A different creative project each week…from children's parties to sewing curtains

Monday, 29 April 2013

Reupholstering a chair

When Liam and I first got married we were given this secondhand nursing chair that has served me well as I have got up to nurse our four children each night for 5 years.

Recently it has sat in the corner of our bedroom, used only to throw our clothes on at the end of a busy day.

So here is this week's project - to reupholster this gorgeous little chair into something lovely.

In looking back over this blog I have only just realised how much I love dots! So here is another dotty fabric with the promise to branch out in my fabric choice next time.

I bought a meter and a half of cotton fabric. The fabric I chose was not ever so thick because the fabric on the chair was still of good quality. I would suggest if you are fashioning the only cover on a chair that you use a thicker material which will inevitably wear longer.

The only equipment I used for this project was a staple gun, scissors and the fabric I mentioned.
Firstly I cut a rectangle of  fabric that I tucked into the bottom of the seat and stretched to the top. Then folding over the back of the chair I stapled the fabric into the wood. If you are not sure where the wooden structure is to staple into, then feel through the chair to locate. It is vitally important that you staple your fabric to the wood because to staple it into the fabric or cushioning won't hold it at all.

You can see that I stapled the top first and then folded the corners and stapled down the sides. This allowed me to stretch the fabric so it was tight across the back of the chair.

Next, I draped fabric over the chair and tucked it tightly into the same gap between the seat and the back.

Pulling the material down at the sides I stapled them onto the wooden sides. I did this on both sides.

Depending on your chair you can either stretch the fabric along the wooden structure and staple into place, or if you have a round base like mine you can work around it making pleats in your fabric and stapling them into place.

This is an extremely satisfying process. If you go wrong you can simply remove a staple, and yet the whole project takes shape remarkably quickly.
Here was the bottom of my chair. All the fabric is stapled to the wooden base, but still looking untidy until I trimmed it all off. If you want to do a thorough job you should fold the fabric under before you staple it which will ensure the fabric won't fray….but hey-hoe, when did I ever do a thorough job!

Now time for the satisfying ending…

Measure a piece of fabric large enough to cover the back of the chair with some for extra.

Fold an edge behind the material so you have a crisp edge to staple. I began at the top and pinned it into place before stapling it, working one edge at a time.

Up until now none of the staples will be seen on the finished chair. They are either on the bottom of the chair, or will be covered over with this final piece, so pinning and stapling accurately is very important.

The dotty fabric is very forgiving. You don't need to get it in straight lines or to match up. You should be aware of this if you use a bigger, bolder pattern on your fabric.

Remember to constantly stretch your fabric and staple one side at a time down the wooden structure.

Unlike the previous sections you will need to fold each edge under to stop fraying and to ensure a professional-looking finish.

Finally, at the bottom, cover over the gaps with your fabric and staple into place.

The staples will look obvious to you now, but it is surprising how you don't see them on the finished piece.

So, here is my finished chair, and whilst I am sure I will not be nursing on it again, I am certain it will no longer be a clothes horse!!!

This project took me under half an hour and cost me less than £10 in materials.

Monday, 22 April 2013

1950s Apron

This is the apron I have made this week. I love wearing it and feel like a 1950s housewife everytime I put it on!

I made up the pattern as I went along and so I hope it all makes sense to you. This project is a good one for left over strips of fabric and in total it took me just under 90 minutes.

I began with a template of card that I traced around onto the back of 8 different strips of fabric. If you have a large waist you may want to add more strips. The template was just shorter than the distance between my waste and knee. At the bottom it was 12cms wide and at the top 5cms. This allows for a seem around so don't make it any smaller.
I laid my fabric onto the floor to get a sense of what fabrics worked well together, and once I was pleased with the layout I began sewing them together. With the pen marks it was easy to put the patterns of two strips together, pin along the line and then sew it together. I suggest you start on one side of your apron and add on a strip at a time. To go from the middle might mean you get lost in the order. Once you have finished this part it is a good idea to see if you need to add any extra sections.

Once I was satisfied that the waist would measure half my waist I was keen to add some weight to the apron. I decided to back my apron onto some other fabric which has the benefit of meaning it will be reversible.

The easiest way to do this is to press your apron and then lay it on the backing fabric that you want to use. Make sure the fabrics are facing one another.

Pin the apron carefully, cut out and sew around the apron leaving a small gap in the top so you can turn the whole thing inside out.

Here is the turned out skirt. It has the strips of fabric on one side and the stripy reversible side behind.

At this stage the apron felt much more sturdy and I was pleased I had gone the extra mile to back it.

The apron section is now finished and so we move onto the waist band.

I used some contrasting fabric and cut three long strips 1 meter by 20 cms. I sewed them together to make one three meter strip that would act as my waist band (I have not got a 3m waist- in case you were wondering!!!).

Then I cut a strip of card 8cms wide that I used to fold and iron the fabric into the belt.

First I ironed the bottom 2 cms up over the card to create crease, then folded the middle over (see next picture) and finally tucked the edge under. I ironed it down firmly before moving the card along so that the entire three meters was ironed into shape.

In taking your time to press the belt at this stage will mean you can speed through the next section!
I found the middle of the band and opened it up and put the middle of the apron 2 cms into the band and pinned it in place.

Because the apron is curved and the band is straight it is really important that you do this carefully. Where the strips of fabric on the apron end insert 2cms of the apron into the belt at a right angle and pin firmly through all layers.  I repeated this along the apron from the middle to the outside meaning that the middle and end of the apron only have 2 cms inserted into the belt.

Once you have done this you can sew the length of the belt on both top and bottom to ensure it sits firmly.

I cut each end of my belt into a diagonal shape and turned the edges into each other before sewing them down.

Finally, excuse the dodgy photo my 9 year old son took of me modelling my new reversible apron, but as you can see I am delighted with the finished product!

Monday, 15 April 2013

Pink Party

My gorgeous Jessie was 8 this weekend and to celebrate she had a Pink Party!

This week's blog is detailing the party and food and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed the party.

Firstly I made these invitations out of matchboxes that I decorated with pretty wrapping paper and folded up the invite into them. Jessie loved handing out the little 'presents' to her friends.

The flower decorations you see in the above photo were made from felt. I then glued scrap fabric onto the middle of them and stuck a button on to finish. Finally I glued a wooden skewer onto the back of them and prodded them into tubs of oasis. These were such fun to make and made the table look smashing.

I wanted to make the food as pink as I could. You can see from the photos that the cake was fairly simple to design on the outside and yet once cut it revealed this brightly coloured sponge.

I made up a batch of Victoria sponge mixture and split it equally into five bowls. Then I dyed each bowl of mix varying shades of pink. I layered up each cake from dark to light, sandwiched with pink buttercream and raspberry jam.

I wanted to experiment with an icing technique where you melt the butter icing, leave it to cool a bit, and then pour it over the cake. I am not thrilled with the finished product but I had fun doing it and it was fun to do with my children.

For dessert I made jelly and ice-cream. I scooped out strawberry ice-cream into a shallow tray, froze it and then cut out stars with a cookie cutter. To make it easier to cut I dipped the cutter into boiling water before cutting the ice-cream. Then I put the ice-cream stars onto a sheet of baking paper and froze until the party.

I repeated this process with a tray of jelly, but using the fridge rather than freezer. The children really enjoyed making their own ice-cream sundaes with the ice-cream, jelly and pink sprinkles.

These are strange-looking but very delicious white-chocolate Rocky- Road. I melted white chocolate and mixed it with pink food colouring. Then my children chopped up pink wafer biscuits, cherries and pink marshmallows to mix into the chocolate. I put small spoonfuls of the mixture into a mini-muffin tin and let them set with freeze-dried strawberries sprinkled on the top. They were scrumptious!

Here are the girls drinking pink lemonade, with their face-painted with pink flowers and nails painted pink too.

The main activity of the party was decorating canvases that I bought for each child for £1 each from The Works. I wrote each child's name on their canvas and gave them loads of paint, glitter, buttons and craft materials to decorate them.

The girls were so creative with their boards and had so much fun in the process. These were not only a great activity but a lovely thing for each child to take home.

And finally I found these plastic wine cups in our local supermarket and filled them halfway up with pink sweets.

The cups were a perfect size to squeeze a cupcake into the top. I made each girl a pink cupcake that they decorated with pink icing and sprinkles. I hate buying party-bags, not because I want to stingy, but because they are normally filled with tat that I refuse to spend money on. These Sweet Sundaes were a lovely alternative to party-bags, and we topped each one off with a pink flower from the table decorations.

Do let me know if you have found this helpful in planning your own coloured party!

Monday, 8 April 2013

Reversible Headbands

These are my two beautiful girls wearing some pretty hairbands I made them. 

This quick and easy sewing project is perfect for using up your pretty scraps of fabric. I had so much fun with this project that I have made several of them already this week and have no intention of limiting the use of them just to the children!

You will need three different patterned fabrics all 30cm long and 10cm wide. In using different patterns you have the option of reversing the final headband to either pattern.

Place two of the lengths of fabric with the patterns facing each other and pin them together.

I used a piece of card 15cm long that I folded lengthways and cut out a template (see the picture). Then I traced around the template, sewed over the long sides leaving each end open. Then I trimmed the sides and turned the whole thing the right way around.

You can see from this photo that I then sewed over the sides again with a 2mm border. This allows the band to rest well on the head, but it is not essential.

Do remember to leave the ends open.

Fold the final length of fabric in half with the pattern facing each other sew down the 30cm length. This should be the width of the elastic you intend to use. 

Unfortunately this photo does not show it very well as I cut the fabric after sewing it. Don't be confused, but instead stick to the instructions above.

Turn the tube the right way around and insert the elastic.

Carefully turn the end of your headband into itself and insert the end of the elastic and tube (see the photo) and sew firmly into place.

Scrunch the tube over the elastic and measure the headband on your head and mark it where you want the the band to join the elastic.

Cut the elastic to the right length and repeat the above process so that you have your completed headband.

I haven't done a great job at conveying how easy this project is. In fact there was a morning last week when I managed one of these before breakfast so that one of my daughters had something to match her outfit for the day!

Do have a go and let me know how you get on...

Monday, 1 April 2013

Flower Pots

The front of our home lacks the warm welcome I want to embrace and so I have set about creating some beautiful and practical features. 

Here I am showing you how to make these pretty plant pots that I made for under £10 each.

These two pots were £2.99 from my local garden centre. They are terracotta pots and I thought the tall shape looked particularly elegant. 

I wanted to find a clear font for the numbers. These are the primary way of telling friends what number house we live in and so I spent some time looking through my fonts and in the end I googled 'number 7' and came up with an image that I liked.

I then drew the image freehand onto the pot with a pencil, which worked very well as I could rub it out easily if necessary. If you are not convinced with your freehand then I suggest you enlarge the image you want on a computer, print it and cut it out to use as a template.

I used a Masonry Paint from B&Q that I got for under £3. It came in a limited selection of colours, but if you want a different colour ask at your local hardware store who will be able to get the primary colours in Masonry Paint for double this price. 

I painted several layers of paint on my numbers and then decided that it needed something a bit prettier, so painted these small flowers around each number.

They are very easy to do with a small dot in the middle and six little petals around each one.

My advice is to be creative…Polka dots, lines, petals, hearts, stars…

And so here are my finished pots with a cheap IKEA plant in each one that cost me £4.50 each.
They have been outside for three days now and lots of people have already commented on them.

Happy Spring to you all and feel free to pop into number 76 whenever you fancy!