Sunday, April 20, 2008

POP-OVER cushion cover: sewing workshop

This is the easiest slip cover for a chair cushion you can make. It is a terrific way to quickly change the look in your home. Because it is so simple to make, it's also excellent for a new or first time sewing project.

We also suggest trying alternative fabrics like polar fleece for a washable, warm pet cushion cover (to cover that special couch cushion your pet always seems to sleep on).

1-thread (any color)
2-fabric (length will be determined in the instructions

1-sewing machine with a filled bobbin
3-tape measure
4-medium weight string--several yards
5-medium size safety pin
8-ironing board
9-spray bottle with water



View 1- gather materials

View 2-measure cushion: Place cushion face down on a table, and measure around its shape from front to back. Have 7" wrap around and over the flat back side. On our cushion the measurement is 42" for the 'front to back' (our scissors point to the 42" measurement). Next measure around the sides with 7" on each end. We have 41" on this cushion for our 'side to side'.

View 3-yardage: You need the 'front to back' measurement. Our cushion needs 42" or 1 yard + 6" of fabric yardage. Our fabric is 45" wide, so we can fit our 41" across this with 4" to spare.

Panel: You should have a panel that is equal to your 'front to back' and 'side to side' measurements. Our fabric is 45" long x 41" wide.

Lay the fabric GOOD SIDE facing down on the table.

Lay the cushion TOP SIDE facing down centered on top of the fabricPhotobucket.

View 4-wrap: Wrap the side of the fabric up and over the cushion.

View 5-gather: Pull all of the edges to together, creating even gathering all the way around the pillow edges

View 6-corners: Grasp the corner gathers together. These ends will be longer. Try to gather the fabric evenly. With scissors, cut off this bunch of fabric at the same length as the rest of the fabric around the cushion. You have removed the pointed corners of the fabric.


View 7-shaping: Even out the fabric so that the corners are rounded when flat on the table.

View 8-pressing: Set up the iron at a temperature compatible with your fabric. Ours is cotton, so we set it that hot. Have a full bottle of water to first spray onto the fabric before pressing over the edges.

View 9-folding the edges: First turn and press the entire edge over 1/4" or so. When that is completed, turn the edge one more time, folding over 1/2" and press.


View 10-edges: Here is how our piece looked when we had finished pressing up the 1/2" all of the way around the shape.

View 11-sewing: Sew using a #3 stitch length length. The needle should be as close to the inner fold as as possible when you sew. You want to make a 'casing' (tunnel for the string) that is nearly 1/2" wide from the outer fold. When you start sewing, sew a 'back stitch' (go backwards 2 or 3 stitches), and do this when you end the sewing, this will keep the sewing from pulling apart. Leave an opening about 4 inches wide when you come back to 'start'. Do not sew the casing closed. You want this opening for the string.


View 12: string: Tie one end of your string to a medium sized safety pin, then shove the pin into the casing around the edge.

View 13: Push the pin along, creating gathers that you can push up the string.

View 14: Pull out the string when the opening is reached.


View 15: covering the cushion: Lay the fabric GOOD SIDE down on the table with the cushion's TOP SIDE down on top of the fabric. Pull the fabric up around the cushion.

View 16: Carefuly pull both ends of the string and gather up the fabric around the cushion, distributing the gathers evenly around all edges.

View 17: Tie the string ends into a bow and tuck these ends between the fabric and cushion to hide them.


View 18: It's done!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Talking Color

There is alot to be said for color, and maybe the hardest is locating the exact word or phrase to describe an exact color. This can be difficult when trying to communicate--by phone, email, blog or website. This can be especially frustrating when trying to match or identify a color. Then there is shopping on the web: what is that color on the monitor, really?

Probably the worst color tragedy is "I can't remember what that color was" when shopping or trying to match on site. Got the fabric, but will it match the wallpaper? Or: "I forgot my fabric, will this trim go OK with it?"

At one time I worked with an art director who flashed around her expensive Pantone color fans "Make your costumes this color". It was one thing for her to have her own set, but it was another for the rest of us to follow through on her directives. "Hey, does anyone remember what color she wanted?"


Pantone has taken sympathy on us little folk, with its lovely color fan titled the "Shopping Color Guide". Hint: it's not just for shopping. This little known kid sister to the jumbo art director version is just right for locating your color and taking it with you. Fabric, paint, paper, it's all here. OK, not all, but seriously, any more color and I would be totally overwhelmed.

Get it:
Pantone Product # 2017 @ $19.95

While on the Pantone topic, I thought you might need to know their predicted hot color for 2007: Chili Pepper. It should be cropping up everywhere if the predictive is on target.

Pantone also groups color by decade: 60's, 70's, and 80's, although at first glance these color collages seem more like a graphic logos. On closer examination, the colors do run true to their time and might come in handy when trying to date a vintage item, or re-create the look.


I didn't include the 90's because we are just too close to appreciate that decade. Prada black, Armani grey or Calvin Kein beige anyone?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Textile Show: Spring & Summer 2009

We went to the L.A. International Textile Show this week. We were hoping to locate our cotton manufacturers and others there, which we did. There were more natural fiber and organic producers than ever. It's no longer 'impossible' to find the more odd bamboo and organic cottons these days, more manufactureres are out there now.

Since we were looking for cottons and patterns that have a vintagey feeling, we gravitated towards those companies we know well: Robert Kaufman, Michael Miller, and Alexander Henry. Where once these companies provided mostly ditzy prints for quilters, they are now hot on the trail of the craft and sewing trends.

We were overwhelmed by the flood of gorgeous prints that are too numerous to show here, but overall, it looks good for fashion and craft sewing in Spring/Summer 1009. Along with vintage inspired patterns, we found the up and coming 'shadow' prints and nature designs so popular at the indy level these days.

Shadow prints are those designs that have a simple flat background printed with single-tone shadow graphics (no outlines or shading to the image). These are 'flat on flat' in appearance. This trend comes from the crude beginings of stenciled designs and single-color silk screen prints first produced by indy artists and designers several years back.

Fabric Collages: top: Robert Kaufman, middle: Michael Miller with Frency interior insert, bottom: Alexander Henry.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

An Apron to go with everything

It's been awhile since aprons were on the scene. When last spotted, they were gracing lithe young mommies whipping up Betty Crocker brownies. Now they are low slung and sassy. Whether worn for protection (oh my, better cover my silk shirtwaist) or decoration, an apron can spice up any outfit.

These aprons date from 1966, yet they are so 1950's in style. We love the ginghan check look, so full of Americana, homey and perky, don't you think? Each sports a nifty pocket for kleenex and imaginative boders of rick-rack and hand sewn cross-stitching. It wouldn't be too difficult to capture this same effect with several colors of rick-rack alone, creating a great did-it-myself look to a modest creation.

Sewing an apron is also a great way to get familiar with your sewing machine. Few things are easier to sew-and hey, all the seam lines are straight! Generations of junior high girls whipped them up in their home ec. classes through the 1970's (before moving on to their second semester cooking class, where the apron would actually prove to be useful). So get creative and sew one up soon.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Don Loper & a Green Silk Jacket

This jacket is worthy of a complete stop in converation. An open mouth gape at the pure luxury and blatant exhibitionism of the collar.

It encircles the neck like a scluptured cape. With dramatic notches far back near the shoulder seam line, it is truely regal in the crown shape of the crescent shaped roll line around the shoulders.

This masterpiece was designed by Don Loper. Probably better known now for his appearance on "I Love Lucy" during the mid-1950's, where he presents a showcase of his fashions, and poor Lucy is morose, unable to wear fashion, having a severe sun burn.

Don Loper had a brief career as an actor during the previous decade. His resume reads like a survey of TV and film positions. There was little in Hollywood that Loper didn't give a try to.

But it is the glamorous fashions he created that put his name on the map. Working with the best textiles, he demonstrated a skill and understanding far beyond what might be expected from someone with a lack of training or mentorship.

This simple green jacket, with its small bodice and 3/4 length sleeves from the mid-1950's departs from the norm in a way that sets it apart from just about any other jacket of its era.

To copy this would be quite a challenge, but the result might be fantastic.