Monday, October 26, 2009

Tutorial: Ikea cushions

I finished the second (and last) Lillberg chair cushions on Sunday night. I made a mistake with the measuring of the patchwork on the bottom cushion and ended up with it vertically instead of horizontally like the others, but I think it looks quite nice. I also sewed these cushions with a 2cm seam allowance around the square edges so they are nice and snug and look much better than the first set.

I also took some photos while I was making them so I could create a photo tutorial.

What you need to make the set of cushions:
4 metres of fabric around 80/90cm wide.
2 x 90cm zip
1000m cotton thread

Cut out the following pieces for the bottom cushion:
2 x back/zip pieces - 90cm by 11cm
2 x side pieces - 61cm by 17.5cm
1 x front piece - 64cm by 17.5cm
2 x top and bottom pieces - 64cm by 74cm

Cut out the following pieces for the top cushion:
2 x back/zip pieces - 90cm by 11cm
2 x side pieces - 40cm by 17.5cm
1 x front piece - 64cm by 17.5cm
2 x top and bottom pieces - 64cm by 52cm

How to

1) Sew the zip on using the two zip/back pieces, effectively joining the pieces together.
  • First pin a 2cm seam along the longest on both pieces
  • Then pin a piece onto the zip - using the same pins you used to pin the seam. Make sure that you overlap the folded edge at least to the center of the zip.
  • Put the zip foot on your sewing machine and sew with the foot as close to the center of the zip as possible. Continue until one piece is sewn onto the zip.
  • To sew around the zip pull, I open the zip about 5cm, sew along about 4cm, then lift up the foot (with the needle in the fabric of course) and close the zip.
  • Repeat with the second zip/back piece
2) Sew the two side pieces (right sides together) onto the zip piece - using a 1.5cm seam allowance. Note: If the completed zip piece is too wide (wider than 17.5cm) then trim it using the side pieces as a guide.3) Sew the front piece onto the the two side pieces (also using a 1.5cm seam allowance) - so all the pieces are joined up into a circle/tube. Make sure you don't get a twist!

4) Pin the tube onto the top and bottom pieces, right sides together.
  • Start with the front piece because it is the only piece that matches the width of the cushion cover, then continue around the tube until you have pinned it around the top rectangle piece.
  • Sew along the rectangle, this time using a 2cm seam allowance (unless you want to top stitch or stitch in a cord).
  • To make the corners nice, sew up to 2cm away from the edge, lift up the foot - with the needle in the fabric, turn the fabric 90 degrees left, fold fabric underneath neatly and so it is out of the needle's new path (as much as possible anyway)
  • Repeat the same for the bottom cushion piece. It's a good idea to open the zip a few cm so you can turn the cushion the right way when you are done.

5) Optional: do a top stitch around the edge of the top and bottom pieces - you can also pin in a cord and sew the cord into the edge for a professional finish. Use the zip foot.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Dummy update

So the bye-bye binky story made it seem really simple - just poke-poke and snip-snip - end of story. Oh dear. The holes made one dummy really undesirable, but the other (our favourite) didn't seem to make a difference). When I cut the top off, it was all hell broke loose. Admittedly I did this just before bedtime, but we had hysterically crying for over 45 mins until I cracked and gave her the dummy I had been hiding in my handbag. Shame, poor noodle. Perhaps it is not so bad if she only has it for sleeping....

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Nabaztag in South Africa

A timely blog post from Elle Decoration on the Nabaztag (they are about four years too late, lol) reminded me I need to get my nabaztag (diggitybugs) out of the box in the garage and connect him to my wifi network I recently installed. At first he wouldn't connect which made me sad, but I changed the wifi channel to 11 and all was well. I changed the location to Cape Town and now I get the sunny weather flashes all day long. I had to take off my gmail notifier (he used to read out my email subject lines) because I didn't think the nanny would appreciate it :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Renting toys

As they say it - "tired of spending a small fortune on toys for your pride and joy only for them to be discarded to the bottom of the toybox" - then take a look at Rent-a-toy. They also do "holiday packs" and parties. The smallest subscription is R100 a month (for a box of toys with a retail value of at least R600), so I'm not sure if this is a good investment - any ideas on how to calculate that?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Shwe-shwe + ikea lillberg chair

I finally finished my first patchwork and made two sets of cushions for one of our Ikea Lillberg chairs. I had made one before - click for the blog post with a pattern for the bottom cushion.

The patchwork pattern I choose was fairly easy technically (just sew strips of rectangles together) but selecting which pieces go where is something that either you have a knack for, or comes after years of experience.

I am not that pleased with the results (although it looks pretty good in the photo I must confess). The cushions are a little baggy - I plan to re-do the seams with a 2cm allowance. And I don't like the patchwork arrangement - any tips are welcome. I'll post a pattern once I've done the second chair.

Incidentally, if you want a shwe-shwe charm pack, they are for sale in African cotton's Etsy shop.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Sewing is fun, sometimes

I like to sew, but I am not sure exactly why. I don't enjoy the mechanics of it (if I can avoid a zip or buttonhole, collar or lining I will) and I think it is the end product that makes me pleased. Nothing better than making something unique and special, or saving yourself money by fixing or making something yourself.

However, there is one part that I absolutely detest - cutting out. It always takes longer than you expect, and sometimes longer than the sewing itself. Unfortunately this is the part you normally start with, so it means a lot of my projects take a while to get off the ground. I recently got a new blade for my rotary cutter (thanks Helen) and it has made such a difference - cutting out is a lot quicker - now all I need to worry about is buying enough fabric!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Biodegradable is not always good

Biodegradable plastics sound good for the environment, right? You've heard how many years plastics hang around for in the landfills ... Technically yes, but only if you keep them out of your rubbish bins and plastic recycling because if these biodegradable plastics are mixed with regular plastic recycling they can ruin the integrity of the recycled products (i.e. the products would be weakened). This in turn will cause people to move away from recycled plastic products, which is not good for the recycling industry. Not only that but landfills 'mummify' our trash, so degrading takes centuries, not years.

So, what can we do about it - not too sure (avoid Tiger Brands bread or bury the bags in your garden?). This press release from SAPRO on biodegradable plastics isn't written for the layman. Their conclusion seems to be unsure and instead suggest reduction of packaging is a better way to go (I agree).

Monday, October 12, 2009


I've finally come to my senses, and will not be checking email on the weekend, well at least trying not to. I've always had a suspicion that being on facebook at 9pm on Friday or Saturday nights was desperately uncool, but now I am committed to going offline in my free time. I decided that I don't get many emails anyway, and actually turning on the computer and checking is a waste of my time.

And on a similar note, I will only be checking my craft and sewing blog reader sporadically -> an interesting blog post on The Simple Dollar about mirror neurons (sorry they are almost always interesting) alerted me to the fact that reading craft blogs actually reduces the amount of sewing I actually do. So true!

So now I am going to say goodbye and finishing sewing a sun hat for the little girl.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Dummy, pacifier, binky - what ever you call it

I just discovered the American for dummy is binky - love it! I'm researching how to get rid of the baby's, and after a lot of hard searching, I came across this site with a seemingly foolproof method of weaning bubs off their dummy. Some parents are lucky and it's as easy as just taking it away because they aren't that interested or the dinosaur stole it, but I know my little tiger...
What I like about the method is that it promises to be painless as possible and works subtly (if I can avoid giggling that is). Basically you prick a few holes in the top on day 1+2, then start cutting the top off until it's a stub - and hopefully before that stage they lose interest because the suck is gone. The PDF is worth a read - I like the author's tone and also because he references my first-3-month bible (baby bliss/the happiest baby on the block).

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What do you consider to be rich

How much money does a person have to have before you consider them rich?
- Kelly

There’s no set dollar amount.

For me, a person is rich if they can wake up each morning and do whatever they want to do. It might be some kind of work or it might not, but the person has the freedom to choose between work and play and define entirely for themselves what work is and what play is.

That, to me, is what it means to be rich. It doesn’t mean a huge number of investments or a fleet of expensive cars. It just means freedom.

Best advice ever from The Simple Dollar

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Cloth napkins - rich or poor?

I always thought cloth napkins were something rather snooty and came out with your best crockery and the silver, so I was surprised to read on my favourite frugalista blog (the simple dollar) a comment that said people thought cloth napkins were cheap. Weird. Anyway, I love mine - especially because they are kind to the environment. They are burgandy and were a wedding present. Cloth napkins are easy to sew.

Scary chemicals

Have you ever taken a look at the ingredients on the back of your sunscreen, perfume, or moisturiser? If not, please do, and prepare to have a shock. Just because you aren't ingesting it doesn't mean it doesn't enter your system and can cause harm. Eeek. I must admit I'm terrified of my Mitchum antiperspirant, but the one I was using in Europe just doesn't cut the mustard here in ZA.

Here are some articles on a blog called the Good Human, which explain about some scary chemicals:
  1. What Is BHT (BUTYLATED HYDROXYTOLUENE) And Why You Should Avoid It.

  2. What Is Propylene Glycol And Why You Should Avoid It.

  3. What Are Methylparabens And Why You Should Avoid Them.

  4. What Is 1,4-Dioxane And Why You Should Avoid It.