Archive for the 'Home Decorating' Category
Thursday, February 19th, 2009
All the rage here at Laura’s Sewing School, we are having such fun and interest in making Amy Butler’s gumdrop pillows that I have scheduled a one day workshop for us to go wild and make them together. I will order the stuffing and patterns and you will purchase the fabric of your choice. You can see the details (dimensions, materials list) about the pattern on Amy Butler’s website.
These cushions are made of drapery weight fabric. You can find that weight of fabric here in Arlington, at Fabric Corner, at Freddy Farkel’s in Watertown (also known as Fabric Showplace) and online. Fabric Corner just ordered a large selection of Amy Butler home dec fabrics and they have received 12 of them! They will go fast, especially because they will be posting them for online sale, too. So, you may want to get there as soon as you can to pick up the fabric. If the weight is fine, it can be any brand of fabric. You just don’t want a fabric which is too loosely woven, or unravels easily. Fabric.com has a nice selection of Amy Butler printed twills if you want to use her fabric designs. There are 8 panels, all the same, which are sewn together like sections of an orange. They are packed with a LOT of stuffing. I found hand sewing the first one, Amy Lou actually did that work since it was her project, rather tedious. So, when I made MY first one, I used an invisible zipper to close the pillow once it was stuff. Much easier and quicker.
Kids absolutely love this pillow. They have found it as a great place to sit and bounce and roll on or off. Adults do find it useful as a footrest. You can make them with one fabric or two. If you cut it from one fabric, you fussy cut it, making sure that it is cut in the very same place on the fabric, for all the pieces. This makes interesting, kaleidoscopic patterns, especially if the fabric has symmetry. You can see this on both of Amy’s pillows. Even though I used 2 fabrics in the pillows for my nieces, I did cut all of the large-scale, patterned fabric in the same place. There is an octagonal patch on the top of the cushion. I fussy cut that, centering it on a flower or pattern.
I propose that the workshop be on Sunday, March 15th. From 10am-4pm. That should give us plenty of time to work and eat and stuff and finish one gumdrop cushion. The next one, you will be able to do on your own and much faster. I will provide the stuffing and the pattern. You provide the fabric, thread (good quality polyester like Gutermann or Mettler) and an invisible zipper in a matching color. The only part of the zipper to show will be the tab. Buy a 12-14″ zipper or longer. It will work for either size pillow. And, if you have to buy a longer zipper to get a color match, it is very easy to shorten. Better too long than too short! The Fabric Corner sells invisible zippers and the presser foot to apply it to your project. I just talked to them about ordering enough for all of you. The presser foot is adaptable to most sewing machines and can be used over and over again. It is reasonably priced and worth buying.
I will have to price out the patterns and stuffing. So, I will have to get back to you on the price for the class. I think that we can have 5, possibly 6 students for the day. Let me know if you want to take the class and I will let you know the price. If the 22nd of March is better than the 15th, let me know. I am flexible about the date. If you are available during the day, M-F, I could possibly meet with you for a workshop on a Thursday. I am excited about this project.
Wednesday, January 28th, 2009
We are in a time when people are concerned about their jobs and income. Many of us are looking for ways to save money by doing things ourselves we may have paid to have done it the past. Sewing can be a great skill to have with this in mind. Hiring a decorator costs money. And, having any curtains or pillows or bed clothes made for you, is unbelievably expensive. (I promise that I will post pictures ASAP) This is too boring to read without illustrations….well maybe not boring, but far easier to understand if you have photos to look at.)
You can save a lot by making your own roman shades or other items. I made 9 roman shades for a sunroom I had. I designed them to pull up from the bottom or drop down from the top. That way, I could still have light and an open feel, but gain privacy on the street side of the house. There are some custom mail order services which will make your curtains and shades to order. One very good one is Smith & Noble. They do quality work with a quick turn around. They have very nice fabric options, etc. I looked up the price of one roman shade. At the time, they offered top down OR bottom up options separately, not together. One shade with similar measurements to mine would cost $250 at that time (7 yrs ago?)
I made 9 shades from some sale fabric I liked, and spent approximately $100 for all 9, including the hardware, wood (for mounting boards and slats at the top and bottom of the shades) and cording. I even made shade pulls for the ends of the cords out of Fimo clay. I was able to use a color which went well with the fabric. Make them the size I wanted and then set the clay by baking it in the oven. Didn’t smell the best, but the weather was warm so I opened the windows.
I reupholstered a wing chair I have. It is a quality piece originally from Ethan Allen. The fabric on it was a large bargello weave. There was a tack line along the wings, arms and base of the chair. It took me forever to get the tacks out. They were only decorative. I think there were over 300 of them. I never liked the tacks because they would rub along the bone between my elbow and wrist. I saw some fabric I liked at Fabric Place and bought enough for the chair. I thought I would do it myself. Then I changed my mind and decided to have it done for me. I was going to cost me $585 without the cost of the fabric. I waited until I could put aside that kind of money for it. I forgot about it for awhile. That was until almost 3 years ago. I had a student who came to me, who was taking an upholstery class at the Fabric Place in Framingham at the same time as mine. It was 10 weeks long. Toward the end of the FP class, she told me that I needed to help her finish her wing chair. I told her that I wasn’t sure if I was the best person to help her. She insisted that I could. And, that I should do my own chair for practice. I had worked a short time for an upholsterer in Northern Wisconsin in 1988. I had done cushions and foot stools and many other projects. But, I was a little shy about a wing chair. They are a more advance item to work on. I have a lot of books on upholstery. I find it very interesting and I have done a few slipcovers.
So, she convinced me to do it. I focused all my spare sewing time on it for 10 days. I took very good notes as I removed each part of the original cover, so that I could remember how things went together. I saved all the fabric panels to use as patterns. What surprised me, is that once the agony of extracting so many tacks and staples was over, that upholstering the piece was far easier than slipcovering it would have been. You cut panels of fabric larger than you need in a shape similar to the original. Staple it to the frame in a certain order and then cut away the excess fabric. It requires very little actual sewing! The only things I needed to sew were piping/welting and the cushion cover and arm covers. It came out very well. And, even though I spent time on the project, I enjoyed it and continue to enjoy the chair in my Living Room. One funny thing was that I thought I had bought the fabric 2 years before. Fabric Place would always place a sales slip on the fabric when you bought it. I hadn’t removed the slip and when I looked at it, I realized that I had bought the fabric 4 years earlier! You must use no fabric before its time..it must age appropriately…..(that’s a take-off from an old wine commercial with Orson Welles saying, “We sell no wine before its time.”)
Simpler projects can be fast and easy. I made my dog 2 different beds from fabric left over from other projects. I’ve made pillows, valances, bookcase curtains on swing rods. Placemats, table runners, tablecloths, napkins, sewing machine covers, book covers, (I don’t want people knowing what I really read, “fluff,” or as one of my HS students calls it “Chiclet reading.”) It’s hard to even think or list all the home items I have made. Oh, another is a bean bag ottoman cube. I have one in my school’s living room area. It is very comfortable to rest your feet on and is simply a cube.
Bedroom items: shams, quilts, duvet covers, dust ruffles, curtains, throw pillows, hanger covers for those clothes which are not worn often, so you want to cover the shoulders to keep off the dust.
Bathroom: Shower curtains (to be used with a waterproof liner), window curtains or roman shades or valances, sink skirts, cosmetic bags or a hanging storage bag with pockets for all of the separate items.
I could go on, and I probably will. But, it is getting late and I do want to post some pictures for you. So, I will sign off for now.
Wednesday, January 28th, 2009
When I was setting up my shop, I talked about what it was like and what I wanted to do to it. I haven’t updated any of that for a long time, nearly 2 years. I have the before pictures on my shop computer and will make sure I load them on the original post about the bathroom. Right now, I am writing from home. But, I wanted to post current (Jan 2009) pictures of the bathroom. So, here are some shots.
Since this bathroom doesn’t get wet from a bath or shower, it has allowed me to really go wild decorating it with items that wouldn’t stand up to the humidity of a full bath. And, I hope it can inspire you with decorating ideas.
I did get a new vanity, faucet and mirror installed, not too far into 2007. The vanity is very nice. It is shallow, has a porcelain sink, and the style of it and the mirror go really well with the bead board walls and pressed tin ceiling. The 3 came as a set from Lowe’s. I found the faucet after much searching. It is the only water source in my shop, so I needed it to be flexible. High enough to fill pitchers with water. And, be a good quality. I finally went to Brickman’s in Waltham. Unfortunately, they are now gone. They were a “fixture” on Moody street for many years. The faucet cost more than the vanity package. Then, when the plumbers came, I found out that the installation was going to be more than the cost of the vanity and faucet combined. This was because it was a commercial installation. These are the hidden costs of running a business. I have never regretted getting this improvement.
Two of the first things I installed in the bathroom were a toilet paper holder and a towel ring. When I moved in, the painters had painted with the TP holder in place with TP on it. There was tissue stuck to the wall! Uck! And, the towel bar was just above it. Standard-issue hardware store, bent square shaped rod, with screw plates at each end, chrome, of course. I took a trip to Bed, Bath & Beyond and got the holder and towel ring. They are very sturdy, well-priced and look nice.
I hung a paper towel holder on the wall which use to be in my grandmother’s kitchen in Northern Minnesota.
Above that is a counted cross stitch of a bundle of pansies. That was made by my Mom. She is a dedicated cross stitcher. I have another piece she did for my last birthday. It is a Welcome sign. It has sewing implements on it, which make up the letters. It is hanging about the coat rack at the front of the shop.
The ceilings are tin and really high, so I had space above the pansies and the sink mirror. I was at TJ Maxx and found a framed print. I thought I would use it at home, but the colors and style made me think of the fabric and colors in the bathroom at the shop. So, I brought it there and it fit the space sideways really well. Plus, it covered a small (1.5″ dia.) hole in the beadboard.
The light fixture on the wall was ugly and operated by a twist switch. I installed a wireless switch on the outside of the bathroom door frame. Then I screwed the other end into the fixtures socket, then the bulb into that. I removed the frosted glass shade and attached a beaded/sequined silk shade which has crystals hanging from the bottom. I had those on some sconces in my old house which were above the fireplace. I bought them from a wall lamp vendor at the Minnesota State Fair. I cannot remember who he was. But, he made lamps with would hang on the wall, and the cord was hidden in a pipe which curved and resembled a vine with leaves. They were nice.
I bought swag finials and screwed those into the upper corners of the window. I draped a black embroidered shawl over them and that covered a telephone junction box on the window frame.
I found a small, striped, wool rug at TJ Maxx & More in Woburn that goes well on the floor.
There is a painted wooden vessel at the base of the vanity. I bought it from Target. It looks nice, just a little decorative addition to the small space.
On the wall behind the door, I made a long curtain that fits on a continental tension rod. It is a semi-sheer fabric with shiny holographic dots on it. It picks up the light from the star lights hanging in front of it really well. The lights were a gift from a friend who bought them from IKEA. The only problem I had making the curtain was that the dots would stick to the soleplate of my iron and somewhat to the ironing table. I had someone give me some fabric and included was a multi-colored printed sheer. I split it in half lengthwise, sewed both halves together at the middle so it would be long enough to drape along the top of the wall curtain.
I attached a dragonfly hook on the back of the door. I purchased it from Restoration Hardware some years ago to put in the half bath of my old house. It has a verdigris finish. I thought it would come in handy when students use the bathroom as a changing room.
The plant on top of the toilet tank has survive my neglect for nearly 2 years. I am terrible with house plants. I do well with the window boxes because I have to water them everyday. It is part of my opening routine. But, give me a house plant and you are sentencing it to a long and slow death. I should not have admitted this. The plant was given to me by some very good friends as a “shop” warming gift. I moved it to the bathroom so I might remember to water it more often. Maybe that is why it is still hanging in there.