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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Signs for the Birdcage

Construction, Festivals, Homeware

So after making my new signs for oo arh! my stepdad approached me with a commission! He and my mum have a lovely restaurant in Malmesbury call ‘The Birdcage’ (I know, shamelessly promoting my family’s business – I should get commissions for how often I talk about them and their fantastic pizzas!) and he wanted some lavatory signs for it! Very exciting – so I obviously said yes…excuse to get the power tools out again!

I still have some of the reclaimed wood left over from the oo arh! signs, so I decided to cut them to size (5″x 16″) and then repeated the same process as before – it worked a treat then so I have faith that it wouldn’t fail me this time! Also Stewart stated he wanted them exactly like the originals – so I got all the materials and tools out…and got cracking! 

Boards cut to size…


First coat of Creocote..


And the next…


Now the Vaseline…


And the spray paint…


I then wiped the Vaselined edges and sanded the spray paint down to get a lovely distressed effect and started painting my lettering…


And here are the signs in situ…
I’m very proud of how they turned out and how well they fit in with the restaurant! 

Granny’s cushion covers

Construction, Homeware

Another family project – my Granny has had her sofa since we were little and she likes to have it updated everyone now and then. And this time she asked me if I might be able to make her some new cushion covers that would match her interior. Of course, I said yes, and set about choosing some fabrics…

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I finally decided on these two lovely vintage style fabrics that will hopefully compliment any living room. I also purchased some piping cod and 3 zips to make an elegant fastening to the covers.

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I topstitched the vintage fabric to the right hand side of the zip and attached the piping cord to the right side of the floral fabric.

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And then attached the two sides of the covers together via the zip…

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And the finally stitched both sides together over the piping cord to complete the cushion cover.

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I am quite pleased with the finish of the covers – especially since these are my first proper ones I have ever done! I hope she likes them and I will add a few photos of them in situ when my Granny has received her new items.

I have just been emailed this lovely photo! And she said she is really thrilled with them!

Sampler for Rosemarie Browne

Construction, Homeware

Alex was asked to be Godfather to his sister’s little girl (of course he said yes!) and so we are off to a christening! He presented his other niece and nephew with a special gift at their christenings and I thought it would be nice if I could give the new arrival a present too…

When we were born, my Granny made Matty and I samplers each – we still have them to this day and they are treasured possessions. I thought, how lovely it would be if I could continue the tradition!

Now my Granny creates the most beautiful cross stitch…she did teach me when I was little but I could never hope to replicate such perfection, so I decided to do one in my own style instead!

I did a bit of research and found some lovely examples on Pinterest and decided that an embroidery hoop would work well for a frame, like the gift I made for Alex – so I got about choosing fabrics…

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I went with a lovely dusty blue so that I could use a white thread and colourful felt flowers would stand out really well on it as a background.

I split up my hoop with very carefully, I didn’t want my writing to be all lopsided and squiffy! That would never do for a gift! I also made sure I did a little sketch before I started so I knew what I was trying to achieve.

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I added all the details that Pippa provided in our ‘New Arrival’ card to make the sampler as personal as possible. And then started cutting, making and arranging the felt flowers…

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I wanted there to be as much colour as possible to lift the plain background so I just kept going and going – I started with the smaller flowers, which I added some glass beads to to add a little extra detail…

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And the started organising the rest of the flowers to frame the name, and finally cut off the excess fabric and attached a piece of ribbon for hanging…

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Overall, I am really pleased with the outcome of the sampler! It has a lovely handmade feel to it and glows with colour! I hope Rosemarie likes it as much as I do!

 

Grandma’s chair

Homeware

Since my escapade with the mini chair, I could not wait till my next upholstery project!

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This lovely lounge chair was donated by Alex’s family, it was his Dad’s Mum’s chair originally, and since her death her household possessions were slowly distributed around the family – so lucky to have something to remember her by. Such beautiful detail on the wood, complete with wheels, and a gorgeous shape to it! We decided to make it our own by choosing some interesting fabrics to cover it with – a gorgeous tartan contrasted with the crazy colours of the exotic birds!


But before I could get to that bit, I needed to strip the chair down and see what I was dealing with! Famous last words and all that – since I am still a novice, the whole thing was daunting, so I took it one step at a time, but ended up ripping!

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And the more I took away, the more I learnt about how the chair was constructed – I tried to take as many pictures as possible, to make the reconstruction process a little bit easier for me!

 

So many layers…

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Eventually, I got down to the Tate and Lyle Sugar bag level!

And then the springs, which I decided to keep (one less thing to worry about) as they are still in pretty good nick! And gave the whole chair a good hoover – you can see the layer of dust on the straps compared to the hoovered one!

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Now it was time to take out the old tacks – I thought this would be easy, but the chair is so old, a lot of the tacks had rusted, so when I attempted to pry them out, the heads just snapped off, often leaving a sharp spike in it’s wake! Oh, well, it will be covered eventually – I’ll juts have to be careful!

I started ordering equipment which was needed, and started to feel very professional when I tacked the first strap on the back of the reclining chair! (Note HOW many tacks I had to leave in!!!)

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Alex also had a hand in restoring the chair as the left side piece had snapped, previously a bit of wood had been glued to secure it, but, like the tacks, the glue had aged and dried so Alex very kindly drilled it back on – it’s not going anywhere now!

The next step was to cover the base of the chair with hessian – again, feeling professional and clever, I cut into the hessian to allow it to curve around the arms. It’s funny how a little bit of fabric really makes it look like a chair rather than a shell.

 

I stitched the hessian to the springs, or visa versa, as this was also done on the original upholstery, and it will help keep the springs in place when sitting upon it. And then started adding the horsehair base layer as Lisa Johns taught me…it must have been over a year ago now! By making loops with the string and tightening them around the balls of horsehair. 

And covering it with calico and stretching it out to achieve a lovely smooth finish…

I also did this process on the side of the arms as these will not get too much wear and tear – I decided to use both traditional and modern upholstery techniques as Alex requested that the chair could be super comfy so I measured up and ordered some foam from HM? Foam in Calne to add the comfort Alex desired!

This I stapled to the back and arm rests of the chair and added and stretched the calico over the top because I still wanted that smooth finish which was achieved over the horsehair, and to create a good base to put the top fabric over.

 

Now for the really fun part – putting on the top fabric!! I started with the back as this was the biggest piece, I lined up where I wanted the stripes and just started tacking it in place and smoothing it down. The cuts were tricky but I just took my time getting the fabric straight and trying to be accurate with my cuts – it took shape really quickly!

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I then applied the purple tartan to the inside of the arms, the arm rests and the base of the chair!

I chose to cover the outside of the arms with a contrasting fabric – I’m glad I did as the stripes started to create a bit of an optical illusion!

I then added a trim around the arm rests and the tropical sides to hide the tacks and the edges of the fabrics…

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Finally I attached another piece of the tartan on the back of the chair, tacked it in place and, as before, covered them with the trim…

I also created a separate cushion for the bottom of the chair this could be replaced as this is the part of the chair which will take the most wear and tear, and where the foam is most likely to get flattened! With the tropical fabric on the top and bottom, tartan around the width, contrasting piping and a zip fastening at the back.

I am so so happy with the outcome – the colour is just so fab, makes me smile every time I walk into the room!

We are in the process of moving house at the moment so I will post photos of the engagement chair when it is in situ!

 

Commencing Curtains!

Construction, Homeware

This is an aspect of homeware that I have never attempted – either because I have not had the opportunity or simply because we don’t have curtains in our new flat. However, I was asked by my boyfriend’s eldest sister if I could make up some pencil pleat lined curtains for her son’s bedroom.

Now, I am a complete novice so I did was internet research and found this little video on YouTube which had all the information I needed – short, sweet and to the point.

Fairly confident I started measuring and cutting, and, due to the information on the video, I don’t think I went too wrong. Somehow I managed to miscalculate 130+22 and get 142cm so I had less fabric to work with when it came to hemming. Additionally, like most of my projects on this blog, I had to do some jiggery pokery to get the two curtains even but in my eyes that is part of the fun of it! Also the only way I now know how to make curtains is by making some mistakes and learning from them – so I am so glad I took this job on!

For my own reference as well, here are my tips for the future Amy who says yes to making curtains for someone else:

  • By a metre ruler, or two, or three, because curtains are BIG!
  • Double and triple check ALL measurements.
  • When sewing with the plastic feeling blackout material, sew with it on the bottom as the teeth on the sewing machine catch it better, and the foot gets stuck on it. No point for guessing which side was the first and failed!
  • No worries if you find an edge is not straight – but FIX it!
  • Leave hand sewing the bottom corners till LAST as these may alter slightly with the final press. 
  • One more thing…don’t worry about creasing the fabric every time it goes under the machine – press before pulling the cords!
  • ALWAYS have the fixed cord end as the join side of the curtains as it looks neater.
  • Stripes are really nice to work with because they are STRAIGHT!

And these are the finished items in situ! And for a first pair of curtains I am very proud!

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Right whose next…!?

Turns out anther family member would be asking me a similar question but on a different scale! Alex’s mum requested 13 unlined pleated curtains to replace some old ones on a their new boat – this meant they were shorter than my previous make but all different lengths and widths! Tracey had chosen a heavy navy linen which I could iron within an inch of it’s life and it would sit beautifully – very nautical!

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We started with five metres and I was able to create 5…which look amazing and fit in so nicely!

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Because a most of the curtains had different measurements I decided to do some proper calculations in order to see how much fabric I would need and we settled on another 10m! So lets see how I do…stay tuned for more photos!

We were invited aboard the Halcyon to see the curtains in all their glory! And I am so impressed, they match the interior theme beautifully and fit their specific windows amazingly – that is thanks to Tracey’s accurate measuring and my ‘measure twice, cut once’ rule!

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I think this little one in the bathroom might just be my favourite!

Wonder where the next curtains will be for!?

Removable seat covers!

Homeware

Yes! I have taken my homeware skills to the next level by making the latest seat covers removable! I thought it was a good idea since they are for the dining chairs…

My new favourite shop is H&M Foam and Upholstery – you can order the foam your chair needs and they can cut it to size! How amazing is that! So I ordered four to fit my chairs…but I think I chose the wrong option or I got the measurements wrong – but no matter, a trusty bread knife can fix this!

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Once I had my foam to the correct size, I began drafting ideas for the cover, doing the maths and making sure my lines were straight – I think it is longest I have taken over something like this, because if it ends up a little off it will be very noticeable!

I cut the top section in half and measured out the seam allowance so I could insert the zip – making these covers extremely useful!

I then attached the top (plus zip) and back sections to the top piece, and the side sections to the bottom piece, and then attached the two together, with four straps stitched into the bottom seams with velcro to make the seats easy to fasten. In hindsight this process was more complicated than it needed to be.

Although, the final outcome was better than I thought! But for the next cover, I decided to try a different process…

For the second cover, I stitched the side sections together first and then attached the front panel on to it – this was a lot quicker and easier! I have to add a small note about Bernie the overlocker – how much more professional do they look?! Am thrilled with it!

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The outcome of the second attempt was a lot neater than the first…

And here are the other two – all of these covers were made with scraps or off cuts hunted out of my bundle of fabrics. So it was nice to dig the old favourites out agin to add colour and comfort to our little flat!

For the Love of Homeware!

Homeware, Textile work

So, some more home improvement projects to share with you!

An anniversary on a budget is one I can do very well! Especially since my boyfriend does not throw anything sentimental away! There is an old hoodie which he loves and used to wear constantly but it is now looking like it has seen better days – so I commandeered it and decided to turn it into something special which he can keep!

I bought a large tapestry embroidery hoop off eBay and used it as a template to cut around the design on the back of the hoodie, which was peeling from countless washes, and stretched the hoop over it creating a frame for the design and a handy way to hang the finished item on the wall.

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I then started working into the design using wool in tones that I know Alex likes and which will compliment our flat! I simply stitched around the Chinese lettering and blanket stitched the name tag on as well!

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I then moved on to the main dying and yang style design…I started from the outside circles and worked in using tapestry stitches and a few made up as I went along!

I love the raised effect the wool gives – it makes me want to stroke the pattern, even on the photographs!

I decided to blend grey and blue in the centre of the design to add a little more interest and finally it was done! And I am rather proud of it! I hope he likes it xx

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Another shelf…? Yes please!

We got some more shelves donated from Alex’s parents for our study which are now completely full…of mostly my things I have to admit! But we still need more!

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Another weekend project for Alex was to build some shelves for our numerous DVDs! We counted…excess of 200 and counting! We went about it in a similar way to the shoe rack but Alex had the brilliant idea of adding brackets to each shelf to strengthen them. We also chose thicker chipboard so it would not split as easy when we nailed it together.

I painted the outside edges of the shelves with the same colours as previously used for the stamping of the shoe rack and our drawers – so for once in our flat, a few things actually match! It really lifts the wood and makes it more oo arh!

I also want to paint this handmade item with the stencils and maybe some free hand pictures on the side nearest the sofa, as when one sits there it looks a bit bare! So I did some sketching and decided on scenes inspired by the ‘Hobbit’!

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I bought some manga shading pens and a brush pen to make them look like proper illustrations! I split up the section in to five and started sketching in the ink brush pen. I the used the others to bring the sketches to life!

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Overall, I am very chuffed with the outcome and would now love to do another one!

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Another personal cushion!

Construction, Homeware

I decided to make a cushion for Alex to match my school leavers hoodie cushion I made previously. Whilst unpacking we came across his own leavers hoodie and his old ties and I could wait to make another!


I used the cushions to help measure the jumper to ensure I was able to get all the names etc in, and instead of using the pocket (as I did for my own one) I decided to use the arms to make this one a bit different!

I then pinned the tie in place to join up the arms and fill in the gaps, I also had to add the badge and I really like the final composition!


And now we have two on the sofa!