Recently in Upholstery Category
I actually assembled this pillow both with and without the trapunto approach so you can see the difference in dimensionality you can achieve with this method. Both of my pillows are made with upholstery velvet, so other than the difference in the detailing, all things are equal on these two.
For the first, non-trapunto version, I sandwiched two layers of Warm & Natural cotton batting between my velvet and my cotton backing fabric, and stitched the design through all layers to create the front of the pillow. This creates a very gently quilted look. Cotton batting is not as high-loft as some other batting choices, so a high-loft poly batting will give you a little more depth to your stitching.
For the second version, I assembled as directed in the pattern, stitching the design through the velvet and backing fabric, then cutting small slits in the backing fabric and gently stuffing in the details with small bits of batting. As you can see, this version has much more dimension -- the details on the leaf really stand out.
Here are both pillows together again so you can really see, side-by-side, how differently they turned out from one another. I like them both, but I really love the sculptural look of the second one.
This is also a good gift project. If you know someone who loves the great outdoors and likes to bring nature inside, you can easily customize these to match any decor. Since they're autumn-themed, you might have to give out holiday gifts a little early so the recipients can get full use out of them right away!
Ready to try your hand at these dimensionally-detailed pillows? Download the free pattern here, grab a half-yard of your favorite home dec fabric and get started!
Back before I had my little one, I snagged a sweet deal on a glider on craigslist. I had big plans to recover it into the ultimate nursery chair. Well, my baby is 3 now and no longer uses the chair for anything other than pretending to surf. Thus it has been removed from her room and found new residence in my studio. While it was being spit up on I was able to justify putting off recovering but now that it sits in the corner of my room all day I can no longer bear the sight of it's early 90's baby blue velour (that has seen better days, mind you). So I set about recovering. No problem, I thought I can just trace some new covers, add a zipper and done! Ahh, not so much. This was possible for the back cushion since it had a weird tufted shell pattern on it that meant I had to trace and sew (the glider is similar but not exact to the one below- be glad I did not take a before picture, it would have burned your eyes). But the bottom and arm cushions involved some tricky pleating and gussets that meant I had to rip off the old cover and use them as templates. Here's how it went down.
This picture is the back cushion. You can see how the tufting makes it impossible to remove the cover for tracing. I traced the cushion and added an inch all around. I left the bottom open for a zipper so I can remove it for washing.
I was able to remove and bottom cushion and after some heavy ironing, I traced it without adding a seam allowance (just using the ½ in. seam allowance already on the cover piece). You can see the weird T shape at the top. This is pleating and a gusset that fits around the arms of the frame. When you remove the cover, leave one side (top or bottom cover) pleated and with the gusset in place and use the other side for ironing and tracing. Then when it comes time to recreate this intricate pleating you have a model to go by. I didn't do this and it took a good 30 min. with the seam ripper to finally figure it out. Also, you can see where all the pleating clips are, transfer these marks onto your new fabric. This cushion would also look great with some piping added. I inserted a zipper in the back for washing as well.
Here is the arm rest cover completely dismantles and ironed. I learned my lesson from the bottom cushion and left the other arm rest cover intact to use as a model for assembly. This one was almost as tricky as the bottom cushion but took me 1/3 the time to assemble.
Overall, I didn't like this glider to begin with but it was comfy and useful. I really wish I had updated it soon! We spray painted the frame and with the new cover (which covers the 90's styling) it is a whole new and great looking chair. It is now worthy of my studio!
For the past few weeks I have been diligently working on reupholstering a Queen Anne style wingback chair in Dwell Studio Vintage Blossom Dove and it is going very well but not done yet. I wanted to share my progress as well as make suggestions and show my techniques. The wingback I am working on, none of the fabric was salvageable so I am working without using the old fabric as pattern pieces (Which is a very handy tip) so the finished product will not look exactly like the original but close enough that it won't be noticeable. This means that some of my folds, tucks and darts will be in different places but will achieve the same look. I also had to do some frame repair and change out the front legs due to damage. Most of this posting will be pictures which I feel best communicate to you my techniques and give you an idea of how best to document your progress to learn from and to use for future projects.
This first collection of photos is an example of all the photos I take of the chair before. Every fold, tuck, sewn-bit and interesting area is documented so after the chair is naked and I am putting fabric back on, I can see how it was attached, pieced and cut in different areas to make my job easier and it give it a professional finish. If you aren't sure if you should take a picture, take one anyway. If you use a digital camera you are not wasting anything and you can delete the unuseful pictures after you are done.
I like to start with the front back on any chair because it is the biggest piece of fabric that will really show. This is a good way to get comfortable orienting your fabric if you choose a directional fabric like mine (birds up!) and since it is one of the biggest pieces, you can really choose what you want to feature. Make sure you do a dry run before you cut or tack anything. I use skewers for this but for the front back piece you can just drape. I also tack this piece to the top and bottom completely before I cut any excess. You don't want to trim too close on this one.
Next I move on to the front of the wings because it is easy to match the fabric and it is another big but easy piece to place. The round of the wings can be tricky but remember most of your tucks will be covered by piping (which we prepared here).
Also be very careful where you cut your slit around the top bar that connects wing to back (it goes across the top and you want your fabric to go on top of and below it). Cut your slit closer by an inch or 2 to the front back piece side and then fold your fabric under toward the wing. If you place your cut right on the money, you will see raw edges. The fold hides the cut edges and gives a smooth transition from front back to wing.
Lastly on the wing, there is usually piping placed between the arm and the wing so you can secure your top wing fabric with tacks at the bottom. They will be covered by arm fabric and piping so they won't be seen or felt if you pound them enough.
Remember if you use tacks, you can pound them in just a bit as you go to secure your fabric and then easily pull them out to move them to refold, tighten or just get a better placement. This is why I prefer them to staples (which are faster but harder to correct). When starting your own project, be sure to take lots of pictures before and during. Keep your old fabric as pattern pieces if you can. This will also help you estimate fabric. Do as many dry fits as possible before committing to a cut or tacking especially on very tricky places like the front arm (with the scroll) and the under seat (often with darts and tucks).
Stay tuned for this continuing series and comment with any questions on upholstery.
You can find my previous upholstery posts here
Cording is an essential Home
Dec finishing notion that is as versatile as it is easy to use. Cotton Cording
can be used for the typical piping and welting used in home dec applications to
add finishing details and accents but it can also be used for non typical functions,
such as bunting, purse handles and couched monograms. Today I am going to walk
you through using cotton cording in its most applied purpose: bias covered
piping for home dec projects.
Since I will be using my piping for my upcoming upholstery project, I am cutting my bias from scrap pieces cut into for specific chair parts. As long as the scraps are good size (I prefer at least 12 by 12 in. sections) then it is worth your time. You don't want to spend all your time sewing up tiny bias strips together. To determine the width of the bias strip you need, multiply the size of your cording by 8. Example: I used ¼ in. cording so I cut my bias strips 2 in. wide. Make sure you cut your fabric on the 45 deg. angle to the grain for the best stretch.
To begin stitching your bias strips together, overlap by the seam allowance you will use. I like to use 3/8 or 1/4 in. Align them up right sides together and only stitch as much as you need. You don't want to end up with more covered cording than you will need. It is hard to find another project that will match. I like to leave my last 6 in. or so of the bias strip un-sewn uncase I need to add more. This extra bit will be enough to sew on another bias strip.
Fold the bias strip over your cotton cording with raw edges matching. Use a zipper foot to sew very close to the cording without sewing on it. You want the cording to be tightly stitched in the center. If it is too loose you will see bunching and shifting. Use a medium length stitch and back stitch at beginning and end to keep you piping from undoing before you can use it in your project.
So, I've been (foolishly) making large-scale costumes for a number of years, and people always want to know how these wild concoctions come together, what's inside them and how I wear or puppeteer them. For my next trick, I will walk you through one of these projects from soup to nuts: Chairry from "Pee Wee's Playhouse."
Before I kick off the proceedings, I feel compelled to confess that I procrastinated on this one. Well, that's not entirely accurate; it was more a matter of not finding time to really dig in to this project until two weeks before I was scheduled to have it done for Dragon*Con. So the pictures in this blog were all taken over a 10-day period of crammy, slammy building and sewing. When I first started building large-scale, mascot style costumes, I never could have pulled off such a short build, but thankfully, I've learned a few tricks through the years so there's not too much guesswork.
Ok, so I wanted to build a chair that people would be able to sit on. So, I started by screwing together a base. It's a sloppy affair, but as I have learned from previous endeavors, each step tends to reinforce the step that came before it, so, I wasn't too fretful about the funky angles.
The second step was adding a flat seating base to the base.
Once the base was reinforced and load tested to make sure a decent-size adult could sit on it, I traced out the backing shape onto pegboard, and cut it out using a jigsaw.
I wanted to make sure the back could: a) fold down, and b) stand stably. To make sure it would have a stable base, I made legs that attached to the back of the peg board.
I tested the placement of the backing, and once I was good
with things, I cut eye holes and then attached the backing to the seat with
hinges. You might notice that the hinges don't match. My policy is generally to
use whatever I have on hand if it will work instead of spending money. In this
case, the hinges will never be seen, so mismatched is just fine! You'll also notice a very classy cardboard wrap around the base. Yep! It's not weight bearing, and it's just there to help the shape. Recycling, always!
To create Chairry's depth, and the area where I would I would stand to puppeteer her, I used pool noodles and built backwards from the backing board. I used zip ties to hold everything in place, and reinforced with low-temp hot glue. (Note on hot glue: it can melt materials like pool noodles, so always test on an inconspicuous area.)
In this shot, you can see Chairry folded down with her pool noodles attached. The zip tie ends eventually got trimmed down, but not before I triple checked that everything was holding where I wanted it to.
Once the basic shape was in place, it was foam time! I literally use bed foam that I buy in sheets from my local discount department store. The foam was wrapped around Chairry, and in areas with curves, I simply cut darts and hot glued things as best I could to the appropriate shape. There have been times on previous projects when I mapped everything out and drafted patterns, but often, things work out just as well if I fly by the seat of my pants with no plan. Your mileage may vary.
Once the foam layer was in place, I covered the seat of the chair. If you ever watched "Trading Spaces" or any of the other speedy home décor makeover shows, you've probably seen the quick-and-dirty method of making a slipcover where you pin everything onto the piece of furniture inside out, and then just stitch as pinned, turn right side out, and voila! A cover is made. I use the exact same method. If you don't know much about Chairry, you'll eventually see why I used that pink knit on the base.
This shot shows a preliminary draping of the backing fabric. Sometimes, it's good to do a quick mock up of the next step, just to give yourself a little hope and momentum. Have I mentioned that the fabric I used is a lush, plush minky that is crazy insane delicious to sit on? It makes the whole thing feel so luxurious. I heart it.
To make the seat cushion, I used a combo of bed foam and an elderly futon mattress that was due for recycling. I kind of just dove in and hacked away at it layer by layer with a pair of heavy-duty scissors.
The same inside-out pinning method was use to make the cover for the seat cushion. It's finally looking like a real chair!
Chairry next needed waveable arms. Pool noodles to the rescue again! I slotted noodle segments over dowels and wrapped them with more bedfoam.
To slot the arms into place, I had to cut small holes into the backing board from inside, and then make a tiny snip in the fabric in each insertion spot. The arms were not permanently affixed -- that way, they can slide right out and the chair folds down for transport.
Cutting eye holes in a project like this is always daunting. It usually happens so late in the build that I'm always afraid I will ruin everything by cutting something incorrectly. For this project, I cut the eye holes open as though I was slicing an oblong pie, and then carefully wrapped the cut pieces back around the foam layer. Here's poor Chairry looking like something out of a horror movie.
A quick view of Chairry from the side.
This is the very fancy and technical drawing I made to use as a pattern for cutting Chairry's eye details. As you can see, I'm quite the fine artist.
Once the eyes go in on any project, it's usually the first time I really feel like it's working -- unless it doesn't. Fortunately, Chairry's oculars slipped right into place without much issue. The black sections are actually a lightweight Allure knit stretched taut to provide a spot where I could peek out.
I wanted to show a view of me actually in Chairry. I'm sticking my rear out to illustrate where I am (all too well). I enter and exit this costume/puppet via a long zipper in the back.
And here she is, ready to roll. As is now evident, that pink fabric that might have looked a little odd earlier is what forms the interior of Chairry's mouth. The teeth are cut from craft foam.
The next two pictures feature Chairry at the con -- both alone, and with the rest of the Playhouse gang. I am pleased to report that our crew was very popular -- I think all of Dragon*Con sat on Chairry for a hug!
I hope you have enjoyed this walk down crazy lane -- it's a peek into the sometimes ridiculous things that get built at my house. If you're thinking of making a giant beast for Halloween this year, remember that safety and health are always first and foremost. Originally, Chairry was going to be built on casters so I could roll her around, but once I realized the dangers involved in trying to wheel around a 70-pound costume with reduced vision and hearing, that detail got scrapped. Chairry is parked in place when she goes out to see her public, and I always have plenty of water and ice packs to keep cool and hydrated inside my creation. Stay safe, and have fun in all your creations!
One of the main reasons I got into upholstery was to take a break from sewing. I thought that it was all mashing tacks with mallets and tack hammers. I knew it would be a good way to vent frustration. And it is 90% tack mashing but thankfully there is that 10% of sewing. The small bit of sewing is like closure. You spend weeks pounding and yanking on a piece and if that was just the end of it, it would be like a Hollywood Blockbuster ending with a huge fight scene and explosion. The small bits of hand sewing wrap up your project and give me a chance to focus on the details instead of the big picture of pattern matching and yardages. This focus on detail is really gives the finished piece its polish.
One of the secrets to successful upholstery is carefully placed tucks and folds, but tacks alone do not always hold these in place or hold them flat to give a polished look. Often you need some hand sewing to blend these tucks or folds. Or you might need some scrolls, or add a section highlighted by piping, there are many reasons to need hand sewing on your upholstery work. Hand sewing upholstery can be tricky but for the most part it is easy. I prefer to do all of my work with curved upholstery needles. Curved needles are excellent at getting into tight spaces: deep corners, crevices between cushions and awkward lines. Curved needles are pretty slippery, so I often wear a leather thimble to help with grip or you can try a pair of cotton garden gloves (the pattern in Weekend Sewing makes a good fit). Wearing something with a little friction can help your grip on the curved needle. Matching thread is also important, but an exact match is not that big of a deal; most of your stitch will be hidden (Note- I used bright white thread for pictures purposes only).
I hide my knot with my first stitch by coming in backwards. My needle enters about ½ in from the end I am starting at and exits right where I want to start my seam. I recommend using a doubled strand when hand sewing to make your seams strong. If your tuck, fold or fabric pieces are not 100% secured with tacks, you can use T-pins to hold your piece in place while you focus on sewing. I like to take bigger stitches than for clothing or toys, about ¼ in. to ½ in. from one stitch to the next. Applying your stitches is much like adding a blind hem, you just want to catch the edge of your fabric so your tucks or fold lay flat and your stitches stay hidden. Line up your stitches and pull your thread tight after each stitch to make sure your path looks good. You don't need to hold your stitches tight after each but pulling them tight to check each one will help you make tiny adjustments as you go so you don't have to rip out at the end. I also like to hide my end knot in between cushions or behind piping if I can. Always double secure your knots so they won't pull out.Man, that looks so much better!
Check out our great Waverly fabrics here. They are my favorites for recovering vintage furniture
or you can get the inside scoop on my projects, see their progress and get extra tips and tricks by following me@tdangermiller
I have upholstered before but since I have officially finished one chair- though I did upholster it 3 times (the first time I feel out of love with the fabric, the second was velvet that was violently attack by cat pee and the third was finished) I consider myself a beginner. I think I know what I am doing but I know that I am still learning and probably will be for years to come as each pieces is different in its own way. But I do have a lot of experience under my belt. I loved my first project and it has given me confidence and a new outlook on Upholstery.
It is not as hard as you think. It is a lot like a puzzle or piecing a quilt or adjusting your pattern pieces on fabric. It is mostly figuring out which pieces of fabric fit where and how to make them fit. There is strategy and less sewing than you think. My chair was mostly tacks, which I loved. It made me feel very powerful to bang them into place. There was some hand sewing but that was also relaxing because it came in small bouts. Here are some helpful tips to get you started on your first or next project
1) Get some tools- I found mine on eBay, thrift stores and hardware stores. Also- use your MP3 player. To me that was as important as my tack puller. I would get a good book in there and set to work. It was so relaxing. You don't need that many tools to get started but expect your first project to go slower than you plan because you will probably discover which tools you need/want as you go.
2) Take pictures: before, after and as you go. Take close ups of joins and edges. My first chair, I was so excited, I just pulled pieces off so I could get started putting them back on. I regretted it as soon as I got started putting back on. I spent many hours figuring out that best place to put these tucks on the armrest or how to seamlessly join the top to the back. My current project I took pictures of all the places I had trouble with the first go round and then as I pull back and took off each piece (see above for samples).
3) For the love of fabric- PLEASE don't use staples. My first chair was upholstered with tacks which were easy to take out as I stripped the old fabric. This new chair is stapled like no-one's business and it is taking twice as long to strip. Staples are much harder to take out and unlike tacks if you misplace one you can't take it out and move it. Often as I was placing a new piece of fabric, I would drive my tacks in half way. This would keep the fabric in place but also allowed me to practice with any tucks or alignment before I drove the tack all the way. Or I could pop them out and move them.
4) Practice with Muslin. A lot of you might be scared because you are talking about 7-8 yds of Home Dec. fabric at ~$15/yd (if you will note that Fabric.com's designer upholstery fabric is awesome and inexpensive). But if you purchase that same yardage in muslin to upholster your piece in first, you can get a feel for your chair without committing your finished fabric (Note: Try to match the weight of muslin to the weight of fabric- medium weight or heavy weight is good). This is just like making a muslin in apparel. You can practice all your tucks, stitch lines and piecing. Plus recovering in Muslin under your finished fabric will leave you with a more professional look. The muslin will smooth out bumps and leave an even surface for a final layer of batting which will give your piece an extra soft and firm look and feel.
I will continue with more tips on upholstery next time but please feel free to comment with questions or areas you want me to address. You can follow my Wingback's progress on twitter @tdangermiller- you can also ask questions or make suggestions there, as well. I hope you can learn from me and I also hope to learn from you! This will be so fun.
I-cord is one of the most versatile of knitting stitches; even non-knitters can make i-cord. It makes great straps, handles and edges but knitted in long lengths, i-cord can be used for awesome textural embroidery. Since i-cord takes no time to knit in length and little concentration, you can easily knit enough for this project or a similar while watching your favorite shows, a movie or even at a kids holiday play. I decided on a pillow cover so I could just remove it and tuck it away each year. I can reuse the pillow with another cover and not worry about storing pillows. To recreate my Holly Pillow Cover you will need
1 skein of Acrylic Yarn
1 spool of thread to match the yarn
1 yd of Velvet
1 pillow to recover
Scrape of coordinating fabric (big enough for a 4 in. diameter circle)
The pillow I chose to recover was 20 in. square so I cut one 21 in. square for the front and one 8 by 21 in. piece and one 17 by 21 in. piece to make the back envelope. I laid my front piece right side up and with chalk; I wrote "Holly" rubbing it out till it looked right. Next, I cast on 3 sts and knit roughly 24 in. of i-cord in a green acrylic yarn (you might remember me starting this back in November). I dry fit it to the pillow to make sure it was long enough before I bound off and wove in the ends.
Using the chalk lines and pinning as you go, secure the i-cord onto the pillow front. Starting from the back of the pillow piece, use a running stitch to secure the i-cord in place. Finally, I used a glass to trace a 4 in. circle on a spare piece of red Sateen and made a yo-yo to highlight the 'O' in Holly, and adding some more holiday color. I used a running stitch around the edges to secure the yo-yo.
Next, with right sides facing pin the front pillow piece to the back pieces, overlapping the back pieces to form an envelope and using a 1/2 in. seam, stitched all the way around the pillow case. Carefully clip the corners and turn right side out. Slip your pillow inside and admire your work.
This project is fun and easy way to add Christmas cheer to your home. You can change up the words, of course, for any holiday but I like to stray from the traditional slightly with words like "Holly, Stockings, Eggnog, or Caroling" These words are obvious enough that determining the holiday message will be easy but a little bit different.
Many patterns call for interfacing but most also don't expand on which interfacing to use for that pattern. There are many different interfacings to choose from. I'm going to break it down for you to make it easier to pick the right interfacing for your finished project. Interfacings can be divided into weights and fusible/sew-in. Which one to choose depends on your fabric and your project. Some patterns will tell you whether or not to use fusible or sew-in but generally not which weight to use. Interfacing is a fabric that is applied to the wrongside of fabric to add stability, stiffen, strengthen, add body, or to help a fabric keep shape. When making pillows out of quilting cotton, I always add an interfacing to the back to help the fabric hold up and to keep a better shape. I also add interfacing when using Home Décor fabric to make a bag. It helps the fabric keep a structured shape and to also help it hold up to daily wear.
Weight: This is where there is the greatest choice among interfacings. There are 101 different weights (or so it seems). My rule of thumb is choose an interfacing that is directly proportional to your fabric. If you are using a lightweight fabric like quilting cotton, linen, or shirting, choose a light weight interfacing. Home décor projects are a heavier weight fabric and need a heavier weight interfacing. Interfacing Home Décor fabric ensures that window seat cushions last longer and look pretty and pillows keep their shape not matter how many times fluffed. The ultimate heavy weight interfacing is called Peltex. It is used in some of Amy Butler's luggage patterns and can also be used to make fabric storage. Peltex is really stiff and can stand on its own. It is great for adding a lot of body and structure.
Sew-in vs. fusible: Whether you use sew-in or fusible depends on the project and what you want to finished product to look like. Fusible will affect the drape and flow of the fabric. If you are adding pleats, tucks and folds, fusible is appealing since it will add structure to these details. If you are adding gathers or draping, sew-in adds the body and durability but does not affect the drape of the fabric as much as fusible. You can still play with the fabric and add less structured details.
Knits: Knits are such a wild creature that they have their own interfacing category. Knit interfacings are NON-WOVEN and somewhat elastic to mimic knits stretch. This allows the interfacing to add body and strength without distorting knits natural stretch and drape. Knit interfacing are typically around the neckline facings and other places that need some support like buttons holes and zippers.
Psst: The top picture if of Amy Butler's Modern Diaper Bag which used lightweight interfacing and Peltex for the bottom. The bottom picture is Peltex fused on to the back of quilting cotton and made into fabric magnets. Project found here!