Sew Easy

DIY: Patchwork Picnic Blanket

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

I’ve had this vision in my head for months now, a vision of crafting a picnic blanket that we could bring on our outdoor adventures, something with a country feel, but with fresh modern color too.  We’re a picnicking tribe on the weekends when sunny skies appear, whether we head to the coast, the local park or ballgame, or just movies in the park.  Having a cozy picnic blanket is always ideal! 

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Simple Sew: Double Welt Cord

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

Last Sunday I went in search of double welt cord.  I’m in the middle of reupholstering a chair, and I was seeking this specialty trim to hide some staples.  I read somewhere that you need double welt cord to make double welt cord trim, but I have since learned this is not necessarily the case.  My day started like this:

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As I browsed the local fabric store, I realized they had no such thing as double welt cord in stock.  Wrenching my hands, wondering what to do, nervously pacing back and forth, I paused next to the upholstery supplies.  It was then I heard from behind me, “Whatcha looking for Hun?”  I thought at first this was some bored sales clerk, but then I realized by the way she said ‘Hun’ she was, in fact, a well intentioned stranger.  A stranger I shall dub ‘Saint Seamstress’ for reasons which will be revealed.  

I’m prone to striking up conversations with strangers, so I related my dilemma, wholly expecting her to shrug her shoulders, say “I dunno” and walk away.   When I explained I was in the middle of reupholstering a chair, and I needed to trim the edges to hide the staples, she immediately said, “Have you thought of using gimp?”   Gimp?  Gimp!  I knew I had encountered someone who speaks upholstery language! 

So I tackled her to the ground and made her answer all my questions under extreme duress.  

I kid.  No, I explained I didn’t want to use gimp this time, like with this bench, rather I wanted that polished double welt cord look you see on high end upholstered chairs.  I started rattling off questions and then I hit the jackpot. 

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This lovely woman stood there unshaken at my brazen unending questions.  “Am I insane to reupholster with velvet? Velvet is so fussy and temperamental, always prone to puckering.  Is velvet really the diva of fabrics?”  “How do I round this corner with my piping (pointing to the old smoke scented foam seat)?”  Where can I find inexpensive quality foam in this town?”   And the ultimate question: “How do you make double welt cord trim?”

She shared all her secrets, tips and tricks with a smile on her face.  Don’t you love when experienced professionals share their knowledge with the world for freeeeeeee?  Why didn’t I get her name?  Why didn’t I give her my name?  Why didn’t I snap a photo of us with my phone for me to remember this blessed soul for all eternity (and then of course add to this post)?  Why God whyyyyyyy????

Sewing Your Own Double Welt Cord

Start by cutting your fabric on the bias, then sewing it together to form one long strip.  Make sure you have about 2” width of fabric to form your cord casing.  ‘On the bias’ simply means cutting ‘on the diagonal’ so that your threads criss-cross and therefore bend around the turns better.  At least, that’s my amateur definition.  Someone much smarter than me with more experience figured that out a long time ago in a galaxy far far away. 

bias long strip

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Learning to Sew

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

I grew up watching my mom and my aunts sew clothing, pillows, and curtains for their homes.  There were no blogs to showcase their work, just their fellow community where they shared their tips and advice.  It was the late seventies, times were tough, money was tight, and the economy was in the you know what.  Ladies all across the nation were trading patterns and ideas, and sewing up a frenzy of home decor on a budget.  Sounds kinda familiar doesn’t it?

The very best way to soften a space, to add texture, pattern and personality, is with the use of great fabrics, so I believe one of the best tools for an avid DIYer is a basic sewing machine. You’ll find plenty of tutorials online for ‘no sew’ decor, and they are fantastic, in fact I’ve done several myself.  There are lots of times when fusible web, fabric glue, or safety pins have come to my rescue with a simple hem or a window treatment.  Yay for those solutions!  Yet one thing I’ve learned is that having the ability to work a sewing machine opens up an entirely new world.

Do you ever see a swatch of fabric, be it in the form of a dress, an apron, a napkin, a silk scarf, and you think to yourself, "This would make a great pillow!" or you find a great fabric and think "I want to make curtains out of this."  It happens to me all the time!  You can design an entire space around a single swatch of fabric that inspires, be it a damask, geometric, Ikat or simple stripe pattern, whatever speaks to you.  I am constantly inspired by patterns I find beyond the racks in fabric stores, and I’m a big believer in reinventing them into new things.

For example, take these inexpensive napkins I found in a local kitchen store.  Beautiful robins egg blue background with an apple green botanical pattern.  Love!  In fact, I loved them so much, I turned them into a pillow!

 

napkin turned pillow  

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