Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cushy Creations (Sewing Tutorial)

I love to save money by creating a treasure out of something I already have!

When hosting our recent party, we found ourselves without proper outdoor furniture. In order to solve this problem, we immediately hit the yard/estate sales and hunted down the tables and chairs needed to get the job done (see previous posts). However, they were lacking cushions for the seats.

In my business, Karen's Garden Cottage Antiques, I specialize in creating "Pieces of Dreams" hand painted furniture, "chic-tiqued" vintage pieces, and refurbished vintage wicker. Therefore, I am always coming across cushions and pillows that are clean, but in need of a face lift. Since I don't want to display my creations with forlorn seats, I find myself doing a lot of recovering to get the look I am trying to achieve. This time, I needed some cushions for our own furniture. And lucky for me, I had a large selection of cushions to choose from, along with beautiful bolts of coordinating fabric purchased at yard sales for 5 and 10 dollars each. (Especially the red and white-checky plaid!)

Below is a step-by-step of what I did and how I did it! (You can double click on my photos to get a better view)

As you can see, I have a cushion that needs recovering. I made a pattern out of some old wrapping paper that I had handy. I placed the cushion onto the paper and traced around it, being sure to leave about 3/4 ths of an inch around to allow for the puffiness of the cushion, as well as the seam allowance. After I traced the pattern and cut it out, I folded the pattern piece in half and trimmed the pattern piece so that both sides would be even.

What you will need is one top piece and two pieces for the reverse side of the cushion. Please notice that when the two reverse side pieces are put together, they are larger in length than the top piece. I have allowed about 2 1/2 inches on each piece so that when they are put together, they overlap to form the pocket for putting the cushion into the cover. (You can see the overlap shown in the picture above.) I've carefully pinned the pattern pieces to the fabric and cut it out. (When I did this, I was working with the check/plaid material and lined up my pattern pieces on the fabric so that when sewn together, the fabric patterns would match up.)

Here is what one of the bottom pieces looks like. I am going to iron each bottom piece and prepare it for being sewn to the top cushion piece. (Once again, I have added 2 1/2 inches to the straight edge on the top of each of the bottom pieces.)

Because I want to get all my cutting and prep work done, I am hopping over to the ruffle preparation (if you choose to add one). The size of the ruffle is up to you. What I wanted was about a 2 inch ruffle, so I cut strips of material 4 1/4 inches wide. The length of the strip measures double for the area you to add the ruffle to. Here, I needed to put two strips together. ALWAYS IRON YOUR SEAMS OPEN!

After I put the two pieces together and ironed the seam, I have folded the ruffle strip in half and ironed it. My strip is done and ready for ruffling!

I am back to the two reverse side pieces and I am turning the top edge under 1/4th inch once, ironing it, turning it under once again, and ironing it again.

I've chosen to use the zig-zag stitch to make a nice clean edge to the top of my two reverse side pieces.

The ruffle and reverse side pieces are prepped and ready to go!

I am at the machine and have it set on regular straight stitching. I fold and stitch as I go, creating "finger pleats" (I really like the look and process of this type of ruffling). If you have a ruffler on your machine, you may prefer that.

For this project, I am not ruffling all the way around the piece. I have marked off the area I want to add the ruffle to and am now pinning the ruffle onto the right side of the top piece of the cushion. Notice that the ruffle is facing IN. That is so when the whole thing is sewn together (right sides together) and turned right side out, the ruffle sticks out the proper way.

This is a close up of the completed pinning down of the ruffle.

The pinning of the finger pleating is complete and with right sides together, the piece is ready to be pinned together and sewn.

Once again, right sides together, with the two reverse side pieces overlapping, it's all pinned together and ready to be sewn!

I've sewn it together, turned it right side out and ironed it. It is done and ready for the cushion to be inserted into its new cover! Notice how the pocket pieces on the reverse side of the cushion overlap and the pattern matches up.

Peek-A-Boo! It's all put together and neatly covered with something fresh and new. I've gotten the custom look I want, using things I already have, and fabric I got for a song! What could be better than that?

So, not only did I make all the cushions for the outdoor furniture (you can see it all in my previous two posts), I also mixed and matched other coordinating fabric (Country Fair Check by Waverly) and made pillows and other cushion covers. I had a lot of that checky-plaid and sewed and sewed...

...and sewed!!!!

We have a country sun porch in the old family farm house. Since there was fabric to spare, I made two styles of lined valances.

And, now that I have completed these projects and have gotten everything ready for summer and family visitors, I am back to work and painting. I will share some of those projects next!

Pieces of Dreams

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Table Setting Logic...Think: Who, What, When, Where and Why!

In early March, we received a rash of e-mails proposing the idea of a family reunion/birthday party for my now 87 year old mother-in-law (to be). We had, and still have, a great deal going on in our family this year...Babies have been born, family members are retiring and joining us as residents of Cape Cod, distantly located family hadn't seen loved ones in a while and, sadly, Wayne's 87 year old mother is battling tongue cancer. So, we decided to come together at the two houses on the Cape (the family farm house and a nearby, newly built house) to celebrate life and rally our healing powers and prayers.

I was cooking and freezing ahead for weeks because approximately 30 (give or take) people were coming to spend quality time together. In addition, Wayne and I are in "The Season" and shops don't run themselves. Food preparation aside, we also faced challenges with making changes in the house, so that we would be able to accommodate our guests for the party, and for future, expected summer visitors, in a somewhat organized and comfortable manner.

As we rolled up our sleeves to begin, I began to think of ways I could accomplish this creatively, economically, and without becoming too overwhelmed. I began with "who, what, when, where and why" and you wouldn't believe what thoughts and ideas easily came to mind.

Wayne's mom is extremely thrifty. I knew I was going to have to use things that were always in the house (like the blue and white dishes) and ease my compulsive need for a certain type of presentation (this has to match that, and that has to match this and it all has to be hand/home made), while sticking to a reasonable budget...Let me rephrase that...The cost had to be cheap, cheap, cheap! So, "who"?...Wayne's frugal Mom and lots of hungry people. "What"?...Birthday party/reunion (so, it had to be very special). "When"?...Summertime, heat, near 4th of July, and right in the height of our business time. "Where"...Cape Cod, beach, sand, etc. "Why"? Because we love each other and sometimes you just have to stop your busy lives and make the people you love feel special!

Even though we all pitched in and contributed for the 5 days full of meals and activities, Wayne and I were to host the "Lobster Reunion/Birthday Party". Below are some sample pictures of what and how I came up with the place settings:

Luckily, I had a large amount of these plates. I decided to go with summertime/traditional "lobster dinner" colors not only because of the time of year or the fact that we had the plates, but also because of a yard sale I had been to that offered up large amounts of coordinating fabrics, for cheap prices. Also, Lobster is a "sit down" dinner and can be quite messy, so I chose to help the environment and try to save on the use of paper products.

I made cloth napkins by simply ripping 2 of the coordinating fabrics into squares (View sample in my previous post to see the other napkin fabric. I set the table every-other). I made the napkin rings by cutting toilet paper roll centers into 4 pieces, wrapping them with torn, frayed strips of fabric and gluing them to the roll. I then ripped other fabric into strips and made bows, glued the bows onto the ring and glued an antique button on each bow center! After that, I folded and fanned the napkin, slipped the ring over it, slid the utensils and a plastic lobster bib into the center and we were good to go!

Close up of wrapping.

Yet another close up!

I used some fun paper napkins for the horsdeovres' table. I got these cement birds out of Wayne's dollar box outside his shop. They helped me keep the napkins from blowing away!

I found these cute tin pails at Christmas Tree Shops and put extra utensils in them. And shown in front of the pails, is a sample of the favors I made for each person.

People love to take home a little memento. This was so simple, but meant so much. I got little clay pots for each and filled them with a little red candle. I wrapped the rim with a fabric strip (to match the napkin rings), and added the bow and button. With a blue paint pen, I wrote: "Marge's 87th" on the back and "Family 2010" on the front. I filled each small cellophane bag with red and white confetti mixed with peppermint Cape Cod taffy. (Their wrappers were red, white and blue!)

All tied up with raffia and ready to go!

Here's a place setting for yet another party in another season. So you see, I haven't wasted anything. I have all my napkins laundered, my rings stored, and I am all set to entertain again, but perhaps with a different theme!

I made these arrangements for two of the food tables. Once again, Wayne's dollar bin came in handy. Isn't this aluminum tea pot cute with the geraniums and vinca? When Wayne saw the pots he said, "Hey! You owe me $2.00!" I said, "Well, I spent the rest of my money at the grocery, so I will have to pay you in grilled chicken!"

The eating tables had these sand candles on them. I used the dessert size blue and white plate as a candle dish and put the taffy and confetti around them. If you would like to make some of these candles for one of your parties, please refer to my previous post, "Come Play In the Sand", for the basic sand candle recipe.

Pictured here are the supplies for making the sand candles with dyed sand. I used 1/4 tsp. of tempera paint, per cup of sand. I added just enough water to spread and whisk the color throughout the sand.

I spread the sand on a cookie sheet to let it dry and later use it to roll the candles on.

Keep a good thought while waiting for the sand to dry! When it does, break it up fine and you are ready to roll!

When I post again, I will show you how to make the cushion covers! In the meanwhile, be happy!

Pieces of Dreams

Friday, July 9, 2010

Jumping In With Both Feet!

Any of us familiar with the personality of Cape Cod, know of the perks, quirks and little surprises it has to offer throughout the year. An example? We have the long haul of dreary, gray days that never seem to warm up. And then, here comes the blazing heat and sun. So, depending upon how organized you are with your seasonal clothing, figuring out what to wear is the easy part. But what I can never get used to is standing before the beautiful bay or sound, the heat zeroing in upon your newly exposed skin, your mind picturing the joys of a refreshing swim and then, BLAMMO! One toe goes in and that water is so cold it makes you run back up to your towel and join the rest of your friends who are shaking their heads and saying, "I'm not going in!"

But, what were we thinking, anyway? It's a huge body of water...Warm water is going to take time! However,there are those of us who want to be in that water so badly, that we jump in with both feet and let summer begin!

So, that's what I am going to do here. I haven't been posting for a while, but I haven't been lolling around on the beach, either. Since my last post in June, I have been working in my shop and preparing the Chatham house for a large family reunion/birthday party and general summer living. I've finally taken some pictures and organized them. Now it is time to "Jump In With Both Feet" and get some of the activities for summer, 2010 posted!

Pieces of Dreams

Let's start at the beginning, shall we? First, we had to find the outdoor furniture at yard sales . Next scrape and clean....Then paint. I had gotten a lot of fabric at yet another yard sale. Everything was good quality, color coordinated and cheap!!! I made these chair pads (tutorial to follow in another post) from old chair pads that were clean, but in need of some help!

Here is a completed pad. Notice how the "finger pleat" ruffles go around the front. I like the look, but I also like what it does...Saves discomfort on the back of the legs! (Pretty Tricky!)

We are not all perfect! I need chair covers that can be removed so I can wash them. Thus, the handy-dandy pocket.

This set was an ugly, faded, rusted yellow. I saved the foam and base board. Then, with fabric, glue gun and staple gun in hand, I went to it. When we finish using them, I just pop these out and bring them into our storage area.

This was the rusty green set. The chairs came with a thinner pad, design type. I repainted the table and chairs, then covered these seats along with the rest. These pads also get popped out and brought in.

Cute and perfect for summer entertaining.

Yes, yet another table and chairs to scrape and paint ( yard sale treasures). These are my most favorite chairs of all. I made the cushions with the pockets for these too. (Note that I am still using the bolt of check/plaid fabric that cost me $10.00.) (Also note, I am obviously not at the beach!)

I changed my umbrella color to red, this year. I got 2 of them at the Christmas Tree Shops for $39.00 each.

So, we have 4 coordinating tables placed on the deck and around the yard. We can move them together and switch them around any way we want or need, in order to accommodate our guests and the food, (usually very large vats of food). For our party, I had to accommodate 27. And since it was a lobster dinner, it had to be "sit down". I borrowed some extra folding tables and put red and bone-white toile' cloths on them. But, the table setting is a post for another day...I am late for the shop!

I close my blog for the day with the above "sneak preview" of the place settings for the party and for summer entertaining. (What! Did you think that after all that scraping, painting and sewing, we weren't going to have something to eat? Not in this family!!!!!)