18 Aug 2011

The Lamp Shade

Quite a few years back, I bought a white 70s lamp from a little shop in Würzburg (Germany) and I really did love it for its uniqueness. Unfortunately, over the years, I have become tired of looking at its super-swirly pattern and that called for change of shade. I started my quest for an entirely new lamp shade which soon proved to be a lot more difficult than I thought. Everything looked either completely boring-meant-to-be-modern (and still ludicrously expensive in some cases) or way too plain. The local DIY shop only offered me some kind of frame made of a ring for the top and one for the bottom and suggested I try fiddling with a fabric of my choice until I had a lasting solution. That didn't satisfy me either. Luckily the well known Swedish furniture shop have LÖBBO on offer in various sizes and even colours. So I bought one of those medium sized plastic sheets (you have to transfer it into shade-shape yourself via a push-fit system). Moreover, I got myself the kind of fabric I thought would suit me best for the time being, a spray-on glue and double-sided adhesive tape (only 5mm or less in width).

1. Lay out your fabric on the floor, and put the plastic sheet of the shade above it. Add 2cm on all 4 sides of the plastic and cut out of the fabric. To prevent its edges from fraying, sew all the way around with a 5mm wide zigzag stitch.
2. What follows is the glueing part. Protect the floor with old newspaper and put your plastic sheet in the middle (outside up). Get your spray-on glue and spray evenly all over the shade, don't forget the edges!! If you have a helping hand, get it now, and carefully place the prepared piece of fabric onto the plastic. Any air bubbles caught in the middle can be removed with strokes from the inside towards the edges.
3. Remove from the sticky newspaper and turn around. Now you'll need the double-sided tape which will go on the top and bottom inside edges of the shade; this will fix the fabric onto the plastic on the inside as well (spray-on glue would be too messy here, as you only need a very small part to be sticky). Fold over the edges of the fabric and press onto the tape.
4. Follow the instructions that came with the shade and give it its round shape via the push-fit system. It's a bit tricky at first, but once you get a couple to fit, the remaining are not that hard any more... 
5. Put the edges of the left and right side neatly on top of each other and glue together with some double-sided tape to make the white plastic sheet completely disappear under the fabric. 
6. Now you basically just need to screw the new fabulous shade onto its lamp base and there you go. If you don't have a base but a cord set, all of these instructions work just as well. Just get LÖBBO one size up and don't hesitate to choose a new fabric and off you go! 

Both of my choices of fabric are Tilda by Norwegian designer Tone Finnanger, who produces so many lovely things and patterns that you just don't know what to make first and which fabric you will love most! If anyone actually follows my instructions and creates a new lamp shade for their home, do let me know, I would be delighted to hear from you!!!

17 Aug 2011

The Rocking Chair

This wonderful rocking chair once belonged to my late great-grandmother, who gave it to my mum when she was a teenager, who gave it to me when I was in my teenage years. It used to be covered with a horrible green cotton fabric including some kind of tree application, so as soon as I had the chair in my room, I removed that monster. Unfortunately, and despite all its prettiness and vintage-style, the uncovered chair was immensely uncomfortable and impossible to relax in due to the solid rattan strings in the back. To solve the problem, I tried covering the chair with as many cushions as I could find, but it still wasn't any more comfortable (the cushions were moving around, falling off and I had really just created a mountain-valley climate with soft padding next to hard rattan areas). I had no other choice as to strip the old upholstery of its green yuck and cover it with something new. Luckily, by that time, I had already discovered Cath Kidston and knew they sold their lovely patterned fabrics by the metre, too, and without further ado, I purchased 2m of the Faded Flowers Cotton Duck fabric. It is described as "a firm Cath Kidston favourite. Vintage inspired, this versatile print will add a feminine touch to your home." Just what I needed...

The actual making of the new covers was relatively easy: Simply copy the outlines of the foam padding onto the fabric (2x) and add 2cm seam allowance. Cut the two pieces out of the fabric and place on top of each other (outside in), fix with needles all around at the seam allowance. Sew it together, leaving the straight bottom side open to insert the foam padding. Once you've finished, turn inside out, stuff the padding in and fit it into the cover. Fold the leftover seam allowance of the straight bottom side into the cover and stitch up manually. Ribbons on the top will help to tie the cover onto the chair. Should the inside padding be moving within the cover, add buttons in the middle and sew onto the cover, all the way through the foam padding.
Procedures for the top and bottom cover are exactly the same and once you've done one, the second one will be child's play :) The accessory cushion covers are actually made from what was left over of the Faded Flowers Cotton Duck fabric. But I'll explain how I made these another time, going into detail particularly over the cute little mini ball ribbons framing the cushion cases.

Everything started in 2006...

This kitchen gear always reminds me of my lovely au pair family.
… when I left school and my parents’ house for the first time. Although I had originally planned to go studying straight away, I decided to take a different route into my new “grown-up” life. My long-term highschool boyfriend and I had split up a few months before I finished my A-Levels and this was the kind of kick I needed to decide a gap year would actually suit me much more than jumping from school right into university. Working as an Au Pair for a year seemed a great choice because not only do you neither have to pay any rent nor spend any money of groceries shopping, but you also got paid for looking after kids which I am used to (thanks to my 2 little brothers) anyway. I started working for a lovely English-French family with 2 girls who lived in the very heart of London and I instantly fell in love with everything about the city and knew this was where I wanted to live and work myself one day. It didn’t take me long to get used to the buzz of London and I had the time of my life and met the love of my life. Once the year was over, I went back to Germany to study at the University of Mainz where I graduated with a Master’s degree 5 years later. Being away from my boyfriend for that long, having to explain to people that a long distance relationship can actually work and that I was definitely going to move over to London afterwards (no matter what) cost a lot of energy and strength but it was totally worth it. I am now living in a beautiful apartment in central London with my lovely boyfriend Joe and actually managed to get a decent job and a couple of promotions relatively quickly. I couldn’t be happier! If anyone ever wonders if a gap year is the right thing to do, I can only say “Yes, definitely!” It allowed me to grow up a little before uni, I am now a fluent and accent-free in the English laguage and I have met some great people including Joe.