Monday, November 30, 2020

Smaller upholstery project

I have had this stool for 25 years or so, and considering the time, it was in a fairly good condition, but the leather was worn and I was simply bored of how it looked. So I decided to take it into pieces and replace the leather with something else.

I'm not sure what I expected to find inside, but I was still surprised by polystyrene. I should have known, really, because of how little the stool weighted. So, it was polystyrene inner structure, plastic foam for cushioning, and leather covering.

I removed everything else and started working with the polystyrene structure. I used an old carpet to cover the polystyrene, hand sewing the pieces in place. The filling of the red pillow would become the seat cushion. The green roll is the type of plastic foam you can use under your sleeping bag when you go camping, and it was going to cover the sides of the stool.

Below you can see the green foam in place around the sides. It's main purpose is to prevent dents in the polystyrene. The round piece is an old bed sheet (100% cotton) with pieces of my old jeans sewn into it. I wanted to use the jeans fabric, but I didn't want any stretching, which is why I decided to use cotton as a base for the seat covering.

The rest of the wedge shaped pieces are made of leather. I had this gold-colored leather I bought from the closing sale of a store that sold leather goods, and I had never found any use for it. I originally bought it just because I liked how it looked. I had no plans for it at the time and hadn't had in the over a decade that followed. At least now it got some use. At this point there is a seat cushion under the covering. I made it using the same cotton.

Below are the two parts of the outer layer. I used the jeans for the sides, because I liked the idea of having pockets on the side of the stool. The blue cotton part goes under the stool.

After sewing the two parts together and getting the covering over the stool, I covered the center part inside the structure with the same cotton, because part of it was going to be visible from below. It's just a piece of fabric secured in place by tying some string around it.

Here is the bottom with everything finished. The covering is pulled tight with a piece of string.

Here is the finished stool. The seat cushion seemed a bit too curved first, and I thought I might have to adjust it, but after the stool was used for some time, the filling settled and it is now slightly flatter than in this picture.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Leftovers from the upholstery project

When I bought the fabric for upholstering the armchair, I had to get plenty of extra, because I needed to be sure I'd be able to align the patterns to my liking. So, after the armchair was ready, I was left with quite a bit of extra fabric and needed to figure out something to do with it. Shopping bags are always useful, so I used the fabric to make one.

This is an extra bag to be carried inside the regular bag in case I buy so much stuff that one bag isn't enough, so I also made a little pouch to keep the bag in, so it'll take as little space as possible.

In case you're wondering, I haven't been using plastic shopping bags regularly for the past 20 years or so. I always take my own bags with me when I go grocery shopping and only get a plastic bag occasionally, if I end up shopping unexpectedly and haven't had the chance to prepare for it.

It wasn't an environmental thing to start with, just about convenience, because it was so annoying to have those plastic bags accumulate in the cupboard. I used to use them as trash bin liners, but it's cheaper to buy trash bags in a roll as they are made of thinner plastic.

Nowadays I also consider the environmental effect. I've seen calculations on the total cost of using plastic bags versus a bag made of more lasting materials. I don't think those apply, when you use leftover materials for making a shopping bag yourself.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Upholstering an armchair

I upholstered an armchair when I was 18. I had no one to ask for advice, and there was no Internet to turn to, so I had to figure it out all by myself. The result wasn't great, but it served its purpose. 

A couple of years back, I decided to try another one as its fabric was worn through in a few places and also had some grease stains. With the one I made over 30 years ago, I used black fabric, so aligning patterns wasn't an issue. With this one, I chose probably the worst possible option, but I really liked the fabric, so I decided to give it a shot.

I cut the fabric by placing it on top of the relevant part and following the seams of the existing upholstery, leaving wide seam allowances. From the beginning, the plan was to leave the original upholstery underneath and just cover it with the new fabric.

The curves of the chair made it hard to sew the fabrics together in the correct shape. I made the curved part too long and then used the narrow front pieces to tighten the fabric. At this stage, I suspected that the upholstery would remain loose in some places.

The following picture shows the structure from below. The curved black part covered the bottom of the chair, so it had to be removed. That required screwdrivers, pliers and a hammer, but I managed to remove all staples eventually.

Below is the fabric in place, the right side out, but not yet stapled to the chair. The good thing with this sort of upholstery is that you can tighten the fabric quite a bit in the stapling stage, but that presents the problem of getting an even tension to all parts of the fabric.

Here's the stapler. I don't remember why I purchased this originally as it was probably 20 years ago or so, but it was perfect for this purpose.

Below is the fabric stapled in place and with excess cut off. It did not remain loose anywhere as I was able to tighten it while stapling it in place with probably more staples than was necessary. If I ever need to remove this upholstery, I'll be regretting that.

The original cover of the seat cushion had a zipper, but I wasn't going to do that for the new cover, so I sewed the cover in place by hand. If it needs to be removed for cleaning, I'll cut the stitches and sew it back again afterwards.

Finally, here are pictures of the finished chair from different sides. I like that fabric so much. When I was cutting it, my main aim was to have the pictures as intact as possible within the panels. The curved seams and the number of panels made this difficult, but I'm fairly pleased with the result nonetheless.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Card-woven belt

Among the card-woven bands I made a few years ago was a narrow long band that was supposed to become a strap for a bag, I think. Doesn't matter what it was planned to be, it's now a belt. I ordered a plastic buckle of suitable size, which arrived yesterday.

One end of the belt is to be fixed into the buckle, so I sewed it in place securely. The other end allows for adjusting the length, so it just needed something to make it neater and easier to get through the openings in the buckle. As the band had pink in it and I had some bright pink leather, I thought that would be a good combination. In the photo below, there are two pieces of leather glued around the end of the band. I used PVA glue as it should work fine for something like this.

When the glue was dry, I cut off the excess leather, so the end is the same width as the band. In the picture below, that end is also in place in the buckle and has been adjusted to fit my waist. It's nice to have some extra length for adjustment, although I hope I'll never need it. In the picture, you can also see better how the other end was sewn in place.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

The first Doll Shoe Projects book

I finally finished the book, and it is now available in Amazon. I was planning to make it -50% for the first few days, but it seems that I can't do that. The promotion page says it needs to be available for 30 days first. So, it's $3.29 or whatever that is in your currency. To check it in, click here.

This is the first book in a series of books of doll shoe projects. Each book will have a theme, like this one, and all the materials used for the projects are selected so that they will be as easy to find and as affordable as possible. The projects are described step by step, and everything you need to know is explained, so although some of the techniques are the same as in Techniques for Making Doll Shoes, you do not need that book for making these projects.

Repainting a relief

 As I was cleaning my parents' house for sale a few years back, my aunt gave me this relief as she was going through her own belongings that were there. She said the lips were painted later and this was originally all black.

I decided to repaint this all black. The first step was to clean it. As I was going to paint it, I used acetone, so I could remove as much of the paint from the lips as possible. Acetone is harsh, but it also cleans the surface efficiently before painting.

Then I used matte acrylic paint and applied several coats of it. The result looked quite nice, but I knew it wouldn't stay that way, so I used sealer to make the surface easier to clean. The picture below shows the surface after painting, before the sealer.

I put the original choker back, but made new earrings, which I secured in place using hot glue.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Extending the waist band of cargo pants

I have a pair of cargo pants that didn't fit me anymore. The legs were fine, but hips and waist required extension. I've never done anything like this, but decided to try anyway as the pants were of no use to me as they were. So I opened the side seams down to the upper edges of the pockets that are on the sides just a little over the knees.

Then I cut wedge shaped pieces out of black 100% cotton. I bought the fabric specifically for this purpose. For some reason, the instructions that came with the fabric said it should be washed in 40 degrees (C). 100% cotton should be able to take 60 (the pants certainly can), so I washed the fabric first to make sure of that.

I pinned the wedges in place and tried the pants on to make sure everything was fine. I made the waist slightly too loose to take into account possible future weight gain. There are straps on the sides to make the waist tighter, so I'm using them now to get the waist to the correct size.

At this point my sewing machine stopped working, so I had to take it to be serviced, which took 10 days. I had to stop all of my current projects for that time as they all require the sewing machine. 

Sewing the seams was one of the most difficult projects I've done so far, but at least the sewing machine was freshly serviced and wasn't causing any trouble.

After sewing the wedges in place, I had to fix the inside of the waist band. When I opened the side seams, I had to cut the band that was going around the inside at the waist, and now it required extensions as well.

Here is an extension sewn in place. I have no idea how these things are supposed to be made, so I've just done everything in this project as I have seen fit. There are probably some unnecessary seams in places, but black thread on black fabric isn't too noticeable, so it doesn't matter.

As I had already seen so much trouble with these, I decided to also shorten the legs, which had always been a bit too long. It hadn't bothered me as I mostly used these in the forest and put the pants legs inside the rubber boots. Now I'll be using these during the winter in the city, so it's nicer to have them at proper length.

In the picture above, I'm wearing the pants with the side straps set as shown in the following picture. I can get the waist just the right size, but also adjust it in case of temporary bloating or some more permanent weight gain.

The final thing was sewing a button in place as there was one button missing. This kind of pants are great because there's no zipper to be replaced, but on the other hand, buttons have a tendency to fall more often than a zipper breaks.

Monday, November 23, 2020

More cases using card-woven bands

The older mobile phone case differs slightly from the other cases I have made using card-woven bands. I didn't use a zipper and left one end of the bands uncovered. The picture below shows the case front closed & front open, and the back of the case. I made the bands from leftover yarn, so I had to combine several different colors. It works great when you divide them into dark and light colors and then make the band the same way as you'd make a two-colored one.

The mobile phone case is made of 100% cotton yarn. I have also experimented with combining that and a wool/polyester blend (the dark read yarn in the picture below). That experiment ended up to be a case for PlayStation Vita. It's similar to the Kindle case, except there's a little less padding in this one.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Follow me on Twitter

If you want to get a notification when I update the blog, follow me on Twitter. I will post updates on new blog posts, some other stuff about my projects, and occasionally some Nintendo Switch screenshots.

Apron (because pockets!)

 I've been using skirts more than usual as I'm home all the time, except for grocery shopping. The biggest problem with skirts is no pockets. I'm making a dress/housecoat with big pockets, so I decided to use the same pocket pattern for making an apron with huge pockets.

It's just a rectangular piece of fabric with gathered upper edge and a waistband and pockets made of different fabric. 

I'm also starting again to post in the Fashion Doll Shoes blog, starting with some projects done between 2015 and now. I have posted some of these to Instagram, but it's nice to have one post per project, collecting all stages together.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Mobile phone case

I made a mobile phone case out of card-woven bands for my previous phone, but my current phone is bigger, so I needed a new one. This is a variation of the Kindle case I made earlier.

I sewed two lengths of band together and pressed the piece flat (see the earlier post). Then I added pieces of fabric to the ends to make them neat. First you sew the fabric and band to each other right sides together. Then you cut off any extra fabric and turn the fabric around the edges and sew it in place. In total there will be two seams in each end.

In this case, I added loops to the back as this is meant for hanging from a belt. I used sewing machine for sewing all the fabrics in place as it's easier and faster. The only hand sewn seams are the middle seam and edges.

Before sewing the edges together (see the earlier post), I sewed the button in place and made a loop for closing the case. It's easier to do that first and only sew the side seams when everything else is done.

This was much faster to make than the Kindle case as I left out all the padding. The case is made of just the bands and the green fabric. I intend to put the phone in with the screen towards me, so there isn't much risk of it breaking inside the case. The previous case worked for that phone fine this way, so I'm expecting this to be fine as well.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Some alterations

 I don't buy clothes often, so what I have I tend to use until they're ready to be thrown away. This has led to accumulation of some items I haven't been using for a long time and didn't think I would be using as they are. So, it was time for some alterations.

The first one was a fleece sweater I got for free from my last employer (I've been self-employed for 16 years now). The company's name and logo changed, and all the promotional stuff was given to employees, so I got this good quality sweater I used quite a lot for the first few years, but haven't used for some time now. It has always been too big for me (it was the smallest size available, so of course I took it as it was free), so I decided to make it a vest and take the seams in so it would fit better.

I have another project for which I'm using some old flannel shirts, so I took some of that fabric for the hem and arm hole edges. I also decided to use a patch to cover the logo. I doubt many people would even know whose logo it is as it's been so long since that name change (the company has changed its name several times after that due to mergers). I took in quite a lot from the side seams and cut the front open to sew a zipper in place.

The second piece was a maxi dress that had never felt quite right. It looked fine, but the fabric is too stiff for the length shown in the picture below.

I thought knee length would be better. It took a lot to start cutting the fabric after measuring everything twice. This is a good quality dress that wasn't cheap, and I was terrified I'd mess something up. However, everything turned out just fine as you can see in the next picture.

I have a some more projects of this type in progress at the moment. One of them is fixing cargo pants that need the hips and waist extended as they don't fit me anymore. As I was in the middle of this project, my sewing machine stopped working properly, so I had to take it in to be repaired and that took 10 days. That stopped me from finishing the project, but now I should be able to do that.