a point and shoot will be enough and save the weight accordingly. We took spare batteries, ready charged and used them all.

Toiletries/medication - and liquids and pastes need to go in the liquids bag and be removed for the security scans. Take medication in original packets. I always seem to end up in the pharmacy on holiday so bring with you whatever you had to buy last time if realistic.
Small travel toiletries are fantastic, as are folding toothbrushes, pocket combs etc. Also if travelling with a friend you can share deoderant, toothpaste etc. I also took tiny tubes of conditioner which come with my hair colourant, and threw them away once used, ditto with sun screen. Other products I could not get in a travel size I decanted into special travel bottles. I also had to buy a special flight pack set for my contact lenses.
I shall keep an eye out now for special offers on travel minis. 

I took minimal makeup and one pair of earrings.
Travel wash was a must as we got hot and sweaty, plus I spilled food down my one shirt and needed to wash it. Quick drying travel clothing really helps.

Because we were casually dressed we would not have been too welcome in the most up market restaurants, but everywhere we tried was quite happy to serve us, and many other tourists were also casually dressed.

Verdict: I would do it again, taking a little more basic medication, and a custom made bag which was closer to the size allowance in all directions. I'd also take another shirt and another pair of socks. I used or wore everything.

Summary: takes some preparation and minor sacrifices, but can save a lot of money on short haul short duration trips in a warm climate. This works well when you are going to a warmer climate than your own, and for about a week. Trousers with pockets makes a lot of difference. Personally I prefer a rucksack style bag to a shoulder bag or wheeled suitcase, as you can then use that rucksack for the day trips on your holiday.

I plan to have a go at making my own rucksack bag to the ryan air dimensions, but not anytime just yet. However, when I do, I will of course share it here!

Thursday 4 October 2012

Sewing room and plans

The chair in the sewing room was a very cheap sort bought new, more a teenager's homework chair than a proper office chair, so I was really pleased when my local quality used furniture store showed this
so I popped in and bought it for £15.00 and it is so much more comfortable then the old one.

The green is rather bright, and the sewing room has a blue carpet which it clashes with rather, but I'm not going to worry about it too much. I have recovered similar chairs successfully before, so if it really bugs me may get out the staple gun.

I've started the new job and I'm really enjoying it, although I must be using my brain more or something becuase I've been worn out every evening and just watched TV and gone to bed not doing any sewing. Hopefully once I get more into the new routine, I'll have a bit more energy in the evenings.

When I do I am going to
1 - finish the brown stripe jacket
2 - finish the brown knot front dress
3 - sew up a brown striped waistcoat cut out some time ago
4 - sew up a cream knit top cut out last year

after that I can do something new.