Cushion covers for our glam new interiors

It was probably inevitable that I’d be sewing more home dec projects – after all, I’m pretty sure it’s a natural next step after finishing renovation work, and we’ve just had nearly our whole boat rebuilt! This time around we wanted cushions for two very specific benches that we inherited…

Actually, we inherited a set of three storage boxes/benches from my longtime running coach, Barbara. When she had a studio in Shoreditch she had them built for the space, but after she closed the studio to go freelance they were taking up a ridiculous amount of space in her flat but she really wanted to see them rehomed together. So I said we’d have them for the boat, and two even ended up in our temporary flat while we were in drydock three years ago, but they’ve been in our storage unit ever since.

One is quite small, maybe a foot and a half wide, and that one is now near the front door in the Saloon, storing woollens inside and acting as a plant stand & drop zone for keys and masks. The next one is 1.2m long, has a hinged top, and lives in our corridor, storing guest bed linens for the time being. And the third one is a whopping 2m long (it barely fit in our estate car!), also has a hinged top, and is storing all of our life jackets and nautical flags. We thought it would be great for extra seating for our Saloon dining table, so we’ve placed it against the window to also give Nishi a place to sit and peer out the big windows (which will be getting wooden blinds when we get around to installing them).

A new cave for Nishi

For the last few years, Jalie Patterns have released a “Galaxie” pattern around the holidays that is usually gift-themed. One year it was cooking-focused, another on travel, but this year the focus was on pets, and, reader, I bought it immediately! Galaxie 4 contains several little projects for pets – collapsible bowls, zippered pouches, a poo-bag dispenser, and a pet bed – and one for humans, too – a bum bag. My Instagram followers will know that I made some of the other views of this pattern literally the next day, but as those are presents you’ll need to wait to see those!

Today we’re talking all about the “Coquette”, a pet padded bed/cave/house/etc. It comes in a range of sizes that would be suitable for a guinea pig, rabbit, cat, or small dog, but you could likely scale it up for larger dogs if you really wanted to. After some deliberation, I ended up using the second-to-largest size, 35cm, and I think this is the right size for an average sized cat, though you could probably go down one size further in a pinch if you had to, too.

Another skylight cover for the boat

You might mistake me for someone who actually enjoys sewing home dec for the sheer amount of it I’ve been doing this year. But considering the amount of time we’ve spent at home (ie: every waking moment for the past 8 months) it’s probably not surprising that we keep seeing ways to improve things.

The latest in my home improvements was sewing a new cover for the smaller, bedroom skylight in the back cabin. Unlike the skylights in the main part of the boat which are flat, these older covers over the original 1930s captains cabin are peaked, triangular wooden framed skylights which need custom shaping. The last one I made for this particular skylight was made in Jan 2011 so it nearly lasted ten years! But you’ll see further down how badly it needed replacing…

What to sew when you have no mojo

As I mentioned before, I lost my sewing mojo at the end of summer and start of fall. Usually around this time I’d be buzzing with ideas for new, colder weather sewing projects – coats! sweaters! warm running and cycling gear! party dresses! But with shielding continuing long throughout the winter, I literally have no need of any of those things, and my wardrobe is already bursting with clothes (I literally don’t need any more clothes).

More upholstery – sewing wheelhouse sofa cushions

Since lockdown began in March, James has been using the wheelhouse of our boat as his office, but we’ve also spent a few nights up there Zooming with friends or watching films for something different. But the cushion on the built-in sofa up there was just a thin foam pad that we’d cover in a single bed sheet and then pile pillows behind for some back support, and it wasn’t really that comfortable for long periods of time.

So James took matters into his own hands and ordered some custom foam cushions for the bottom and back support from Foam Factory (who we’d heartily recommend and will definitely use again, btw). And I found myself saying the words “I guess I’ll sew up some covers for them then…” even though I hate sewing upholstery and home dec! Turns out I hate spending exorbitant amounts for someone else to do it even more!!

Another set of sofa slipcovers

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.

A velvet slipcover for our sofa

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).

Little bits of sewing

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…

Twin clutches

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.

A Big Weekend for Sewing

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…

Skylight cover

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!

Jeans muslin

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.

Boat skylight covers (again!)

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!