So… you think you are strong because you survived the soft cushions…

my ribbon cushion

I might start giving out a prize to the first person to follow the strange workings of my mind and identify where the titles of my blog posts are coming from… I wanted to tell you about the new cushions I made last weekend, and started thinking about cushions and titles and of course… Monty Python’s Spanish Inquisition sketch popped into my head… is that normal?

Ok – so onto the soft cushions… I booked my daughter and I onto a cushion making class with the lovely Rebecca Woollard last week, I’ve always been a tiny bit afraid of making cushion covers because of the numerous ways you can insert a zip or a button closing or a flap closing or whatever else there is… am sure the list goes on… and I have only ever inserted a zip one way into a child’s dress – following very strictly the pattern instructions.

cushions back of cushion with hidden zip closing
We arrived at 10am on a chilly Sunday morning, sewing machines in hand, ready to go, and by 5pm (or rather 6pm as we were having too much fun to stop – and Rebecca let us finish off what we were doing past the end of the class – bless her) we had both created some beautiful cushions. I learnt to do a simple square cushion with end zip closing and split layered fabric, and I learned how to insert a zip 3/4 way down the back, with flappy bit. And I learned to make a flange (I love that word…) around the edge, and a piped corded cushion (making my own bias binding and edging…(not photographed yet as I am still just finishing it off) and I learnt a very nice way to decorate your cushion using simple pieces of ribbon.

ribbon cushion with flange and split cushion with edge closing zip

My daughter Eloise, made this fantastic panda cushion – and then had a great time decorating a square cushion using all the different stitches on Rebecca’s machine – plus length’s of ribbon. She has now come to realise that my ‘fantastic’ Janome machine that she has always been jealous of (she has a small plastic but fully functioning £35 John Lewis one….) is actually pretty basic and is now hankering after an all singing, all dancing, super duper lots of stitches model… I pointed out that the difference in price between this one and my one is around £500-£600 – which is a LOT of pocket money to be saved up…

Panda Cushion

Although I know where she is coming from… I have a bad case of machine envy now too… not that I don’t love my faithful Janome of course!

I am so proud of our efforts and the professional finish to our lovely cushions. I just hope I can remember now how to do it for the next time I want to make a cushion or change a cover… I need a cushion making project quick before I forget…

How hard can it be to make lovely professional looking cushions? Actually not too bad… well quite easy when you have a brilliant expert telling you what to do… when I try one on my own I will let you know how hard it really is!

Until next time…

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A Place to Make and Do.

Thought I might share with you my new love…

My sewing room!

Sewing Room
Ever since I lost my job, my study has been a place I didn’t really dare to go. Apart from being one of the rooms we never got around to decorating when we moved in 2 years ago, and having boring white walls that were horribly blemished by badly polyfilled holes. It felt a bit weird in there. I had spent so many hours and days and weeks and months of my life sat in there working away – and now that part of my life was over. Well working in that particular job anyway.

my study before it became my sewing room
It made me sad to go in there – so I avoided it, and my daughter soon took it over with junk she had collected to sell on eBay (her temporary solution to my current financial crisis – bless…)

Then I suddenly had a lightbulb moment… maybe I could re-decorate, and re-purpose…

Now that my work computer and piles of filing are gone – we only have one small laptop and printer of our own, so we don’t really need a study – we all tend to use the computer anywhere but in there.

Yet at the same time, I am doing a lot of sewing, but I have totally taken over our dining room and every time we want to eat – we either have to balance plates on our laps in the kitchen or I have to clear up my sewing projects so we can eat together.

What if I turned my study into a sewing room… then that would solve two problems in one go… both what to do with this redundant, and rather depressing room. And give us back our dining room for eating in.

Hooray.

I’ve been reading a book recently too about setting up a business in the craft industry – and in chapter one it impresses upon you then importance of having a space to make and do… perfect excuse to justify a small shopping trip.

So I persuaded my lovely patient husband to come to IKEA with me on his day off – so we could mooch around their storage solutions without the distraction of the little people.

We bought me a new modular desk with side storage, a desk top and a trestle support… and loads and loads of shelves and hooks and jars and boxes and storage goodies.

I sold my old depressingly functional workstation desk on eBay and began to construct my new empire.

I took my son Louis with me to Homebase after school with one of the teal drawer’s from my new IKEA desk – to help me choose a matching colour for a feature wall. He encouraged me to be super daring and go for a really bright blue/teal to match the drawer exactly.

And we bought more boxes…

The next week was spent re-vamping… sanding and staining the desktop, and painting the walls – two feature walls we decided in the end.

 

work in progress lovely colour for the walls
I bought some staining wax online in walnut and antique oak and tried out both on my desktop. I expected to like the walnut best, but actually preferred the rustic look of the oak. I stupidly did two big sample corners – figuring I would choose which I liked best and paint over the sample I didn’t want, and if it showed through then it didn’t matter as that would be the bottom of the desk, and I would do the top with the selected shade once I had perfected my technique… however… on turning the wood over I noticed that it had two massive metal rails embedded in the bottom to attach it to the trestle and storage until part… ooops… so quite a bit of sanding and staining was needed in the end!

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The end result was pretty good. Then my husband very kindly put up my shelves for me, and my rails and spice racks…

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So now I have a place to make and do. A little sanctuary to retreat into and make things. And I love going in there now, and my daughter loves going in there too, especially when friend’s come to visit.

And best of all – I can make as much mess as I like, and then I can just close the door and leave it all out for next time. It’s like a grown up playroom – and what’s not to like about that?

“So if you want me – I’ll be in my sewing room.” I’m still not tired of getting to say that…

Typical Me – I Started Something… And Now I’m Not Too Sure…

IMG_2788IMG_2790chair

So I bought these 6 dining chairs on Ebay in a fit of upholstery learning enthusiasm. I was looking for some small boxes to work on for my Furniture Restoration class but seeing these for sale nearby and managing to buy them in a giddy auction bid-out for only £22 for the lot, I thought – why not? I’ll learn to do them up, re-upholster them and perhaps sell them on, maybe not for a profit necessarily but to a loving home, and I will have learnt a lot along the way.

Well… learn a lot I certainly have. How hard can it be? Well I have learned… pretty hard actually.

First thing I noticed when I got them home was that some of them have suffered from woodworm, and some are rotting away from being stored in damp conditions. They were all really filthy and covered in cobwebs and the threadbare leather seating (or what was left of them) and hessian and webbing are held in with about 100 rusty tacks per chair.

So there I was one sunny morning, sleeves rolled up – de-tacking and painting with woodworm treatment.

oak chair - de tacked

I got one chair pretty well cleaned up and discovered that one of it’s joints was coming apart. Probably munched away from within by the woodworms. And then I stopped… for several days, possibly weeks, feigning bad weather or bad back or both… and then another sunny morning came along and I thought I had better do some more… one chair down… five to go…

 And I was busy pulling out tacks and sanding down and I was listening to my Spotify playlist on my phone and suddenly, quite appropriately the Smith’s came on with ‘I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish’ and as I was singing along and merrily pulling out my 130th rusty tack, I thought goodness… is this song trying to tell me something…

 

Hair brushed and parted
Typical me, typical me
Typical me
I started something
…And now I’m not too sure…

Anyhoo… here is a before and after of the two chairs I have managed to clean up so far…

before and after de-tacking and sanding
I took my wobbly joint chair into my Furniture Restoration class this week and showed it to my tutor. He made me bash it apart with a rubber mallet – poor chair! And on week one the woodwormy leg was left being held by about 4 clamps and a whole lot of fish glue.
chair having been bashed apart woodwormy leg being held together by fish glue
And the following week we plastered filler all over the corroded joint and then tried to drill new holes for the dowls and it splintered into several pieces. The damage from the woodworm although not much to see from the outside but a few small holes, has turned the inside into swiss cheese!
So – lots of umming and ahhing later… and we plasterd on more filler  – a LOT more filler and basically glued it back together with filler and popped it in a sash clamp.
filling the woodworm damage with fillerholding together in sash clamprepairs using a sash clamp and filler

And all this is before I even get anywhere near any fabric…

I must say – people have been very supportive though, despite my clearly having some screws loose somewhere… my lovely mother-in-law has passed on her upholstery tool collection. And her much loved father’s tool collection of chisels and block planes and screws… he was a carpenter and so has a very impressive collection of old wooden handled, steel bladed chisels, which my tutor helped me sharpen.

tools

Now I just have to learn how to actually put some new upholstery on.Oh and de-tack and sand down and repair another 4 chairs…

Wish me luck… I’m gonna need it.

To be continued…