After wrestling with the sticky velvet upholstery fabric last summer to make a set of slipcovers for our sofa, I swore it’d be a long, long time before I voluntarily sewed home dec again. But that was before we moved back into the tiny Captain’s Cabin on our boat (while renovations are still ongoing in the much larger, main living portion), and I had to stare at the hideous sofa fabric every single day.
We have loved our sofa since the moment we bought it about 5 years ago, and the bones of it are in great condition, but the fabric the manufacturers used was not fit for every day wear and tear. It faded, took on stains, and the final straw was when the cushion fabric actually wore through (it didn’t rip, the fabric disintegrated).
I’ve come to that point near the end of the year where I want to gather together a bunch of little projects I’ve made recently, but yet didn’t quite seem big enough for their own post… You’ll see my traditional, year-end roundup tomorrow (I hope! I haven’t actually started it yet, eep!), but before then, let’s finish off the last little bits of the year…
The most exciting of these are undoubtably the Cake Patterns Red Velvet Mini Clutches I made for James’s twin, teenaged nieces. They’ve pretty much only wanted cash or gift cards for a few years now, but this year I fancied giving them a little something extra to hold their gift.
The Cake Red Velvet Mini Clutch is a smaller version of the full pattern without the illustrated instructions, but on the plus side it’s free, super cute, and easy to whip up in a few hours with scraps. Here I used satin scraps leftover from my Matthew Williamson birthday dress and my swirl sheath dress and a bit of floral lining leftover from the former, too.
These are big enough to hold your average mobile phone, keys, lippy, and credit card, but not much else, but most of the times I want a little bag to match a dress this is all I really need to carry anyway. These were certainly one of those gifts I’d have liked to have kept for myself, especially since they match my dresses!
Bolster pillow covers
I’m totally less excited by home dec sewing, but we really wanted some bolster pillows for lounging in our big, new bedroom on the boat – now that I’m working from home, I especially need one under my knees while I work on my laptop! When we bought our bedding from IKEA, the duvet cover sets came with four pillowcases, and since we only use one regular pillow each, the others were just sat on a shelf.
I had an uncharacteristic free weekend – no races and not much planned, so I ended up getting lots of sewing bits done!
Sewing room clear-out
I’ve only got a small (temporary) sewing cave, and I’m a very tidy, organised person, but I’d let it get a little messy and it was feeling crowded, so after my two hour hill run on Saturday morning, I came back and had a bit of a clear out. I filled a full black bag with rubbish, but here’s what I pulled aside to swap at the Goldhawk Road meetup on Saturday!
Yes, you could be a good home to some pattern, pattern magazines, books, craft kits, or fabric that once lived on board! Now, if I can manage to be good and not fill up the space with things I pick up in the swap or fabric stores…
Remember the last time I made a skylight cover (strangely, I see last time I was sewing jeans alongside it, too!)? I’d only ever made them for the back cabin, where the skylights are peaked, with windows that open like wings, but on the front deck, the skylights are flat and require grills that fit overtop for safety and security.
We had a joiner make a gorgeous new cover for the skylight over our bedroom, but it’s been shamefully covered in tarpaulins for the last few months while I procrastinated swearing my way through sewing another.
Even with a walking foot, the clear plastic is a total P-I-T-A to sew because it sticks to the machine bed, the foot, is stiff and rams into everything, and is generally just awful.
This time around, I got so sick of the stickiness that I grabbed a “newspaper” (tabloid left from our joiner) and ripped off pieces to go underneath and also under the presser foot.
This surprisingly worked rather well, and the newspaper just rips out easily afterwards. Worth remembering if a) you don’t mind newsprint on your fabrics, and b) like me, you never have tissue paper lying around
It’s not my best work, but it’s done and will allow more light into our new bedroom!
If you recall, I decided on a Burda pattern for my non-stretch denim so I sewed up a quick muslin of that on Saturday after my skylight triumph.
The triumph was short-lived.
Remember when I sewed some covers for the boat’s skylights back in January 2011? Frankly, I tried to put it out of my mind and certainly never have to make them again, but the larger of the two covers blew away (presumably – we’re not entirely sure what the ex-tenant did with it, grumble grumble), so I was forced to revisit these.
To me, home dec sewing is the worst – lots of boring rectangles and straight lines, measuring, unexciting fabrics, and then you don’t even get to wear it in the end! But as I discovered last time, outdoor home dec stuff is even worse!
To say I was dreading sewing this is a total understatement. But I sucked it up, brought out the remains of the waterproof vinyl from the dark hole I’d shoved it into, and then ordered another 1 metre of the green vinyl from Pennine Outdoor. Luckily, there was just enough clear vinyl leftover from before so it only cost me a tenner all in to complete this replacement one, even though the new green is a totally different shade to the previous one!
Apologies for the radio silence – the past week has been dominated by our preparing to leave the boatyard, and then actually sailing our boat back home again. Everything went incredibly well, but I’m still sorting through piles of stuff as we merge our temporary living quarters back into home again, plus I ran a 10k race (new PB of 50:27, wooo!) the morning after*, plus switching over to my summer wardrobe finally, and my sewing room is in a shambles as a result.
Amongst all this, we’ve got a massive four day weekend coming up this weekend for Liz’s Diamond Jubilee, and because we’re moored on the Flotilla route, we have to look extra pretty in exchange for getting an official flotilla pennant.
Boat prettiness can mean only one thing – bunting!
So while we were sat in a muddy boatyard in Kent on Friday, I took some rare downtime to cut up enough bunting flags to occupy 22 metres of ribbon – long enough to stretch from our front mast to our garden decks on both sides.
This meant cutting up 116 flags! It actually made a depressingly small dent in my scrap stash…
Home dec sewing is boring – there’s no two ways about it. To keep you from falling asleep while reading this, Bosco has helpfully decided to sprawl himself all over said slipcover to act as a diversion from the tedium!
James bought this purple and grey leafy brocade/damask fabric in Paris at Coupon St Pierre last weekend. The coupon fabric shops are a bit different from the usual “there’s a bolt I want you to cut this much of it” fabric stores – here instead, you rummage through piles and piles of pre-cut fabric at set prices, then take what you want to the till. You’re forced to get the full length, but at greatly reduced prices. Anyway, James was after some loud brocade for the interior of a fantasy jacket he’s got brewing for me (which I’ll be telling you more about soon) and bought this only to come across even better fabric later on.
So this lovely, shimmery brocade was left without a use.
Meanwhile, our faux-leather sofa was entirely covered in blankets to try and stop the cat from scratching off what little life was remaining in it (Bosco has the world’s shortest cat memory, and the Liquid Justice squirt bottle hasn’t stopped the problem). So James had the brilliant idea that I should turn it into a slipcover for the sofa!
Lucky for me, there was just enough fabric in the 3m to cover our 2m sofa, and the sofa’s an easy enough shape so working out a pattern wasn’t too bad:
Back in March, I joined the ranks of the middle class aspirational home cooks when James bought me a KitchenAid mixer for my birthday. I asked for (and received!) yes, a white one, because, while I like the red ones, they’re totally not worth £100 more just for the colour! Anyway, we were finally able to rearrange our tiny galley space to accommodate it so I finally broke it out of the box to make macarons last weekend.
The macarons were a resounding success (I also discovered the sole thing on earth that’s tastier than macarons – macaron batter!), but the only storage space for the mixer is out in the open, so I needed to sew a cover for it, lest I have to wash the dust off it every time I want to use it!
I was feeling supremely lazy, so rather than measure it myself, I just used the
tutorial and pattern here to sew up a really quick cover.
I made a few changes from the above site, though, the main being that mine is not quilted (it’s not like the mixer needs to stay warm!), and mine has a seam at the top since my print is directional and I didn’t want upside-down people on one side.
Do you have a cat? Does he sometimes scratch where he’s not supposed to?
Ours may look angelic, but Bosco’s certainly got a naughty streak!
Cats need to scratch with their hind legs or bad things happen. But we don’t really want them “bunny kicking” our arms to shreds, either! That’s where the Kitty Kicker comes in – your cat will nuzzle the felty, catnippy wonder to his face and kick at the body with his hind legs! And the offset end seams means it rolls really easily, giving kitty something to chase as you throw it around the room.
Like with all downloadable patterns, make sure to print it at 100%! Unless your cat is very small, or utterly enormaincoon, in which case feel free to scale up or down. Also feel free to change around the felt piece – make it long and fringed, or spiked, or even replace it entirely with ribbons or yarn if you’d rather.
You will need:
1. Small piece of tough fabric like denim, twill, canvas, or home dec fabric (IKEA do great heavyweight fabrics for cheap!)
2. Small scraps of felt (optional)
3. Fiberfill, or scrap fabric for stuffing
5. Hand needle and thread
I’m very excited because this is the first opportunity I’ve had to crosspost anything between this sewing site, and our site for our boat, Hendrik!
We’ve got a total of six skylights on Hendrik – four flat metal ones in the front of the boat where we live, and two peaked, wooden framed ones in the back captains cabin which we rent out to our lovely lodgers. We’ve largely been able to keep our front skylights from leaking too badly, but the age and design of the ones in the back meant that they really needed some covers both to limit the drips and to protect the woodwork and the original 1930s patterned glass.
So a few months ago I got some swatches from Pennine Outdoor to have a look at their tent fabrics, and decided that the “UV Treated Window Material” (P49) and “PVC Coated Polyester” (P9) would work best. Importantly, since I had the swatches I also tested to make sure I could sew through these on my regular domestic machine! I bought two metres of the green and one metre of the clear, which came to £23 including shipping (and this gave me plenty enough for these two skylights, and probably enough for at least one of our flat skylights).