Home Decor: October 2010 Archives
Amy Butler's Midwest Mod Zinnia Pillow was a challenge but I love it. Let me jump right into it. I wanted to do something different with this pattern. It looks amazing in quilting cotton but I wanted to try to make this pillow more traditional to give it a different audience and show its versatility. I picked a cotton velvet that is delicious. My hope was that this more traditional fabric coupled with a more modern pattern would be a middle ground between modern and traditional, be appealing to both parties and maybe gather in some transitional, vintage and eclectic fans as well. That being said this pattern was a dozy but perhaps you can learn from my mistakes and take away the same or better finished pillow and avoid the pitfalls.
The velvet, while dreamy, is difficult and thick. I recommend cutting the back of each petal from coordinating broadcloth to reduce some bulk. I could not add the pleat on each petal due to thickness and also could not add the 3rd round of small petals due to bulk (it simply would not fit under my foot). I also wish that Amy had included the circle patterns and not just instructions to draw them. I am clumsy when it comes to drawing circles so I found an embroidery hoop that was about 15 in. but it was a little small and so was my pattern piece. It didn't mess up anything; it just would have been nice. Also, I pinned all the petals in the center to sew the 2 circle together which helped keep them out of my way. The velvet shifts a bunch so having the broadcloth on the back will help with that. The shifting really got in my way when I was tacking down the petals. I used my walking foot a lot to help with the shifting of the velvet. Most of my issues were due to bulk but just the sheer number of petals was a little disheartening. They were all small so it didn't take as long as I thought to sew them up. The finished product is definitely worth it. Some trouble also occurred with making the fabric buttons, but I used needle nose pliers to straighten the prongs a bit and was able to get the fabric to hold. But our glass buttons would also look incredible.
I must admit I am even more impressed with this pillow in person than on the pattern picture. It is gorgeous. Even my husband has admitted that it is a beautiful pillow. Though I would not talk anyone out of using velvet just not exclusively; I would recommend a linen or silk instead if going for a less funky- more subtle look. This pattern, once freed from its retro inspired roots is a perfect addition to an elegant, traditional living room, French colonial family room or even a Tuscan retreat!
No project has seemed as intimidating nor as daunting as upholstery. I was determined to learn and with the support of my husband (who gave me the tools as a birthday present) and local thrift stores, I started my first project. I choose a simple chair (click to see the uglyiest of ugly yellow chair) from the Goodwill for $25, picked a delicious Joel Dewberry from our Upholstery section and stopped. Where to begin? How to begin? I took a moment to panic and then visited my library and choose a few books to help me get started and more importantly, finished.
The best book that I have found is the Complete Step by Step Upholstery by David Sowle. It is filled with tools, notions, tips, detailed pictures and various projects. I could not have done my chair without this book. Every question I had, every stage I needed courage to complete was in this book. There are some tips and lessons I would like to pass on outside of books.
1) Take pictures, before and during your upholstery. As much as you hate the old fabric on your thrift store chair, take detailed pictures of how it is pieced and where tuck and seams are placed. Continue taking pictures as you rip off the old fabric. You never know where some secret to securing the fabric or a special way of adding a nice detail will be hidden.
2) Carefully remove the old pieces of fabric and keep them as patterns
3) Do not skip the muslin and fleece step. It will really smooth out your piece and make it look amazing.
4) Get the right tools but they don't need to be new. Check out eBay or thrift stores
5) Don't ask your husband for his opinion on fabric. I did and he didn't like the thumbnail picture I showed him but he totally loves it in context on the chair.
6) Don't be afraid to splurge on a print you will LOVE. You saved on the chair (only $25!) and you are saving on labor. Check out the prices of new furniture pieces online and set your fabric budget by that. A comparable chair for $700, that $22/yd fabric is not looking so expensive after, especially if you know in your heart you will love it for years. A $5/yd fabric that you will change every year turns out to be not so cheap after a few years.
I learned very quickly that upholstery is very little sewing and more hammering and folding. It is a great stress reliever. It does take planning and some creative manipulation. I recommend lightly tacking in your fabric as you go and then going back and really nailing them in once you are sure the fabric is where you want it. Also, once I figured out placement for fabric, I would take my scissors and snip into the fabric and rip it the rest of the way. This makes a nice straight line, no jagged cuts.
It took me about a month to reupholster this chair but with practice I can get the time down for next time. I also had to work in my living room, which meant cleaning up every time I had to stop. I ended up keeping my tools and notions in a large rubber bin with a lid for easy transport and to keep little hands away from needles, tacks and tools. Also, Prudent Baby's tutorial on double welt is awesome! I watched it while I sewed. Making my own welt really finished the project. I applied it with a glue gun and was really impressed with how well it adhered and finished the look. I am so happy with my chair and am actively searching craigslist for my next project! I am thinking a wingback in a cool linen or houndstooth- Yummy.http://gruenetree.typepad.com/gruenetree/2008/08/soon-to-be.html
Amy Butler's Little Stitches for Little Ones
I bought Amy Butler's Little Stitches for Little Ones as soon as it hit the stands, long before I was expecting my own little one, because I loved InStitches so much. The projects are ADORABLE and rated for difficulty (which is a blessing when pregnant with limited energy). Amy puts her signature style on baby items to help modern moms feel stylish, cool and totally unmom-like. I have completed a few projects from this book and so has my mom. The patterns are typical AB patterns, easy to follow, clearly written and sometimes a few surprise finishes that are fantastic. My two favorite projects have to be the Cute Baby Booties and the Modern Diaper bag.
I made the Modern Diaper bag when I was about 8 mos pregnant and was nearing the end and was nesting. I knew what I wanted in a bag and what I didn't. I supposed it would have to be big. I did not want black plastic that screamed diaper bag. I wanted a modern shape, lots of pockets (I have an affinity for pockets and drawers). After the cursory Google search for patterns, I went through my book stash. It had been a while since I purchased the book and had forgotten about it. As soon as I be held this bag, I KNEW it was the one. Maybe a half a day of cutting and sewing later and it was complete. I was even more in love it with than the pictures led me to believe. I immediately began packing it with wee baby clothes and sundries. (I ended up over packing as I later discovered) This bag made the trip with me to the hospital and has faithfully followed me ever since. We have successfully transitioned from tiny baby, to crawling and now walking/running toddler. This bag has carried everything and then some.
My second and perhaps most favorite are the Cute Booties. These were made around 7 mo of age, just as she started crawling. My little one didn't care to get past the army crawl for sometime because once you can go why learn a new way. This mode of propulsion was the demise of many a good pair of socks. She wore the toes out in less than a week. That coupled with the fact that she often crawled right out of her socks, I knew I needed something more. Once again I turned to my library and found the perfect solution in Amy's book. I cut 2 pair right away. The fluffy cushioning is just right to keep tiny feet padded and warm. The shoes are easy on and easy off and virtually unshakeable. The compliments these shoes garnered were also amazing. I had request from many non-parents for these booties in their size and many parents offered me great sums to make some for their kids. I have since retired the first pair but I have made several in graduated sizes since. The girl is too big for the given pattern sizes but thanks to my copier, I have managed to enlarge my pattern pieces and create more. They are really great for shoe-less homes, cold mornings and chilly nights when the footed Pjs are in the wash.
This book is a must for parents and non-parents alike. The patterns are easily adapted to adults, childless homes and when you are in need of a great shower, niece/nephew, or godchild gift.
This inspiration for this article came from a neighbor who asked me to repair a cushion made of chartreuse burlap. They were gorgeous and unexpected. It made me look at burlap in a different way. I sat down that night and googled some burlap projects, home dec and anything I could think of. The internet is full of unbelievable and awesome burlap projects and I could not wait to try my hand with it.
One of my favorite items I found out in the blog world were burlap pillows. You would think they would be scratchy but once washed burlap is comfortable and durable (really good for us moms). Many of the cutest pillows out there that I covet were made to resemble vintage posters or famous quotations and then printed on to t-shirt transfer and ironed on. I made mine from one of my favorite quotations by the famous Pompey Magnus who served with and fought against Julius Caesar. I worked it up with Photoshop in a deep purple, but you can use Window Word as well. It was a fast and immensely satisfying project. Even my husband likes the pillow.
My second project I wanted to be a little more original. I love burlap for Fall, Halloween or Thanksgiving decorating. The woven texture, frayed edges and natural colors are perfect for tablescapes, chairs, and wall décor. My banner is cut with pinking shears to prevent too much fraying but I didn't hem so that I could have some fraying, just enough. I used my Cricut to cut the letters, the crow and haunted branch from some quilting cotton. It is important when you use the Cricut to cut a piece of fabric to fit your mat and then apply Heat n Bond to the back of the fabric. Make sure you have applied it well to the whole of your fabric- especially the edges. Then peel off the paper backing and apply your fabric to the cutting mat. Press it evenly to make sure there is contact all over. Your cuts will be as smooth as paper. Then you can just peel and iron onto your banner. I free handed the bat, evil eyes and ghost. Next, sew some bands to the ends of the banner to hang around your house. I have another "Happy Halloween" planned to hang from the porch columns and a "Turn back NOW" for the other window. You can experiment with other Cricut cartridges, but I used the Plantin SchoolBook font cartridge and Serene graphic cartridge. If your banner will hang in bright sunlight I recommend using outdoor fabric instead of quilting cotton. You can also use your Cricut to decorate table runners, table cloths, pillows, placemats, curtains, lamp shades, wall decors, etc. Just check out this Google search for more ideas! I am so in love!
P.s. For even more burlap ideas check out Tatertots and Jello's blog
I have been a long time fan of Heather Bailey's pear pincushion (who hasn't) and the rest of the fresh picked gang but this is my first time trying my hand at her pattern. I wanted to make myself some more pincushions (like shoes, a girl can never have enough) but everyone has made the pincushions; I wanted to change it up a bit. The resulting deliciously oversized apple pillow (11 in. high, 11 in. wide) is soft in all the right places and surprisingly perfect for knitting. I prop my arm on it when my shoulder starts to get fatigued and it is just the right height. To make your own is just as simple as creating the bitty version in Heather's pattern.
9 x 12 in piece of felt for leaf
9 x 12 in piece of felt for stem
Embroidery floss for whip stitching parts together and decorating the leaf
A piece of wooden dowel, skewer, bodkin or weaver's needle
Once you choose which piece of fruit you want to make big and juicy, enlarge each pattern piece by 300%. Cut out your pattern pieces and follow the original pattern, using ½ in. seam allowance. When sewing the last 2 pieces of the apple together start ½ in. away from the top and leave the same gap at the bottom. This gap will help when you get to the tufting instructions. I used a long piece of embroidery thread and after knotting it, secured it with a stitch or two to the top of the apple where the stem would hide it, then either tape your needle and thread to a skewer or dowel or using your bodkin or weaver's needle run your thread to the bottom of the apple through the center using the gaps we made earlier. Pull the thread tight and secure with another stitch at the bottom. Repeat until your apple looks good to you and secure your thread a final time with a good knot. Continue to follow the pattern directions to finish your fine piece of fruit.
I made one leaf out of felt and using the couching method I learned in Sublime Stitching I added some veins to my leaf with wool yarn. To make my large stem, I rolled an entire sheet of 9 x 12 in craft felt starting with the short end and rolling it up tight. I pinned it together and cut it to the length I liked (about 3 in.) and then whipped stitched it together. I did a running stitch across the top to secure the roll and to make it look more like a fresh picked apple.
The result is a big hit in my family. The baby loves to roll on it, the dogs like to snuggle against it, my husband props his feet on it and I use it for knitting. Deliciously oversized, these fresh picked fruit will make great holiday decorations, gifts and everyday additions to freshen up your house for fall!