Wednesday, 21 March 2012

How to Decide Whether to Make, Mend or Replace the Cushions on Outdoor Furniture?


So spring is here Divas, and our minds turn to the outdoors. Here at Diva towers the whole family have been fighting off flu/infections/viruses and so now getting some wonderful spring air seems even more rewarding.

Of course now we notice just what tasks need to be completed in the garden, and apart from the odd tidy up and planting, you've no doubt noticed your outdoor bench cushions are looking past their best. Even if you've stored them properly through the winter, it could be time for a change.

Weatherworn and Tired
All cushions get a bit worn and saggy over time, especially those that are exposed to the outdoor elements. So what should you do when your outside cushions need replacing?

There are more options than you realize, although of course a straightforward replacement from the place you bought the furniture may be just the answer for you.

Things aren't always that easy though, as even in the world of patio and garden furniture, trends move on, and so do styles and fabrics of outdoor cushions. Let's take a look at your options.


Can you rescue your cushions?
Do the Cushions Really Need Replacing?
Bring your cushions inside and take a proper look at them. Do they need to be completely replaced?

If they are worn then you could always buy replacement covers, or make some yourself, using the existing foam as a guide from which to make your pattern.
If the foam is flat and offers very little cushioning, but the fabric is still OK, then maybe all you need is to add some new foam to plump them up again.
If your cushions are just worn or faded on the edges then you could always customize them with tassels, piping or appliqué shapes, to cover over these small imperfections as well as adding your own style.
If your cushions are just a bit grubby or have had the odd drink spilled on them, you might be able to bring them back up to standard with some professional or DIY upholstery cleaning.
If the fabric is worn or faded by the sun, and the foam is flat too, then it may be time to consider replacements.
If the foam appears fine but the fabric is mildewed then again it's probably time for a straight replacement; mildew is a sign of damp which may have caused more damage to the foam than you realize, and certainly won't make for a nice odor.
If your situation dictates that you definitely need replacement cushions, what's your next step?


Make sure you use the correct fabric
Any Cushion Will Do, Right?
Despite appearances, there is actually quite a bit of difference between the cushions you have on your indoor furniture and those that you have on your outdoor furniture. The fabric has been treated (probably in many different ways), and is likely to be more robust and thick too -- the wear it gets from the friction against metal or rattan furniture has to be taken into account.

Modern outdoor fabrics look just like indoor ones, so you can be forgiven for thinking that it's OK to use indoor cushions for your garden furniture. Actually they are now made in much the same way, and outdoor fabrics aren't as stiff and boardy as they used to be.

They are likely to be stain, moisture and fade resistant, and this is the really big difference between the two.

So if you can't utilize just any nice cushion set that you find, what's your best bet in buying replacement outdoor cushions?

Although it's unlikely, go back to the store where you bought the originals and see if they still stock your cushions. Even if they don't they are likely to stick to the same make, so they may have some useful contact details for you. They may even have an ordering service. Take a look around while you are in the store, and see what else they have. Stores tend to stick with the same manufacturers so even if they don't have an exact fabric match, maybe they do offer a cushion set that fits the same dimensions as your furniture.
Take a look for a tag or label -- it maybe inside if your cushions use zippers. Manufacturer details might give you an address or website that could be worth a look.
Take some measurements and have a look online for a made-to-measure upholstery
service. If your cushions are an odd shape, or you aren't that handy with a sewing machine, these services are tremendous value for the skill you are getting.


Making your own
covers is super-easy
Still No Luck? Make or Mend
Hitting a brick wall and still not getting what you're after?

If you just need replacement covers you can easily make your own outdoor cushions using your existing covers as patterns. Even corner unit cushions aren't difficult to make if you have a pattern to go by -- there aren't any complicated methods you need to learn. Just a straight running stitch with a 1/2 inch seam all around is all you need. Remember to leave one side open to put the foam in through, and then stitch up that edge - which will be visible.
Why not alter some commercially available outdoor cushions to fit the shape of your furniture, using the same approach as above. You don't even need to sew ; try some iron on-adhesive or even some stick on Velcro with a few nips and tucks to get the perfect shape.
Even though outdoor furniture fabric is different than indoor fabric, this doesn't mean that you can't weatherproof cushions yourself. If you find some perfect cushions at a garage sale, or outlet store, but they are definitely indoor cushions, do not fret. As long as the fabric is an upholstery-style that looks like it will stand up to wear, you can use waterproof silicon spray to protect them from the elements. This approach works best with a light colored fabric as the spray won't offer protection from fading by the sun.
While finding replacement cushions for outdoor furniture may not be as easy as popping into the store, I hope I've shown you many ways around the problem so you can find the one that suits you best.


Image credit: Headline image - http://www.flickr.com/photos/designservices/6736642233/sizes/z/in/photostream/

Friday, 9 March 2012

How to Make Big Poofy Wedding Bows: Easy Directions to Success




We've looked at lots of different ways to make bows so far, from pew bows, chair back bows to arch bows, but the big poofy wedding bow is the most versatile of all. Learn how to make this beauty and you'll save loads of money of your wedding budget.


Mix and match materials
and styles for a unique look
What's The Best Material To Use for Bows?
It largely depends on what areas you are decorating with your big poofy wedding bows as to the best material to use, but overall the best results will be gained from using quality stiff ribbon or fabric, or wired ribbon (ribbon that has thin wire running down each edge).

The idea behind using a stiffer fabric, or ribbon with wire edging, is that the bows will be more likely to stay put, and will definitely retain that "poofy" look that we are striving for. A more relaxed and soft bow will be created by using softer fabrics, and using this kind of ribbon is fine if you are making small poofy bows, or bows to decorate chair backs for weddings.

If you find the perfect fabric but it's not a ribbon, you can cut strips of it to your chosen width and length, making a small allowance for hemming or zig-zag stitching the edges, so they don't fray.

For a poofy bow suitable for a larger surface like an arch or tree, the ideal width of your ribbon or fabric strip should be at least 6 inches, and the length for each piece should be about 2 yards - this is obviously flexible depending on how full you want the bow to look. It is worth taking some time with the first bow before cutting up a large supply of ribbons of the same length, as you can then adjust the dimensions accordingly.


Take it one step at a time
 and you'll be fine
Tips on Tying Bows & Getting Them to Stay Put
The following steps will take you through creating a full bow that has 4 loops for a right-handed bow maker, but the instructions can be changed according to your needs:
  1. Start by securely holding your length of ribbon in your left hand hand, in the middle (fold in half to find the mid point accurately).
  2. With your right hand make a loop to one side of the center, and hold it in place at the center, with your left hand.
  3. With your right hand, make a loop on the other side of the bow and hold with your left - meaning both lengths that are hanging eitherside should be the same, and you now have 2 loops
  4. Make a small ring shape (as opposed to a large loop) with one side of the ribbon - make it big enough to thread your ribbon through later on.
  5. Repeat steps 2 and 3.
  6. Take a second piece of ribbon, either the same length, or a half length. Holding all your loops together with the left hand, pass the second piece of ribbon through the ring shape you made (like threading a needle). When you have threaded half your ribbon through this small loop, take both ends and wrap them around the middle.
  7. Finish by tying a knot with this second piece at the back of the bow. The ends can hang down to join the other loop ends in making the tails of the bow.


Use spray starch for a bit of staying power
Quick Tips & Tricks for Making Poofy Bows

Here are a few tips you can use to make the process easier, or to make your bows more poofy:


  • If you find it difficult to hold so many loops in your hand while making the loops with the other, try using a bulldog clip or hat pin to hold the loops in place, as you use both hands to make the loops.
  • If you've found the perfect design fabric for your wedding but it isn't stiff enough to use for poofy bows, try using spray starch once you've completed your bows to stiffen up the fabric and keep it in place.
  • To make the loops look more full on big bows, try using strips of plastic made into rings or loops, and pushed underneath the top layer of the loopy end of the loops, pushing them out and making them look more full. Use a small blob of white glue underneath, or a dressmakers pin to secure. You can reuse plastic packaging, such as yoghurt pots, etc., to make your strips.
Whether you are decorating your home for a wedding, a church, or decorating outdoors, knowing how to make big poofy wedding bows will ensure you have a spectacular looking bow that will stay put throughout the day.

Image credits - http://www.flickr.com/photos/eolson/3967399237/sizes/z/in/photostream/

Thursday, 8 March 2012

How to Make Large Wedding Bows for Arches and Beyond



Although you might not think it, there are plenty of different ways to make a wedding bow. Some of these methods work better for decorating some wedding areas than others.

In our series on wedding bows so far, we have covered chair back bows, pew bows, and big poofy bows. Here we look at making large bows for every other wedding surface, as well as more specific advice on how to make tulle wedding arch bows.

You can always mix and match methods to suit you though - some instructions may get your fingers in a twist, while others will leave you feeling more superior than Martha Stewart.
 

How to Make Large Wedding Bows - a General Guide

Making large wedding bows begins with a long length of ribbon of fabric (3 yards or more), to create big loops to decorate any area of your wedding venue.

If you can get your hands on some wired ribbon, then the loops will stay in place better, but if you want a softer look, then using organza or tulle fabric for your bows is the way to go.

To create a large wedding bow like the loopy circular one pictured, you need to use the easy figure of eight looping technique. If you find this tricky, more tips can be found in our article on how to make big poofy wedding bows.

Hold your length of fabric in the middle, and make a loop on one side, then repeat on the other side.

Continue this process using one hand to make the loops, and the other to hold them securely in the middle, working your way around in a circular motion. When you are finished, hold the loose ends at the back of the ribbon, and wrap another length of fabric around this - this helps to both secure the ribbon, and to add an attractive sash effect to the bow.

 
Bows and greenery add instant romance

Making Tulle Wedding Arch Bows

There are two options when learning how to make tulle wedding arch bows. One is by following the looping figure of eight method above, and the other is to make a large and dramatic wedding arch bow that is a simple bow, but that will add flow, and soften the edges of the arch.

If you can find wide enough tulle ribbon that is wired, then your job will be so much easier, but as we are looking at decorating an arch, we really need to use ribbon or fabric that is quite wide, so this may not be possible. Often, the same tulle fabric used to decorate the wedding arch, will be used for the wedding bows.

It obviously depends on the look you are after, but the width of tulle you are looking at using should be a minimum of 6 inches wide and 2-3 yards long - tulle is a very sheer fabric, and when used on large items especially, it can be "lost" if not used in large quantities.

While the method in making a large tulle wedding arch bow is simple, it's often getting it to stay in place that is the real test. There are two unlikely tricks to help you get around this though. You will need clear elastic bands (or bands the same color as the fabric), and a can of spray starch.

Wrap the length of tulle around the wedding arch, and tie in a half knot. Make bunny ear loops using the ends, and leave some fabric hanging down from each side. Hold the loops together, and wrap the rubber band around the bottom - this will keep it more secure than tying the bows together which is an especially useful tip for outdoor weddings.

With the last step in how to make tulle wedding arch bows, you may want to add to the visual appeal by making the bow more rigid, rather than hanging loose. With a can of spray starch in one hand, fan out the bow with the other hand and spray into position - of course the exact position won't hold in this form, but it will help to firm the bow up into staying proud on the wedding arch.


With how to make large wedding bows covered, decorating a wedding venue will be a breeze. When making tulle wedding arch bows, why not try adding to them, by sliding in some flowers or strings of fake gems into the bow that coordinate with your wedding theme.

Image Credits:
Headline image - http://www.flickr.com/photos/globetro/3571440915/sizes/m/in/photostream/

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

10 Beautiful Ideas for Wedding Hall Decorating


The prospect of decorating the wedding hall can seem daunting at first, but there are loads of inexpensive and effective ideas you can use...


Decorating the Walls with Photos

The walls are the largest expanse of space to be decorated in your wedding hall, but don't be overwhelmed.

Black & white photos don't
 interfere with your color theme

Using photos is not only a cheerful way to break up a large expanse of wall, it will become a talking point for your guests throughout the day.

Create a Wedding History Wall - Ask your friends and family to contribute a picture of them on their wedding day. If they are family members they might also like to offer a picture of their parents on their wedding day, so you have many generations of both sides of the family still present in some way on your special day. If you have the time, then you could arrange this on a large family tree format to decorate the walls.

The History of the Happy Couple - Have one wall be just about the newlyweds. Start at one side of the wall with you as baby, and the other side of the wall for your spouse, and advance towards the center of the wall with eventually the two of you meeting in the middle - a willing guest might even oblige by getting a snap processed quickly for you of that 'just married' picture, to complete the wall.

Create a Photo Tree - A photo tree doesn't even have to be a tree, it could just be pictures tacked to the wall, or pinned to some fabric. You may also consider using an artificial tree (you could even repurpose a Christmas tree). Get a willing volunteer to take Polaroids of your guests as they enter the venue, and hang them up on the tree. This also gives the guests a keepsake to take home.



Balloons can be really effective
if used in the right way
Decorating the Walls Quickly

There is no cheaper way to decorate a wedding hall than with balloons - be prepared and use a pump though! Get some fishing line and tie balloons along it, alternating each side. String in swag style, horizontally across the wall, or create an entire wall of balloons, as in this picture.


Create a soft feel, and use some inexpensive tulle to cover the walls in swags. Create a large wedding bow to affix at each interval and to cover up where you've stapled the fabric to the walls. Add further detail by using greenery such as long strings of ivy, faux greenery, or tissue paper flowers.


Decorating the Ceiling

A tented ceiling takes a bit of time
but the results are stunning

The ceiling of a wedding venue often gets neglected, but has the power to add a real wow factor to the hall.

One approach you might like to take is by creating a tented ceiling. You will need large amounts of fabric, but it can be inexpensive sheer fabric like tulle, or even use cheap calico. If you have the time then use a hot glue gun to randomly stick pieces of diamond vase filler to the fabric beforehand, to create a ceiling that shimmers. Simply use a staple gun to attach one length of fabric to the center of the room, and then pull it over to the edge of the wall, again using staples to fix it into place.

A small wedding hall would benefit from some hanging decorations. Get hold of some polystyrene balls and cover them with faux greenery, or tissue paper flowers - hang from the ceiling at different heights using fishing line. Depending on the theme of the wedding, a piñata over each table would make for a colorful decoration and keep the kids happy too.

Fairy lights - inexpensive but magical
 (you can even use Christmas lights
 from family and friends)
Fill in the Gap Decorations
With the main sections of the wedding hall decorated, you need to fill in the gaps and add those finishing touches to make the look complete.

One addition guaranteed to make any wedding venue feel more magical, is fairy lights (mini Christmas style lights). Predictable, sure, but an inexpensive way to add romance - like the wedding equivalent of dusting powdered sugar over a cake to make it look nicer, fairy lights are always a winner. String them from the walls, ceilings, or through your floral arrangements.

Hire some floral/vase stands and decorate with tulle, in the same way you would tie a chair back bow. Place large clear bowls on them filled with candy - large sweets like marshmallows and gumballs work particularly well.

Even if you have a large space to fill, using these wedding hall decor ideas will ensure you have a unique and stylish wedding venue, that will be one of the most inexpensive parts of your day.

Need Some New and Creative Ideas for Your Wedding's Table Decor?


There are a number of elements you need to consider in the design of your wedding table decor, but none of them need to cost a great deal -- just a bit of coordination is required.



Wedding Table Centerpieces

The focal point of any creatively decorated wedding table is always going to be the centerpiece. There is a tendency to go for the traditional flower arrangement, but as well as being hugely expensive, they can often be uninspirational. What's more, if you are decorating the wedding table yourself, you simply aren't going to have time to diligently arrange fresh flowers into numerous centerpieces. Try these ideas for unique and creative wedding centerpieces:


Submerged flowers - Use a range of different sized and shaped clear vases and glasses, and fill them with ice and water. Submerge the entire flower into each container, making sure the water is at (or very near) the top of the container, then arrange the containers in odd numbers in the center of the table. Scatter petals and leaves around to frame it. You can also use flower feeding gel, or glass pebbles in the containers instead of the ice.

Floating candles - Guaranteed to add romance to any creative wedding table decor, a floating candle arrangement is about as low maintenance as you can get, for such big visual results. Continue the theme with candles arranged round the table, and use battery operated ones that just like the real thing for these ones to save any accidents - leave the real thing for the centerpiece.

Edible decorations - Use candy such as gumballs, marshmallows, or different types of chocolates arranged in a glass vase. You can then use faux flowers inserted into these candies - the sweets will help the flowers stay up (until the guests decide to start eating your decorations). Or forego the flowers altogether, and opt for an entirely edible table decoration made of fruit.

Flower pots - Nurture your own houseplants to save on costs, and add a sense of seasonality to the wedding table. Flowers that work well are lilies, orchids, daffodils, hyacinths and amaryllis. Tie a large wedding ribbon around the pot, cover it in fabric, or paint it to coordinate with your wedding theme. You could also paint an elaborate number or name of the table onto it too.


Creative Place Settings for the Wedding TableWith ideas for creative table decor for weddings, it pays to think double duty. Not only is it less expensive, a decorated wedding table can get pretty crowded. When it comes to the place settings, a wedding favor or gift for the guest is never far away. So combine these two elements into one, and make your wedding favors name card holders too.

Mini flower pots with sugared almonds, or gold or silver dragees look great, are unique, and kids love them too. Insert a name card into the pot, then the guests can munch on the candy and take home the pot for their garden. Craft stores have plenty of options when it comes to pots, or try florists wholesalers.

Mini photo frames aren't expensive (especially when bought in bulk), so utilize them to display the name of the guest at their place setting. They then have a wonderful photoframe to take home as a gift.

A simple present, attractively wrapped and decorated could then feature a gift tag with the happy couple's names and date of the wedding on one side, and the name of the recipient on the other.


Further Ideas for the Creatively Decorated Wedding Table

With the centerpieces, place cards, and wedding favors taken care of, what about the rest of the table?


If the budget doesn't stretch to napkin rings then do not fear, a simple tied ribbon with a leaf or flower stem pushed underneath, is not only a cheaper option, it's also much more appealing to look at too.

Don't forget the chairs. Making bows to decorate chair backs is inexpensive and easy to do yourself.

Evergreen foliage such as Ivy works great either down each side of a long table, or around the outside of a round table - you could also have it going around the table, behind the place settings, but in front of the centerpiece. You can use a length of marabou feathers from a craft shop in the same way, or even a feather boa or two.

To complete your creative table decor for a wedding use rose petals, diamond glass filler, or battery powered fairy lights to fill in the gaps and glam up your wedding table.

If you need more tips and ideas for your wedding decorations, please see our article on wedding hall decor ideas.