Posts Tagged ‘soft furnishing ideas’

Plump up a cushion and come and join me for a chat…

You may well need to be sat down for this - Feel free to plump away ;)

You may well need to be sat down for this – Feel free to plump away 😉

After a lengthy hiatus I have returned with not one, but two, back-to-back tutorials which will hopefully see you making your very own soft furnishings just like the example pictured above.

What’s that you say? You don’t think you’ll ever be able to make such a thing? Don’t be daft – It’s easy! Let me show you how…

By the end of this tutorial you'll hopefully be looking at something that looks a bit like this...

By the end of this tutorial you’ll have created something that looks a bit like this…

Here’s the deal; By following this first tutorial you’ll have created the bulk of your first ever piece of Dresden Plate patchwork. You’ll also no doubt have had to stop a few times along the way to do a little happy dance as you see how incredibly easy it really is. You might even have to pause to post pictures on Instagram, Facebook and beyond. Either way, I guarantee that you will be bursting to share what you’ve made with your friends – Just you wait and see!

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First of all, you’ll need to gather together your crafting arsenal – It’s a lengthy list to tick off…

You will need roughly half a metre of a plain, hardwearing fabric (This is more important in our next session so don’t worry if you haven’t got anything to hand straight away).

You’ll also need plenty of fabric scraps that measure at least 5 inches long by about 3 inches wide; You’re going to need twenty separate pieces to make up the circular part of your patchwork, plus one extra piece that we’ll be using to make the centre. For my design I chose ten different fabric prints but ultimately it’s up to you how many you use; One, two, twenty… you decide.

Coordinating thread, a sewing machine, pins, scissors etc

A dresden plate ruler, rotary cutter and mat. Scissors and a card template work just as well but it’ll take three times as long to get everything ready.

A Dresden Plate ruler - Handy if you've got one but not essential to the task.

A Dresden Plate ruler – Handy if you’ve got one but not essential to the task.

Don’t forget to find something blunt to help turn any corners inside out – It’s tempting to use scissors but really annoying when you push too hard and burst through the fabric!

Right! I think that’s about it; Let’s make a start.

First things first you need to cut out twenty separate pieces of fabric that are all five inches in length. You’ll see that they resemble a wedge shape with a wide top that tapers to a much narrower bottom; From now on we’ll refer to these as ‘blades’. Once you have all your blades, start laying them out in a circle and have a little play around at mixing your different fabric designs and colours until you’re happy with the way they look.

Don't be too worried about changing your mind at this stage - Nothing is set in stone until we start stitching...

Don’t be too worried about changing your mind at this stage – Nothing is set in stone until we start stitching…

Gather your blades together into a neat little pile and now we’re going to start sewing…

Take your first blade and fold the widest end in half with the printed design on the inside.

Make suret hat the fabric design is kept to the inside...

Make sure that the fabric design is kept to the inside…

Sew down the folded edge but don’t break your thread – Let the machine sew a few blank stitches and then sew your next blade…

Just keep sewing - No need to break your thread after each blade.

Just keep sewing – No need to break your thread after each blade.

Keep on sewing until you’re left with a little ‘blade bunting’ – That way everything’s kept in order ready for the next stage.

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Use your scissors to remove the first blade. By stitching down the wide end we’ve effectively created a corner which we’ll neaten up by first snipping off any excess fabric and then turn to reveal the point…

Snip any excess fabric away which could create bulk in the corner - Don't go too close to your stitching!

Snip any excess fabric away which could create bulk in the corner – Don’t go too close to your stitching!

Turn your corner inside out...

Turn your corner inside out…

Use something blunt to achieve a neater finish...

Use something blunt to achieve a neater finish…

Press each blade with an iron for crisp, clean corners.

Press each blade with an iron for crisp, clean corners.

Still with me? By now you should have twenty stitched and pressed blades arranged in some kind of order that works well for you – If you still need to play around then now’s the time to do it; In a moment we’re going to start sewing everything together so you can’t change your mind!

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OK – Now it get’s really exciting.

Take your first two blades and place them so that their right sides (the printed bits) are facing each other. Match the sloping edge of each corner point and the side pieces together and stitch…

It's important to make sure that the sloping edges of each corner and the long side of each blade match up accurately...

It’s important to make sure that the sloping edges of each corner and the long side of each blade match up accurately…

Keep working 'in the round' stitching each blade together until you run out..... then stitch the two ends together and do a little happy dance!

Keep working ‘in the round’ stitching each blade together until you run out….. then stitch the two ends together and do a little happy dance!

It’s at this point when you might find yourself breaking off every few minutes in order to admire your handiwork. Just keep joining each blade and enjoy taking a sneaky peek at how it’s all beginning to come together. Heck! Put that sewing down and have a little happy dance – You’re making something that looks awesome – Way to go, you!

Have you sewn everything together? Have you joined the end pieces together to make a circle? Aren’t you just the happiest little bunny on the block? Give yourself a pat on the back and do your first reveal to the world…

Whooo Hoo! I made a circle thingy with lots of thread sticking out all over the place...... Is it supposed to look like this?

Whooo Hoo! I made a circle thingy with lots of thread sticking out all over the place…… Is it supposed to look like this?

Your final task for today is to give everything a little press with the iron. First, you’ll need to place your work face down and pull any excess threads down and into the centre… we don’t need to trim anything off – It’s all going to be hidden away in our next session…

Now press your work so that all the seams are facing in the same direction…

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Time to make yourself a cup of coffee and celebrate all your hard work with a round of biscuits. Most of the fiddly stuff has been done; In the next tutorial I’ll show you how to complete your patchwork by incorporating it into a simple, but effective cushion cover design…

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Until then, Happy Stitching Folks! It’s great to be back 🙂

It’s a new month and a new theme; September is all about ‘Embroidery’.

So I’ve been sat thinking about the 101 things I want to attempt over the coming weeks and how I can tie this month’s theme in with my general list of things to do…….. it’s to the designing table I’ve been………. and here’s this week’s offering……. 😉

It says in Wikipedia that, amongst other things,  ‘Embroidery is the art or handicraft of decorating fabric or other materials with needle and thread or yarn. Embroidery may also incorporate other materials such as metal strips, pearls, beads, quills, and sequins.

A characteristic of embroidery is that the basic techniques or stitches of the earliest work — chain stitch, buttonhole or blanket stitch, running stitch, satin stitch, cross stitch — remain the fundamental techniques of hand embroidery today.’

Cool ! I like stitching – Cross stitch is my perennial favourite but I’ve recently been dabbling in freeform machine embroidery after a break of nearly 16 years. I’ve learned to love my sewing machine again; I think that’s a story that’s best saved for another week though……

This week I started out by digging through a box of unfinished projects in a bid to find something to blog about. And I actually turned up a tapestry that I’d started at least 10+ years ago as a soft furnishing idea I’d had for the last house we lived in!

Tapestry work that hasn’t seen the light of day for over ten years!

First things first, I sat down and finished it – There wasn’t that much left to do……… I can’t think why I’d discarded it in the first place. Now I’ve just got to find the time to source some coordinating fabric so that I can make it in to the cushion cover I had originally intended it to be used for (possibly another ten years for that to finally see completion then!) 😉

Detail of part of my old tapestry cushion project – A bit of blocking and pressing might be required to get it looking its best methinks!

Sitting down and finishing the piece actually got me thinking some more……. It’s been ages since I’ve done any tapestry; I kind of forgot how nice it is to sit and quietly stitch my way through a larger, more time consuming project. It’s very satisfying to see a design gradually spring to life over a period of days, rather than quick-fix crafting that’s done and dusted in a few hours. With this in mind I decided to plan out something that’d keep me quiet for a week or so…… An on-trend, mandala inspired tapestry cushion.

This was my initial starting point – a tried and trusted design originally intended for use in cross stitch projects.

One of my ACID protected designs – I use it constantly in cross stitch projects but decided to apply it to tapestry work this week for a bit of a change 🙂

All my designs start out on the computer – actually plotting something out from scratch can be a bit laborious to begin with but once the initial idea is complete it becomes very easy to manipulate it, change colours etc in a matter of moments. So I started with a conjectural view of the original design as it would look when worked as part of a tapestry rather than cross stitch………

The initial design looks just as good when worked as a tapestry rather than cross stitch.

Then I started playing around with it a little bit by adding a background colour and repeating, rotating and flipping the basic motif……

Looking good!

And also added a few more design elements to create something which could be used as a tile for further repeats…….

Looking gooderer! As Keith Lemon would point out 😉

I went through exactly the same process with a bay design before alternately placing each element together to create a larger block of four tiles in total. And finally altered the outside edging to make the whole design look like a more cohesive, finished end product.

Hey Presto!

I can’t wait to get stitching this design!

I’m really pleased with the finished result – Albeit only as a computer generated image at the moment. I think it’ll look great if I actually manage to complete it. I said I wanted to design something which would take me a week or so to create but I’m guessing that if I’ve got it done by Christmas 2012 I’ll deserve a rather large pat on the back for all my efforts…..

At any rate, I’m off in to Leeds tomorrow to gather supplies ready for the task in hand. Wish me luck!!!!!