Thursday, 22 March 2012

Tiki Sofa Cushions

So what exactly to do with my recent fabulous eBay win? Barkcloth Tiki Curtains. 

I knew all along that these curtains would end up on the sofa, I just needed to make sure they were actually too small for the window or I would have put them straight up there.

I love my red leather sofa but that's quite a lot of *red* in a small room so I like to ring the changes with throws and fabric. However there is nothing worse than a sofa throw that silently works its way into a pile on the floor - a crumpled mess that needs straightening and tucking in every five minutes. Aaarrrgh.

It drives the family mad too. 

I was determined to make my Tiki dancers into cushion covers that stayed put, trouble being there wasn't much fabric in each curtain and there was quite a bit of damage to along the edges. These might not last the summer, but what the heck..

The pattern of disintegration is interesting, it appears that only the red dye is unstable and holes appear where there is red in the design - mostly along the selvedge edges, so I surmise that it's probably sun damage with the curtains open and the sun catching the edges ... or colour selective moths.

Sunshine + this red dye = rotting? 

Any chemists out there able to throw some light on this? I'd be very interested. I reckon the fabric is probably 60yrs old at the most.

For the cushions I had a couple of choices: 

a: I could take the fabric to an upholsterer and ask for it to be used on the top surface only of a piped and zipped cushion cover in a complemetary fabric. 

b: I could try to do this myself. 

c: I could make a loose cover secured with elastic - like those in catalogues that fall out of colour supplement magazines.  

I chose the easier, cheaper option and chopped the old header tape off.

Squared each curtain up by adding a 7inch strip of canvas from the stash along one edge, then clipped the corners into curves in order to make hemming a pocket for the fat elastic easier.

I threaded elastic, slipped the cover over the sofa cushion and tied it off tight. 

Just fits!

There used to be a lovely small upholsterers just up the road from where I live, the guys there have covered a few things for me in the past - but sadly the shop has closed. Another small independent craft business goes under in the face of chicken shacks and phone shops on the High Street. 
Sad, he would have done a far more professional job.


two bones and a bagle said...

Hi I am no chemist/fabric expert but apparently it is the red dye that is most vulnerable. How do i know I found a vintage eiderdown in the charity shop. It was a beautiful red with a floral spotty design. I researched cleaning and found out I could wash it at home. Result - no eidy left and feathers everywhere. Then I found out that the red dye is the weakest and always the first to perish.

Jeanie B said...

Thanks Debs and how fascinating! I wonder what's in the red dye that makes it so unstable .. and is it a 'vintage' problem, not an issue with contemporary dyes?

Bad news about the eiderdown! When I left 2ndry school I cheekily asked the Headmaster if I could have the curtains in his office - they were retro 50's atomic design. He kept them for me and I rushed home to wash 30 yrs of dust out them - they completely disintegrated ... !

Maybe I could do a whole post on vanishing vintage fabrics :-)

Thimbleanna said...

Well, it seems hard to imagine that the now defunct upholsterer could have done any better job than you have Abi. They look fabulous!

Debi said...

Great barkcloth find! Love your cushion covers...and who knew about the red dye...fascinating!

JoJo said...

Love this transformation! Great fabric- just found you so will be checking out your blog, Best wishes Jo x

thehorsesmouth said...

Just catching up with all your Fab creations Abi, I'm lovin' those Miro cushions! :-)

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