12th August 2014
As you can probably imagine, when I’m travelling I can’t help but buy fabrics wherever I go. Usually it’s a case of having to put a limit on myself lest I end up in one of those awkward, and costly, excess baggage situations. Sadly often the small scraps of fabric I buy are too small for a skirt or a pair of shorts, but too dear to my heart to throw away so end up sitting in a box. While in the process of finishing off my favourite nook in the studio I got a craving for throw cushions, and rather than buying them myself I realised it would be a great opportunity to use some of those colourful fabric scraps. My one main issue with sewing cushions though was that putting a zip in can take aggges (I wanted to make seven cushions), but the last thing you want is a cover you can’t wash. After a bit of pondering I worked out a way to create a cushion with a folding flap so you don’t need a zip. What’s even better is that if you have time you can totally make these by hand! Read on the see how.
- A piece of colourful fabric for the front
- Some canvas or linen for the back
- A sewing machine or needle and thread.
- Cushion stuffing or inner.
1. First cut your fabric pieces. I used the shape of my fabric scraps to determine the size of my cushions, this colourful piece is roughly 45cm x 30cm (17 in x 12 in). Cut a piece of cotton or linen 1.5 to 2 times the length (longways) of your statement piece of fabric. If your fabric is square just pick a side to use as the longways. The longer you cut the backing piece the bigger the overlap of the flap at the be will be so I made mine closer to 2 x because I was using cushion stuffing and I didn’t want it to come out.
2. Cut the piece of backing fabric in half width ways.
3. Lay the fabric together, first one side of the backing fabric, then the other and then the statement fabric right side down. Note that the backing piece that is second from the bottom will be the outer flap, which is why I oriented the clean selvedged edge here. In the event you don’t have a clear selvedged edge on this piece, the best thing to do is to hem this along the short edge so when you turn it inside out it has a nice finished edge.
4. Pin together.
5. Sew all the way around the cushion about 2.5 cm (1 in) from the edge.
6. After sewing the fabric should look like this.
7. Turn the fabric inside out by pulling it through the flaps in the backing and then iron down well, making sure to turn the points of the cushion out, you can use a pencil or chop stick to do this.
8. The back of your cushion should look like this – you can see that my back piece overlaps a lot to keep the stuffing inside but yours may be more centred.
9. Stuff your cushion or if you’re using an insert put that in.
Voila! I can’t wait to show you all the different ones I made with fabrics from all over the world. Nothing better than hanging in the studio sitting on cushions that remind me of places I’ve been!
23rd July 2014
Being on holidays inspires in my all sorts of fun and summery DIYs. As you may have noticed, I’m currently loving all things off the shoulder, and what’s more relaxed and beach to bar-ish than a piece that works both as a cover up and a dress? Ok so to be honest, without any lining this piece best functions over bikinis, which works a treat here in Thailand where I’m currently travelling, but probably not so much at home during after work drinks. However, using a less sheer fabric or by adding a slip or lining, this style of dress could have a million different lives, and it’s surprisingly easy to make!
- 2 m (2.4 yards) of heavy (perhaps sheer) fabric, lace style would work well
- 2.5cm (1 in) elastic
- A sewing machine
So, this dress is really easy because it’s pretty much 2 big squares and 2 big rectangles, that’s all you need. I used fabric which didn’t require hemming which made the process even easier! Refer to the pattern below to understand how that works.
If you’re referring to this off the shoulder top I made recently, note there is a major difference in construction – the top was created using three gathered tubes each with separate elastic, however this dress is a body and arms attached with one piece of elastic gathering it at the top – making it a little more simple.
1. Cut your fabric pieces out.
2. Now sew your body section by sewing seams up the sides of the large pieces of fabric, stopping 10cm (4 inches) from the top. This is where you will attach arms on each side. Essentially what you will have is a tube with open top seams.
3. Fold and sew the seams of your arms, once again leaving around 10cm (4 in) open at the end, this is where you are going to jigsaw your arms and body together. Can you see how this is coming along?
4. Sew the arms to the body, making sure you sew the seams on the same side (inside out) as the side seams, otherwise you’ll have to unpick and start again!
5. It will look lil this once the arms have been sewn on.
6. If your fabric has holes such as mine did all you have to do is thread the elastic through the whole way around the fabric (making sure to leave an inch at the top for ruffling) and then tie it off once the elastic meets. If your fabric doesn’t have holes, I suggest you sew a hem and seam for the elastic as you would for a gathered skirt and insert the elastic that way.
Voila! Will definitely be adding some skin coloured lining to this when I get back to Hong Kong!
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16th July 2014
Because of travelling quite a lot recently I haven’t had the chance to hit my favourite thrift store as much as I would like, but a little while ago I got a chance to do a full afternoon wandering the racks and was rewarded with loads of cool pieces – and some not so cool things I thought might make great fodder for before & after projects. Once such item was this denim shift dress – long, unshapely and generally not something you’d catch me wearing. However, given the summer season I thought it might be fun to make myself a summer pleated dress, a little bit 90’s, and little bit Balmain and a whole lot of satisfaction when it was done. This was my first experience with pleating and let’s just say it was an eye opener!
This is said shift dress and what I did to it:
- A shift dress
- A sewing machine
- Needle and thread
1. I started by chopping the dress off at the point at which I wanted the pleats to start.
2. Because the shift dress was very long I was able to create two panels for the skirt part, allowing me to create much more volume with the pleats.
3. I then trimmed those panels to the same length and sewed them together so I had one long panel, then sewed the hem of the part of the panel that had originally sat in the middle of the dress.
4. I then took in the top so it was fitting on my body.
5. Now it’s time to create the pleats. I decided I wanted to create box pleats so they had a one over one under look (rather than side pleats like a netball skirt where they all face the same direction. What I did to do this was to measure both the bodice and the skirt panel, and decide on a pleat size that would divide perfectly (or approximately in my case) – thus allowing the panel piece of the skirt to fit together with the bodice. I worked out a pleat of 4cm wide (approx 1.5 in) would work well.
6. To create the box pleats I turned the fabric over to the wrong side and did two side pleats (that’s two folds) facing each other, turning over to make sure the resulting box pleat was around 4cm wide. At times it was approximate but I didn’t really mind!
7. I pinned as I went, but found when I got to the end the last pleat was a little short so I had to go along and redistribute a bit so I could finish the last pleat – very much a case of working it out as I went along!
8. I then pinned the pleats to the underside of the bodice.
9. Using the sewing machine, I secured the pleats to the bodice.
Outfit photos by Marion Tessier