Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Easy pillow

I'm always making pillows. It's a fast easy way to change the look of a room.  For me, the hardest part is getting the fit over the pillow form just right.  The awning stripe pillows that I made in my last post are so easy because there is only one seam, not four, and you can get a very accurate fit.   It's great for a beginner.
Here's the photo of the striped pillows from my last post.

After you select your fabric and before you start measuring and cutting, you must make sure that your fabric is straight.  Cut a few inches below the fabric store cut beyond the selvage (that white border that sometimes has stamped on writing and colors ).  Grab each side of the cut and pull in opposite directions.  The fabric should tear in a straight line.  You must have a straight line before you begin or the design will be crooked.

See how crooked the fabric store cut is. 

The next thing you want to do is take measurements of your pillow form.  I decided to use these travel pillows as my form because I wanted an oblong shape.  You can buy pillow forms at any fabric store.
You must have a horizontal measurement and a vertical one.
For the vertical measurement, measure the whole way around the pillow, then add at least 2 " to that measurement for a seam allowance.

For the horizontal measurement, just measure the diameter, not the whole way around.  To that horizontal diameter, add an allowance for the "flaps" on either side.
 If you notice on the pillow  from the post there are two "flaps" on either side.  Decide how wide you want the flaps and double that for each side.
Then use your measurements to cut your fabric.

Next, lay the fabric, right side down, fold over the flaps to the width you decided. Mine had a final measurement of 4" wide each. You could iron the seams so they'll lay straight.  I folded and pressed the torn edges under and pinned in place.

Sew the pinned seams down.

After sewing the flaps, place the fabric right side up, lay the pillow form on it,
fold over and pin across the top.
This is your only seam.

Remove the pillow form once you're sure of the size of the seam.  Sew the seam shut.

Turn the fabric right side out and slide the pillow form back in.  You're done. 
Notice, I added buttons to close the flaps.    I just sewed them onto the fabric, through both layers.

Give it a try.  Once you measure and sew the side flaps over, it's just a matter of folding in half and sewing a top seam.

Easy peasy for a custom look.

Here's a variation of the pillow.  If you have a button hole attachment on your machine you can add button holes and buttons instead of just stitching on the buttons.  You can remove the cover easily to clean and it does look more professional.   This pillow says Maison, but you just as easily could have it monogrammed, or stencil on a monogram before you sew it together.

Once you've mastered this, you're ready for the challenge round.  Look at the images below.  You'll notice that the flaps are stitched on in a contrasting fabric and not sewn down. They're only attached on one side and tucked in so that one of the unattached flaps can tuck over and cover the pillow form edge.  Some cording is also added to tie it shut. You'll need top and bottom seams to make this work.

Please let me know how your pillows turn out.


If you live in the DC area and are interested in some home styling, please contact me.
I'd love to work with you.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Styling Bookcases Part 2

I just re-did a pair of bookcases in my family room.  I purchased them from a consignment shop and had to sand, prime, and paint them.  The color I used was Benjamin Moore Pittsfield Buff.  

Here's the before ( after painting)

Notice that they were missing their backs.  I think that's because they were originally built-ins.
I decided that I would add some fabric to the back rather than adding some bead board.  
I basically cut the fabric a little larger than the opening.  I used a cardboard upholstery tack strip across the top to make sure the top was straight.  I used my electric staple gun to hold it in place. ( You must invest in an electric staple gun.  So much easier on your wrists.)
You can purchase the tack strip  here.  I purchased the roll for $3.99 for 500 feet.  If you're not going to do more upholstery though,  I've found it before at fabric stores being sold by the yard.
I included the link so you'd see what it looks like.
I use it all the time when I'm attaching cording to chair seats.  It keeps the cording straight so you don't have to use so many staples.
Here's how I used it to attach the top of the fabric to the back of the bookcase .

And just FYI, here's how I use it when adding cording to the bottom of a chair seat.  Totally unrelated, I know, but good info.

Once you attach the fabric to the top with your staple gun, staple once in the bottom center, then in the center of each of the side pieces.  Continue stapling around the remaining three sides.  Make sure that the fabric is pulled very tightly.  You could add a piece of foam core on the back on top of the fabric for extra support if you want.   I just counted on the wall for support.

Here's the after with the fabric.

Next, the styled version.  Please view my previous post, here, if you want some tips about item selection, balance, placement, and symmetry.

This is the left bookcase after styling.

This is the right bookcase after styling.

If you've read my previous post you know that I love to use books and architectural fragments when styling a bookcase.  To this mix I decided to add birds, nests, emu and ostrich eggs, tortoise shells--real and faux--and even a piece of coral resting on a book.  I called these nature-inspired shelves my Cabinets of Curiosities.
The bird prints on easels are vintage.  The largest bottle in the grouping of apothecary jars holds feathers.  Mirrors serve as backdrops for the tortoise shell and the ostrich egg.
You know how I love cloches.  I found one that not only fit perfectly on a mirrored dresser tray, but which had the word Nest etched onto it.  The emu egg on a stand fits perfectly within.
My pops of color come from the green in the transferware plates with birds, the mirror with a velvet frame,  the vintage English tile, the deep green egg, and the gold on the book spines.  
Completing the space between the bookcases is a sunburst mirror.   Surprise!   Framed architectural reference book plates and an iron bird are reflected in it.

I added a pair of slip covered slipper chairs in the foreground, and a vintage deco table with a lamp. A smaller bird print in a burled frame is on the table too.
I had the chairs covered in a neutral fabric-- something that I never do-- but I wanted them to match anywhere I put them.   I ended up hating how bland they were, even with a  pillow, so I added the strip of Robert Allen Ikat fabric and some awning stripe pillows to make them more appealing.   What do you think?
I don't know if you can make out the top of the table.  It's a mirrored top with a mirror bullseye in the center.

I want to share one more image.  It's an area rug  I found  at Tuesday Morning.  If you watched my segment on The Nate Berkus Show
you know that I received a gift certificate from Nate to Tuesday Morning.  I was very excited when I found this rug.  I knew it would work in the family room.  What a great find AND what a great price.  Thanks Nate.

Be sure to let me know how your bookcase styling turns out.
What do you think about using fabric as a backing?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Frugal Framing

  I'm always coming across vintage prints--botanicals, architectural prints, or other ephemera.  While the prints are relatively inexpensive to purchase, the framing can cost ten times the price of  the prints.  What works for me is to find an empty frame I like that is larger than the print. 
I then take the print and the frame and have a mat cut.
 Here's an example of how this worked for me.

Last Fall I went to The Big Flea in Chantilly, Va. on a antiques shopping trip with Eddie Ross and 
Jaithan Kochar. What fun and so informative. I always look forward to reading his blog.  He has so many talents and one of those I totally relate to is the way he shops vintage and then creatively makes vintage work for today's style.  You can find out about all his creative accomplishments here
Sorry, back to the post.  While shopping,  I found some fabulous old book plates of shells and fossils.  

I knew that they would be perfect with some vintage frames I had found in the summer.  I purchased the frames with no particular plan in mind for them, which unfortunately is how I frequently do things.  I fell in love with the snakeskin and the mini red leather border and knew I would eventually use them.
Pretty wonderful.

I took the bookplates and the frames to Michaels, selected a mat color, and had them cut a mat to fit the artwork and the frame.  Each mat was only $16.00.  I know the frames had their flaws, but they were so unique that I wanted to use them. 
Here's how they turned out after matting and framing.

I think they fit in perfectly with my other shell stuff.  What do you think?

I'm working on styling some shelves in a cabinet that I just updated with paint.  Make sure you stop by next week for some tips you can use to give your bookcase a designer look.