Monday, 6 March 2017

Ladybird, Ladybird


My bathroom is full of ladybirds.

They’re coming in through the window frame. Which probably means that it needs filling somewhere or worse, replacing.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing. The ladybirds being in the bathroom that is, not the window frame. The whole bathroom needs some serious TLC to be honest.

I quite like Ladybirds. They’re probably the only insects that don’t make me drop everything and run the other way. Known as the gardener’s friend, these unassuming little bugs eat the nasty creepy crawlies that eat your priced plants.

So as a nod to the Ladybirds, and a quick-fix to brighten up a room in need of some makeover inspiration, I decided to make some curtain tie-backs. Using some Ladybird buttons that I’ve had in my stash forever, and the legs from some old jeans.

(1) First step, chop up the jeans.



Well, actually, the first step is to decide how long you want the tie-backs. I wanted mine to be around 7 inches (17cm) from hook on the wall to the front edge of the curtain. Just don’t forget that the tie-back goes around the back to! So when you cut the leg, make sure that you double the length. I cut a length of 16 inches (40cm) that also allowed for a seam allowance.

Next I chopped away the seams. 


So I was left with two pieces of denim. 



The width of the tie-backs is down to personal preference. Having folded my leg pieces in half, They were around 3 inches (7cm) which was OK for me. You might decide to go a bit thinner.

When you have your folded over denim – square it up and make sure both are the same size. 



(2) Interfacing

You going to want the tie-backs to have a bit of body. For that, you will need some interfacing. The Iron-on fusible type is best. It’s available wherever they sell fabric. Ask the shop assistant to help you find it. Medium weight is good enough.

Iron it on to ONE side of each folded over leg. We want body. We don’t want rigid! When you iron, make sure the bobbly side of the interfacing is facing down towards the fabric. If the bobbly side is up, you’ll stick it to your iron. 



(3) Stitching it

OK, this is where folding the leg parts over starts to make sense. It reduces the amount of sewing. With one side, already done, you only have to sew two seams. With right sides together, stitch one end seam and the base. Leave the other end open. 



You’ve made a long, thin bag. Turn it the fight side out. Now you can stitch the other end closed using a top stitch close to the edge. Don’t worry about how it looks, we’re going to be covering it up. Or you could top stitch all the way around and make a feature of it.

(4) Trim

Find a trim you like. Ribbon, Ric-rak, beading. Whatever. Head down to the fabric or craft shop and see the choices on offer. I had some edging already. It’s been in my stash for years. That’s the thing when you start sewing. Over time, you accumulate all sorts of bits and bobs. Most of it will stay unused for ages until the right project pops into mind. 



Anyway, using your trim, decorate your tie-backs, making sure both are identical. I used glue to attach mine. Make sure that you make a loop with the trim at each end. 



(5) Flowers

To make flowers, you will need a length of fabric about 1.5 inches wide by 10 inches long, depending on how big you want your flower. Smaller lengths will give smaller flowers. Grab a needle and some thread and stitch a running stitch along one of the longer edges. 



Make sure you secure the start of the running stitch. Then just push the needle in and out of the fabric all the way along. Make sure your stitches are even in size and spacing. Then when you get to the other end, pull on the thread. 

It will gather up the fabric into a flower shape. Secure the flower. Then, if you want to, find a novelty button to stitch in the middle. You could even cover some buttons with fabric. Make as many as you want.

Glue or stitch your flower to the tie-back and your done.

Enjoy! 

Bye for now

Olly

Monday, 23 January 2017

Ironing Board Revamp


 Hi there,

I recently picked up a second hand ironing board at a local yard sale. It wasn't much to look at but the frame was nice and sturdy so I gave it a new home.


Judging by the condition of the cover, this board has seen some serious ironing use. The cover is wafer-thin, the padding is non existent. So much so that when you iron on it, the metal frame is imprinted on your clothes. It's also a bit grubby with a hole or two here and there. It could do with a bit of a make-over.

Which is why I spent a couple of hours over the weekend making a new cover for it. To be honest, ironing board covers aren't difficult. I spent most of the time deciding what fabric to cover it with.

Pretty much any fabric will do as long as it's hard-wearing and heat-tolerant. Cotton is ideal. Denims are brilliant. This could be a great way to up-cycle the legs from old jeans - as long as you don't use the frayed or ripped parts. Or the seams. You don't want anything torn or bumpy on your board. It'll just keep catching on your iron leaving you with more creases.

Stay away from sheer fabrics, polyester or nylon.

Oh, and pre-wash whatever you use to make sure it's colour-fast. The last thing you need is your best baby blue shirt going a bit pink when you use the steam setting on your iron!

Anyway, I picked out some fabric remnants that have been in my stash for years. I didn't have enough to do the whole board in one piece, so I chose some fabric that I could stitch together in a kind of patchwork effect. Me being me, and usually in a hurry, I kept the pieces large, but you can really go to town with the design if you want.

Log Cabin, big chevrons, stripes... It's up to you.

Whatever you decide is right for your board is what you should go with. It's your board.

Lay your intended pieces on top of your board. Play with the layout until you like what you see. Make sure that your fabric can over-hang your board all the way around. You'll need at least an extra 4 inches. That's 10cms in metric. Don't worry too much if there is more than that. You can always trim it down later.


I used an overlocking stitch to join my pieces together. I wanted to make sure that the fabric seams don't fray. Loose threads bunching up underneath the cover, will cause ridges.

Don't have a serger or an overlocker? Use the overlocking stitch on your sewing machine. It looks a bit like triangles inside a box.

No overlocking stitch? zig zag stitch will work just fine. Failing that, 2 parallel rows of straight stitch and maybe some anti-fray spray will also do the job.



When all your seams are done. Make sure to press them all flat. The general rule of thumb here is that seams should be pressed towards the darker fabrics. The reason being, that they are less visible that way. It doesn't really matter though. The main priority is to make sure that they are flat. You really don't want ridges in your cover. 


The best way to measure a perfect fit is to put your fabric face-down on the floor. Turn your board upside down and pop it on the top of the fabric, making sure that it is central. Then, draw a line with a pen or tailor's chalk at least four inches away from your board all the way around.

My fabric was only about 3 inches bigger, but that's OK, it'll still work.

I did the same with the batting, or wadding. I've used two layers to give extra padding. The cut for the padding is smaller. The overhang only needs to be an inch. Or 2.5cm. Again, overlock or zig zag around the edges to stop fraying.


Next, I made a channel all the way around the cover. The channel is for the cord that is needed to pull the cover tight.

To do this turn over an inch (2.5cm) at the edge of the fabric to the wrong side and press.





Stitch it down using a normal straight stitch all the way around. Keep as close to the edge of the turned over fabric as you can. On top of your previous overlocking is great.

Leave an opening of about an inch an a half at the base of the board. That's the widest end.  You don't want the ties at the narrow end. They'll catch on the clothes and get in the way when you iron. You'll be forever tucking them back in to the channel.

For the next bit, you'll need some piping cord or some elastic. That's personal preference. I didn't have any elastic so I used cord. The cord needs to be the same size as the perimeter of your board plus a bit extra. This is the math part. Measure the length of the board top. Double this figure. Measure the width (at the widest part). Double it. Then add both together and then add another 6 inches to be safe.


To get the cord or elastic through the channel, you will need a safety pin. Attach the pin to one end of the cord so it won't come undone and then thread the pin through the channel. This bit will take a few minutes. Keep pulling the cord through until you get back to the opening on the cover. You should now have two lengths of cord sticking out of the end. The longer the sticking out cord, the easier it is to pull. So try and end up with between 3 - 6 inches on each side.

OK, now for the fun part. Put the batting on the board, center it. Put the cover over the top and center that to. Now grab both ends of the cord sticking out at the wide end and pull.

Hard.

This part is easier with a friend as they can hold the cover down around the board as you pull.

The cover will magically be pulled tight around the board and the padding. Then you just need to tie off the cord and tuck it inside the opening. Don't close the opening. You may need to re-tighten the cover after it's settled following use.

And it's done!


All refreshed and new. It might even encourage me to iron more often... Well, failing that, it looks a lot nicer hanging up in the cupboard now. :D Besides, after the hard life this board has had, I bet it's looking forward to a bit of rest and relaxation. It'll have an easy life with me.

Some people say that you should remove the old cover before adding the new. As you can see from the pictures, I didn't. You don't have to. I left it on for two reasons. (A) It adds to the padding. (B) I don't need to figure out what else to do with it. Leaving it on the board stops it ending up at a landfill somewhere.






I could probably have centered it a bit better, but all in all it turned out pretty good. No one will see the underneath. Or as my Dad always used to say, "no one will notice going by on a bus".

Bye for now

Olly
xx