Sunday, 30 March 2014

Hillarys Blinds Country Crafts Competition (part 2) How to make a simple cushion with button opening

What to do with all this left over fabric from my Scotty dog doorstop?  This can mean only one thing: 

It's cushion time.

I'll grant it's not the most exciting project in the history of craft- but this Calluna fabric I got for taking part in the Hillarys Blinds Country Crafts Competition will look great on my sofa.

We redecorated the living room in soft green about a year ago. I lucked out and got great green stripey curtains from the charity shop downstairs. I had to take them up, and kept all the scraps. Slowly I've been turning the scraps into cushions.

This simple cushion is a good project for a beginner. This is how I do it.

Step 1: Cut out fabric. 
Top: Cut out the exact dimensions, in this case 19 x 19 inches.
Back: I'm going to use stripey fabric for the back, so need two stripey pieces that will be big enough (at least 15 x 19 inches each). I like to leave the backing bigger than it needs to be, it makes me stress less.
Step 2: Sew the back cushion openings
Along the long edge (this will be the opening on the back) turn up the fabric 2 inches, turn again 2 inches, pin and sew along both edges of this 2 inch folded piece with a straight stitch. Do this again for the other backing piece. Iron them out.
Step 3: Button holes
Select some buttons- mine are from charity shops and never match. Place your button holes so they will divide the back opening into thirds. Most important is they are the same distance from the centre of the cushion. The easy way to do this is to fold your fabric to can get an idea where the middle of the fabric is. Mark where the buttons should go in that new 2 inch strip on one of your back panels.

Sew in your button holes. 
Top tip- try not to stress about machine button holes- it's one of those things that are always easier than you think they are going to be. Find a Youtube tutorial of someone else doing it (with your make/model of sewing machine) and try it on a piece of scrap before stuffing up your cushion.

Step 4: Sandwich right sides together.
Lay your back pieces face up, so the 2 inch seams overlap, and button holes are on top. Pin to stop them moving about too much. Lay your cushion top face down. Use plenty of pins all around the edges. You can see here how much extra fabric I have of the stripey backing.
Step 5: Sew
Sew with a straight stitch and 1/4 inch seam allowance all around the sides. When you go past a corner, reverse for a couple of inches, to give the corners more support.

Cut away excess fabric. This particular kind of fabric frays a bit- to keep it machine-wash friendly, run a zig zag stitch around the edges to anchor all of the loose ends.

Clip the corners.
Remove the pins, turn it out, and sew in your buttons. Add your cushion.

Fluff and plump and admire your work!

If you want to skip the buttons altogether, you could make the back panels overlap a few more inches, to create a pillow slip style cushion.
As The Dude would put it- this cushion really ties the room together, man.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Hillarys Blinds Country Crafts Competition : Scotty dog doorstop

A year or so ago, I found this lovely Scotty dog making tutorial by Jenny Allsorts. I did my best to sketch out the design, and have had lots of fun making them for friends.
My first Scotty Dog- made from Isle of Skye tartan
A couple of weeks ago I heard about Hillarys Blinds Country Crafts Competition. There were four fab fabric designs to choose from, and I really liked the heather colours and abstract design of the Calluna fabric. I was sent this great sample to create my entry. 

There's lots of heather in Scotland, so I thought I'd adapt the Scotty Dog pattern to make a doorstop.

I sketched out a new pattern piece so the scotty wouldn't have any legs.
Being a doorstop, it would need a sandbag to weigh it down. I used some scrap fabric to make a long pyramid shape, that was the same length as the Scotty front to back. I found a pack of Bulgar wheat in the back of the kitchen cupboard, that my kids refuse to eat. Perfect filler for the sandbag! Nothing goes to waste here.

If you have a go at this, make sure you leave a big gap on the top to get your sandbag in (I left from the tip of the tail to its neck). Once the bulgar wheat bag was in, I used stuffing to fill up the rest of the Scotty.

Check out my leather thimble I got for Christmas! You'll also notice a chopstick on the table- essential ear and tail poking out equipment.
Some buttons for eyes, and a simple ribbon collar (as the fabric design is quite busy), and ta daa! Scotty Dog Doorstop complete!

He's even spottier on the other side.

Thanks Hillarys for the fabric (and for getting me to explore the dark recess of my kitchen cupboard).