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We each have different skills, interests and areas of expertise when it comes to crafting, but through our craft nights, full of laughter, sometimes tears and more than the occasional glass of wine, we have formed a tight bond of deep friendship. Of course, we like to think that we are paving the way for a new kind of social crafting and bonding; our hands busy with the needles or fabric as we share our worries, seek perspective on our woes and indulge in belly-aching laughter at a good story well told. But the truth is that women have been doing this for generations and we are merely following in their footsteps.
Whilst I’m very content to work independently in my sewing room for hours on end, lost in thought and concentration on my projects, I love the social aspect of these craft nights with my friends. There’s always someone to turn to for help when learning to knit, someone to demonstrate needle felting or someone who puts the rest of us to shame with the perfect results she gets with everything she makes. It’s also a great opportunity for me to help them whenever they need it.
One of our group recently asked me to help her with some beginner’s sewing projects and I was more than happy to oblige. We started by making a duvet cover for her bed and we were so successful and she felt so inspired to sew more, that we soon followed up by making some pillowcases to match.
Just by my passing on a few pieces of advice and a couple of basic sewing skills, my friend made something she really loved and felt good about.I’ve lost track of the number of people who have told asked me if I could show teach them how to sew. It seems like almost everyone owns a sewing machine and doesn’t know how to use it. I distinctly remember how I would sit at my first sewing machine with the handbook on my lap, just trying to thread the needle and how I waded through those first few years as a novice sewer making things I was only 50% happy with. If only someone had been able to show me a few things back at the beginning of my sewing journey, there may have been a few less tantrums and tears!!
Do you know someone who would love to learn your craft? You don’t have to start a craftnight like mine (though I can highly recommend it) but by passing on a few tips or snippets of advice, you’d be teaching them more than just a skill. You’d be giving them a sense of achievement and inspiring them to make more, and there’s no doubt about it that teaching someone else helps you learn too.
My friend’s next project is to make simple chair covers for her dining chairs and here I share how to make one with you. A chair cover is the perfect project for a new sewer because it makes a big impact and requires sewing just a few straight lines.
1. Take the measurements of your chair by carefully studying your chair’s structure and deciding where you want your seams to be. Chairs vary in style but I am measuring this chair by starting at the back. Measure from the floor up over the top, and down to the seat pad and record. Measure from the back of the seat pad to the front and record. Measure from the edge of the seat pad to the floor and record. You also need to measure the width of the chair so write that down too.
2. Cut your lengths of fabric and add 1” for seam allowances (1/2” on each side). First cut the length you need to reach from the floor, up the back of the chair and down to the seat pad and add in the seam allowance. Next cut a piece of fabric to fit the seat pad, again adding the seam allowance. Finally cut 3 lengths of fabric to reach from the edge of the seat pad to the floor (which I am calling the ‘skirt’) also adding the seam allowance of 1”.
3. Start with the longest piece of fabric and hem one short end and the two long ends by folding over ½” and sewing down. Pin the seat pad piece you cut to the raw edge on the other end and sew together.
4. Take your three skirt pieces of fabric and arrange in a line on your cutting table. Pin then sew them together at the side seams. Hem the two raw edges at the ends and the bottom edge that will sit off the floor.
5. Pin the side pieces to the seat pad piece matching up the corners and sew, easing the stitching around the corners as you go. Use pinking shears on the corner seams to reduce the seam allowance and allow the cover to lay flat against the chair.
6. Secure the chair cover to the chair with a large bright length of organza or ribbon which you can change depending on the holiday or season.
Approx 1.5yds heavy weight fabric such as canvas. Size will vary depending on chair.
Organza or ribbon