Friday, August 21, 2015

Got Chain?


 

If you find yourself working on a lot of clothing, especially doing hemming and the like, hanging a chain next to your sewing machine and/or ironing board is a great idea.


I first saw this done in a bridal store alterations area.  They had chains to the left of each of the machines and next to the ironing board.  Obviously, the idea is to use the chain to bear the weight of the garment so that you can work with more agility.  It helps to minimize wrinkles and confusion and if you are hand sewing, hanging the garment at eye-height can save you from ruining your neck by looking down at your lap.  Though it will not save your arms :).


It just so happens that the former owners of my house had a fabulous swag lamp in the living room which required two ceiling hooks.  I confess to have thrown the thing away (later learning that I should have kept the fixture portion -- have you seen the price of swag lamps?  Wowsers!), but anyway, those hooks do come in handy when I get the itch to hem chiffon upstairs.  My chain is too short and I extend it with a ribbon.  Works great.

I get excited when I find a really practical, simple, and inexpensive way to take some of the fuss out of sewing.  If you have any game changers to share, please do.  The combox is all yours!

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In other news I foolishly took apart my sofa slipcover with the intention of reworking it to make it fit my sofa better.  This is a picture of it before:


All things considered, it fit the couch fairly well but it doesn't look like it was intended to cover a "t-cushion" couch and it pulls in the corners in such a way that it gets disheveled quickly.

I turned it inside out and started slashing and basting in crazy woman fashion.






Maybe I bit off more than I can chew?

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Another Chair, Another Slipcover? -- Drop Cloth Edition


You can rest easy, friends.  My living room seating crisis has been resolved by the addition of this little lady:

Not the child, silly.  The chair.

Apparently, it is a maple "rocker" though it doesn't rock in the least.

While scouting out the local furniture consignment store and bemoaning the number of ugly overpriced armchairs that populate the market, I came across this maple piece hanging out with a bunch of dining chairs and had an *aha!* moment:  What could be better in a crazy household like mine than a sturdy chair with nice clean-able wooden arms and only two cushion covers to throw into the washer?

Practicality incarnate.

It needed some updating though. The cushions were in perfect condition but the fabric would never do for my living room.


Enter the painter's drop cloth:


I'd heard about using drop cloths for all sorts of home decorating purposes and thought it would be fun to give the product a whirl on this very low risk project.  I chose the "heavy duty" 10 ounce, 6x9 foot version from Lowes for $13.95.

I honestly had no idea that painter's drop cloth is VERY soft and supple and loosely woven.  I always figured it would be thick, scratchy canvas.


Nope.  It's so nice on the skin, you could happily spend the afternoon jumping onto it wearing nothing but your diaper.

Or so I've heard. ;)


Do all drop cloths have a thick seam running right down the middle?  Mine certainly did and it took a bit of effort to figure out how to cut everything without crossing the seam.


Those angled strips you see in the last picture are for the piping.  I used 5/32" cotton piping cord from Hancock.  I have heard polyester piping cord is better because it doesn't shrink but it wasn't available in the store so I pre-washed my cotton cord to be safe.  (Note -- notions coupons DO NOT work on the piping.  I found that out the hard way.)


I am not a fan of sewing piping.  It is far too labor intensive for impatient people like me!  That being said, I recently discovered a sewing machine foot with a big groove in the bottom that fits nicely over the cording and makes the process a little less painful.



The girls were playing with fabric while I sewed and before I knew it, I was sharing space with a bunch of animals.


Anyway, have you ever used the method of sewing a zipper where you baste a seam, sew the zipper, and then rip out the seam stitches?



It works pretty well for those of us who don't want to pull out the iron for stuff like this :).

Overall the sewing went smoothly; however, I did make one big seam-ripper worthy mistake when I forgot to attach the zipper portion to the back side of the cushion top where the seam in the cording was located.


Probably an inconsequential mishap but I fixed it because I knew I'd think about it every single time I looked at the cushion.

Here is the finished bottom cushion cover:


For this project I decided to size the covers to go right over the original upholstery instead of replacing it.  That way I'd have double protection on the inner cushion and a usable chair when washing the new covers.

I am notorious for making things too snug and made a very conscious effort this time around to make the covers roomy enough to account for possible future shrinkage.


To create a better sense of proportion between this chair and my big gray armchair, I needed this chair to look bigger.  I decided the best way to do that was to add height and made the top cushion cover large enough to fit a 3" block of craft foam.


May I spare you pictures of constructing the top cushion and skip right to the finished chair?




(Oh bother.  I'm sorry for the crummy photography!)

I had a get-together today that require me to drag the recliner into the living room and I grabbed the opportunity to snap a picture of all three of the slipcovered chairs together.


Find out more about the recliner here. And the gray armchair in the last post, or here.

You know, I had this crazy idea for the drop cloth covers.  Wouldn't it look cool to dip them in dye to create an ombre effect with the deepest color in the back of the seat and the lightest portions in the front (by the knees) and the top (by the head)?  I don't have the guts to try it.  The drop cloth is unbleached so the look would be sort of earthy and organic and most likely amazing.

Somebody go try that and report back, 'kay?

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P.s.  I love to preach the good news of sewing AND saving money -- let me share with you the total cost of slipcovering those three chairs:

Gray armchair $60, recliner $85, wooden chair $30 = $175

Oh, and the original wooden chair was $59.99. = Final cost $90.

Like. new.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

The Slipcovered Chair -- Grand Finale

Hey Liz, people would ask me, you finish that chair you were covering yet?

I'd grumble, grumble, grumble in reply.

I hate that chair, I'd say.  I don't even want to own it, much less sew a cover for it!

Well, I might have changed my mind you guys.

After months of procrastination, I sewed the last few seams of the slipcover and put it on the chair...and wow.  Pretty awesome.  So awesome, in fact, I'm not even going to post a picture of it right at the top of this post.  You have to see the whole she-bang from the beginning!  Come along...

Here we have the original hand-me-down chair:

(a special blend of tan microfiber, faux leather, and old school floral)

Next, the fabric:


The new cushion covers:

(Please take note of the coin-sized hole in the vinyl on the right side of this picture.)

Also, note that of these products -- and I tried them all -- hair spray worked...


...to get out these blue pen marks:

(hard to tell in the picture, but one of my delightful offspring attacked it with a ballpoint)

The chair slipcover in progress:


This part was almost as unpleasant as the pictures documenting it.


Purchased 10 yards and used at least 8.5 of them.



The progress stopped at this point in FEBRUARY.  What is it now?  July?!

Truth be told, I got bored and disheartened trying to figure out the skirt for the chair.  Then it finally occurred to me that I didn't have to do a skirt and I could piece the front and back, hem it all of the way around, and call it good!

So I did.





It will probably always be wrinkled but frankly I don't mind.  Or rather, I don't care enough to make the wrinkles go away!




In honor of it's completion, I may have bought a celebratory throw pillow.
What can I say?  It matched my curtains.




Evie's pointing to the spot she plans to rub her next pizza face in.


Remember how I told you to take note of the little hole in the vinyl?  Since the original pictures were taken, it is no longer coin-sized:


My children take their mission of destruction seriously.

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One more take of the original:


And the final product:


In the living room...


Can you even believe how different it looks from before?  A totally "new" piece of furniture.

It's showing up my couch though.  Not cool.


Perhaps my next project?

I might not be able to resist.