Thursday, December 5, 2013

Make Simple Wave Curtains & Dress them ! ...

Dressing a window - details at end of write-up

Another pair of lined curtains have just been finished - basically made from oddments & costing less than £30.00!

For a spare bedroom, the curtains were designed for a window (appx. 5'  /1.5m wide) above a radiator. In the past I've normally had colourful walls & paintwork but having moved into a modern & relatively new house, I've decided to decorate/furnish it in a different way. I'm treating the house much like a 'blank canvas' with it being redecorated in magnolia & white. Boring?? no ... I shall be using COLOUR & introducing it into the room by way of a variety of 'other means' to 'bring it alive'.

In this particular room, the window doesn't allow much light to enter the room as it overlooks an adjacent brick & house wall & has no impressive view either! However, inheriting a modern chandelier (from the previous house owner), I decided to use some of my 'stash' of fabric (rather than buy new) & begin to create a few illusions! I loved this fabric when I first got it so this is where I'll begin! So to start:

Bought a few years ago: 4 panels of furnishing fabric. In a heavy ribbed cream calico, it had an embroidered purple flower motif (appx. 3" / 70cm diameter) at 10"/ 250mm intervals. These 'display' panels (section as per image left) were ideal for narrow windows but not a wide one. The fabric was unusable lengthwise as its width was too short for the curtain's drop.

For this reason, a complimenting fabric needed to be found as a 'trim' as an additional wide edging for the side(s). Looking at various furnishings in TK Max, I first came across a pair of wonderful ethnic-style cushions in bright colours that included purple. turquoise, pink & orange. They would be an ideal focal point & would integrate & visually 'vibrate' alonside the cream panels. A few days later (whilst buying paint in the local B & Q decorating store), I came across a single 'demo' curtain that perfectly colour-matched (packaging & sample at right) the floral motif. A medium-weight polyester with a metallic paisley design, they 'linked' to the ethnic cushions as well as having a design to visually 'lift' the calico (by highlighting & emphasising the sheen of the embroidery).

Also inheriting a metal pole with rings & only needing a basic & simple window covering, I decided to opt for making 'wave' curtains. They take less fabric, are less bulky & (if I could also somehow adapt some pleated heading tape from my store), I would additionally be further 'in pocket'.

Each curtain was made by cutting the lavender curtain lengthwise in half & stitching it to one edge of the embroidered panel. As I only needed the curtains to be lightly lined, I used a new polyester/cotton duvet cover (bought from Homebase) for the linings (I didn't want the extra weight or bulk of conventional lining fabric). My pleated heading tape was stitched on the curtain's upper edge & plain metal hooks inserted along the tape on every 5th 'hook pocket' (see image above). After finishing, the curtains were hung & then * dressed (click if you want more information relating to this). I'm now just waiting for the curtains to 'hang' so that a final image can be taken!

(NOTE: All measurements/calculations here are based on the rod, pole, hooks & tape that I was using - if referencing this for your own curtains, please ensure your own measurements etc.)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Humpty finally finished & in situ ! ...

The Humpty's finally finished & it's now in place - here's just the top of it ... clean with all the 'knots & ties' replaced.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Curtains with Eyelet Rings (Step 4) ...

My curtains are now finished & pressed - the final stage was hanging them. Here's the longer pair although a better pic full-length will follow soon when I next can get into the room! (currently an overflow from another room being decorated).

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Patchwork & Embroidered Waistcoat: Step 10 (contd) - Finishing ...

My customer confirmed her use of the waistcoat so I was able to complete the buttons - being a reversible garment, they needed to blend in with both sides. In my stock I came across some wonderful multi-coloured ones & although not quite as large as I would have liked, they were actually perfect. I made them like cuff-links so that they could be used on either side (see image left).

After topstitching around all edges, I made buttonholes for both sides ...

& here's the waistcoat now complete.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Patchwork & Embroidered Waistcoat: Step 9 (contd) - Joining together ...

Today I've just finished joining the 2 patchworked waistcoats together along the lower edges. The first stage was to sew each continuous side seam through both waistcoats. To do this, match respective side seams together, pinning from above the side slit marker of one side seam, through across the underarm seam to the side slit marker at the other end of the side seam (ie. through the 2 separate waistcoat sections as a continuous seam). This is then repeated for the other side seam (at this point it's a good idea to check the correct seams have been stitched together & that the waistcoat is now one unit joined at the sides & is reversible.)

After this, each side seam is stitched. Clip side marker position to seamline, then press seams open above clip. The next stage is to stitch each of the 4 slits separately - match right sides together & pin together. Stitch from hem to slit marker (as per image left) to side seam position (the blue pin head shows the position of this).

Trim seam & corners & turn to right side - pin in position & press in place. The hemlines are then stitched (from the inside) across each panel, trimmed turned & also pressed.

The final stage is to complete the top-stitching around neck, hems, slits & armholes & add the fastenings. However as I need to speak to the customer to verify button colours etc, I am unable to complete this stage today.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Patchwork & Embroidered Waistcoat: Step 9 - Joining together ...

I'm currently continuing with the Patchwork & Embroidered Waistcoat - today joining the pieces together to make the single reversible one. Previously a 'lining' was made & used for the fitting 'toile' - today it was taken apart & will be joined to its embroidered counterpart.

Several weeks ago, my customer advised she had lost some additional weight & needed another fitting for her waistcoat. Knowing this was a possibility, fortunately I hadn't done any further stitching on it since July & on revisiting the customer, found it now needed a slight adjustment. All pieces were adjusted so the waistcoat can now continue ...

The first step was to interface the single fabric layers around the neck, armhole, front & lower edges. This done, the embroidered panels were joined to their single layer fabric counterparts - this results in 2 waistcoats (as it will be reversible) which are then placed right sides facing & pinned together to join.

Often with clothes such as this, I will stitch neck, front edges & armholes first then turn them inside out through the shoulder. It's quicker & easier PLUS it makes the edges neater for finishing ... the inside seams can be pressed open & when turned to the right side, it falls better into position. Below is this process at the stitching stage prior to its turning inside out. Next these seams are trimmed & all curves clipped (appx. every 0.75"/1.5cm) - this ensures all the curves lay perfectly flat when turned.

To turn inside out, pull the fronts through the shoulders from the back then pin or tack in place, then press. The waistcoat now has an inside (below left) & outside (below right) & is reversible.

The next stage is to join the side seams with side slits - I'll be finishing this over the next few days.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Curtains with Eyelet Rings (Step 3) ...

Today, I've just finished the first pair of curtains but run out of the Rufflette rings so need to get some more to finish all pairs. (As the room is being decorated, I won't yet be able to photograph them in situ.) The first job to do was open/split the rings into their 2 halves (rings at right in image). There is a small indent on one side of the joined rings that is used to open up the pair with (I found a letter opener easier & safer than the recommended screwdriver!). The next job was to stitch around each of the marked holes on the curtain. I found this easier by pinning with 3 pins around the hole (as I worked) to ensure all layers remained in place while stitching (essential when working with a slippery fabric). So ... continuing on from yesterday ... 

... After marking the holes, all layers of the fabric need to be stitched together. This holds the area in place when cutting out the hole & ensures it remains in position while the ring is being attached. (In reality, it's much easier to cut out the hole when all layers are held in place with stitching.) 

You can stitch ordinarily with the machine using a small straight stitch but I decided to have the machine set up for machine embroidery/free stitching. It allows the hole to be more easily stitched & ideal to 'get you in the mood' for more machine embroidery! As the hole is only being stitched for stability & easier cutting, a perfect circle is not necessary (as seen in the photo).

The eyelet rings are made up of 2 sections (see above image). The one with small spikes on the inside is the first one used (the spikes lightly 'pierce' the fabric to hold it in position). On an even & firm surface, place the fabric (wrong side facing) over the ring so that the spikes are next to the main fabric and underneath.

Here's the first ring in place with the hole sitting firmly around the ring's inner edge. Press down on the fabric so that it sits snugly into the ring.

With the remaining ring half (the one with inner grooves), position it over the previous ring (grooves to the inside & facing the wrong side of the curtain).

(It should now be looking similar to the image below.)

Remain working on a firm & flat surface, carefully press down on this upper ring & it should snap down firmly in place.

(It's tempting to 'work in the hand' but I found it much easier & quicker to work flat on the table).

Repeat the process for all rings across the width of the curtain (any mistakes or puckering, remove the ring from the wrong side as per original 'splitting them in half' & start again in attaching it).

SPECIAL NOTE: Overall I was very impressed with using these Eyelet rings & would recommend their use. Although the packaging states for light to heavier weight curtains, I would suggest that a test is completed on thicker fabric to verify/confirm that the fabric is securely attached into the ring.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Curtains with Eyelet Rings (Step 2) ...

This morning I'm on to the next step - preparing the fabric for the rings.

After pressing the seam as well as the interfacings together (all on the wrong side of the curtain), the curtains were turned & given a final press along the upper edge.

Image shows right & wrong sides.

Here are the Rufflette Jupiter rings - at left is the entire ring (right side facing) - at right the ring split into its 2 sections. The one with 'spikes' fits to the main fabric on the front; the other ridged one to the back, against the lining.

Here's the old curtains with rings slightly larger than mine. On checking the size (in relation to the new ones), they appeared to have an ideal 'hole' size for the new ones + the curtains are exactly the same width as mine. If the hole was the right size, I would be able to trace their outlines straight on to the new pair.

To test: The hole is traced over onto a sample fabric & interfacing swatch. The hole is stitched around (just to the outer edge) & then cut away. After tryibng the new ring, it fitted perfectly.

The old curtain is positioned on top of the new one (right side of old facing wrong side of new one).

Ensuring edges are matching, carefully draw around the inner circles across the width of the curtain.

(Circle outlines just visible in image at right.)

The next step of fitting the rings can only be completed when the stitching is finished & the holes have been cut away (as per sample above).

That's my next job .......... I'll be using the machine set up for darning/free machine work as it's easy & quick to do PLUS the machine will then be set up for me to get some initial samples underway for my creative 'cell' project (click if you want to know more about this stitching).

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Curtains with Eyelet Rings (Step 1) ...

Some pre-made curtains I liked were only available with a tape heading. As I wanted to hang them on a pole, I've decided to alter them for use with rings. I'll be using Rufflette Jupiter rings but not the tape as recommended - the curtains have attached linings & are medium-weight polyester ones. (If you're interested in having a go too, you'll also need a length of medium sew-in interfacing as per the width of the chosen curtain. This is being used to stabilize the upper edge.)

This is the reverse side of the original headed curtains showing the tape stitched across the upper edge.

Carefully unpick this & remove it, discarding any loose threads from the curtain.

Here the tape has been removed & shows the folded upper edge which will be retained & later used for seaming.

(The curtain SHOULD NOT YET BE PRESSED - the old fold lines will be used as stitching guides.)

Turn the curtain inside out with right sides facing one another. 

Cut the interfacing into a 8"/20cm wide strip - length to be the width of the curtain.

Mark a line down the centre of the entire length of the strip (shown here in red).
This line will be a stitching guideline.

Position the curtain with main curtain fabric uppermost. Matching the fold lines of both curtain & lining, pin them together, ensuring both fabrics lay perfectly flat.

Place the interfacing along the upper edge of the curtain, matching the marked centre of the interfacing to the foldline of the curtain.

Ensure the interfacing is perfectly flat & pin in place.

Stitch through all thicknesses, following the marked guideline on the interfacing.

Fold the upper layer of the interfacing back on itself, to reveal the upper seam allowances.
This double layer of interfacing will ensure the upper edge of the finished curtain remains flat in hanging. Additionally, it will provides firmness for the rings when stitching the holes for them & when securing them finally in place.

Trim the seam raw edges to appx. 0.5"/1cm.

Turn curtain to right side & lightly press upper edges in position.

The NEXT STEPS are to add rings which I'll be doing in the next few days. I'm ALSO hoping to get some experiments with machine embroidery started & the curtain off-cuts & non-woven interfacings are ideal to start with ................... they're ideally suited to the "cells project" which can be seen here.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

New background from 'cells' ideas ...

Have just uploaded these latest computer-aided imagery (see other work here)  to use as the background of this blog - although it would also work up well for patchwork.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Covering an embroidery hoop ...

If you want to handstitch any fabric in a hoop, it should first be covered. It stops the fabric slipping in the frame & ensures the fabric remains taught ... it actually 'grips' the fabric & prevents it slipping on the wood (or plastic) frame. Once done, it lasts for ages & is an easy job to replace if necessary.

I've just had to cover my extra large embroidery hoop (click here if you want to see what I'm using it for) - it didn't take very long & something I've been meaning to do for ages.

If you'd like to know how, here's the instructions:
First cut some bias lengths of fine cotton fabric (appx. 2"/5cm wide) then just wind them tightly around the inner hoop (ie. the one without the screw). Secure the beginning with a pin & when you have covered the entire hoop, remove the pin when you cover it with the fabric, then secure firmly in place with a few stitches.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Dots, Crosses & its uses ! ...

Once again I'm using my 'DOT & CROSS' paper (above) - traditionally used by dressmakers to make patterns. Marked with small dots & crosses (every 2.5cm/1") that are used for making straight lines, curves, angles etc., it's also ideal for making patterns for other crafts. I've also used it in the past for making shapes for interior painting (stencils etc) as well as cooking shapes (cakes especially!!) - it's so quick & easy to get the right shape drawn before transferring to either card or thin plastic.

I also use it under clear plastic (as well as fine interfacing) as a guide for tracing other shapes - it saves getting rulers & straight edges out!!

More on my blog about the paper, click here

Friday, September 6, 2013

Samples of experimental techniques ...

I've just completed uploading a selection of samples (click & you can see them too) that I will endeavour to resurrect or expand - many of which have been either tried or tested for future use. By having them now on-line, they will remind me of what I need to experiment with! I haven't had the time in the past to continue with many of them - one of my favourites above is likely to be one of those I develop first.


                   Image at right shows its initial development.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Cleaning vintage cotton & lace ...

Once again, I'm using my faithful 'old recipe' for washing some vintage white cotton fabric pieces which I've also used in the past to successfully remove curry stains from a man's cotton dinner shirt!

It's only suitable for 100% cotton so if you'd like to see the step-by-step instructions of how to do it, click this link:

- it's also good for stubborn stains on 100% cotton fabrics BUT PLEASE NOTE:
As with all washing, test a sample first!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Humpty Stitching ...

Here is the reverse side of the central panel, backed with fine nylon net curtain for ease of stitching. The smaller stitches are those used for the initial 'smaller' smocked lines - the large stitches are those of the second smocking (ie the fatter of the rows (see image below).

If you want to know more about transfers & their use, click here.

This shows the 2 sets of smocking lines as well as the black machine stitching rows that hold the embroidered mats in place. Also visible are the various crochet edges of some mats as well as some original 1940s embroidery.

The final outer 'bag' is now on the Humpty, all missing rings replaced. It's now ready for the outer panels & base to be laced on.

As an alternative at this stage, the corner 'ears' could just be left or tied with a cord as per the original 1930's Humpty instructions (specific books mentioned can be found in Bibliography here).

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Humpty is here !

Original Humpty information & details have just been uploaded:

Friday, August 16, 2013

Humpty is Covered then Tucked ...


NOTE: Measurements are finished sizes - add seam allowances.

Sewing information:
  1. Above image shows the central panel of the main cover which is basically a 26" square 'bag' with an inset (13" square) in the centre.
  2. The 'bag' is made up of 2 x 26" square panels - one having the central panel stitched into it.
  3. The 'bag' is stitched along 3 sides - the last one having 2 zips inserted (to close to the centre).
  4. When complete, the base is put inside the bag and zipped up.
A fabric base is also needed to assist in helping 'shape' the Humpty - this is 13" square, made from 2 pieces of fabric & bagged out.


Above right is one of the side panels - left is a close-up of the stitching.

Sewing information:
  1. Fabric was cut to size (larger than finished to allow for tuck shrinkage) and backed with a woven interfacing.
  2. A border was first stitched along the upper & lower edges of fabric. This was later used for the eyelets & after this edge had been folded to the inside. (Further stitching was completed only as far as this stitching line.)
  3. The panel was then stitched with a series of horizontal tucks (ie. across the width of the fabric) - the central panel shows this remaining section after directional stitching has been completed. These tucks were pressed in one direction.
  4. Directional stitching was next completed vertically across the panel - first in one direction, then the other (visible as 'herringbone' tucks).
  5. Shorter side edges were folded over & stitched to the inside (later used to thread cord through) - the longer edges had eyelets (used for looping a cord to the rings).
  6. Finished size for this Humpty is 18" x 8.5"

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Making a Humpty !

Here's the start of sewing information for making a Humpty (an alternative name for a Pouffe) - actually I'm repairing my old one I made a few years ago & repairing/cleaning it. If you want to see where I'm at so far click here.

Here's the main 'inner' Humpty:

Basically it's a seat (pouffe) & I made mine a few years ago using an authentic 'Humpty' pattern from around 1930. Adapted somewhat, I made it with a detachable cover (for cleaning or replacement) & was able to use 20 lbs. of scrap clothes, fabric etc to fill it with! (a great way to recycle).

If you want to make one too, the basic pattern's below - sizes & sewing instructions can be found under 'Humpty' if you, click here

Monday, July 22, 2013

Patchwork & Embroidered Waistcoat: Step 8 - Toile fits OK ...

Met with my customer last week & she was delighted with the waistcoat. The ' lining/toile ' above fitted perfectly & she loved the idea of its reversiblity. We decided to lower the neckline a little (to show off the blouses under it), raise the side slits & shorten by around 2"/5cm. I also may add some machine embroidery along the yoke panels to match those of the main waistcoat.

A 'problem' is going to be the fastening as being reversible you can't really use standard buttons & buttonholes. I may decide to make some unusual buttons & then adapt them to be like cuff-links. I've done this before & it works well. I'm also thinking of making some ' patchwork buttons ' - although no definite idea yet.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Patchwork & Embroidered Waistcoat: Step 7 - Lining ...

Here's the "lining" ready for its fitting. The purple back lining (below) will possibly be stitched to the patchwork pink embroidered fronts.

These blue lining fronts (using a batik fabric) will possibly be stitched to the patchwork blue embroidered back.

As there was insufficient fabric to cut the fronts in one piece, the upper section (inset below) was panelled & edged with strips from the back patchwork (hope that's clear!!)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Patchwork & Embroidered Waistcoat: Step 6 - Embroidery on Fronts & Back ...

Here's the waistcoat pieces finished & now pressed - they have shrunk in stitching so a good job I'd left them oversized. They're now pending a fitting with the customer before I can get to the next stage.