Thursday, 17 October 2013

HOW TO: Fringe, Tassel and Bead your Cushion!

I'm very proud to share with you the first in a new series of projects I'm completing for the Laura Ashley Blog, on how to work with trims!

Autumn is once more upon us and though the days may be getting shorter and wetter again I, for one, love it. Why? For it affords the perfect excuse to spend Sundays indoors at my beloved sewing machine, happily beavering away to a soundtrack of musicals! It’s also the perfect time of year to cosy up the home with some new cushions, quilts and throws, which brings me to a little something I’ve been working on recently...


If, like me, you are of the mindset that more is more, these cushions are for you. Think indulgent, luxurious, Great Gatsby-esque styling and you get the picture. Whilst Laura Ashley’s range of fabrics is just that, the addition of a few trims can transform something like a simple cushion into an object of wonder. The size of your cushion depends on the amount of fabric and trim you will need, but usually half a metre is more than enough. For the trim, measure around the four edges and then add an extra 15cm extra just to be on the safe side and allow for any mistakes.


Fringed Cushion
For this I used the Kirin Stripe fabric, a beautiful crisp white cotton with wide silver grey silk stripe, teamed with a simple grey 8cm long fringe from Barnett Lawson.



First, draw yourself a pattern. Brown paper is the perfect weight for pattern cutting, but baking or wrapping paper would also be fine – just don’t use newspaper as the print will come off on your beautiful fabric! Measure out a pattern the size of your cushion pad, and then add 1cm to each edge for seam allowance. If you want your finished piece to look particularly plump, scrap that last 1cm addition for added fullness. Fold your fabric in half and pin the pattern piece on through both layers, being careful to keep it flat. Then cut out so you have a pair.


Place your two pattern pieces right sides together, and carefully insert the trim in between the two layers. The fringe needs to be hanging down inside the cushion at this point – see the image below – so when it is turned the right side out it’s then on the outside. If the edging of your trim is wider than 1cm (your seam allowance) you may need to place it slightly higher than the edge of the fabric so it does not show through the seams. Pin in place, sandwiched between your two pieces of fabric.


When you come to a corner, this is where it gets a little fiddly. If you were to place the trim flat around a corner it would not ‘stretch’ around the corner when you turn the cushion the right way out. To overcome this, you must create a little fold in your trim at the corner to ensure a neat finish – see picture below. Do this by pinning straight along one edge to the corner, then folding the trim at 90 degrees to go down the next edge – a little fold will be created for you.


Once you have pinned three edges, stitch in place using a straight stitch and adhering to the 1cm seam allowance.


When you come to the final edge, you will need to leave a large portion of it open in order to get your cushion pad in. Stitch the trim and fabric together for a about 5cm from each corner. Then, for the middle portion, stitch the trim down to one side of the fabric only. This will leave the edge open, but means the trim will be held in place so it is not slipping about when you try and hand stitch the hole up later.



Before turning through, trim across the corners at 45 degrees, being careful not to cut a hole in them. This gets rids of that little bit of excess fabric that would otherwise bunch up when you turn the cushion the right way out, and prevent you getting perfectly pointed corners! Insert your cushion pad.

Finally, pin the open edge and then hand stitch the hole closed using a slip stitch. It takes a little time but is worth it for a professional finish!



Tasselled Cushion
The fundamental technique for working with trims is always the same, however depending on the thickness of them you may need to add a couple more steps.

For the second cushion I used the Villandry Velvet in amethyst and a beautifully rich purple tasselled fringe; have a look in your local haberdashery for similar.

As it was an upholstery trim it was heavier, and therefore a bit trickier to work with than a lighter weight dressmaking trim, however with the right equipment it still produces a beautiful result.

As the edge of the trim is wider than the 1cm seam allowance, rather than placing the edge of the trim to the edge of the fabric, you will need to place the edge slightly above the seam allowance so that it doesn’t show through your seam. When working with a thicker fabric and trim, it’s also important to use the right number of needle; finer, lower number (i.e. 60 or 70) needles are designed for lighter weight fabrics, whereas when working with heavier fabrics such as these a high number (such as 90 or 100) is required – working with a needle that is too fine will cause it to snap.


Corners can also be more bulky than when working with a lighter fabric or trim. The bulk of this trim didn’t allow for the folding used before, so you may find that you need to cut your trim and mitre the corners together. When you cut across them after finishing, you may also need to make the cuts deeper than with a lighter trim and zig zag the edge to prevent it from fraying.



Beaded Cushion
Saving the best until last, my favourite was the Villandry Velvet in grey trimmed with beading, also purchased from Barnett Lawson.

Once again, the main steps for creating the cushion are the same as for the first project. This trim was also only 1cm wide, so there was no need to allow for extra in the seam allowance as with the Tasselled Cushion – the edge of the trim can be placed flush with the edge of your fabric pieces.

When using a beaded trim and folding the trim to go around the corner (see Step 3 in the instructions above), depending on the spacing between your beads, you may find that there is too high a concentration of beads which could make it both difficult to sew and messy to look at.

This is easily rectified by removing some of the bead strings – but be warned! If you cut them and other rows are on the same thread everything will come undone, so be careful to cut from the bottom of a string, remove the beads, and then knot the leftover thread so that the rest of your beads don’t end up falling off (see picture below) It can then be finished in the same way as the other cushions.

I hope you enjoy some autumnal sewing afternoons! Keep your eyes peeled on the Laura Ashley blog for more guest posts coming soon.


Love Laurel x

Friday, 4 October 2013

How To Make Chutney in Six Seconds

If, like my Dad, you've been left with a glut of green tomatoes at the end of the summer, there's really only one thing left to do with them; chutney. It really couldn't be simpler. In fact, it can be done in six seconds...

OK so that might have been a Vine video I took during the cooking process, but it really is quite easy.

video

Ingredients:
2 1/2 kg green tomatoes
500g onions
1 rounded tbsp salt
500g sultanas
500g cooking apples
500g light muscovado sugar
1.14 litre pickling vinegar

1. Peel, core and chop the apples. Chop the sultanas. Put the vinegar and sugar into a large pan and bring to the boil, ensuring you stir to dissolve the sugar. Throw in the sultanas and apples and simmer for ten minutes.

2. Chop up all the tomatoes and onions and add to the pan. Return to the boil. Simmer for around an hour, stirring occasionally until the mixture is thick and pulpy, then transfer to warmed jars and seal with lids. Voila. Easy peasy.

Love Laurel x

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Love Laurel Lingerie on LiveChic.co.uk

Since graduating in lingerie design from university (a number of years ago now...), I've dabbled in the design and creation of lingerie. From selling at craft fairs and to friends I developed into being stocked in two boutiques in Brighton and York, before full time work and part time endeavours saw my hobby fall by the wayside.

One of my (many) resolutions for 2013 was to get back to it; although I know I could never be a designer full time (I can't draw... at all...) I love the making side of lingerie, so I am very proud to announce that my handmade knickers are now stocked on the brilliant new website LiveChic.co.uk.



Created by my very talented friend Pippa and her business partner Rebecca, LiveChic is dedicated to bringing you the very best of handmade British design under one roof, from personalised gift ideas and homeware to presents for pets... or a special treat for yourself of course.


My aim is to extend my collection throughout the year, eventually launch a luxury handmade bridal lingerie range and hopefully become stocked in some of Britain's beautiful boutiques again. For the meantime, you can purchase handmade Love Laurel x knickers now at my LiveChic page.

Love Laurel x








Tuesday, 11 June 2013

A Tuscan Wedding, as featured in You & Your Wedding Magazine...

Last summer I was asked by my dear friend Ashley if I would help with some of the finishing touches for her Tuscan wedding, which saw me creating handmade linen menu holders which went on to be featured in none other than prestigious UK bridal title You & Your Wedding magazine...


Ashley & Brad's wedding stationery was a beautifully whimsical illustration, and with the rustic theme echoing throughout the decor, Ashley wanted the little extras to be of a similar style. Using a mid-weight taupe linen from Cloth House (www.clothhouse.com) and a simple lace trim from the haberdashery department at John Lewis (www.johnlewis.com), I designed something of a sleeve to house the menus, which was the perfect finishing touch to the stunning tables.

The wedding was featured in the May/June issue of You & Your Wedding, including a little snap of my work and a name check, though it was mis-spelt as Lauren, I will forgive them for the typo!

Love Laurel x


Sunday, 14 April 2013

White Stuff Crafternoons - Update

Regular readers may recall me telling you about the work I was planning with British clothing brand White Stuff; hosting Crafternoons and teaching sewing workshops as part of their Love of Lo-Fi campaign. Well last month I set off across the South East to do just that. Read on for my guest blog post that was featured on the White Stuff website last month...


White Stuff Crafternoons – How to Make a Hanging Heart Lavender Bag
By Guest Blogger Laurel Waldron

A few weeks ago I was asked by the lovely team here at White Stuff if I’d like to take part in their Crafternoons and, being an absolute sewing junkie, I couldn’t wait to share my obsession with the great British public! I learnt to sew as a child and now teach sewing classes, so jumped at the chance to travel to five White Stuff stores across the South East to teach workshops and spread the Love of Lo-Fi.

Over the course of a week, I travelled to Brighton, Islington, Marlow, Beaconsfield and Newbury to teach a sewing class in making a pair of hanging heart-shaped lavender bags, decorated with tiny pearl beads. If you missed out on the crafting fun fear not, follow the instructions below to make your own scented heart to hang in your wardrobe…

You will need:
Scraps of fabric – I used linen but any woven fabric would work
20cm of ribbon
Needle and thread
Dried lavender
Pearl seed beads

1. Draw a heart shape on paper to your desired size and cut out – mine was around 13cm x 9cm. Pin the pattern to your fabric and cut out a pair of hearts. The fabric I used was a linen, but as long as it doesn’t stretch you could use anything you like.

2. Thread up your needle with a single thread. Placing your two hearts wrong sides together, start your stitching at the bottom point of the heart. Rather than tying a knot in the thread which can easily slip through the fabric, if you stitch three tiny stitches on top of each other, all in the same place, quite tightly, this will start you off more effectively than a knot.


3. Using a backstitch, sew around the edge of the heart with about 1cm of seam allowance, keeping the stitches nice and small. When you reach the top curve of your heart, fold your length of ribbon in half and slip it in between the two pieces of fabric. Carry on stitching until there is a gap of 5cm left.


3. Using a teaspoon, fill the heart with the dried lavender until it is well filled but not too round. Then continue stitching up the hole, again using a backstitch. Finish off by sewing three tiny stitches on top of each other in the same place, as when you started, and cut off any loose threads.


4. Once the whole heart has been stitched up, thread up your needle again with a single thread. Using a single running stitch rather than a backstitch, go around the whole line of stitching again, this time sewing a bead on with every other stitch until you have a line of beads framing your heart. Finish your stitching in the same way as in step 4 and voila! Your lavender bag is complete.


The great thing about making lavender bags is that they are ideal for using up remnants of fabric leftover from other projects and make great presents. How lovely would they look in a bright floral Liberty print and stripy ribbon, or a gingham with multicoloured button decoration? The possibilities are endless! Why not try it yourself?



Laurel’s Sewing Tips:
- If you’re new to sewing, build yourself a basic sewing kit that contains needles, threads in black, white, cream, grey and navy, pins, a tape measure, some good little embroidery scissors and an unpicker – a necessary tool!

- Visit your local market or haberdashery and stock up on cheap fabric remnants, a few zips, some ribbons, trims and buttons before buying the good stuff. That way if you make mistakes on your first few projects you haven’t wasted expensive materials.

- Practice makes perfect! If at first you don’t succeed, persevere. I always tell my students you wouldn’t sit down at a piano and expect to play Mozart after a few lessons (not that sewing is as hard as Mozart…) so don’t be put off if you make mistakes. Learn from them!

Little Black Book:
- John Lewis: An invaluable resource for haberdashery, it’s ideal for last minute bits and pieces. Branches nationwide. www.johnlewis.com

- Daisy Shop: Supplier of dried flowers for crafting, it’s where I buy my lavender – great value for money! www.daisyshop.co.uk

- VV Rouleaux: Slightly pricey, but an absolute ribbon wonderland. Silk, velvet, wired; you name it, they have it. You’ve been warned… 102 Marylebone Lane, London W1U 2QD www.vvrouleaux.com

- Shaukat: A brilliant hidden gem for Liberty fabrics in every print imaginable, much cheaper than the store itself. Don’t tell them I told you though…  170-172 Old Brompton Road, London SW5 0BA

- Cotton Patch: My favourite online store for patchwork fabric, they stock cottons from well-known fabric brands like Moda and Rowan, as well as pre-cut packs, accessories and tools. www.cottonpatch.co.uk

- Donna Flower: If vintage is your thing, Donna’s fabrics are to die for – she stocks fabrics dating back to the 19th century! www.donnaflower.com

Love Laurel x

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Step By Step - Quilted Hot Water Bottle Cover*


*...Yes, I know it's April...

This utterly dire, not to mention somewhat extended in comparison to usual, English winter we've been having has seen unprecedented levels of use from my faithful hot water bottle. It's April and yet it's still being used almost daily, so last weekend I made the decision to cosy it up a wee bit more and make a snuggly hot water bottle cover.

You will need:
Hot water bottle
A piece of fabric around 2.5 times the size of your bottle
Embroidery thread
Fabric marker
Ruler
Fleece to line your cover with OR cotton/polyester quilt wadding. If using wadding you will also need a lining fabric the same size as your main fabric
Bias binding
1 button

Step 1:
Draw around your hot water bottle on to a piece of paper to make a pattern (brown paper is perfect), adding at least 2cm around each edge. Make sure that the neck will be wide enough to fit the top of the bottle through. You will need three pattern pieces: the back of your hot water bottle cover will be a solid shape, the shape of your bottle, however the front will be made up of two pieces that overlap to make an 'envelope' style closure. To make the two front pattern pieces, use another back piece cut into two (1/3 for the top and 2/3 for the bottom), then make each piece 4cm longer - this much will then overlap to form your closure.

Step 2:
Pin your pattern pieces onto your fabric and cut out; I used a lovely cosy brushed cotton from Cath Kidston (my favourite!). Depending on how you wish to line your hot water bottle cover you will also need to cut out lining. Traditional quilting technique would dictate that you use a layer of cotton or polyester wadding in between your outer and lining fabrics, in which case you would also need to cut all pattern pieces out of both of these. I however used fleece for this project, something I tend to use a lot to back smaller quilts; it's the right kind of weight without being too bulky, and eliminates the need for a third layer. Ikea do brilliant fleece blankets at around £3 which have proved invaluable for such projects - I always stock up if I'm near a branch!

Step 3:
Once all your pieces have been cut out lay your fabric onto your fleece, wrong sides together, and pin to hold in place. Using a fabric marker (I use the blue felt tip pens that dissolve in water, widely available from haberdasheries for a few pounds) draw on diagonal lines 3cm apart, then in the other direction to form a grid on your fabric.


Step 4:
These lines will be the basis for your quilting. It can be done on a machine, but I think hand quilting at this point creates a much nicer finish. I used 2 strands of embroidery cotton in a bright pink shade and quilted each line, through both the fabric and fleece layers, using a simple running stitch. It's not a speedy job, but the result is worth it!


Step 5:
Once all three pieces have been quilted, use bias binding to finish the two straight edges of the front pattern pieces. As they are only small pieces you could use leftovers from a previous projects - these blue spots and green leaves were tiny scraps left from my most recent quilt.


Step 6:
Make a rouleau loop to fasten your button with a scrap of fabric about 3.5cm wide by 3 times the diameter of your button. Fold it into 4 lengthways and iron, then stitch the open edge. Measure against your button to determine the size of the opening, and then hand stitch the loop on to the back of your bound edge on the top section of your front.

Step 7:
Lay the top front of your cover on to the back, right sides together, followed by the bottom front (so that the two front pieces are now overlapping. Pin both in place and stitch all the way around the edge using a 1cm seam allowance. Then zig zag the edges to stop them fraying. Clip the curves at the neck and bottom corners, then turn the right way out and iron all the seams crisp and flat. Finally, hand stitch your button in place on the front.

Voila! A homemade, quilted hottie cover! I guarantee that if you make it now the weather will warm up, but it's always good to be prepared for next winter, don't you agree?

Love Laurel x




Wednesday, 13 March 2013

White Stuff Crafternoons - Coming Soon to a town near you!


I am very excited to announce that next week I will be working with brilliant British fashion brand White Stuff on a series of Crafternoons in their stores across the South East of England!


As part of their Love of Lo-Fi campaign, encouraging a return to technology-free lo-fi living, White Stuff will be hosting a series of free craft workshops in stores from the 18th of March. With workshops including bunting making in Truro and crochet in Wilmslow, I will be heading to Brighton, Islington, Marlow, Beaconsfield and Newbury to lead a workshop in making a pair of gorgeous heart-shaped linen lavender bags, decorated with pearl beads and ready to hang in your wardrobe! All you need to bring is a needle and thread and scissors, all other materials will be provided.

Dates and times of my workshops are:

Monday 18th March - Brighton - 2-5pm
Tuesday 19th March - Islington - 5-8pm
Thursday 21st March - Marlow - 10am-1pm
Thursday 21st March - Beaconsfield - 3-6pm
Friday 22nd March - Newbury - 2-5pm

Places are extremely limited so booking ASAP is recommended. For full information about the crafternoons and how to RSVP visit the White Stuff website

Love Laurel x

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

A productive afternoon

In a slight attempt to try and use up some of my leftover fabrics, this afternoon I decided to grab scissors and sewing machine and rustle up a few little bits and pieces. Truth be told, it hasn't even made a dent in my fabric supplies but hey ho, at least it put a smile on my face.
First up was a snap frame purse; super simple to make, it's the perfect size for all the random bits and pieces that float around your handbag and once you've made one of them you'll be able to whizz them up in a matter of minutes. It's actually one of the classes I teach at The Make Lounge - the next one is scheduled for Saturday 6th April. 



Next up was a handful of lavender bags. Perfect for using up little scraps that aren't quite big enough for patchwork, these three were decorated with some lace trim from John Lewis (around 50p per metre) and some pearl beads (try Gutermann at John Lewis for similar). These were made as a little experiement ahead of a very exciting project I've got coming up in a few weeks time - stay tuned for more details!



Finally, I came across an old pattern purchased many moons ago when I made childrenswear for my A Level textiles project and upon finding some gorgeous bright patterned cottons in one of my many boxes, I decided to make a little reversible dress for my friend's little girl. Hopefully she doesn't read this before I send it to her so it's still a surprise...




The pattern is Butterick 3267 (I think it may now be discontinued but see Sew Today for similar) and includes a pinafore, trousers, top, coat and hat. It's technically not meant to be reversible (the pattern includes a facing), but by stitching the two dresses together at the neck and armhole, turning through and then stitching the shoulders last it's easy to make two become one!

Love Laurel x

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Patchwork-a-holic? Blame the mother...

As if I didn't already have enough crafty interests, not to mention enough half-finished projects lurking in my sewing boxes under my bed, a few years ago my Mum got me into patchwork. It's safe to say I've become addicted.

Fabric to me is like an addiction in itself; if I see some and fall in love with it I have to buy it. There have been too many occasions where I've seen something special, put off the purchase and returned weeks later only to find it's sold out or discontinued. Since then I have a rule that if I really can't stop thinking about it, I have to buy it, even just a metre, otherwise my life will be filled with regret. Subsequently I have a veritable stash of fabrics of all kinds, a lot of which will one day become quilts.

My first attempt was perhaps a little brave; the plan was a tumbling blocks design but alas, my mathematics let me down and after cutting out hundreds of tiny diamonds I realised none of them fitted together. All the angles were wrong. I ended up just sewing lines of diamonds, most of which were wonky anyway, so the resulting quilt was not at all square, though it does now take pride of place on the back of the sofa anyway.

The first success was a mixture of Cath Kidston fabrics and those purchased from good old Ikea. Not to be underestimated, their home furnishing cottons are fantastic quality and often only a few pounds a metre. A few years ago they created a wonderful collection, very Cath Kidston in style, encompassing floral designs, polka dots and paisleys; needless to say I bought metres of the stuff and still have plenty left for future projects.

Next up was a Liberty print number which is probably my favourite. Whilst visiting the Première Vision fabric trade fair in Paris a few years back I ordered a number of swatches of Liberty fabrics for a lingerie project I was working on. Upon arrival I was stunned to find that each swatch was A5 size, and every one I had selected had been sent in every colourway. Amazing. Not wanting to waste them, I trimmed off enough to keep in a swatch file and used the rest in this quilt. Liberty fabrics are known to be expensive, but I'll let you in on a little secret; there is a wonderful shop on Old Brompton Road in London called Shaukat which sells pretty much every Liberty print you can think of, much cheaper than the store itself. On rare occasions, if you are very lucky, you may also stumble across a sample book for around £30 which is perfect for patchwork. But you didn't hear it from me...


The most recent quilt I've made for myself (I was planning on gifting it to a friend's baby, but I fell in love with it. Don't worry, I made a different one for the baby...) is a feast of nostalgic 30s feedsack-style fabrics. A combinations of colourful florals and childhood prints, it was mostly made using pre-cut charm packs from Cotton Patch as well as some extra fat quarters picked up from various places; Beyond Fabrics on East London's Columbia Road does a great selection. I tend to back my quilts with fleece rather than the traditional wadding and backing fabric; it makes them extra cosy and I've found that the £3 fleece blankets from Ikea are an affordable and convenient alternative, plus just the right size if you are making a small square lap quilt.


Since these I have started on the Tanya Whelan quilt I mentioned in an earlier post, and also created two for friends' babies - one in Cath Kidston fabrics and one in a gorgeous mix of a floral, a bird print and plain blocks in turquoise, lime green, hot pink and yellow - pictures to follow!

Love Laurel x

Learn Something New with The Craft Closet

Two very creative and clever friends of mine are the brains behind a fantastic crafting endeavour, designed to encourage your inner crafter to try something new...

The Craft Closet was established in London by Nicola and Becky, aiming to inspire your creativity with their ever-growing range of craft kits. With traditional at-home crafts such as knitting and cross stitch enjoying something of a revival in recent years, The Craft Closet uses these, combined with contemporary colours and designs, to create exciting new projects, a formula which has proved a sell-out at this winter's craft markets across London.


The best-selling Penny's Purses Knitting Kit (£30), perfect for novice knitters, includes beautiful merino wool in a choice of two colours, metal snap frames and step-by-step instructions to create two textured purses using different knitting techniques.

Another hot favourite is the Personalised Cross Stitch Bunting Kit (£25). With enough materials for up to 13 flags and gorgeous complimentary fabrics, the kit is available in blues, pinks or brights.

Both coming from creative backgrounds and degrees in fashion and craft, Nicola and Becky will be at next month's Knitting and Stitching Show at London's Olympia (March 14th-17th) for the first time, where they will be debuting their new kits for spring including a Tapestry Clutch Bag and Sunshine Baby Taggy, amongst other. I can't wait to see their stand! 

Kits are available now from The Craft Closet's Etsy shop.

For more information about The Knitting and Stitching Show and to book tickets visit www.twistedthread.com

Love Laurel x