Thursday, 12 April 2012

The easiest gifts to make...

...are square cushion covers with zips.  They are very versatile and if you pick a cushion pad 40cm x 40cm like I did, you can make a set of 4 from 1 metre of fabric.  Here is how to go about it...

  1. Cushion pads (mine are 40cm x 40cm or 16 inch square);
  2. Fabric of your choice:
    • Make sure you know the size of the cushion pads when you buy the material - calculate how many squares the same size as your cushion could be cut from 1 metre of fabric.  From there work out how many metres you need in total;
    • Do not buy a really thin fabric because it will need replacing quickly.
  3. Zips (mine are 12 inches long):
    • The length of zip should be less than the length of the cushion pad but not too small that the opening it would give would not be large enough to fit the cushion into.
  4. Matching thread;
  5. Scissors;
  6. Ruler;
  7. Dressmakers chalk;
  8. Sewing machine and zipper foot. 

Step 1:  Fold the fabric in half (right sides facing inwards) so that the selvages line up (the frayed edge on the right hand side of the fabric pictured below). 

Step 2:  Measure your cushion pad.  Mine is 40cm x 40cm or 16inch square. 

Step 3:  Subtract 5cm or 2 inches from the size of your cushion pad.  In my case this gives a measurement of 35cm x 35cm or 14 inch square.  You want to make the cushion cover as if it were for this reduced size of cushion pad.  This will ensure that the cushion remains extra plump in its cover.

Step 4:  Now that we have the size of the cushion pad we need to add on the seam allowances.  Seam allowances should be 1.5cm.  So you want to draw onto the fabric a square which is 38cm x 38cm.  Measure the shape from the selvage and the edge of the cut side of the fabric.  Cut out from both layers to give you 2 matching squares.

Step 5:  The zip will be inserted into the two edges where the selvage is.  Calculate the length of the fabric minus the length of the zip (36.5 - 30.5 = 6cm).  This means that when the zip is centred along the length of the cover, there will be 3cm of material left at each end.  So we need to keep the squares right sides together and sew through both layers a 3cm seam from the top of the pieces and a 3cm seam from the bottom of the pieces (in the direction of the centre of the fabric).  Remember that you need to start sewing these 3cm seams from a 1.5cm distance from the selvage of the pieces. 

Step 6:  Iron a 1.5cm seam onto the wrong side of the fabric along both selvage edges.

Step 7:  Place both pieces together, selvages at the top, right sides facing.  Pin together with 3 - 4 pins.  Now open the zip and pin it into place along the selvages.  You want to line up the teeth of the zip with each ironed edge and make sure the zipper is facing inwards towards the right sides of the fabric.  Tack into place. 

Step 8:  Using your machines zipper foot, sew the zip into place.  Remove tackings. 

Step 9:  With the zip open and right sides facing, pin the 3 sides of the square pieces together.  Sew each edge at 1.5cm. 

Step 10:  Iron the seams open flat.  Turn cushion covers the right way out and insert cushion pad.  Plump up and you’re done!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Liberty Loveliness

Everyone has experienced the feeling that something is just not destined to happen and for myself I felt like this on my Lancaster trip!

I was so excited to finally visit the elusive fabric shop which I had imagined to be a Liberty haven.  So after a late Thursday evening I speedily got into a taxi on Friday afternoon to Standfast and Barracks.  You can imagine my disappointment as the staff shut the shop door in my face leaving me with an unsatisfied tantalising glimpse of the inside.   Unfortunately for me, the shop had changed its opening times from closing at 3pm on weekdays till 1pm.

M6 Junction 34.  When exiting motorway follow signs for Lancaster City centre.  The shop will be on your right next to the Shell garage.  Car park is on the left hand side of the road opposite the shop.
Perseverance won out in the end though as I walked there in the rain the following day.  FINALLY I got to go inside!  What I found was a pleasant variety of silks and heavyweight cottons.  Unfortunately I could not find a printed silk for pattern V8727 as the patterns on offer were all too large for the dress; ideally I need a small print that will repeat several times on the dress, so the search continues!

The Liberty section was not as large as I expected, nevertheless I could not be disappointed with the limited choice at only £5 per metre! 

I bought a traditional Liberty print which I plan on using to make a women’s scarf or a man’s tie – I cannot decide which at the moment!  Please comment with your suggestions!

I also bought this not so distinctive Liberty fabric which will eventually be turned into a cropped fitted jacket.  I had picked up the pattern the previous day in Fabrix, which is located next to Marcos restaurant and where I bought the English Rose fabric from. 

Not so unusually for me I have plenty to be getting on with and I would say that a trip to Standfast and Barracks is a must for any crafter; dressmaker or soft furnishings maker.  Hopefully after reading this post you will avoid any disappointment with opening hours!