Slipcovers with Canvas Drop Cloths

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Recently, my friend Jenny splurged on some new living room furniture--a couch and loveseat in the shabby chic style. But she didn't like the way her old leather chairs looked with the new furniture. The leather chairs were too sleek, dark and streamlined in comparison.

Right after they bought the new furniture, in the way that life often goes, Jenny's husband was laid off from his job. Now on a tight budget, she knew home decor projects were low on the list of priorities--but she hated the disconnect between the leather chairs and the new furniture.

After doing a little online research, Jenny came across this blog, about making slipcovers with painting drop cloths. She spent about $25 total on 3 packages of drop cloths, then went through the laborious process of washing and bleaching (it needs to soak in your washer for about 6 hours).

I made the slipcovers for her, with matching piping and skirted bottoms, to match her new furniture. We were both very pleased with the result. They brighten up the whole room and match her new furniture much better than the leather.

The canvas was pretty easy to work with, but it is a fairly loose weave and therefore frays easily. I overlocked all the seams to keep the fraying in check. It will be interesting to see how well it holds up over time. Jenny has 3 kids and 2 dogs. Coupled with the fact that Jenny is a fastidious housekeeper, she will probably be washing these slipcovers on a regular basis. Because Jenny was on a tight budget, and also since she's a close friend of mine and I didn't charge her very much for my labor, it made sense for her situation. However, overall, unless it's a DIY job, I'd recommend that people spend the money on higher quality fabric. You could still keep your budget fairly low, probably less than $100, and get some heavy duty cotton twill or white denim that would last a lot longer--and save you money in the long run.


Victorian Chair Reupholstery Project

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I was all geared up to do a tutorial on reupholstering three Victorian chairs, but after I finished the project and delivered the chairs to my customer, I realized that I had been woefully inadequate about documenting the process with my camera! So this will have to be more of a show-and-tell, rather than a true tutorial. Want to call me a lame blogger? Go ahead, I am.

I even forgot to take a good "before" photo, so you can't even see how they used to look. Pathetic. (Now you agree with me about the lame blogger thing, right?) But here's a picture of one of the chairs after I stripped it. It used to be have very old-fashioned gold velvet fabric, which can be glimpsed on the floor behind the chair.
Because these chairs were quite old and still had the original upholstery, the fabric was held on by tacks instead of staples. Tacks are NOT fun to remove, especially when trying to remove them without damaging the wood. Cabana's got her big old head in the photo. She's used to be the subject of 99% of my photos, so she doesn't realize she was actually in the way this time.
Speaking of tacks, here are the tools required for this project--a staple gun, staples, tack remover, and staple remover. I would like to invest in an electric staple gun someday, but for now, I just use a manual. It does the trick, and I'm not as worried about shooting staples into my fingers or eyeballs, or some other gruesome scenario. The tack remover can be purchased at Joann for just a few dollars. The staple remover is known in the reupholstery business as a Berry, which is actually the brand name, and is only sold through upholstery suppliers. Not pictured but also required for this project--a hot glue gun.
I applied gimp trim using the hot glue gun. It was surprisingly fast and easy, though it was the ONLY part of this project that was fast or easy. Initially, I tried to make a double welt cord instead of gimp trim, but it ended up being much too heavy and bulky for this project.
Here's a close up of the gimp trim. It covers up the tacks and raw edges. Pretty, huh?
And voila, here are the three finished chairs. At least I remembered the "after" photograph. My customer was pleased with them, and I was pleased to have them finished and out of my house! For a reupholstery project that required absolutely NO sewing, these chairs were more work than I had imagined. It was my first time working with chairs of this style, though, so next time, I'll know what to expect. AND I'll remember to take more photos of the process.


Cutout Purse

Friday, April 27, 2012

Recently, I was contacted by a person who had bought one of my cork cutout purses at one of my shows. She said she'd been using that same cork purse almost every day for the past three years! It was well past its prime, and she was ready for another purse. She was able to hunt me down and purchased the exact same purse again. Now, that's a loyal customer.
The design of the cutout purse is very handy. Once you get used to having such easy access to your cell phone and keys, it's hard to go back to digging around inside another purse for those things.
Here is the cutout design in a few fun fabric prints for summer, now available in my Etsy shop.
Mother's Day is just around the corner! For the next week, use the code "mikimi" to get free shipping on anything in my Etsy shop.


Cutting Out Leaves

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Because I live in wine country, one of the my most popular items at show events is my cork wine tote. Giving a bottle of wine is great for almost any occasion, but it can sometimes seem too easy or impersonal. However, when the bottle of wine is given inside a handmade gift bag, and made of sustainable materials like cork and bamboo to boot, the gift takes on special meaning and lasts longer than the bottle of wine. In this case, it's a gift we hope will get re-gifted, again and again.

Like all my embellished cork items, I cut all the pieces by hand. I have envelopes that hold my paper templates that I have sketched out with a pencil on scrap paper. The leaf pattern template for the wine tote was a scraggly thing, filled with hundreds of pin holes from attaching and re-attaching it to the dark cork. In the evenings, a regular activity while watching TV was to cut the shapes and file them in my envelope filing system.

But when I got an order for 132 leaf-pattern wine totes (in addition to 132 striped wine totes), I knew I could not watch enough TV to cut that many leaves! Plus, I am very prone to carpal tunnel issues, and I needed to be able to use my hands for brushing my teeth and typing, amongst other things, after all the leaves were cut.

Like most women of a certain age, I used to be a scrapbooker. So I knew about die cuts and had old-fashioned die cut machines (i.e. Sizzix and the lesser known Zip-E-Mate, pictured above). These were the pre-cursor to today's fancy schmancy machines like the Cricut and I don't even know what else--computerized machines that seem to cost a fortune and will cut all kinds of intricate shapes and letters. The problem with the new-fangled machines is that they don't cut custom shapes and I wasn't sure if they would cut cork fabric. I just needed a custom steel rule die that I could use with my existing old-fashioned machines.

After a bit of online research, I found Richard of Ace Dies in San Francisco. Custom dies aren't cheap (this one was about $200), but I decided that my hands needed me to make the investment. I reproduced my scraggly paper template in Adobe Illustrator, emailed the file to Richard, and picked the finished die up two days later.

And voila! What used to take me about 10 minutes of cutting by hand, now takes less than 10 seconds. Perfect every time. When I went to pick up the custom die, I brought my Zip-E-Mate machine with me, to make sure the die would fit through it without any problems. Richard laughed when I showed him my "toy"--I think he's used to working with big industrial dies for heavy equipment, not little purple plastic machines with a crank handle.

Oh well, whatever does the trick! It was an investment worth every cent. Cheers!


Flat Zip Pouches

Sunday, March 18, 2012

You know you're pathetic when it's been so long since you blogged that you can't even remember the password. Over nine months, and I don't even have a baby to show for it. I'd promise to try to do better, but I don't want to eat my words.

My excuse is that I've been busy sewing! I've been working on orders for several wineries, and I'm so happy to be doing so. Back when I first started this blog and my little business, I never would have believed that I'd even have this small modicum of success. I'll knock on wood (and on cork) that it continues.

A couple of the wineries have ordered flat zip pouches from me. Pictured above are "plain", although they're anything but! I call them plain because there's no sewn-on embellishment--it's just the natural beauty of the cork.
These are flat zips with a leaf design. On my next post (which will hopefully be posted in less than 9 months), I want to share about how I cut these leaves out.
And these with a thick stripe of dark cork down the middle are my least favorite to make. The seams where the light and dark cork come together are bulky and create the most work. You'd think the leaf pattern would be more time consuming than the striped ones, but no, I can sew that leaf pattern on in under 3 minutes.
I've had a lot of practice and plenty of chances to time myself. Here are 80 flat zip pouches, boxed up and ready to go tomorrow, to Sterling Vineyards in Calistoga. Last week, I sent 48 of them out to Beaulieu Vineyard in Rutherford. If neither of those places are in your neck of the woods, they are also available in my Etsy shop!


My Website Is Up!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Will wonders never cease? I finally got my website back up! I simplified it quite a bit, and instead of having my own shopping cart like before, I'm only going to list on Etsy. This is the first site I actually made all by myself. Well, I used a template, but I had to customize it with all my own graphics and colors. Pat, pat, pat. (I'm patting myself on the back.)

AND I even made myself a little favicon--the little graphic that appears at the top of the browser. Mine is a tiny brown purse. Pat, pat, pat.


Mean Columbian Hacker

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

If you've looked at my Sheekoo site lately, you probably noticed that it isn't there. That's because it was hacked and taken over by a Columbian phishing scammer, trying to get private banking information from people in Columbia. They corrupted a bunch of my web files, and I need to figure out how to fix them.

Thankfully, they did not get any of my customers' personal information, and since I use Paypal for my checkout, I didn't have anyone's credit card information anyway--phew. I'm also grateful that they weren't scamming people in the US, since that's where my customers are.

But I'm not so grateful that there are such underhanded, good-for-nothing, bleepity-bleeping people out there that would do something like this. Have your mothers taught you nothing?!?

Anyway, my website was pretty out of date, so maybe this will help me re-envision what I want it to look like and how I want it to operate. So, I'm sorry for any inconvenience. If there's something in particular you saw previously or at a show, feel free to contact me!


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