Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Adventures in Upholstery - Ducks on a Wednesday Afternoon

I love it when we get to do really creative fun stuff every once in a while.  This was one of those super fun projects.  You'll never guess what we ended up doing with these duck faces.  We made 2 opposites, and put them at the top corners of a customer's winterfront for his big truck.  Weird combo, hey?  Their company name is Duckeez, so it's actually very appropriate.  Fun!

First, we picked out a simple duck face, a la Donald himself, and printed him out at the right size.
Next, we cut out around the outside lines, and cut out his mouth.  You can see by the white piece I'm tracing around on the right.  I had to get artistic and fill in the other lines freehand.  Just like art class! 
For the first layer, we decided to do the beak in yellow, so we put a layer of yellow vinyl under a layer of black, and stapled them together.
I sewed on all the lines for the beak, and I left the eyes for the next part.
We worked as a team on this one, cause we wanted to get it done fast!  While I sewed the second one, Dad trimmed the first one.  The idea was to trim closely on both sides of the black, to get a thick black line.
On the back, he trimmed the yellow very close to the stitching line so it won't show from the right side at the edges.
Next, we layered some white vinyl for the eyes, and did the same thing.
Lastly, we sewed in a little red tongue.
I love how cool it looks from the back.  
And here it is!  Now you can see what I meant by the thick black lines.  
In order to sew it to the winterfront, we sewed it to a piece of matching vinyl and made a "plaque" out of it.
And finally, the very last step was to sew the finished plaque onto the corners of the winterfront.  I had to roll the whole thing up and shove it under the arm of the sewing machine.  I made sure to trace around my plaque so I could sew it in place without it shifting.
And here it is in all its glory!
Just what I needed to pick me up on a Wednesday afternoon.  Cool, hey?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Adventures in Upholstery - Overstuffed Armchair

I'd like to share with you a very short and sweet post about this chair.  I know it doesn't look like much, but this was the single most complicated sewing job I've ever done in my life.  Tailoring a coat is easier than this was.

This lovely pink leather was definitely tacky, but the good thing was that once we took it apart, it made excellent pattern pieces.  Fabric tends to fray and shred and doesn't hold its shape.
Before - Pearly oyster pink leather, anyone?
It's really hard to visualize, but the backrest, arms, outside back, outside arms, and front arm plates are all one giant piece.  Once it's sewn, you simply pull it onto the chair and staple it in place.  There's even a 'box' sewn to the inside of the backrest cushion to insert the padding.  All the seams are topstitched.  The most complicated parts are the curved areas at the front of the arms and the front of the 'wings'.  And even more complicated was how all the inside layers attached to each other.  Normally, when sewing furniture, I only have to rack my brain once or twice during each project to figure out a complicated cushion or something tricky.  During this project, my brain got a super workout.  Every single time I went to sew something to something else, I had to think harder than ever and flip it upside down, inside out, look at the original chair, to make sure I was doing it right.  I made my share of mistakes and had to unstitch a few seams, but thankfully I didn't wreck anything epic.  This was a labour of love.  My only qualm was that the customer chose this tacky gold fabric.  Not my first choice.  And it was very, very thick.  That's what reminded me of sewing a coat.  This chair will be nice and warm!

Overall, even though this was an incredibly challenging project, I am extremely proud of myself for sewing this, and I'm very happy with the end result.  P.S.  I forgot to mention that there were TWO of these monsters!  TWO!  I had to do that much work twice!  Holy geepers.  I did this a few months ago, and I'm just reliving the craziness of it now.  Chock this one up on my list of greatest accomplishments!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Adventures in Upholstery - Wingback Chair

Some of you may remember that a few months ago, I mentioned that I wanted to get a new laptop so I could blog more without having to trek all the way down to the basement to work on the desktop.  I also wanted something I could take with me to Mom & Dad's during the week when I stay out there to work.  I faithfully saved up my sewing money, and the time finally came.  On Friday, I got myself a new-to-me MacBook Pro.  It's only a year old, is loaded with a bunch of extra programs, and it cost me probably half as much as a brand new one with all the same stuff.  Today is my first day playing around with it, and I thought I'd whip up an upholstery post that I've had sitting around waiting to be written about.

Back in August or September, we got to do a simple wingback chair.  We love the classic style of these chairs.  Dad is still looking to find an old one to recover and put in his living room.
The progression of this job is pretty basic.  If you can do a wingback, you can do a couch, or just about any basic furniture.  The first step is to take it apart.  Can I just say that I love this picture?
We didn't take any pictures of the "cutting, sewing, and putting it back together" stuff.  Here Dad is already putting the dust cloth on the bottom, which is usually the very last step.
I wasn't too thrilled to have to work with beige fabric (yawn), but that's the way it goes.  You have to give the customer what they want.  I love working on the projects that have really gorgeous colours, or totally funky prints.  At least this beige was sturdy, good quality, and easy to work with.
I love this picture.  As I was taking the pictures, I had trouble seeing the image in the display, so I made Dad pose again, and somehow, he thought I was asking him to move closer to the chair?  In any case, this picture is hilarious.  We have so much fun.
And lastly, here is a nice angled shot of the chair.  Simple and elegant.

I hope you enjoyed visiting the upholstery shop with me!  Hopefully soon I will have some new garments to post.  I haven't had much time to sew lately.  I blog about almost everything I make, so if I'm not blogging, it usually means I'm not sewing!  :(  I have a couple cute things coming up, so wish me luck and maybe I can finish them by next weekend!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Karen's Skunk Costume - Kwik Sew 2722

Two years ago, in 2009, I made Karen this lion jumpsuit and fur boots.  This year, she wanted to be a skunk, and she had some great ideas for the design.  I love working with creative people!
I used Kwik Sew 2722 as the basis for the jumpsuit.  I filled in the hole in the back, sewed in a zipper, and added some length to the legs and the torso.
 For the long sleeves, I traced the armscye and used the sleeve pattern from New Look 6160.
 Here's where it gets fun.  Karen wanted some kind of a white stripe on her back so she would look like a skunk.  I googled pictures of skunks, and started designing.
This is what I came up with.  I love how it turned out!  This was surprisingly easy.  I basically traced the curved lines onto the back pattern piece, and I added 1/4" seam allowances on each side of each line.  I simply traced out each piece, and they sewed together very easily.  I added 2 or 3 notches to each line, and I sewed them together on my serger.
 I sewed the center back seam to prepare for zipper insertion, and I was very careful to line up the peak at the bottom.  
 I sewed up the body of the jumpsuit, and then I tried it on to check the fit.  Karen is 5'9", but she has a longer torso than me.  I'm also approximately 4" bigger than she is.  Still, I could tell that it would be too big on her, so I took it in by about 2 1/2" at the bust, 4" at the waist, and 2 1/2" at the hips, taking it in all the way down the legs, since they were a bit loose.  This stretch velvet has a lot more give than the stuff we used for the lion jumpsuit, plus Karen has lost weight since then.  When she came for her fitting, I was pleased that it fit her perfectly.  I pinned the sleeves on to check them.  Lookin' good so far!
 I finished off the jumpsuit, and made the fur boots with a white stripe down the back.  They look so good!  I think they look like skunks just by themselves!
 Here's a close-up of the texture of the fur.  The black is fairly short, but it still works.  The white is quite long, which is great, since it is the focal point anyways.  I had my vacuum cleaner out when I was cutting the fur.  There was hair everywhere!  I even vacuumed the edges of each piece after they were cut, to reduce shedding.  Worked like a charm.  The fur was really easy to sew.
 After the boots, I designed and made the tail.  I forgot to take a picture, but you'll see it soon anyways.  I made a similar design to the back of the jumpsuit, and I lined the underside with black fur.

Final fitting time!  This is awesome.  I love how it's totally black on the front.
Then she turns around, and bam!  So cool!!!  To reinforce the tail, I sewed a triangle of denim underneath, attaching it to the bottom of the zipper for stability.
 I love it!  Have I mentioned how much I love making costumes?
 Karen is so much fun to sew for.  She's creative, easy-going, and flexible.  I wish all my clients were like her!  My last 2 days of Halloween sewing were such a breeze!

Scott & Jedi's Black Robes in Action - Halloween 2011

These guys were so excited to wear their costumes, they partied all weekend, starting on Friday night.  We finally get to see what Jedi's awesome makeup job looks like under that black hood.
Scott went for red, yellow, and white.  Ugh!  I'm getting scared already!
Holy mother of pearl.  Look at those eyes!  Unfreakingbelievable!!!
I can only imagine that these 2 were the talk of the party.  Creepy!  And again with those eyes!
How totally epic is this picture?!  I'm so unbelievably proud to have helped create this madness!
And last but not least, Scott won the costume prize at the bar and gets a trip to Vegas!  I'm so excited for him!  You guys both look amazing.  I love costumes so much.  :D

Scott's Costume Halloween 2011

Scott wanted to wear his black robe and stilts again, but he wanted to add some drama to it.  Here is the inspiration photo.  This is a warlock action figure from World of Warcraft.  Specifically, he wanted the sword and orb that hangs down from the belt, and he wanted to add some shape to his shoulders.

I suggested we make the shoulder armour like I made for Matthew's Jedi Costume earlier this year.  
Since he would be 8' tall, he wanted to make sure he balanced out his proportions, so he measured his 'suspender' length and the belt ended up sitting around his hips.  I cut the interfacing layer out of the heaviest denim I have in my stash.  This stuff is so thick, I don't think I would even attempt jeans with it, even with my industrial sewing machine.  At Thanksgiving dinner, I fitted the pieces on him.  Isn't that hood just the coolest thing?!
When he wore the robe in 2008, he had the hood down, because it kept falling down over his face.  This year, he tried to figure out a way to keep it up, and you'll be surprised that the simplest thing ended up being a solution.  A ball cap.  Genius.  Problem solved.
Look how much bigger it makes him look!  Holy shoulder armour, Batman!
After I finished the shoulder armour and belt, Scott came to the upholstery shop and helped me design the sword and orb.  I made them with leftover upholstery vinyl.  To attach it to the belt, I sewed it around the sides and bottom of the orb piece, securing everything nicely.  Scott put the studs in the middle of each square.
 I made him get dressed and undressed several times.  That's what you do at a fitting!  In this picture, I think he's standing on a milk crate, which was all we had in the shop that he could stand on.
I sewed velcro to the shoulder armour to keep it from falling down, which it did a lot before it got stuck properly.  There's a 5" strip of 1" velcro, and it goes from just in front of the shoulder seam to down by his shoulder blades.
Finally, I got him dressed one last time, and it's show-off time!  Woo hoo!
 Oooh, creepy.  I love it.
Mom had her camera going, too.  He was like, "I wanna see! Whoa!"
 More epic-ness to be unveiled in a later post!