oo arh! chairs

Construction, Homeware, Textile work

After working on an upholstery commission I decided to upcycle some dining room chairs for oo arh! (to take around to festivals and fairs but also to sell, as a good way of promoting my upholstery services).

So I found some lovely ones on Facebook Marketplace, just run the corner from me – they were a project that the lady had been meaning to do for ages and she decided to sell them to someone who might want to do instead – me!

They were also made locally so it is a nice bit of history to upcycle!

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I started by taking the seat and back panel out – bit of an undertaking but managed it eventually! The seat unscrews and then you can access the bolt for the back panel.

 

I striped the seat and back panels, and replaced the foam – I then had to decided what to cover it with and thought I’d go really upcycled and use some of the denim sleeves I had removed for other projects – I started cutting out panels to make the seats and match them with the corresponding back panel.

 

Next, came the fun part, shabby chic-ing them! I chose to do two blue and two grey – they look so different to the original!

 

I purchased some sand paper and furniture wax from Annie Sloan and got de-stressing!

 

It was so exciting to see them taking shape right before my eyes!

Now all I had to do was finish the seats – I stretched calico over the new foam, I’m not sure it really needed it but I always think it gives the seat a smoother finish than if I put the top fabric straight over the foam.

I then matched the denim panels so the back panel would match one of the strips of the seat cover and hammered them into place.

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I finished off the base of the chair with a piece of black fleece and cut around the holes so I could attach it to the chair again!

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And there you have it – four uniquely upcycled dining room chairs fit for a vintage fair, festival or a colourful home! Thinking of selling them individually and as a set and see which people prefer. Can’t wait to get my hands on some more now!

 

Small chair commission

Commission, Construction, Homeware, Textile work

I was commissioned by Samantha, who was my first Roman Blind customer, to see if I could rework an old chair which was left outside for a long period of time and had a hole in the middle of the seat!

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Of course, I said yes! Any excuse to get back to a bit of upholstery! With glee I striped the chair of all it’s old layers till I was back with the skeleton of the chair.

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I then added new, tight webbing…

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We decided on foam for the seat of the chair to make it extra squishy and I stretched calico over the top to give it a smooth finish.

On the back rest of the chair I started with hessian and built up horsehair and lint then stretch calico again before playing around with the placement of the top fabric.

Samantha had chosen some lovely Laura Ashley fabric that she had left over from another project and I had to join two pieces together to make enough to cover the seat, so it was tricky to hide the seam but by placing it at the back of the seat it was less visible.

We then needed to decide on how the pattern should go (see above images for options) and Sam preferred the fabric going in two different directions as it made the chair more interesting.

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She also decided on the trim she wanted – a lovely soft grey which matched the spotted fabric excellently!

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I finished the chair off with the same fabric and trim on the back and I absolutely love it!

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I did a quick fix with some upholstery velcro – I think I maybe have distorted the old seat section with all my calico stretches so it popped up at one corner but the velcro worked perfectly just to encourage it flat.

What a difference between the before and after images! I love that my job gives me to freedom to accept lovely upholstery commissions along side my oo arh! work!

Denim bean bags!

Construction, Homeware

I have been desperate to find a project that would use up my left over denim – it is surprising how much fabric I have saved over the years! I use a denim jacket but remove the sleeves, and I use the pockets of jeans for bumbags but have had no use for the rest of the garment!

So I did some research and thought that pouffes looked really good made out of denim because it comes in so many different shades and styles that they look very eclectic and unique!

I designing my own pattern based on what I had seen out on the market and got cutting…

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Trouser legs and sleeves could all be manipulated to get amazing pattern pieces – even by stitching two arms together, you get this amazing seam which still has all it’s original colour!

I then set about choosing the pieces to lie next to each other and stitching it all together…

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It took me a while to figure out if I should do a zip opening or not…because it would be good to have the option of washing it and topping up the beans as they get worn over time. Then came the quandary of how to fit it…but in the end I simply applied a reclaimed zip over the top of a seam…

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Now it looks like part of the bean bag and not just something added on! To finish off the top and bottom of the bean bag I made these patches of triangles of denim cut into circles and hand stitched them over the joins…

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I love their effect – they add more colours and different shapes to the bean bag!

I purchased some bag linings from eBay and some Polystyrene beans to fill them with…

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I may have bought too many…but I can always make more bean bags!

I fashioned a funnel out of a large piece of card, inserted it into the top of the lining and tucked the other tied end into the bean bag cover and started to fill it!

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I love the finished effect…

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These will be available on Etsy and I already have had some orders from family! Perfect as a gift or a little treat to your own home!

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Wedding bouquet

Commission, Homeware

I really wanted to save my wedding bouquet to make a memento out of it after the wedding was over…I had no idea how I would go about this and merrily went off on honeymoon leaving my mum (bless her!) to figure it out for me – honestly, I had forgotten that I wanted to save it at this point!

She did some research and managed to purchase some silicon which she places around sections of the bouquet in a large tupperware container – left it for a week or so and they came out beautifully dehydrated but still with their original shape, texture and colour (mostly).

I was thrilled! She had managed to press a whole load more too – so I had a lot of material to play with! Now what to do with it…?

Since Christmas was fast approaching I suddenly had the idea to frame a small bouquet for my Granny’s present – you know the kind of oldy-worldy style of framed dried flowers? So I did some research about how others have designed their flowers and lay them out and got playing…

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This was the arrangement I settled on and then went looking for a frame…which I probably should have done first! Although I managed to find an amazing one from Hobbycraft that just happened to be on sale – perfect! 40cm x 40cm, nice and big so I didn’t have to start rearranging!

I bought some clear glue to stick it all down with but found it hard to work with as many of the flowers and grasses were stiff, but good old double sided tape to the rescue!

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I included a sample of the lace fabric from my jacket, which avid readers will remember was my Granny’s wedding dress! Some confetti and the ribbon I had around my bouquet!

I love that all the different textures are still visible and am thrilled at the way it has turned out. Can’t wait to give it to her in a few weeks!

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Handmade Christmas decorations

Commission, Construction, Homeware

A returning customer commissioned me to make some more Christmas decorations for her family this festive season. Last year it was out of her Grandfather’s cardigan and this year she had found some beautiful embroidered handkerchiefs which belonged to her Grandmother.

I started by ironing them and the cutting them into 10cm squares with a 1cm seam allowance – I overlocked the raw edges first to prevent fraying.

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I then machined two squares together – including the ribbon to hang them by and leaving a 10cm gap so I could turn them the right way round…

They look so sweet! Now time to stuff them!

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It was actually a quick process because all that was left was to hand stitch the opening…

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I stitched the corner on this one because there was some beautiful stitching on the edge of the hankie which I wanted to preserve…

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And here they are! I hope her family like them as much as the cardigan ones – I love doing such personal projects!

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Holiday home upholstery!

Construction, Homeware, Textile work

I was contacted by a lady who had a little holiday home in Dorset to make some unique finishing touches for her redecorating!

She had already done a lovely job of some curtains for the top room and a matching chair but wanted some cushion covers to match.

So I made some out of the reverse of the curtain fabric to make them look a little different (since the chair is not exactly the same material we thought we’d make a feature of it!).

And they look really lovely! I added a zip at the back as a fastening and they look really professional!

I then moved on to the roman blind – she had one in place already so I did not have to make a mount board!

I simply made the blind, attaching the soft Velcro side as documented in my previous blog, took out the old blind and added in fresh cords and attached the new handmade blind! And it looks fab!

It was so lovely to be able to install it for her as I’ve never seen my work up in the flesh before! Super exciting and rewarding…right now I can make a blind for our new home!

Christmas markets and beyond!

Commission, Festivals, Homeware, Textile work

So, 2017 was my first Christmas season trading…and it’s time for some reflection.

To launch my festive trading I designed and made some alternative Christmas jumpers, which Webster is so wonderfully modelling here…

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With a winter animal theme and complimentary colours, each one unique and hand embroidered. They have been selling well, but I was not expecting to sell as many scrunchies as I have!

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We have also had very good responses to our ‘baggies’ (set of 3 or small, medium and large sold separately) which are very useful for filling with individual or personal presents, or simply on their own!

During the lead up to Christmas I also turned my hand to some cushions, which have not had much time on the shelves but we have also had some purchases and lovely feedback!

In total, oo arh! has attended 4 Christmas markets and overall I feel the ones we did best at were the ones like Bath, where we could have a larger range of all the stock on display. The marquee, although it is a lot of work to set up for one day events, worked to make the stall look inviting and different, even eye-catching!

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Nevertheless, even the smaller events were ways to get the name out there and to show a different way of reducing waste, which everyone can do themselves, through making or purchasing upcycled or reclaimed items. And without these advertising opportunities, I would not have been able to be involved in some of the personal commissions I have taken on this year!

It has been lovely to meet more like-minded people, friendly and encouraging traders and to get some wonderful feedback and suggestions of where to trade next, etc.

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…………………………

Looking towards 2018, it is going to be a busy year! I have some new exciting lines to look forward to, including some footwear and even more sari skirts! I am also exploring the idea of having some lines in small independent shops around the South so keep in touch for more news on that as it develops!

We may be attending a few Christmas markets this time next year but not too many as we have our wedding coming up – however we are super keen to go back to music festivals and possibly some new ones too – more information will surface in the New Year, so cannot wait to see where it takes me!

Also my soft furnishing services keep me busy on the side lines and I will still be offering these through my website. And am always up for taking on commissions, be it fashion, gifts or upholstery orientated!

A final thank you to everyone who has supported me this year, through buying your own unique oo arh! item, or commissioning one. To those who have hosted events and festivals, or simply popped into the stall for a chat and a browse! You make it all worth while and I cannot wait to get stuck into the next chapter!

Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year, one and all xx

Memory Pillows

Construction, Homeware

I was very honoured to receive a commission from Tamsin through my Wix website (although it turns out we met at Boondocks a few years ago!) to create a cushion out of her Granddad’s cardigan and also to make some mini memory pillows out of the off cuts to give to family members to hang on their Christmas trees! Such a lovely, personal, and sentimental idea, which I was thrilled to be able to accept.

I went a head and bought a 16″ square cushion and worked around the idea of keeping as much of the front as possible, so I decided to use the original zip as the opening for the cushion cover and place a panel underneath to cover the cushion exposed by the neckline. I measured and cut a front and back panel out of the shoulder section so they were already joined and added the panel over the top and stitched the three sides together.

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I asked Tamsin about the collar, as it would have looked excellent stood up or neatly stitched down with the rest of the cushion, but as it was a main feature I wanted to make sure she would like it…

In the end she went for the stitched down approach, so it looked more like a cushion than a cardigan and the final outcome was one filled with memory and comfort.

I then started cutting out small 8cm squares from the excess cardigan, patching together the different colours and features, like the cream cuffs, the zip, the ribbed pockets and the Icelandic pattern.

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To construct the decorations, I simply placed the two squares rights sides together, and stitched around 3 sides of the shape, catching a loop of maroon ribbon in one corner, then stuffing them with some high grade hollow fibre stuffing and hand stitching the opening closed…

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All in all, I was able to make 22 little memory pillows out of the off cuts and I am very proud with how they turned out. I hope Tamsin’s family are as pleased with them as I am – what a lovely reminder of a loved one at Christmas time.

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Samantha’s Roman Blinds

Construction, Homeware

The Brown family have been very good to me so far through commissions, my first curtains, first solo upholstery project, and now I have had the chance to learn how to make roman blinds! I don’t mind telling you I was extremely nervous about setting to it because they seemed so much more complicated that curtains because they are so flat and accurate but I did some research online and in a book (I know, proper research!) and started ordering all the necessary materials…mixture of eBay and The Millshop Online.

I found an excellent YouTube video by My Decozo which took me through the steps to making a roman blind which was extremely easy to follow and helpful! I find it easier working with a video but I will put it step by step here incase others find it easier with pictures, and also so I can come back to it for the next blinds!

Firstly, decided what mechanism you want to use for your blind, you can by ones or make your own – I decided to make my own with some wood 12 x 32mm. This I cut to the length of the window minus 1cm (so for this blind, 90cm – 1cm = 89cm). I then covered the wood with an off cut of Samantha’s chosen fabric (which used to be curtains in her house!).

I stuck the first side down with sellotape to hold it while I pulled the other side tight.

Fold over the next layer to create a neat finish and staple down.

Fold the corners like a present and staple securely.

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Lay a strip of sticky side velcro on the top edge and staple to secure.

Now, get your head around the chosen window and its measurements:

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  • Samantha’s windows are in alcoves so I have been given the wall to wall measurements to work from.
  • Calculate the number of rod pockets you will need (excuse the rough drawing but it helps to physically draw it).
  • Decide how many rods you want depending on the dimensions of window – Samantha’s was 90cm x 84cm so I did 3 rod pockets and worked out the measurements by following these steps:
  • 1.5 x depth of head rail (4.8cm) = A (7.2cm)
  • Full drop of blind (84cm) – A (7.2cm) = 76.8cm
  • 76.8cm / 7 (for 3 rod pockets) = 10.9cm = C
  • C = the length between rod pockets, this will be times by 2 when the sections include a fold.
  • The top section has A added to it for the mont board allowance.

Now the complicated bit is done you can start cutting out your face fabric.

  • You need to add 10cm to the finished width (so that would be 100cm for me)
  • And a top hem of 6cm and bottom hem of 10cm (so my cut length was also 100cm)

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For the lining it is slightly different.

  • It is cut to the finished width (90cm for me)
  • But you need to add an additional 5cm for the top, 5cm for the bottom, 2cm per rod pocket (6cm for me) and an ease of 5cm (lining total for me was 105cm)

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Now you are ready to start!

Beginning with the face fabric, iron one 5cm side fold and then measure across the width of the fabric to get the correct measurement and fold and iron…

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Iron the top 6cm fold…

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Reopen the top and side ironed creases and machine the soft side of the velcro…

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Moving on to the lining, on the wrong side of the fabric measure and iron the 2.5cm side folds…

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Flip the fabric over with the right side up and press over the 5cm bottom hem allowance…

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Now you are ready to start measuring out the rod pockets!

Measure from the bottom hem fold up to your first section measurement plus 1cm (for me that would be 11.9cm up from the hem fold) and mark with a pin and draw a soft pencil line from pin to pin…

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I then drew another line, 1cm off from this fold line, this will be your stitch line!

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Now fold and press along the fold line and take to your machine! Sew along the stitch line…

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Now measure up from the STITCH line up 2 x your section measurement + 1cm (10.9cm x 2 = 21.8cm + 1cm = 22.8cm) and draw your fold and stitch lines and repeat the stages!

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Now moving back to the face fabric, herringbone stitch the side folds using matching thread…

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Measure from the top fold down the length of your blind to find your correct length, fold and press…

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Then measure up from this fold your C measurement and mark with a pin on both sides of the fabric – this is your join mark for the first rod pocket, continue measuring up the sides of the fabric to mark where all of them should be so it is easier to lay the fabrics together correctly, smooth the lining across the face fabric and pin in place…

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Slip stitch the layers together, but do not go through the the front layer of the face fabric…

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Cut the excess lining fabric at the top of the blind down to the original fold line…

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Then cut down the face fabric fold to 2cm beyond the velcro and fold a 1.5cm fold underneath the velcro, pin and slipstitch to lining…

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Slip stitch the bottom hem to the lining…

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Now it is time to fix the lining to the face fabric across the width of the blind, stab stitch along the rod pocket seams starting at 10cm in from each edge fold and no more than 30cm apart from each other…

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Make small stitches above the seam line and assure you only pick a one thread from the face fabric…

Now you are ready to insert the rods, mark the fibreglass rods to 1cm less than the rod pocket, cover with masking tape and cut them using a copping saw and sanding paper…

Insert the rod and stitch the pocket closed at both ends…

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Repeat this process with the bottom bar, but cut it to 2cm shorter than the channel…

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Now you can attach the blind rings, I used the first stab stitch (at 10cm) as the first mark for a blind ring and stitched around the rod as well as to the pocket. The next one I placed at the halfway point and the last at the other 10cm point.

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I then threaded the blind cord through the rings down the length of the blind and then through an orb, tying the end to stop it pulling out…

Then, using the cord as a guide I marked where the eyelet screws needed to go and screwed them in…

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Loop the cords through the eyes, making sure to go from back to front and bringing the excess down to the side of the blind. Attach the acorn to the cord and there you have it! Your roman blind!

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Samantha had just forwarded some photographs of her blinds – and they look so lovely!

I feel I have learnt a lot from the project, and am really looking forward to the next one! I may even make one for our new home!

Chair for Amy

Homeware, Textile work

So…my first solo upholstery commission and I am very excited. It came from Alex’s family again, in the shape of a beautiful old chair covered in gorgeous, albeit faded, brocade with a pretty trim…

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It was a bit heartbreaking to rip it off, but very interesting seeing all the layers that built it up originally…

But now it is just the frame – looks edgy and arty…but not very comfy yet!

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So I started with a new webbing which was really fun to do – I end had a special tool to help me!

I then secured the springs in a similar position as they originally were…

Then I flipped the chair over and added more hessian on the underside to give it a really nice finish…

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Next came, yep you guessed it, more hessian over the top of the springs to squash them down and create our chair silhouette – I found this but really tricky as it was hard to know how much to squish them by…if I did them too much I would loose the shape of the chair, too little and the chair might be wobbly!

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Next step was to start building up the horsehair on the hessian…

And some wadding to soften the horsehair…

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And then my favourite bit, stretching the calico over all the layers and finally seeing the finished shape of the chair!

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The calico made it easy to smooth the final fabric over the top and adding the lovely trim picked out by Amy…

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And I am so so pleased with the finished item! Hope Amy loves it as much as I do!

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