Beginner Upholstery Projects That Anyone Can Tackle

chair upholstery grass

While restoring an antique Chesterfield sofa to its former calls for the expertise, skills and knowledge of a professional, there are plenty of restoration and upholstery projects that most amateurs can tackle. In this blog, we’ll take a look at some simple upholstery projects that let you get creative without the need for specialist tools and years of experience.

Chair seat upholstery
When looking for an upholstery project they don’t get much easier than the humble wooden chair with a leather or fabric seat. The great thing about this type of chair is that the seat pad can be removed which means it is much easier to work on compared to other types of chairs. The only things you’ll need to tackle this project are a staple gun, sharp fabric scissors and the fabric of your choice.

Start by removing the seat pad from the chair and laying this upside down on your fabric. Next, mark out and cut your fabric leaving a good 3 – 4 inches around the seat cushion, remember to check your pattern in-case it needs to be centred prior to cutting. Once you’re happy, wrap one edge of the fabric over the edge of your cushion and staple into place if the fabric is too long then trim it to size prior to fixing in place.

When you have done one edge continue with the opposite edge pulling the fabric taut while checking that your pattern is straight. Next move on to the two remaining sides stapling the fabric in place as you go, for the corners leave these loose for now as you will want to trim these for a more professional finish.

Barstool upholstery
Similar to a chair seat the only real difference between a bar stool and a chair seat is that you will not be able to remove the seat prior to being upholstered. A wooden bar stool can be turned into an upholstered stool with a few simple steps. Tools you’ll need are foam seat pad, batting, staple gun, fabric scissors and a staple gun.

Begin by placing the stool upside down on your foam and tracing around the seat before cutting out your foam, its okay if this isn’t perfect as it will be covered up. Next wrap one or two layers of batting around the foam seat pad and stool and begin stapling into place. You want to staple this around 1cm inside the bottom edge of the stool before trimming off any excess batting fabric.

Your next step is to add a piece of lining fabric on top of the batting, stapling this in place just past the layer of staples holding the batting in place, remembering to pull the fabric tight as you go. Once you have trimmed off the excess fabric you can then begin adding your fabric covering. Cut this out so it is 3 – 4 inches larger than your stool seat before wrapping your stool and stapling in place. Check the pattern is in the correct position before fixing your first staple and work around the outside pulling the fabric taut as you staple it into place. Finally, trim off any excess fabric and turn your stool the right way up to enjoy your new upholstered stool.

Chair covers, bed skirts and headboards
Once you have built your confidence you can start working on larger projects such as sewing a chair cover, creating a bed skirt or upholstering a headboard for your bed. There are plenty of fun upholstery projects that you can tackle around the home so get creative and start having a go.

Simple steps to finish your clothes like a professional

When making your own clothes do you struggle to make them look professional? In this article, we’ll take a look at some simple steps to help make your finished clothes look more professional and give them that high-street finish. So if you want to create boutique worthy creations that are unique follow our top tips below.

Pick the right pattern

One of the best ways to get a professional finish is to ensure you choose a pattern that will flatter your shape. You’re the best person to know which styles and cuts work well on your body so use this knowledge to pick patterns that match these. Don’t let the images of models sway you into buying a style or shape that you don’t normally wear.

When looking for patterns make sure to check the recommended fabrics to get an idea of which fabrics will be suitable for making the end garment. Also if you are thinking of using a patterned fabric take the time to work out how difficult it will be to match the fabric once you start cutting out the pattern.

Wash your fabric before cutting

There’s nothing worse than spending hours creating the perfect garment only to have it ruined in the first wash. By washing the fabric first you’ll be able to see if there is any change in the feel or drape of the fabric, any colour change or if there is any shrinkage.

Iron frequently

When creating your project you’ll want to keep ironing during creation to help create a professional finish. For example, iron seams closed before ironing them open for a sharper finish. Use an ironing ham or oven gloves to hold fabric in place while ironing and prevent burnt fingers.

Select the right needle

When starting a new project we’d recommend changing to a new needle where possible for the best results. Dull or blunt needles can cause snagging, missed stitches and cause the needle to snap. Remember to always choose the most suitable needle for the fabric you will be using.

Sharp point needles – These are a great choice for woven fabrics such as cotton or linen as the slim needles have a sharp point that creates a nice even stitch with very little puckering.

Ball point needles – For sewing jersey or stretch fabrics ball point needles are the perfect choice as the rounded needle can slip between threads of the fabric without snagging it.

Universal point needles – The go-to choice for a lot of projects, universal point needles are a little bit wider than standard sharp point needles and have a slightly rounded point and can be used for both jersey and woven fabrics.

Hang before hemming

It’s important to let your fabric hang before hemming in order to let the fabric settle and drop. This is best done by leaving your garment on a dressmaker’s dummy or a padded hanger for 24 hours or longer. Once the fabric has settled you can finish your hems and be sure that you won’t be left with a wavy hem.

Don’t rush things

It can be tempting to stay up late to finish your garment but if you’re tired or trying to rush then chances are the end result won’t be as good as it could be. Sewing should always be pleasurable and the best results are always achieved when you have plenty of time to enjoy it.

A beginners guide to making unlined curtains

If you have small or large windows in your home then it can seem like an impossible job to find curtains that fit properly, but before you decide to fork out on custom made curtains why not read our beginners guide to curtain making. In this tutorial, we’ll take you through how to make your own unlined curtains and save yourself plenty of money along the way as well as creating something that’s fully bespoke.

Things you’ll need

  • Tailors chalk
  • Measuring tape
  • Fabric scissors
  • Sewing machine, needles and thread
  • Heading tape
  • Pins
  • Iron
  • Suitable fabric

Measure your fabric

The first step to creating your curtains is to measure your windows to work out how much fabric you’ll need. Depending on the width of the windows and the pattern of your material you’ll also need to work this out based on how often the pattern repeats. It’s always best to order more material than you need to make sure that you have enough for pattern matching.

Cutting the fabric

Remember the old adage measure twice and cut once, well this definitely applies when it comes to cutting your curtains. You’ll want to cut the lengths of fabric to your finished length + 8 inches for the hem and the pattern repeat measurement. So if the pattern repeats every 12 inches then this will need to be added to the measurement to get the length you need. When cutting your fabric remember to use a sharp pair of fabric scissors to make sure you get a nice clean cut.

Joining the fabric widths

Unless your window is really narrow you’ll probably need to join at least a couple of widths of fabric together to make your curtains. Pin the fabric widths together matching the pattern as you go or for plain fabrics use a half inch seam. If you are using an odd number of widths for your curtains e.g. you need 5 widths for your set of curtains then join all the widths together first before cutting down the middle. The half width will then go on the outside with the full width in the middle.

Hem the sides

Using your iron press and pin a 1 inch + 1 inch hem on the outer edges of each curtain, this should be flat stitched with a colour matched thread close to the edge of the inner fold. If you want a professional finish then you can either hand hem the sides or use a sewing machine with a blind hem stitch.

Hem the bottom of the curtains

By now your curtains should be starting to really take shape and so the next step is to hem the bottom of the curtains. Turn up a 3 inch + 3 inch hem on the bottom edge of the curtain and use an invisible hem stitch or a blind hem stitch with your sewing machine. Slip-stitch the open ends of the seams to create a neat folded edge.

Add the heading tape

If you’ve made it this far then you are nearly finished. The final step is to add the heading tape to your curtains which will let you attach it to your curtain track or pole. Smooth the curtain out on a clean flat surface with the seams and hems facing upwards and measure from the bottom to the top marking out the finished length. Fold the top of the curtain over at the finished length and trim the folded material down to 2.5 inches and iron lightly.

Once folded you need to pin your heading tape to the top edge of the curtain to hold it in place. Now you can stitch along the top and bottom edges of the tape with a thread that matches your fabric colour. You just need to attach your curtain hooks to your heading tape and you’re ready to hang your custom made curtains.

How to care for your hat or fascinator

Whether you’re into making your own hats or just love wearing hats, learning to take care of your hats properly will help to keep them looking their best for years to come. In this blog, we’ll take a look at ways that you can care for your collection of hats and fascinators and cover topics such as handling, storing, cleaning and repair.

Handling

One of the easiest ways to keep your hat in great condition is to make sure that you handle it correctly. And while different hats may have different care instructions handling is one area that is fairly standard across all types of hats. Avoid picking up your hat by the crown and where possible pick it up by the edge of the brim with clean, dry hands.

When placed on your head put it into position by placing your hand on the crown, rather than the brim. For the majority of hats, you should avoid getting them wet as this can cause it to lose its shape. If your hat does get wet then let it dry naturally to help it keep its shape.

Sweatband cleaning

Although you won’t see the sweatband while wearing your hat it is often the most stained part of your hat due to perspiration, makeup and hair products. Luckily the sweatband is simple to clean to help keep your hat smelling fresh. Fabric sweatbands can be folded down and cleaned with a mild clothes detergent and water mixture. Use a soft brush to scrub the surface and blot with a clean damp white cloth to remove stains.

For leather sweatbands, you can use commercial leather cleaning products to remove stains and odours and fold down in the same way as you would a fabric sweatband to clean. Leave to dry naturally while still folded down and once dry use a leather conditioner to keep it supple.

Hat exterior cleaning

The most visual part of your hat the exterior should be cleaned frequently to help stop the build-up of dirt and dust. Use a soft bristle brush or lint roller to remove dirt, dust and lint and work around the hat slowly following the nap of the fabric. For delicate trim like feathers, ribbons and flowers you can use a hair dryer on a low cool setting to blow away dust. Sticky tape can also be helpful for removing dust and lint from your hat.

Dented crown repair

One of the simplest ways to remove a dent in the crown of a hat is to hold the hat over the steam from a kettle for a few seconds. The steam should help soften the material and let you simply push out the dent or crease in the material. Once the dent has disappeared you can simply let the hat dry out and the dent should have disappeared.

Feather repair

Droopy feathers can be resurrected by placing over steam for a couple of seconds, while broken feathers can be mended with a touch of PVA added to the broken section of stem. Bent feathers can be straightened with hair straighteners on their lowest setting when used on the stem. Feathers which have gone past the point of repair can be removed and replaced from most hats by pinching out of the glue if this fails you can always snip them off at the base.

Storing your hats and fascinators

For short and long-term storage of hats and fascinators, it really is hard to look past a decent set of hat boxes. Not only do they help to keep your hat free from dust and dirt, but they also help protect the colour from bleaching in the sun. Hats should be stored upside down on their crown or supported on a bed of tissue paper so the weight is not placed on the brim. Feathers, flowers and veils should also be propped up using tissue paper to make sure they keep their shape.

Making your own cosplay armour using thermoplastic

A growing number of people are getting into cosplay and while shop bought outfits can be appealing a lot of people are choosing to make their own costumes. Using thermoplastics can help anyone who is looking to take their outfit creation to the next level and lets cosplayers create complex armour, weaponry and detailing. In this article, we’ll take you through some tips for making your own armour with the help of thermoplastic such as Wonderflex and Worbla.

Tools you’ll need

We’re going to assume that you already have common items such as marker pens, rulers and a craft cutting board. Some of the essential tools you’ll need to make your own cosplay armour include heat gun, craft scissors, hand punch, roller, sanding sponges, soldering iron, safety glasses and gloves.

Pattern making

In a similar way to how you need a pattern when sewing a costume the same is true when it comes to making your own armour. Luckily there is a simple way to make sure that your armour fits perfectly. Cover the part of your body in cling film and then wrap this in a couple of layers of masking tape. You can now draw the armour shape on the tape and then cut this out to make your pattern. Once you’ve cut out your patterns make sure you test them before tracing these onto your thermoplastic sheets.

Sculpting your armour

Wonderflex and Worbla are both for sculpting but in order to form armour, you’ll probably want to add two sheets together to help add more structure to your creation. Craft foam can also be used as a base to help give even more rigidity where needed. Most thermoplastics can be bonded together by simply heating and rolling together to form a stronger sheet.

To make curves you’ll need to heat your thermoplastic sheet and mould over a form, this is where having a mannequin can really help for creating a chest or back plate for your armour. For arms and legs, you can use different sized pipe or bottles to make the curves that you want. Once you’re happy with the shape and curve you can now cut out the shape of the armour. It is best to cut once the armour has been shaped as this stops the shape from distorting when being stretched and moulded.

 

 

 Add details

The great thing about working with thermoplastics is that it is easy to add new pieces to your armour including additional detailing. Spikes, borders and layers can all be created using thermoplastic and then bonded to your armour by heating and putting in place.

Priming and painting

When you are happy with the look of your armour it’s time to start priming and painting it to get the look that you want. A primer will help you create a nice smooth surface and make the finished paint job that much better. If you’ve already put the time and effort in so far then it is well worth taking the time to properly prime your armour.

When painting start off with a base paint that is darker than the end armour as you’ll also be adding highlights and shadows to create contrast. Don’t be afraid to go bold with your highlights and shadows as this will help your finished armour stand out.

Armour fixing

There are many ways to fix your armour but the most important thing is to make sure that it is comfortable to wear. It doesn’t matter how great it looks if it is uncomfortable then you won’t enjoy the experience. Test different fixings including magnets, buckles, belts, and Velcro until you find something that works for you.