Archive for August, 2010

An Emerging Tween Begins to Rethink Her Room Decor Plus Making Bolster Pillows

August 29, 2010

When my daughter was born nine years ago, I chose two colors to work around – a rosy pink and moss green. I also decided to create a room that would work as she grew up and, I have to admit, one that I would have liked at her age: The Roman shades have big cabbage roses, the stuffed chair I picked up at a garage sale is upholstered in a sweet all-over floral print, and the furniture is an assortment of family heirlooms (the trunk that carried my great-grandparents’ belongings from Norway, the writing desk my aunt pulled off a garbage truck in Hyde Park in the 1960s, and the wash stand received from my parents as a wedding present).

Flash forward nine years, and while I thought (read: assumed) the room would work beautifully as she got older, she has a few of her own ideas about her tween room. Over the last year, she has added her own touches – posters of pop music stars and her own drawings taped to the wall (next to the bunny quilt I made when she was a baby), a calendar thumb tacked to the door, and mod flowers that stick to the windows. My only stipulation has been that the Roman shades stay because they are too nice to replace.

Earlier this year, she played the role of client and picked fabrics for a quilt from my stash and, then together we designed it. Over the last few months, she has added some pillow made of fabrics of her own choosing, while I pretty much have stood back and just sewed (even though some of the fabrics clash a bit with the shades). So the room is losing a bit of the polish it once had, but it is becoming more her room and less mine. I’ve also concluded that the room decor, for the most part, is the little stuff … when my tween begins the argument for why she should have a cell phone and be able to text during dinner, I will take a stand!

Bolster pillows covered in a poodle print fabric were the latest addition to the room and were, surprisingly, a cinch to make. Here’s how:

Gather Your Materials

  • Bolster pillow form(s) – We purchased two 36″ long pillows that together run the length of her twin bed
  • Fabric (see below for how much) – We used 54″-wide decorator weight fabric (I pre-washed and dried a sample swatch to see if it was washable and it came out fine.)
  • Ribbon for the gathered ends
  • Thread to match

Make the Pillows

(I have been pulling my hair out for hours trying to get these directions to look as perfect as they did in my Word file, including some fairly nice illustrations. However, the computer wins in this case. WordPress has e-mailed me a couple of ideas which I will try and if either works, will update this post later. Ugh!)

  1. Cut a rectangle from your fabric for each pillow based on the following calculations:
    1. Determine the depth of the rectangle (the shorter side of the rectangle) by measuring the circumference of the pillow using a tape measure and then adding 1-1/4″ to allow for 5/8″ seam allowances. (In the pillows we made, the circumference was 26″, add to that 1-1/4″ for a total measurement of 27-1/4″.)
    2. Determine the width of the rectangle (the longer side of the rectangle) by measuring the length of the pillow and then adding the radius of each end and 1-1/4″ for each casing. (Each pillow we made measured 36″ long and had a radius of 4″. So, for each pillow, we added 36″, 8″, and 2-1/2″ together for a width measurement of 46-1/2″.)
  2. Finish the edges using your favorite method, such as a zigzag stitch around the edges.
  3. Fold the rectangle in half, right sides together, and sew a 5/8″ seam from one of the long edge to the other end; you now have a long tube.  Press the seam open and turn right side out.
  4. Make a casing for the ribbon by turning the ends down 1/2″ to the wrong side; press.  Then, turn the ends down another 1″.  Top stitch about 3/4″ from the edge, making sure to catch all fabric layers. Leave about a 3/4″ gap to thread the ribbon through.
  5. Cut a length of ribbon and attach a safety pin to one end of the ribbon; thread it through the casing. (I used about a 30″ piece of ribbon.) Then tie the ends of the ribbon together fairly tight and tuck inside the pillow. When necessary, you can just pull the ribbon out of the pillow ends, untie, and throw the case into the washing machine.
  6. Finish the ends of the pillow if you like. I wanted to tack a large button on each end, but my daughter thought it was just fine without. It is her room I reminded myself, so we skipped this step.

That’s it! Happy Sewing!

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Book Review: Zakka Sewing

August 19, 2010

Some time ago, I wrote that I was going to take a look at Zakka Sewing: 25 Japanese Projects for the Household, by Therese Laskey and Chika Mori. It is a wonderful treasure of handmade objects for the home, some of which can truly be crafted in an hour or so, like this simple, charming basket:

I did make one change to the instructions (on page 32 in the book), which speeded sewing time up even more: Since I was using a print fabric, I omitted the machine embroidery the pattern called for, as well as the decorative button. After completing the basket, I top stitched along the edge of the basket. Next time, I think I will make the handles from ribbon rather than fabric.

This basket was so easy to make that I might just make another five to hold party favors for my daughter’s upcoming birthday party…a couple more to hold teacher gifts…a few more for friends…or, maybe I will just turn the page in the book and try another project!

Happy sewing!

Chicago’s Bucktown Neighborhood – A Destination for Crafters

August 13, 2010

Like many big cities, Chicago is a mosaic of neighborhoods and one of my favorites is Bucktown on the city’s northwest side. It is home to many wonderful restaurants; unique, locally-owned shops; and is simply a great neighborhood for wandering about in when you feel like doing a bit of urban exploration. So, on a recent Sunday, my daughter and I combined a trip to see our new baby cousin with an excursion to some of our favorites stops in Bucktown.

Since breakfast is good any time of day on a rainy Sunday (in my opinion anyway), our first stop was Toast, which serves great coffee and breakfast fare. The lunch items also look good, but I have not ventured off the breakfast menu.

With tummies more than full, we went off to The Needle Shop, a fabric store that carries a limited, but very nice, selection of fabrics for apparel, home decorating, and upholstery projects. I have never walked out of the store empty handed and this time was no exception – this cute Alexander Henry owl print and the polka dot trim (from Soutache – see below) will soon be a pillow.

The Needle Shop also offers a wide range of sewing classes, from making your own clothing to sewing up cushions and other home decor items.

Next stop was Soutache (French for “braid”). This store is like a candy shop except instead of candy, it sells ribbons, buttons, feathers, and other adornments. Everything is wonderfully displayed – some items are out in the open and others are tucked away in drawers. The store is abuzz with ooohs and ahhhs as customers open cases or see yet another spool of beautiful ribbon. My daughter and I just kept saying to one another, “Oh, you have to come see this one!”

The woman who owns the shop is especially nice – she helped my daughter select ribbon and then walked us through the steps of using it to cover a headband.  She also makes lovely silk ribbon flowers and other custom items to use on clothing, hats, etc. and, like The Needle Shop, offers classes.

Our final stop was Virtu, a well-curated shop of mainly hand-made items. The selection includes ceramics, jewelry, paper goods, textiles…

There are many other shops and restaurants alongside the ones mentioned above, so whether you live in the area or are visiting, if you are looking for an interesting neighborhood to stroll through, I would put this one at the top of the list.