Upholstery session!

Construction, Homeware

27/07/16 – My mum and I have been going to Lisa Johns’ workshop with our chosen chairs for her to help and guide us in the reupholstering of them! We had no idea what to expect…but she was waiting for us and took us through her house which was in the process of being extended, along the twists and turns of her unique garden, past the rabbits and chickens and eventually coming out at a converted garage – which is where the magic happens!

Prior to the first session mum and I had stripped our chairs to save a bit of time. I still needed to get mine back to the original horsehair so we could remove and replace it.


I didn’t know they still use real horsehair nowadays but Lisa, very rightly, said that if it is an old, vintage chair, it is nice to have the reupholstery in keeping with the feel of the chair. If you buy a new chair it is more than likely simply padded with wadding or padding but an antique has so many different layers, different stitching and different techniques.

First things first, after removing the original horsehair, I needed to sew new loops for the stuffing – and I had to do this with a curled needle (almost a semicircle!) which made it so much easier!


Then, with balls of horsehair, I had to stuff them under each loop and tighten the twine around them – this created this Tim Burton- like creature lying on top of my chair! What a difference to the one I had removed.

Lisa then suggested that I add a small square of lint to just pad the seat out a little more, since the original one dipped slightly in the centre. I then covered the whole seat with a larger section of the wadding. This was then pulled through to the back, sides and front of the chair, so it covered the horsehair section completely.

This was then covered with another layer, one of calico with a little stretch to the weave. Lisa helped me stretch it over my seat and said that over the next week I should retack and stretch the calico to create a drum -like effect for the seat.

03/08/16 – She did the final stretch on the front of the seat and let me hammer the tacks right down to the wood so they lie flat and cannot be felt and showed me how to cut the corners neatly and without leaving too much bulk – it was so exciting to think that this was the beginning of the end for the calico part of the process – it was really looking like a finished chair!

We also stripped the back of the chair to see what lay beneath – yep, you got it…more horsehair under calico! But Lisa suggested that we leave it as it is since it is still firm – we simply replaced the flattened lint with some wadding for added comfiness and reapplied some new calico – which, again, I needed to go home and stretch and stretch and stretch!


I see know what a long process it would be if one had to do this over a whole arm chair! But it is so much fun – Mum and I have well and truly caught the love of upholstery! Unbelievably chuffed with our progress so far! Looking forward to next week now!


10/08/16 – We cut the excess calico on the seat down to just below the tacks – creating a beautiful finish! The chair looks lovely like this – so clean and white…but lets face it, minis are much more exciting!


So Lisa helped me to attach the top cover for the back of the chair – I fiddled around with the placement of the different minis until I was happy and we started cutting the fabric to go around the posts. There was a clever little slot to allow some of the excess back through the chair, creating a gorgeous finish on the front!

I was able to finish off the top corners at home and decide how I wanted the placement of the seat minis – to match or not to match, that is the question…I went for the same mini lines following those of the back (the left hand photo).

22/08/16 –  Lisa tackled the tricky cuts of the seat whilst I got on with the stitching and cutting on the back – I wanted piping to go around the side sections of the chair to make a feature out of the different colour fabric I had chosen to work with and this turquoise felt really stands out from the patterned material. I stitched it any old way so it was secure.

The back is now completed finished in terms of the top fabric! Ready for a new piece of hessian, the piping, the side panels and the back panel. And the seat is all done bar the cord to hide the tacks.

23/08/16 –  Lisa and Mum really wanted me to have the chair done before moving into the flat, like a housewarming chair! So I went again the next day to get it finished with Lisa’s help. I was so excited I forgot my phone to take pictures with – so I will try and describe what we achieved as best as possible.

A lot of hand sewing! Ladder stitch the side panels over the piping, then ladder stitch the other side of the piping to the chair to reduce flapping.

Tuck the excess side and piping underneath and tack down.

Using hem tape, which you place on top of the wrong side of your back panel to the top of the chair…(you keeping up!?) and tack down securely, this then creates a lovely fold for the top line of the seat! Very clever!


Ladder stitch the rest of the back panel and glue down the cord around the base of the seat…and that is it! The blue against the red really stands out – exactly how I like it!

Amazing stuff and I am so so thankful that Lisa was there to help me. I feel I have learnt so much…and now cannot wait to start the next upholstery project!


A little before and after shot to show the difference – as a chair I like the cream brocade but I love the fact that I now have a personal, handmade item for the flat!

Personal Cushion Covers

Construction, Homeware

As you might be able to tell…I have been clearing out my room and finding many a gem as I go. Memorabilia from an extremely happy and crazy childhood!

One of them was an old school leavers hoodie! I think by now many of us have things like this…and I really didn’t want to part with it because it includes ALL the names of ALL the people I met at school, many of whom I hardly hear hide or hair from!

So, I was thinking about what to do with it when I remembered that my mum once made her dad a cushion cover with one of his old coats which had a few memorable badges on and that sparked off my imagination!

I reduced the depth of the jumper on the front, being sure to keep the school badge and the pockets (!) and cut out the section of names on the back and created a very simple cushion cover out of them! Using the excess ribbing, I overlapped it front to back and stitched it down…and I am thrilled with it! Additional memorabilia came in the shape of school ties too!

It would be fairly easy to create fastenings instead of stitching the cover closed, to make it easier to remove and wash the jumper/cushion and I feel it is something which might appeal to others – we all keep sentimental items and then wonder where we should put them, keep them or do with them, and this is quite an elegant solution!

I caught the bug a little, and added a small bade design of my Fresher’s Fair from Huddersfield Uni to an old cushion to brighten it up too…think I should stop now!


Funked up lamp shades!

Construction, Homeware

My boyfriend and I are moving into our new flat at the end of August and both our families have been really generous (or sneaky, whatever way you look at it!) by giving us some stuff they do not need or want anymore for us to furnish the flat with! For example, his mum has this gorgeous oak table which folds out and matching chairs to go with it, but they need some TLC…anyway…getting sidetracked from the title…!

My mum passed on these two lamps, which are nice, there is nothing wrong with them, but from my oo arh! sessions I have realised that a little bit of colour can really make a difference to an item.

So I started to research what one can do with a tired looking lamp shade and had to mini inspiration bolts. With the first, I decided I would use an old map of where I went to uni (again, from my mum) and use that and some ribbon to decorate it with!

I rolled and marked the lamp shade on some pattern paper, cut it out and I had my own pattern to reference. I cut the map out with the pattern and checked it fitted snuggly!

Then I went ahead and slowly, section by section, sprayed glue onto the lamp shade and stuck the map down over it – I repeated this the whole way across the shade and it worked rather well – there were some bumps but that was to be expected as paper is not as forgiving as fabric.

The bottom line of the shade was neat but the top one could so with some attention so I glue gunned some ribbon over the top to conceal the rough edge and around the base of the lamp, just to tie it into the design… and there you have it! I’m pretty chuffed with that one!

With the second, I decided to make one just for me – and I have a small obsession with bikes, and cards with bikes on, and fabric with bikes on…and I happened to have hoarded some beautiful bike fabric!


For starters I painted over the boring grey, using a bright royal blue to match some of the bikes on the fabric!

I then used the same patter from the first shade, since they are identical, and cut out my fabric, leaving 1″ seam allowance all around, just to be safe.


Just like the map shade, I used spray mount to attach the fabric securely to the shade, leaving ample allowance for me to trim down to size.

I cut the allowance as fine as I dared to the under fold and began glue gunning the over lap down – ok, so it was not as neat as I had hoped but it is on the inside so hopefully will not be seen! Neat or not, the glue did it’s job and I am really pleased with the way they have both turned out – much funkier and more exciting than a run of the mill lamp shade, and they will add a personal touch to our little flat!


WOMAD 2016


So another year has been and gone…and it is WOMAD o’clock!


Seems to be a tradition now, that when we are driving to WOMAD (not that long a drive!) we tune into radio WOMAD to get us in the mood for the world music, the dancing and the fun to come! There were some great tracks chosen, especially a folk one which got us both jigging in our seats!


In convoy once more, us in ‘Rover’ (a company car which accompanied us last year!) and Matty in ‘Bertie’ behind, also jigging to the same tunes!

We arrived and were promptly shown to our slot in the newly lain out arena – I know! No more grid shaped WOMAD for us! They had evolved the original lay out to a much more meandering one which I love – yes, it meant that to do a loop took a lot longer but it meant that everyone got seen and enjoyed. And all the food was in one place, and we were placed with traders of a similar ilk which was lovely to see what they sold and how they got their inspiration!

The only downfall was that the stages ended up being very cramped when a popular act was on! But I quite like that because it meant we were all in it together instead of spread out – but I can understand why some people were disappointed by the new set up, but it was definitely time for a change.

So, as I was saying, we arrived at our pitch and started assembling my lovely gazebo. We hit a few stumbling blocks due to the tightness of the pitch – lots of rows of stalls had plenty of room between each one but our row seemed to be extra tight – so much so that we could not put up the fantastic sign we had at Boondocks so had to improvise with some bamboo and string to erect the oo arh! sign. It was a shame not to have it but our new system worked juts fine.

We used a similar lay out to Boondocks, since it worked so well, but we attached my standing mannequin to the front of the outside rail to add interest and show off the clothes which are better seen on a body than on a hanger!

I know I say this every time but part of doing festivals is the interaction with the customers – it does take a lot out of you but that is why I try and drag along Matty and Alex, so that at least one of us is bouncy and fresh to greet everyone with a smile! We got so many lovely comments from people passing by, to people just saying ‘oo arh!’ which really made me laugh, people wanting a chat about anything – got some amazing tips about finding veggie restaurants abroad! – and people admiring the colours inside!

I always forget to get pictures of everyone but here are a few…


Georgina fell in love with my favourite blue sari skirt but was concerned about the length since she has a toddler to run after, so she came back and we pinned it up together to achieve a sensible length but still retaining the beautiful drape of the fabric. And she took it home to continue the up cycling circle! So thrilled to have my first ‘alterations’ customer!


How fabulously happy does this lady look?! I was not there for this sale, but Alex said she loved it so much she wanted to wear it then and there – it fits her perfectly, and it is moment like this which I believe oo arh! was made for – to make people feel amazing!


And what about this outfit! The ruffled sleeves match her dress perfectly, and she said she had a black ruffled dress which she was going to compliment the jacket with! This was one of the very first oo arh! items I created and I am so pleased it has gone to a colourful home!

So, that is another year gone…it was such a fantastic festival – we were lucky with the weather, not much rain and the heat of the sun burnt out during the day so it was not stifling! We had lovely neighbours again, and got to visit out trader chums! Saw some amazing bands, and got to meet a lot of them after they sets – even found a fellow twin in This Is The Kit!

I have never been so bombarded by heart felt congratulations from customers, and felt so proud of how far I have come. So, a huge thank you to everyone who came and visited and to those who found their own slice of oo arh! fashion to take home! Thank you to Lulu and the entire WOMAD crew for making it another spectacular year and to all those who believed in me and have helped me.

We have our eyes set on next year and how to take oo arh! further and further…I cannot wait – see you in another field next year! Keep dancing and being amazing to everyone!