Monthly Archives: April 2016

Sewing Table Revamp

As a child I was always fascinated with my grandmothers sewing table, nestled between the armchairs in the parlour. Such an unassuming piece of furniture, with its almost secret compartments filled with brightly coloured buttons and thread. Over the last few years as I have grown to love sewing I have been filled with a desire to have my own sewing table.

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I finally managed to pick one up at Chiswick carboot (a mecca for lovely, good quality, vintage items) once I had spotted it there was no question of leaving it behind. The varnish on the outside was very badly aged, flaking off when touched.

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The silk on the inside is beautiful and in reasonable condition except for a couple of water marks on the lid. Unfortunately the glue used on the silk has completely degraded and the paper giving it the corrugated effect has deteriorated with it. I will try taking it out and seeing what I can do about re-using it. If not I have some nice cottons I can use.

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I started off by sanding off all the old varnish. I removed the padded inner from the lid, the loose base, trim and tried to carefully remove the old silk lining. However, in some areas I had to soak the glue to get silk out to clean it.

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I then spread some newspaper outside and sprayed all of the wood with a surface primer.

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Once dried I covered this with two layers of quick drying white gloss paint to match my desk.

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I replaced the missing draw handle with an art deco style handle from a set of reclaimed handles from eBay, and some matching corner guards. Again this is to match a similar project I am doing on my desk.

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I choose a retro printed cotton lawn from my stash to line the inside. I also added a lining to the drawer to match this time.

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I used the old silk buttons to add the details of the padding back in. I think they match the new cotton very well.

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The plan was to use this for most of my sewing supplies. Thread in the drawer and other things in the top. Thanks to a fabulous (and a bargin) find of vintage cotton and silk threads from a junk shop in Greenwich, my thread stash now fills the whole thing. Still I think it looks good with my great grand mother sewing box and my other storage containers.

Spring Cleaning My Life!

Right, time for drastic action!

I have had a few things happen recently that have left me feeling really low, self conscious and with low self esteem. We all have those days, or weeks. But I have made a few decisions on how to improve things. Small things I can do that make the big problems seem less bad.

Firstly, I am really really tired of wearing clothing I hate. I’m not talking about the odd thing that lurks in the back of your wardrobe hoping it might get an outing again one day. I’m talking about clothing I wear every single week. Clothing that makes me feel fat, ugly, and like I look ridiculous. Those unflattering, ill ditto g things that I wear simply, because I have to wear something. I’m sure you have stuff like that knocking about too.

How can I expect to feel good about myself or really have a good time, when that’s my starting point when I leave the house? Well no more! I have just had a massive clear out of my wardrobe. Every item of clothing I don’t like, or that doesn’t fit is going. Here’s the terrifyingly large pile. Why am I cluttering up my life like this?

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Sorry for the bad picture quality I took it in a rush before by doing things up into several bin bags.

The first batch has already gone to the charity shop. Meanwhile those that have decent sized panels of material are being chopped up in order to recycle the fabric.

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Instead of a skirt that made my hips and waist look enormous – I now have some beautiful black lace. Maybe this will be a lace top, or the side panels of some vintage high waisted pants. Who knows! What an exciting feeling.

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There are a few items knocking about that I really like and with a few minor tweaks could become wearable. I might right a post about simple alterations soon.

I am determined not to fall back into this habit. So next up is the simple matter of sewing myself a new wardrobe of clothing. No more I’ll fitting generic clothing from the shops for me. From now on its fabric I love and styles I love.IMAG1927

Here’s my fabric stash to get me inspired! Thankfully it’s as big as the clothing pile I’m getting rid of…

Large Scale Sewing Projects

Well so much for using the blog to keep me motivated! The last couple of weeks have been very hectic with work for my PhD unfortunately. Although I have managed to complete a couple of large scale sewing projects.

I have, however, had an excellent opportunity to collaborate with a good friend of mine on her exciting new project. I have recently sewn some envelope cushions for Miss Joy Books over at The Joy Book Club for her latest book subscription box.

Envelope cushions are a very nice quick sewing project which can really change the feel of a room, and instantly brighten a space. I have a standard pattern I use for sewing standard 18″ (45 cm) cushions.

Begin by cutting a rectangle 40″ by 18″. Mark 11″, 18″ and 11″ down the long length – these will be your fold lines.
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Hem the two short ends on the rectangle, I usually just turn up a 1 cm hem. Fold these ends into the middle down the fold lines. Make sure the hemmed edges are facing up (so the right sides of the cushion are together). Pin the fabric in place and sew the two side seams together, again using a 1 cm seam. Turn the cushion inside out and press.

Voila! Instant cushion.

(I am aware I am using a jumble of inches and cm in this explanation. I blame my mum for teaching me to sew cushion covers and only working in inches)

Here is the cushion cover with the finished design from the Joy book club box. A lovely themed gift to go with the book of the month.

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Generally the Book boxes contain and surprise book (something you might not have heard of, a good read but a bit different) and a series of gifts. The first few boxes have had scented candles, perfume, delicious Italian macrons, nut triangles, book themed playlists, and interesting facts amongst the contents. A couple more pictures from the lovely début box in January below. If you love a good book and nice treats in the post each month I highly recommend checking out The Joy Book Club and sharing the #BookJoy

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I have also managed to do a fair amount of sewing as part of my PhD (much to my supervisors surprise). I have been getting to grips with sewing heavy duty waterproof gortex into tents. Its slippery and requires careful tension adjustments, not to mention being very heavy to hold while sewing. Thankfully I don’t have to sleep under my own home made tents. Instead they are protective covers for statues instead.

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I learned the hard way that ordering 25m of fabric comes with many problems in terms of cutting out pattern pieces… I had to remove most of the furniture in my living room in order to lay out this out in stages to cut out the pieces!