Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Home Dec Round to Its

Last week, my "Round to Its" focused on the Home Dec projects on my list--and I'm proud to say, I've crossed most of those off the list. The majority centered around repairing items in the family room.
By the way, making a list and keeping it on the computer has been helpful. As I complete something, I highlight it in color—that way when I look at my list, I can see how much I've accomplished. It feels good to knock a few projects off the list each week. My list is divided into categories, such as Home Dec, Creative, Work, etc.

Here's what I knocked off the list last week.

Six years ago, I ordered two custom-made couches in a fabulous Jay Lang floral print. They each came with two feather-stuffed accent pillows, trimmed in piping. I got to choose the fabrics for all three, so the couches are just what I wanted. However, I was never really crazy about the red fabric for the pillows—it was too much toward the orange side for my taste, even though it definitely matches one of the other reds in the floral print. Because my area rug is really red, as are the lap quilts I use in the family room, the orangey red has always bothered my sense of aesthetics.

Shortly after we moved into our house, I purchased a redder red fabric to replace the pillows—that was five years ago! Finally, I got around to making new covers for the pillows on the couch in the family room. (Last year I made covers for the pillows on the sofa in the living room, using fabric that matches the sofas.)

Because the new fabric was a smooth satin weave, I decided to add a bit more texture on the front of the pillow. I drew a 2"-wide grid of diagonal lines on the square using dressmaker's chalk, and then layered it with thin cotton batting, and stitched on the lines. Notice the handle on my rotary cutter--and read about it at the end of this post.

I'm much happier with the color and love the quilted fronts—which will probably look more textured after the covers are washed the first time. The photo shows how much different the two colors are. The darker red is also in the floral print, but the furniture store just didn't have anything like it when I ordered the sofas.

Since these pillows belong in the family room, and will be washed (not dry-cleaned), I did preshrink the fabric, which removed the stain-repellent finish. After completing the pillows, I restored the finish with a spray-on repellant—I'll do that each time I wash the pillow covers.

To refresh pillows between cover washings, I toss them into the dryer for 5 minutes. That fluffs them and refreshes them beautifully.

I made new piping, using the same fabric as that on the sofas. Shortly after I purchased the sofas, I found the same fabric at Calico Corners and bought 20 yards—just in case I needed it for repairs, or seat cushions, or valances, or whatever! As it turned out, I used some of it to make a floor-length tablecloth for the small table in our eat-in kitchen that is open to the family room.

I learned something while making the piping that had never occurred to me before. First of all, piping fabric needs to be cut on the bias in order to fit smoothly around square corners. When applying it, you need to stop at the corner and clip the piping seam allowance to make it fit around the point. I've always just clipped it in several places in the area that will go around the corner--and things usually work out fine, but often the corners are a bit "rounder" than I would like.

Clip the piping seam allowance at
the precise point where you will
turn the corner.

To remedy this, I tried something I had never seen in a sewing book. I clipped the piping seam only once, precisely in line with the 3/4"-wide seam allowance I was using to sew the piping in place. This results in a rounded corner that is more toward the "square" side. Unfortunately, I didn't try this on my pillow covers. It dawned on me after the fact so I did the samples you see here.

When I made the floor-length tablecloth for the eat-in kitchen, I didn't think to preshrink the fabric first—and a big spill made it necessary to wash it—bad idea. That made the tablecloth 2-1/2" shy of the floor all around. To remedy that, I used some of the same fabric to make a 2-1/2"-wide finished band to sew to the lower edge.

First I removed the original 1/2"-wide finished hem and then used a 1/2"-wide seam allowance to join the band to the lower edge of the tablecloth. I cut the band on the bias in order to maneuver around the curves and was very careful not to stretch or distort it while I stitched so there would be no wrinkles in the finished band. I cut it twice the required finished width plus two 1/2" seam allowances, so, in this case, the bias strips were cut 6" wide. I used rotary cutting tools to make quick work of it. I also serge-finished one long edge. Matching raw edges, I pinned and stitched the band to the lower edge of the tablecloth.

To join the ends of the band where they met, I followed my own good advice in my book, The Quilting Answer Book, so the join is on the bias and less bulky and noticeable than if I had used a straight seam. This method is a bit tricky, but worked like a charm.

After pressing and turning the band to the inside, measuring carefully to make sure the band was 2-1/2"-wide on the right side, I pinned it in place with the serged edge extending beyond the stitching line, and then stitched-in-the-ditch to secure it. I also topstitched through all layers 1/4" from the seamline. I'm so much happier with how it looks. This photo is very true to color, and you can see both the true red and orange red colors in the print.

I had also made a red-and-white-checked table topper, and like the tablecloth it shrank in the wash. I had purchased 15 yards of this fabric to complement the sofa/tablecloth fabric, again, not knowing how much I would need. I started with a 48" square, but it shrank more in length than width so it was no longer square. It was driving me crazy. Since I also had extra fabric, I made a new topper, this time preshrinking the fabric first. If it shrinks again, I may add ball fringe to the outer edges!

When we moved into this house, I made pleated valances using the checked fabric as the predominant fabric, with the sofa fabric peeking out of the pleats and as the casing along the top. For the lower half of the window, I purchased pale yellow sheers and added a yellow print casing. I've never seen anything like these two treatments and am happy with the results—they garner lots of compliments. However, because I didn't preshrink the yellow print, the casings are now too short—and the outside of them has faded from the sun. 
If you look at the right end of the rod, you can see that
the bands shrank a good inch, leaving the tension rod
exposed--not very pretty!

You can see how damaging
the sun can be by comparing
the top and bottom halves of
the casing band I removed.

That meant replacing the headers on the sheers. They've been driving me crazy—and even Stan noticed they were "too short." I've been going to get around to it for at least two years; I wasn't looking forward to unstitching, but it really only took an afternoon to cut new casings, remove the old ones, and replace them. It was worth it! I'm going to invest in spray-on sun protector for the back of the casings, too.

I also made a valance for the kitchen window—it's been "naked" since we moved here; I ran out of steam after finishing the valances at the windows in the family room and eat-in-kitchen area. Instead of multiple pleats like those in the family room, this valance has only one pleat at the center and rests on a tension rod between the two cabinets. Sorry about the bad angle on this shot--I should have stood on a chair, but I think you get the idea.

At Christmas time, I will remove the valance to expose the ribbon-wrapped rod where I hang many of my favorite Santa ornaments. (My dear husband has dubbed this "the Santa gallows." Shame on him!)

Before I put away the fabrics, I also made a tissue holder so my beautiful room wouldn't be marred by an ugly tissue box. Stan just laughs at me but it makes me happy! And, it's so Victorian, in keeping with the house!

Grip It!
The sales personnel at my local quilt shop use a handle with rubber grippers on their rotary cutting rulers. It always looked pretty handy, but somehow, I just couldn't cough up the price (and purple doesn't go with my sewing room colors), so I've never had one. Last week, I was wandering the aisles at Harbor Freight when I spotted a suction gripper for the bathroom—and it works on my rotary ruler just like the one I saw at the quilt shop—it's just a different color. The good news? It was under $7.00, more in line with my budget. I bought one and put it to use right away as you saw earlier in this post. Boy, is it a help when cutting through multiple layers of home dec fabric! It made it much easier to cut the wide bias bands for my tablecloth.

Let me know what you're sewing and send any sewing or quilting questions you may have and I'll try to answer them! Don't forget to check out my "Answer Books." Both of them are now also available as e-books at Amazon.com.

Until next time, keep sewing and smiling,

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