Saturday, 25 July 2015

Lampshade tutorial #1: Jenny Wren (Part Two)

If my last post inspired your crafty soul to have a go at making your own  'Jenny Wren' shade... hooray! Your frame will now be beautifully bound and ready for covering with treasured fabric scraps. As promised, this post explains how to do just that. My Jenny Wren combines sugar sweet vintage sheeting with an odd-ball piece of embroidered table linen. Choose whatever makes you happy. As long as your fabrics are of a similar weight, all will be fine.
'Part Two' is pretty straightforward, but I would be fibbing if I said  little sewing know-how wouldn't be useful. Just take it steady and be as accurate as you can. Here goes:

How to make your Jenny Wren lampshade: Part Two


5. To make a template for your fabric panels pin a scrap of sheeting, on the  bias, to the wrapped shade. It's tempting to start in one place and work around... but no. Instead, place a pin top and bottom, side and side. Then work from the middle of each side to the corners, gently stretching as you go. This method will enable you to achieve an evenly-stretched piece of fabric sheeting. To check that yours is sitting happily straight and perfect, look closely at the weave of the fabric - the lines should be running diagonally and be straight and not wavy.

A little tip about pinning Insert pins so that they are pointing in towards the centre of the panel, braced like tent pegs or tug-o-war people. This will allow them to sit firm and not scratch you quite so often.

6. Mark around the outline of the panel with a pencil. Unpin and then cut out the shape following the pencil line. Your shape should resemble the shade frame panel and be symmetrical when folded in half. If it is very wonky have another go, concentrating on keeping the stretch and tension neat and even.

A little note: Most shade frames have six or eight panels all the same shape, so just one template will do. Mine was an oval empire so the four side panels were different to the two centre panels. This meant I had to make two template: one for the centres, and another for the sides.

7. Use your template to cut out all your panels. You will need to leave about an inch seam allowance up the sides and two inches top and bottom for finger-pulling room. To be accurate, use a water-soluble fabric pen to mark the two side seams. A dotted line will do. Mark the two top corners clearly with tailor tacks. Arrange your fabric panels in a pleasing order and pin together, making sure the tailor tacks all meet up. 

Machine sew using a small stitch and easing stretch into the seam as you go. Sew from edge to edge, not just along the dotted lines. Once done, sew another line 2mm to the outside of the first seam, again easing stretch in. Sew all the seams so that you will finish with something that resembles a skirt. Dab out the marker pen, leave the tailor tacks in and press. The picture above shows the panels laid flat before the last seam is sewn.

8. Now you can stretch your fabric cover onto, or into, the frame. Start by pinning the top of each seam at the tailor tack to the top of each vertical on the inside of the ring. Pin with the pins facing inwards and down. Then pin the bottom of each seam, pulled to give a little tension, to the bottom of each vertical strut. Fill the gaps along the rings with pins working an even stretch across the shape. Now spend time adjusting the pinning, aiming for an even spread of tension until the cover is smooth and wrinkle free. You are finished when the fabric is taut with no puckers or wrinkles.

Another little tip about pinning As you adjust, only take out one pin at a time. It is usually only necessary to pull the bottom only to create enough tension. The tailor tacks should stay in position around the top edge. The seams should line up with the vertical struts. 

9. Navigating the shade carrier. To fit the cover all the way around you will need to navigate around the gimbals, or shade carrier. Essentially you need to cut down form the top edge of the fabric to the point where the fabric meets the gimbal at the top ring. Do this once you feel confident that you have pinned and stretched the cover to a reasonable fit. Mark the place where you are cutting down to, remove one or two pins to either side and then use sharp scissors to make the cut. Once cut and re-pinned you will be able to continue adjusting your pinning to create a perfect wrinkle-free cover.

10. Use a sharp needle and strong sewing thread (I use upholstery weight thread) to sew the cover to the inside of the wrapped top and bottom rings. Use small stitches only taking out one pin at a time. To avoid getting pricked too often, sit with an old cushion on your knee or stand up to your workbench.

Once sewn all the way round, trim the top and bottom edges to 0.5cm from the stitching, fold back over the stitches and use a very fine line of UHU to stick down. Remember that when light shines through the fabric, any overlap will show, so make sure your raw edge is no deeper than the top or botton rings. If you don't wish to line your shade you can cover this raw edge with braid, ribbon or bias binding.

11. To line your shade used exactly the same technique. I used a lightweight cotton jersey fabric. I created another template so I had just two panel and two seams. Once pinned and stretched, I trimmed the edges to just 0.5mm, tucked them in and stitched them in place using a small curved needle.

12. Now you can embellish your fabulous inside out shade with a feathered bird, papery butterfly or fabric blossom... indeed any cheery item of handmade happiness to gladden your heart. 

Tweet tweet! xx

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Lampshade tutorial #1: Jenny Wren

It is my intention to share useful handy tips and wrinkles (as doris would say) to fellow lampshade makers, especially those still getting the hang of this most rewarding craft. The plan is to start by working step-by-step through a handmade tailored silk shade trimmed with handmade frills. As it's been a busy few days in the Shed, this happy shade is still on the workbench so I've decided to share a little number already tucked up my sleeve... 

'Jenny Wren' was first created for Tend magazine. It is quite original, in that no-one to the best of my knowledge has ever created an inside out shade. Indeed it is one of my trade mark shades (and so it goes without saying that it should only be made for personal enjoyment). A little lampshading experience will stand you in good stead, however even utmost beginners can join in and create a beautiful and impressive 'bird cage' Jenny Wren by just wrapping the frame in bright fabrics.

As this project is quite involved, I have decided to split it into two posts. Here is...

How to make your Jenny Wren Lampshade: Part One


You will need: 
An old lampshade frame
Fabrics for the cover and to make binding strips (lightweight cottons and linens are ideal)
Berry-headed pins
UHU glue
Old sheeting to make the template
Cotton jersey lining fabric (optional)
Strong sewing thread, needle and scissors
Clip-on birds, butterflies, flowers or other lovelies

1. Start with a tatty old shade. Any shape will do as long as you love it. Use old scissors to strip of the old fabric and a blunt edge to scrape off any glue. My shade is an oval 'banded' empire, which means it has an extra ring around the bottom edge... great for perching on.

2. Choose your fabric. The cover is a patchwork of panels, so make the most of treasured scraps. Choose fabric of a similar weight and character, with similar stretch when pulled on the bias. I combined various scraps of vintage sheeting with a little bit of embroidered table linen. It was all looking rather polite so I threw strong shades of silk into the mix for binding.

3. Rust has a habit of creeping through so paint your shade frame with a quality primer of stain block.

4. Now bind your frame with strips of fabric. This all-engrossing job can take a couple of evenings. Start by cutting your fabric into 1in (2.5cm) wide strips on the bias. Bias-cut strips bind neatly and fray less.

Bind the verticals first, wrapping around the top ring to start off, securing with a dab of UHU and a pin. Fold the trailing edge of the strip under to hide the raw edge and wrap, keeping it constantly tight and evenly bound. It takes a while to get the knack, so don’t feel too bad if you have to undo the first one. Once you get the hang of it, try combining two colours to create a candy stripe.

Once all the verticals are bound, bind the top and bottom rings, hiding all the raw ends as you go. Finish with your end at the back of the ring, fixed with a dab of UHU or a stitch.

At this stage if you wish you can attach a pretty handmade accessory and stand back to admire your work. If you'd like to carry on and make the complete Jenny Wren shade this is what's in store next week…

Making the template, sewing and stretching on the cover. Happy frame binding xx

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Lampshade Masterclass #1: The Secret of Uprighteous 70s Shades


Along with peacock wicker chairs and macramé hanging baskets, iconic 70s West German chimney-shaped shades are back.

The original chunky earthenware bases still crop up in charity shops and, while far less shades have made it through the decades, keen drum lampshade makers will be able to create exact replicas. Yay...! 

HOWEVER, dear lampshaders... a wise word before you begin. 

A tall, narrow and top heavy shade attached by a tiny ring to a disproportionately small fixing will lean and wobble in a most disappointing and dispiriting way. The good news is that our 70s hipster predecessors discovered just how to ensure that their iconic wonders stood straight and tall. And so, my first 'tip' in the revival of this blog is...

The Secret of Uprighteous 70s Shades 

Imagine you are all set to create your new 70s shade and are about to roll your rings onto the fabric-covered laminate panel. A wise lampshader would have her smaller ring at the top and the larger ring complete with gimbals at the bottom. But no, my nimble-fingered dearies, not this time… 

Instead, along the bottom wider edge you will be rolling two rings: a plain ring AND a gimbal-fitted ring tucked along next to it on the inside. Yes… double ring rolling. 

The plain ring will be covered in Tessa tape (the one at the bottom in the above photo) and so will stick to the card, yet the gimbal-ring will not be taped. To make this less of a circus trick, I attach the two rings together using three or four spacers (tape-covered match sticks) to make it easy to prise them apart when rolling is done. While temporarily attached, they will act as one while rolling.

So, once rolled you will have one ring at the top as usual, and two at the bottom. At this stage you can remove the match stick spacers, nudge the gimbal fitted ring a little further up the chimney and create the rolled edge around the plain ring by tucking in the fabric as usual. 

The gimbal fitting will be held firmly in place by the tightly fitting shade, but there will be just enough give to allow you to compensate for any lopsided wobble when attached to the lamp base.

And here is another I made earlier...

A little note:
This making tip is written for lampshaders who have already made one or two drum shades. If you haven't yet made a start, take a peep at the ever-so-useful Needcraft website.

Another little thought: 
It has occurred to me that you could simply roll a single plain ring at the bottom edge and then try to slot the gimbal fitted ring inside afterwards. To be honest, I haven't done it so I simply do not know if this would work... but do let me know if you've tried it successfully as it would save a little circus-trickery.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

in between days

The teaching of upholstery and lampshade making has taken up much time during the first two months of 2015, which means all is going to plan. even so, my little grey Shed is the place i potter to many mornings for a quiet day absorbed in chair renovations.

Right now the most lovely chaise longue is almost finished in Peony and Sage's Just Bees, but as i can't stand back far enough to take its photo it will have to wait for another post. Here's a hint of its loveliness...

Just to show that the days in between the busy bustle have been industrious, here are three very contrasting projects which have been in and out of the Shed so far in 2015...

Vanessa's smart chair…

…the old frame is wobble-free and the seat re-sprung and re-stuffed before covering in Sanderson's nattily perfect houndstooth check. 

Sue's mid Century heirloom fireside chair…

…again, the sorry seat was treated to new stuffing. Gorgeous woolcoth brought it bang up to date (Moons, I believe?).The piping styling is in keeping with the era.

And Naomi's gaming chair. Not my usual thing at all, but i do love challenge...

…the whole thing was pre-sewn then pulled on like a super-tight jumper. Underneath are rubber runners on which the chair rocks (they looked rather like wind-screen wipers). Buttons were essential as the shape is concave. 

It seems that a quiet colour palette is very now. Indeed, more shades of grey are expected. In the meanwhile if you'd like to find out the ins and outs, costs and quantities of having your own furniture renovated, I'd be happy to help. Here's where to find me:

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Upholstery Saturdays

this weekend heralded the completion of the first of the year's Upholstery Saturdays @theFarm.

Upholstery Saturdays are a two-day workshop held in the old dairy of my pal Em's home just across the fields. this is me and Em who'll be there to greet you...

the idea of this workshop is to provide enough time, space and expert tutor-time to make a real difference to your upholstery project. with a maximum class number of four, no-one has to wait for help and there's plenty of time to get the hang of tricky complexities. everyone makes great headway.

as @theFarm's Tutor-in-Chief, i love this sort of teaching best of all. we're always shattered at the end but it never feels like hard work. the day is always full of friendship and funny stories. for me, sharing skills and encouraging keen folks who have a dream to transform their much-loved chair is hugely rewarding.

for our lovelies (as we fondly refer to @theFarm folk) possibly the best part of Upholstery Saturdays is the chance to be absorbed in a lovely task and gain a rewarding sense of achievement with like-minded souls. that and Em's cake.

here's a few photos we managed in between tapping and chatting...

my class of January 2015... Diana, Brooke, me, Lotty and Shane

 And here they are hard at work...

Lotty webbing up 'the sleigh'

Diane making sense of deep buttoning...

... and looky look!

Shane and her very pretty Victorian nursing chair

and Brook ('I can do this') who travelled a heroic distance to be with us and went home with a very fabulous and nearly finished fireside chair...

 and no day @theFarm would be complete without Poppy dog guarding the Aga, many slices of Em's fab cake (it's a rare thing to see slices still on the plate)...

 ...and being rounded up by the very nosy and fat (or just fluffed up?) @theFarm hens

Upholstery Saturdays are a regular workshop on the @theFarm calendar. Click here to find out more...

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

A new year a new plan (…or, planning 'me' time)

...not 'planning me time' spoken in a northern accents, but planning 'me' time, as in consciously thinking about myself every now and then.

it's been an age since I visited this blog - not because I've been lost for words - but because life in the Shed got very busy. 

2014 was a great year for The Traditional Upholstery Studio. many splendid chairs have been restored to gloriousness and their lovely owners include folk who came back for repeat work. 

upholstery classes continued to be full, fun and often the highlight of the working week. at @theFarm Em and I have already added Upholstery Saturdays to the schedule and there are exciting developments planned 2015. my courses at NFWI Denman have taken off too, with many lovely WI ladies coming back for more.

however - even when you love every minute - too much work makes Jack (and Joanna) a dull boy, so 'The Plan: 2015' is to schedule in more creative time. some of this creativity will be spent revamping my own home (the cheek!) but I also aim to re-stock my Folksy shop. 

…these are most likely to take the form of woolly lampshades with hand crocheted trims, and inside-out shades… 

it feels great to be planning new creations and there's a long way I can take them, so do watch this space.

this new 2015 plan includes keeping this blog updated. Once a month or so I shall keep you posted on comings and goings, insights and tips.

the first few working days of the year have included a little website update. See if you can spot the difference... The Traditional Upholstery Studio

ps (i apologise if you've been to visit and found nothing new for a while xx)