Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Easy Classy Christmas Decorations

I have been making little decorations for my Christmas tree and today it seems like the perfect day to share it all with you.

The Frozen Burlap Ribbons

I found them in craft websites in US, but couldnt find any good ones in UK. So I decided to try to make one myself. 

You need -
Good quality Burlap
White fabric paint and paint brush
A snowflake template (used for Kids Christmas crafts)

All you need to do , is to cut the burlap into ribbons of width you desire (2.5 inch is a good start), and paint the snow flakes into the ribbon using the snowflake stencil. Let the ribbon dry for a good few hours.

The hanging pine cones

This decoration has been inspired from make it love it . All you need to do is to hot glue the satin ribbon bow and a jute string to pine cone. 

You can even personalize them like the one below

Christmas & Thanksgiving Wreath

You need
Store bought plain wreath
Burlap cut into diamond shapes
Jute string
Sharpie marker pen
fabric glue

Cut burlap into small diamond shapes. Fold them in half on the jute string to get triangles, and glue it with fabric glue. Once the glue is dry, Write the message on the triangles with fabric markers. Look into this blog for detailed pictures.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Re-upholstering Sofa at home

The source of courage - The Charism of Creativity

It takes great courage to take scissors to your sofa. :) But I have done it, and here is the story. 

Has anyone heard of the proverb 31 woman of the Bible ? Well, she is the superwoman in the words of another woman (Alas! You cannot blame a man for coming up with the complete description!) . She has baffled me always, and made me wonder, is that really possible! My financial, business and marketing skills are next to zero. I would fare similarly in most of the other things listed in proverb 31. I couldn't relate how a commoner like me, could aim for as high a target like that. And I stopped reading this book "Beautiful In God's Eyes" halfway , in spite of its rave reviews.

And then I attended a workshop on charism discernment - Called and Gifted, and was  greatly inspired and encouraged on identifying that my talent of creativity was in-fact a charism from God to be used for the good of my family and others. That made me decide to take on this project, and  I spend about 100 pounds to do this whole project and saved at-least 1000 pounds by not buying a new sofa.

The old Sofa

Our sofa had its fair share of milk, yogurt and baby food on it, that to be honest, it started looking quite horrible!! I myself didn't want to sit on it, let alone any visitors. So the options were to buy a new sofa or to somehow clean up the old one. But for my 2 year old daughter, the sofa is just an extension of her dining table, so the plan to buy a new sofa was vetoed by DH during the first round itself. So it was left to me to fix the old one.

Have a look at our old sofa, ,stained beyond repair. The sofa back cushions looks practically lifeless, and worst of it the sofa seat where we sit down is all hardwired , all stitched permanently to the wooden sofa frame. That made it impossible to wash or clean it. Attempts to use upholstery cleaner only resulted in making the stains lighter but bigger.

If you have a similar situation at home, I hope you will be encouraged by my work. But I do warn you that as every sofa is different, you will have to adapt my solution accordingly. I was inspired to do this work from Ashly @makeitloveit , but unlike her fixed cover solution, I opted for a washable cushion cover.

Things Required

1. Sofa -  I re-upholstered two medium sized three seater sofa, with fixed cushions.
2. Fabric - I used about 4 meter fabric per sofa, You can do this project with lesser fabric if you go for a pattern less one. Matching up patterns does waste fabric, but looks good in the end.
Sewing machine - Though the general advise is to use a sewing machine which can handle upholstery fabrics, I did this on my basic Janome machine.
3. Heavy duty Stapler
4. Cotton ties - as required, I used about 5 meters
5. Velcro - as required

How I did it ?/ How to do it?

1. Cutting up the old sofa

Yes, you have to do it! I first removed both sofa back cushions.  Then I cut the old the sofa seat fabric along the edges and trying to preserve as much fabric for possible. The cushion foam inside our sofa was quite thick , but along the edges it was quite tatty and breaking up. (I forgot take any photos at this stage ) .

2. Clean and prep the old sofa.

 I hoovered the sofa, and cleaned up as much as I can. I washed the cut out fabric and it looked stain free at-least. I stitched the washed pieces together, and stapled it onto the bare sofa to cover the hard edges, using a heavy duty stapler.

3. Start measuring and drawing patterns and start sewing

Now that all corners of sofa are accessible, you can start making your patterns. Thankfully there were no curves on my sofa, all neat straight edges. I decided to cover the sitting and chair back cushions, armrests and other bits visible from the front. I divided the bits to be covered into rectangles , and then it was just a matter of putting those rectangles together.

To sew a basic square cushion cover, you will need a top, bottom, front, and 2 side pieces.
The number of pieces required for armrest and sides will depend on the shape of your sofa.

Some tips , if you would like to experiment ,
 -Make sure to add seam allowances to your patterns as you draw them.
- As the fabric is upholstery quality, pinning the edges together before sewing helped me a lot. 
- All seams must be pressed (ironed) well to give it a professional edge.
- Finish all seams with an over-locker, or a zigzag stitch.
- Do top stitching as required , and as your patience allows you. That will strengthen the edges and 
  give a very clean look.

4. Start making the cushion cover

As our cushion foam was quite tattered, I decided to make a permanent cover for them which will stay on it for ever. I used some old duvet covers to cut out fabric for this cushion covers. For ties at back i used some store bought cotton ties, as I didn't want to make ties from scratch. 

5. Time to breath life into dead cushions

Now that's one of the most useful and easy bit to do. Do this by filling the dead cushions with more pillow filling. The filling can be bought cheapest from store bought sleeping pillows. Open up one or two sleeping pillows and push the filling into the dead cushions till its nice and plump. 

Can you spot the difference between the dead and live one in this pic ?

6. Start making the armrest and front covers

Then it was time to cut the original fabric. (If your fabric has patterns make sure the patterns flow from piece to piece. Easy as it may sound, that is the hardest bit.) I bought the fabrics on a great sale from John Lewis, really really cheap. We chose the color to match with the walls in the lounge.  Now that was an added luxury, to have a sofa that match the walls, if we were to buy new ones, it would have been black to hide the stains :)

Sew the rectangles together, and this is how it looked like in the end.                                                                

When doing such big pieces, keep fitting the piece as it completes, to check if its sagging or stretching too tight anywhere. I used velcro to attach the ends/sides of the arm rest to sofa. (Velcro can be sewn to the sofa fabric, and other end can be stapled to the sofa as required using a heavy duty stapler.)

7. Start making more cushion covers

Make more cushion covers to cover the sofa seats and sofa back cushions. I found it easier than dress making, as it was just a matter of putting the correct rectangles together. Again for the ties I used 'cotton ties' from store. To keep things simpler Make one cushion cover at a time , and try fitting them to make necessary changes to pattern for the next cover.

8. And here we go.

The best part is that I can wash the covers any time, and keep them clean always. And why not, I can even use the patterns to make another set of covers if we ever decide to change to color scheme of the lounge. :)

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

How to make a duvet cover

I have been looking for a baby duvet cover for Anna's nursery but couldn't find one that I liked.Most of them in shops were either heavily color coded in pink and blue or too dull nuetral shades, and those which looked good were mighty expensive. So I decided to have a go on my own with some pretty fabric from my cupboard.

And I bet this is the simplest thing I have ever made (and you will ever make) for a baby's nursery (or your bedroom)!!!

Materials Required :-
All you need is two pieces of fabric cut to the size of your duvet + 1/2 inch seam allowance on left, right and top + 2.5 inch seam allowance on bottom

Step 1 -
Cut two rectangular fabric pieces in size of your duvet + seam allowances. You may use same or contrasting fabric for both sides, or even a patch worked piece.

Step 2 -
Make a half inch fold at bottom edge and press it. Fold again  1 inch and press. Fold once again 1 inch and press and pin it. (On both pieces of fabric.)

Step 3 -
With right side of fabric facing eachother, sew a straight seam on left and right sides, making sure that the folded bottom edges are aligning well. (Dont worry even if the top is not aligning well, we can fix it later.)

Step 4 -
Now if you are happy with the alignment of the bottom edge, sew a straight seam on top as well and press the seams.

Step 5 -
Over cast or lock the seams on left , right and top.

Step 6 -
It's time to decide how you would want to close the bottom open end of your duvet cover. Would you like to hand stitch some buttons to the folds inside  or would you prefer some simple popups ? I decided to have some pretty butterfly ties instead to add a little girlish charm to the duvet cover.

Check this wonderful blog to figure out the easy ways of wisdom for making the tie strings .

I pinned the strings to my main peice and sewed over it as shown in picture below , two stitches along the edges of the fold, hiding one edge of the string inside the fold.

Step 7 -
You can either use a few more buttons or ties and leave the whole of bottom edge open or do a top stitch joining both the sides for a few inches from sides. I stitched about 6 inches from sides to center of bottom edge , and used two ties in the center open portion. But I can guarentee you that wider the opening , easier it is to get the duvet inside.

 And here is the pretty duvet cover I have made. Guess its time to make some matching pillow cases for my little girl x

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Home-made Dribble Bandana bib


I have been a huge fan of baby dribble bibs ever since Anna started dribbling all over her dress. And I bought my first "Dribble-On" bib on eBay for a whopping 4 pounds. I have to say the quality is good, but its big n bulky for a baby. Here is the pic of the Dribble-On 

And then I set forward to make a dribble bib which is not too big or bulky and it was a pretty easy task.

All you need is 
1. 10" x 10" square fabric folded corner to corner (any fabric which will absorb water, cotton, cotton jersey, terry towel, or even little silk for an "occasion" bib). The front and back piece can be done in different colours or fabrics as well, let your imagination run wild.
2. No-sew snap poppers
3. Triangle pattern (with seam allowance). I made my pattern out of the Dribble-On bib, but made it a bit smaller as shown in picture below.

The standard dribble bib pattern can be altered as shown below to reduce the bulk of fabric which will come under baby's neck if you fancy.

Walk with me ladies

I’m making a little dribble bib to match the pretty little dress I made for Anna last week to make it an outfit.

1. Cut two triangles from the fabric with help of the pattern. It’s always good to try the very first pattern on a piece of scrap cloth n try it around your little ones neck to make sure the size is all right. Bibs too big looks awkward and too small are pretty useless.

2. Place one triangle on top of the other, right sides facing each other, and sew on all three sides. Don’t forget to leave a small opening in the sewing line to turn the bib inside out.
3. Cut the seam close to the stitch and snipe the corners to get a clean finish when the bib is turned inside out.

 3. Now turn the bib inside out and press.

4. Top stitch the sides to give it a better finish. You can top stitch the neck line as well, but it will make the bib stiffer around the neck. I did my top stitch in a contrasting red to make it match with the dress.

5. Now try the bib on your baby and mark the position of poppers with a chalk or invisible marker pen. If you are wondering what snap poppers are and how to use it, check Ashley's guide to snap poppers

6. Wow! The bib is ready, Check out the outfit!!

PS : Wondering how to make that pretty little dress out of a mummy night dress??? Stay tuned...

Friday, 17 August 2012

Home-made High Chair Cover

This is the story of how I resurrected a 5 year old high chair for my little princess.

I was given this Chicco highchair by a lady in church (which was already used by her two sons), with lots of love and lots of wear. And she told me how badly she wanted to give it away to a loving home, and I thought well, why not!! Saves money! This is pretty much what it looked like when it was given to me, the cover was torn and quite battered.

So it was left to me to make a cover for the seat. The research into new fabrics and batting/quilting and patterns took me to this lovely lady and her wonderful blog. The blog tells you how to go about making a pattern for the new cover by cutting up the old cover, and this is exactly what I did.

The photo below shows how the pieces looked like once i cut them all through the seams.

The next step is to trace the patterns into a newspaper or something sturdy just to make your life easier while cutting the fabric and batting. I used polyester batting which cost around 4.20 pounds a meter. 

Materials Required for My high chair - 
1.5 meter fabric (I used cotton), 3.25 meter matching bias binding, and about a meter of batting.

I had cut the fabric with help of the paper patterns and everything was sewn together and all edges finished with bias binding. Sorry I don’t have photographs of this bit of action. The one thing that was quite handy while sewing with two layers of fabric and a layer of batting sandwiched in between was this video showing how to use the basting spray I found on eBay UK. (ODIF 505 Temporary Fabric craft spray adhesive Patchwork Quilting Glue)

My wonderful Janome allows sewing automatic button holes, which I used to create the slits for five point safety harness. It was bit tricky to hold all that fabric under the button-hole foot, but it worked anyways.

Here are few pics of finished chair cover; Remember! all I tried to do was to put together the pieces exactly the same way as they were in the original cover. Im not giving instructions on how to do that, as it is going to vary between different highchair models. The elastic and latches came from the old cover.The back flap of the cover was sewed on top of  the front part as shown in picture below, and then turned over to back so that the cover will mould into the curve of the chair.

And Voila!! Here is my little lady enjoying her toast on her new (well, almost new) high chair!

PS : Did you notice her Union Jack dribble bib, Well that was home-made to celebrate Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee of reign. Want to know how to make a no-fuss-dribble bib??? Stay tuned!!

The Stitch Ripper

Many a times have I wondered, what on earth I was thinking by signing up for an engineering degree when I had neither talent nor passion for it. But that step seemed to take me in for a rollercoaster ride which gave me a bachelors degree and a career in software industry. And after about 11 years that rollercoaster stopped with my earning the new eternal degree of motherhood.

Having Anna-Claire has changed my life in so many ways, like my morning coffee is now late morning coffee, and my wardrobe is anything and everything that fits me somehow and allows a baby feed, pedicures are long lost dreams and I don’t think I have slept for than 3 hours in a stretch for past 8 months. 

But the two very best things I gained with motherhood is a beautiful baby and lots of "TIME", yes lots and lots of time at my disposal. And to make sure I don't lose myself in this new found joy, I decided to pursue a long lost passion - Needle craft. My dear husband agreed to let me exchange my birthday gift necklace to buy a sewing machine and I am a proud owner of a Janome 7025 (John Lewis Machine) .

Also I took a small sewing course where this wonderful lady taught me how to follow patterns and how to make the inside of all dresses look as beautiful as outside. I realised a few things from the course -
Sewing machine bought with lots of love is never heavy to carry around.
Dress making and following patterns is really not my thing.
I'm so crazy about craft, that i sometimes dream about new projects.
I love Hobby Craft store.
I love fabrics and ideas.
and stitch ripper - the life saver, yep!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

The begining of the journey

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

 A nerve wrecking year of plans and prayers and finally the decision to start a family, a tiring holiday in Amsterdam just to get back home and realize that we are already expecting a little life, three months of extreme physical discomfort, another 5 months at work where even climbing the tiny stairs seemed liked a great adventure, the 9th month when I thought it to be a great achievement if I managed to fit the ever growing bump behind the steering wheel, and the thousands of web pages of information I stomached on child birth and epidurals, and scary ante-natal classes, and the final surprise of baby been breech and emergency c-section. That's what my journey has been, to sleepless nights of motherhood and to the bliss of holding my little girl.

Nine months of too many changes,of new dreams,new plans,unexpected twists and endless shopping. Many a time I felt i'm not cut out to do this, but then the feeling passed too quickly and life never gave me a second chance to turn back and ponder.Now with a one month baby in my arms as I look back, I see not the discomfort of first three months, but the hope and excitement of what to come; not the long routes I used to take to avoid climbing stairs,but the love of carrying the weight of that big bump; not the tiredness of driving around till the day before baby's birth, but the pride that I did play my part to my best. Now I realize that when the good Lord makes plans for us, He also gives the strength and means to go forward.And everyday I see my Lords presence in the caring arms of my dear husband, in the encouraging words of my mother,in joyful anticipation of my sisters and in the hopeful voice of my brother.

Oh Lord!Thy will be done, in my life as it is in heaven.