iLiv Fabric Collections

I am pleased to announce that I am now a stockist of the iLiv range of fabrics and wallpapers.

iLiv offer a number of beautifully coordinating collections which show the fabrics at their best. I particularly like the combination of vibrant modern fabrics along side traditional weaves and prints, and they are reasonably priced too. If you struggle combining fabrics together for that mix and match look then these are the fabric collections for you.

The fabrics are available for both purchasing on their own or to have made into soft furnishings. If you are interested in any of the fabrics please contact me and I can arrange for samples to be sent to you. If you are local to the Southampton/Portsmouth area please contact me for a no obligation consultation.

 

iLiv Collections

Aquataine

Aquataine collection Charcoal

Aquataine collection Charcoal

Give your home the French feel. These fabrics are inspired by the elegant styling of the Aquitaine regions of France. The collection comprises beautiful Toile style floral prints together with textured weaves. Colour ways are: Dusky Rose, Eau de Nil, Rouge and Charcoal.

 

Birdhouse

Birdhouse collection in Brights

Birdhouse collection in Brights

An enchanting collection featuring endearing owls and birds in brightly patterned houses amongst woodland flowers and trees. Coordinating stripes and embroidered dots complete the look. Colour ways are: Brights and Pink.

 

Decoupage

Decoupage collection in Powder Blue

Decoupage collection in Powder Blue

A beautiful range of pretty printed florals, delicate embroidered butterflies, teamed with fine country stripes and polka dots. Colour ways are: Powder Blue, Pastel and Chintz.

 

Pirates life for me

Pirates life for me collection

Pirates life for me collection

Ahoy There! Children will love this collection featuring cheerful pirates on their imaginative Treasure Island adventures. Stripes and colourful prints combine to create a fun nautical look. Colour way: Nautical.

 

Seralio

Seralio collection in Cassis

Seralio collection in Cassis

Bold and contemporary the Seralio collection comprises a bold floral print with smart Chevrons and co-ordinating small scale weaves. Colour ways: Cassis, Mineral, Ocean and Cayenne.

 

Adara

Adara collection in Teal

Adara collection in Indigo

Flamboyant tropical florals and a contemporary mix of simple floral trails with casual stripes and updated geometrics. Colour ways are: Chartreuse, Indigo and Multi.

 

Charlton

Charlton collection in Azure

Charlton collection in Azure

One of the more traditional collections from iLiv, Carlton comprises intricate floral prints, tapestries and embroideries with sumptuous velvets and classic leaf jacquards. Colour ways are: Red Earth and Azure.

 

Elements

Elements collection in Graphite

Elements collection in Graphite

Lustrous colours and textures with subtle textured and metallic plains, ombre jacquards and elegant geometrics. Choose fabric from the Elements collection to give your room a very contemporary feel. Colour ways are: Amethyst, Chartreuse and Graphite.

 

Fjord

Fjord collection in Spice

Fjord collection in Spice

Bright and contemporary, the Fjord collection combines abstract leaves with up to the minute geo’s to bring a Scandinavian feel. Colour ways are: Tangerine, Citrus, Spice and Mulberry.

 

In Bloom

In Bloom collection in Summer Brights

In Bloom collection in Summer Brights

Comprises an elegant mix of painterly floral prints with vibrant stripes and silhouette floral jacquards. colour ways are: Caramel and Summer Brights.

 

Palladio

Palladio collection in Granite

Palladio collection in Granite

Timeless and classical, the Palladio Collection combines elegant damasks and stripes layered with a range of shimmering textures. Colour ways are: Mink, Mocha and Granite.

 

Piazza

Piazza collection in Damson

Piazza collection in Damson

Decorate your home with this on trend hand painted collection. Splashy florals reminiscent of an artist’s canvas are layered with tailored checks and luxurious velvets.  Colour ways are: Azure, Burnt Orange, Damson and Sepia.

 

Shabby Chic

Shabby Chic collection in Terracotta

Shabby Chic collection in Terracotta

Embracing pretty floral and bird prints, delicate floral embroideries, woven ticking stripes and vintage inspired postcard prints. Colour ways are: Eau de Nil and Terracotta.

Upcycling Soft Furnishings

I have noticed a trend lately in the type of work I am being asked to do, and that is upcycling.

Out of my last five customers, four of them wanted me to make soft furnishings from items they already had. This is more than just altering the length of ready made curtains – which is something I try to avoid, but basically using the fabric contained within the item to create something new and different. I admit two of the four customers had purchased ready made soft furnishings with the intention that they be used for a different purpose, but the other two were using curtains that fitted windows in a previous house and wanted to change them to fit new surroundings.

 

What is upcycling?

Upcycled Aluminum Can Jewelry Dr Pepper

An example of upcycling by Absolute Jewelry, turning an old can into a beautiful necklace

Wikipedia ‘s definition of upcycling is :

“Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value”

Upcycling differs from recycling by keeping the fundamental elements of the item. When something is recycled, such as a glass bottle, it is mixed with other glass products, broken down into small pieces and reformed into a new glass bottle. The new bottle has nothing in common with the original bottle except that it is made of glass.

An item that has been upcycled may still have the same colour or texture as the original but it is enhanced and considered of a higher value.

According to Wikipedia the term upcycling was first used in 1994, but I consider the past’s “make do and mend” culture that was especially important during war time a form of upcycling. Darning a hole a sock so that it could be worn again added value to the un-wearable holey sock, even if it wasn’t a pretty sight!

 

What is involved in upcycling soft furnishings

From New

My customers who purchased ready made items with the intention of having them made into something else did so because they wanted a specific fabric.

One customer was changing her bedroom and wanted a matching valance. Unfortunately the collection she chose didn’t include a valance, so she purchased a second duvet cover just to have it made into a valance.

Another customer wanted two blinds made for her refurbished bathroom. She found an exact match to the colour of the tiles in a pair of ready made curtains so she purchased them.

Both of these customers purchased the ready made items before contacting me so I couldn’t advise them about any alternatives, but I was able to make the valance and blinds to their requirements without too many problems.

From Old

My other two customers were in a similar situation. They had moved into a new home and brought curtains from their old house with them which unfortunately didn’t fit any windows.

One customer had two pairs of hand pleated interlined curtains made for her lounge but unfortunately had to move soon afterwards. She felt it would be a waste to not use the curtains and actually needed curtains for her new spare room. However the old curtains were the wrong size, one pair was long and wide the other was short and narrow – the window needed short and wide.

Initially she contacted me to shorted the long pair. Instead, I suggested re-making the pleats on the shorter pair so that they were wide enough to fit the window. She was then able to give the long pair to her father-in-law for his lounge window. No wastage of fabric and both pairs of curtains are being used.

The other customer had eight panels from her house in France which she wanted made into a pair of dress curtains and a triple pleat valance for her lounge. After a great deal of washing and ironing on her part and cutting and sewing on mine, she now has a soft frame for her large picture window.

 

Top tips when upcycling soft furnishings

From experience I have the following top tips that may be useful if you are thinking of upcycling.

  • Ideally curtains that have been hanging should be laundered before upcycling. Hanging curtains make very good dust catchers and it goes everywhere if you are not careful.
  • Check the fabric of the original piece for wear and tear before starting.
  • Don’t assume the edge of ready made curtains is straight. More often that not the edge will be overlocked when it was made in the factory and any reference to the straight grain long gone.
  • Measure twice and cut once, you may not be able to replace the fabric if you make a mistake so cut carefully.

 

My own experience of upcycling

A few years ago we had an extension to our house and my son had a new bedroom. He didn’t want new curtains but the ones from his old room. Unfortunately the new window was slightly bigger than the old, so I added a contrast band to the top and used an eyelet heading to increase the width and length.

Eyelet curtains

Eyelet curtains upcycled from another pair by adding a contrast band to fit a new window.

Amazingly the old curtains have now been hanging in a south facing window for 14 years and showed little signs of fading which considering how dark the design is quite an achievement. If you plan to upcycle old curtains check for fading as this can be a problem.

Interlining

Interlinings

Properties of Interlining

In these days of energy efficiency you may not be aware of something that is primarily used to enhance window treatments but also adds to the insulating properties. Similar in feel to a flannel blanket, interlining is an extra layer of fabric, usually cotton, placed between the main fabric and the lining.

Before I started making curtains I hadn’t heard of interlining but now it has become a very important part of my business. There are many beautiful fabrics that on their own would produce curtains that are thin and lifeless, but by adding a layer of interlining the ‘feel’ of the fabric changes dramatically and the curtains become thick and sumptuous. This extra layer however not only adds to the handle of the fabric but because of the increases in the thickness it therefore makes it more insulating.

Through my own experience I know this to be true. Our lounge window, which is a large square bay and faces north, has interlined blinds. On a winters morning when I raise the blinds you can feel the difference in the air temperature between the warm room and the cold window- and that is with modern double glazing, if you had old draughty windows you would notice the difference even more.

What are the different types of interlining?

There are three different types of interlining available, two made from Cotton (Bump and Domett) and the third from Polyester (Saril).

Bump

This is the thickest interlining and is loosely woven fabric made from around 80% cotton and 20% mixed synthetic fibres. It should be used pre-shrunk as the high cotton content has a tendency to shrink in the damp atmosphere around windows. Bump produces the best looking interlined curtains as it drapes beautifully and is especially suitable for silk, however it is also the hardest to work with as the loose weave results in an unstable fabric that moves and sheds fibres easily. The typical weight of bump is 400g/m 2 with a thickness of 0.5mm (1/4″)

Domett

This interlining is a heavily brushed 100% cotton twill fabric slightly thinner than Bump and as you can see from the top picture it is available in different weights. It is relatively easy to work with but that does mean that the drape isn’t as good as Bump. Most of the interlined curtains I have made have used Domett as it works with many different types of fabrics. The lightweight Domett is particularly suitable for blinds and other areas where the fabric will be pleated such as swags & tails. Domett weight can be from 160g/m 2 to 300g/m 2 with a thickness of a few millimetres.

 

Saril

Saril is a synthetic cheaper alternative to the cotton interlinings however as it doesn’t have the drape qualities, and I wouldn’t recommend using it unless necessary. It is not a woven fabric but stitch bonded- the fibres are joined together with rows of small stitches, and comes in similar weights to the cotton alternatives. The major advantage of Saril over Bump or Domett is that it doesn’t shrink so if interlining is required when there is a lot of moisture (kitchen, bathroom or damp house) you would need to use Saril.

 

A new interlined based product has been developed that bonds Saril to the back of normal lining. The resulting fabric speeeds up construction time, but as it so stiff it is recommended that it should only be used for Roman blinds. I haven’t used this interlining myself but have some samples, I personally think that the amount of extra time taken to attach the interlining to the lining by hand is minimal and to achieve a far better result is much more important.

Slightly different construction techniques are needed to incorporate the interlining into the soft furnishings which is why interlined curtains have a higher price, but in my opinion the finished results are far superior.
 

As you can probably tell I am a fan of interlined curtains and blinds. Although they take longer to make I always find that curtains hang better and blinds have a softer edge.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you want any further information about interlining curtains or if you are interested in having some made.

Footnote

Don’t get interlining mixed up with interfacing. Interfacing is used in dressmaking to strengthen areas such as collars and facings. It is a much thinner fabric usually made from bonded fibers, tends to be fusible and is very different to interlining.

Welcome to my Blog

Hello and welcome to my blog, hopefully you have had a look at the rest of my website and would now like to know a little more about the person behind Sartorial Soft Furnishings.

As this is the start of my blog I thought it would be appropriate to begin at the beginning and tell you my roots and how I have got to where I am now, which is a housewife in Hampshire, England with her own soft furnishing business.

Early years

I was born in the mid sixties in Oxfordshire. As a toddler we (Mum, Dad and younger sister) moved to Hampshire for the first time but after only 6 months we moved to Keyworth in Nottinghamshire. We were in there for 5 years, and then relocated to a small village in Cheshire called Bunbury just before my 9 th birthday where we lived for about 15 years.  By my early 20’s any southern roots were lost and I considered myself a “Northerner”

My interest in sewing started at an early age. While in Nottingham I asked for a sewing machine for Christmas. Instead of getting me the pink plastic “Miss Petite” one was expecting my parents, very wisely, gave me a lovely old hand operated Singer.  My first attempts were soft toy kits with my mum joining the more complicated bits together. I graduated to making clothes while still at primary school. Unfortunately I remember this for the wrong reasons – the badly attached pocket on the front of my pinafore dress fell off while at school!

A short video from YouTube demonstrating a similar sewing machine to my first hand cranked machine

 

Education

When the time came to choose which subjects to take at O’level (that ages me) I had what seemed a very random selection, but with hindsight they fitted together perfectly. As well as the obvious Needlework I also took Art, Physics, and Economics. Because I was good a Maths I was chosen to be part of the first Computer Studies course my school offered. This was very different to the IT courses of today; we booked time slots to work on the school’s ITT Apple equivalent computer for coursework, wrote BASIC computer programs and learnt about the history of computing.

My school, Tarporley County High School, had its own sixth form so after finishing my O’levels I stayed to take A’levels. At this point I dropped the fun subjects and took Maths, Further Maths and Physics, with the intention to progress to a Maths Degree.  As my results weren’t too good it was soon obvious that my degree would be from a run-of-the-mill Polytechnic and wouldn’t get me very far in the job’s market.

Hollings Campus, Fallowfield

Holling Campus, Manchester Polytechnic. Also known as ‘The fried egg and toast-rack’

Quite by chance I stumbled upon a course from Manchester Polytechnic that suited me (and my combination of O’levels) very well, a BA in Clothing Studies. The course was designed to produce students with knowledge of the clothing industry and have the potential to run their own factory. At the time (mid 80’s) the clothing industry in Britain seemed buoyant and the course had employers ready to take graduates as soon as they finished.

Work

So after 4 years in Manchester, one of the best places to be a student at the time in my opinion, I graduated with a degree and headed to Leeds to work in a factory making Post Office Uniforms. For a year everything went well but after I had just bought my first flat I was made redundant, looking back now it was the start of the decline of the British clothing industries and it would have happened at some time if not then. My world fell apart, my parents had just moved to France, I had a mortgage I couldn’t pay and the only people I knew in the area were from the factory who didn’t keep in touch. I had the worst 6 months of my life, I can remember walking to the local shop with the sole of my shoe flapping and I couldn’t even afford to replace it.

My break came through a consultant who worked for my previous employer. He also worked with a small bag manufacturer in Somerset and thought I may be what they were looking for. At the interview he asked if I had heard of them, I said”yes” but I must admit that this wasn’t completely true. Within a week of my interview with the Factory manager I had a job, was renting a room on a farm and looking forward to a new life. By the way the small bag manufacturer was Mulberry, the international designer label. Within a year I had sold my flat in Leeds, bought a new one in Chilcompton, Somerset and met my future husband through a mutual friend.

This video from YouTube includes footage from the Mulberry Factory in Chilcompton, Somerset.

My time at Mulberry was one of the best I have had. Starting in work study I progressed through the warehouse department into customer services, ending as a market support assistant responsible for the UK customers, but after I married my husband in 1995 we moved to Hampshire and I very sadly had to leave Mulberry.

The start of Sartorial Soft Furnishings

We have lived in the same house since 1995 but family life has changed because there are now 4 of us, my son was born in 1998 and my daughter in 2001. I was in the fortunate position to become a ‘stay at home Mum’ and left the administrator’s job I had at IBM at the time to look after our son when he arrived.

When my son was a toddler I became very frustrated and needed something outside of mothering. My local adult education centre was offering courses on soft furnishings that took my fancy so I signed up for the intermediate level one. I had made various curtains and blinds for the house and thought I knew what I doing so I didn’t need to do the beginners level. After the first week when it became obvious that I had no idea of professional curtains techniques I decided to start the beginners course the following term and I have not looked back.

In 2007 both children were at school and I needed to fill my days. Instead of looking for a job I decided to start my own soft furnishings business. Working from home would mean that I would be around after school for the children and there were many friends and family saying that I should go for it.

So here I am now, the business has taken over the spare room and although I have a sofa bed in it any visitors have to give me plenty of warning so that I can clear the room out. Most of my creations are for a local shop which provides a wide variety of work, but ideally I want to have more direct contact with my customers because part of the pleasure in making soft furnishings is seeing them in situ.

I hope you enjoyed this post, look out for others coming soon.