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.

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).

A Golden Velvet Moneta Dress

I started as new office job back in May (I’m a product manager in the music/tech space when I’m not designing sewing patterns or writing books!) and since this company is significantly bigger than all the previous offices I’ve worked for in the past, I’ve spent the last few months getting excited about the prospect of the first big office Christmas party of my life. And of course, with that comes What To Wear.

The Pirate YARRty

Wow. After nearly two years, I finally finished my boyfriend’s black velvet pirate jacket. Lined with gold satin, with functional pockets, functional buttonholes, brass buttons, tons of interior pockets for his gadgets, and hidden pocket inside the cuff for his Oyster card. There was so much handstitching on this and velvet is such an jerk of a fabric that I seriously wasn’t sure I’d ever finish it. I had problems at pretty much every step of the way, the majority of which stemmed from the fact that you can’t iron velvet. At all. Made in a different fabric, with non-functioning costume parts as indicated on the pattern, this would be a fairly straightforward project.

But since he wanted silk velvet and satin and for everything to function, plus have pockets absolutely everywhere, combined with a hem a mile long, this turned into a complete nightmare of a jacket. The handstitching alone took more manhours than I actually want to think about without bursting into tears. I did manage to make one big mistake near the end, even though I was so careful to NOT do it in my planning. It would’ve been impossible to fix without a complete deconstruction (and stitching lines remain in velvet forever), so I just left it as is. See if you can tell what it is from the photos, and I’ll reveal all below…

Nearly there…

Remember that velvet pirate jacket I was working on, ooh, two years ago? Well, as much as I hate that thing and all of the fabric choices associated with it, I have been slogging through and doing a few things to it here and there over the past few months.

Velvet goldmine!

One of the nice things about buying tons of lush, black velvet for your boyfriend’s pirate coat is that you get to have your way with the leftover fabric! And if you’re a bit cheeky and insist that you’re going to be left out in the cold very soon because none of your other jackets fit anymore, then sometimes, sometimes, you can get away with making use of the scraps before the intended recipient of the fabric.

I made Jacket 101B from the 08/2006 issue of Burda World of Fashion magazine, which, if you’re not familiar, contains about 50 patterns in each magazine, ranging from incredibly fashion-forward to designs to some real “who in god’s name would wear THAT?” shockers. But overall, there’s at least a few things you’d make in each issue if you had enough time. August’s was a particularly good issue, but seeing as how my need for a jacket was the greatest, I tackled this first.

The pirate jacket

My boyfriend and I are currently saving up for the mortgage deposit to buy a boat (a huge barge, not a tiny narrow canal boat) to live on starting this winter. We don’t want your average housewarmi- sorry, boatwarming party, so we’ve already decided it’s going to be a full pirate fancy dress theme. And if you’re throwing a fancy dress party, you’ve got to be the best dressed ones there!

For him, I bought Simplicity 4923 and have very slowly started to make the jacket portion out of a gorgeously thick, black silk velvet I scored at Walthamstow Market for £3/mt (by rights, it should’ve been at least £20/mt). He picked out some very nice hemispherical antique brass buttons from MacCulloch & Wallis plus some dark gold braid for the accents.