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We are super excited to announce our latest round of FREE in store craft demonstrations in selected Hickeys and Home Focus stores nationwide. So if your New Year's Resolution was to take up a new craft or if you're a seasoned crafter looking to pick up a new skill check out the list below for your nearest demo.
So you get home with your shiny new curtain pole and are faced with hanging it. It might seem like a straightforward proposition but I have spent years working with curtains and have seen some shockers in people’s homes. Hung barely above the window, squashed either side of the window, brackets right at the end. On a side note -don’t invite me into your home people – I may not notice the pile of newspapers a la Horders: Buried Alive but I will notice if your curtains/pole are hung incorrectly.
I have already covered How to Hang your Curtains but I suppose that’s a bit like putting the horse before the cart as you have to have something to hang them on. That thing you hang them on must be hung correctly otherwise you’re just starting on a bad foot. So here’s our expert tips on how to hang your curtain pole.
If you need to cut the pole it can be done easily
Just remove one of the finials and cut the excess off with the hacksaw and replace the end, the end will cover up any unevenness in your work so don’t be too precious
Remember to cut an even amount of both sides so the pole meets in the middle of your window. Remove both ends – cut to size and replace the ends
Ideally this will be a minimum of 6” (15cm) above the window but what I would say to you here is that hopefully you won’t hang your pole until you have your curtains so that you can use the curtains as a guide.
Hold your curtains up against your wall – leaving them approx. ½” (1.25cm) off the floor to mark the height the pole will hang.
Make all of your marks 1.5” (3.5cm) from the end of your pole as this is where your bracket will sit – for example if your pole is 6” (15cm) wider than your window make the marks for your bracket 4.5” (11.5cm) from the edge of your window.
Mark where the top of the curtains hits the wall and use this mark to mark the screw holes in your bracket.
A good rule of thumb is
Hold your bracket up to the line and mark the screw holes with a pencil.
Measure the distance from the floor to these marks and make a note of it.
Next go an equal distance from the other side of the window and make the same marks using the measurements from the other side. If your pole comes with 3 brackets do this in the dead centre of your window as well.
This might seem an inaccurate way of doing it but your ceiling and floors may be uneven so in my experience the best way is to have your curtains hanging evenly on the bottom – your eye won’t notice a slightly uneven pole but you will certainly notice if the curtains are in wavy lines at the bottom
If you’re hanging pencil pleat curtains keep one 1 ring between the bracket and finial (pole end)
If you’re hanging eyelet curtains keep one of the eyelet rings between the bracket and the finial (pole end)
So there you have it – one perfectly hung curtain pole. If all of this sounds like an ordeal or is likely to cause a divorce, visit your local store for information on our expert fitting service.
Ready to get started? Shop our range of curtain poles and find something that suits you!
Bay windows can be a stunning feature in a home - adding an extra feeling of space to a room with a charming look to boot. When it comes to dressing your bay windows, however, life is not always so picturesque as it can be an awkward space to work with. The unfortunate result is that some people simply put curtains across their bay window, blocking it off and making it unusable, or the classic, light blocking, bay window ruining 2 pairs of curtain on 3 separate poles - 1 pair on the middle window and a single curtain at each end. Here at Home Focus we have a plethora of solutions for that awkward space from the simple to the dramatic. Let me take you through them to help you make your decision.
Rollerblinds: These are a really simple solution for your bay window and as roller blinds have become more attractive and heavier over the years, those of you who like a simpler aesthetic will not miss curtains. The roller blinds are usually ceiling fixed into your bay with one in the middle and the 2 either side having their cords at the opposite sides to make the whole look symmetrical. The only slight problem with roller blinds is that you might drive yourself crazy trying to get them all sitting at the exact same height - or maybe that's just me and my curtain OCD.
Vertical Blinds: Kind of the same deal as the roller blinds, vertical blinds will sit on 3 separate headrails in your bay and while they aren't as pretty as some of our other options they can be a good option for a huge bay window on a budget.
Roman Blinds: Probably the most popular type of blind for bay windows as they are made from fabric and lined and so have a more cosy, warm feeling about them than regular blinds. Again, these will sit on 3 separate mechanisms and have to be pulled individually.
There are a few ways of hanging curtains on your bay window and some are better than others so let me list them for you in my order of preference:
3 separate poles/rails & 2 pairs of curtains: This option will look nice enough if done properly but it breaks up the flow of the bay window and blocks light where the curtains hang at the sides. Essentially you are treating your bay window like 3 separate windows, hanging one pole and a pair of curtains in the centre and individual poles and single curtains drawing outwards on either side. This is the only way you can hang eyelet curtains on a bay window.
Plastic Swish Rail & Pencil Pleat Curtains: These plastic rails are malleable enough to bend around a bay window, though they will not support a heavy curtain when bent. They will maintain the look of your bay window and are very inconspicuous when hung as they are narrow and white and can be ceiling fixed to your bay. The major downfall is the weight issue so they are really only suitable for lightweight ready made curtains or mid weight with a short drop, they are a good choice for those on a budget or a kids bedroom or the likes.
Bay Pole with Ready Made/Custom Made Curtains: A continuous pole can be achieved around a bay window with the addition of elbow joints and open brackets. These essentially allow you to turn any 28mm pole into a bay window pole - an elbow joint is added at the corner between two separate lengths of pole and an open bracket is used on either side of the bend. It is important to note that although it is a pole, you cannot hang eyelet curtains on these poles as they still have a bracket at the join. This bracket is overcome by the use of 'C' rings - as their name suggests these are c shaped rings that are open at the back to allow them to pass over the bracket. The curtains have to be handled somewhat carefully when being opened and closed because of these c rings - they have to be guided gently around the bracket - for this reason they are better suited to a bay whose height is within comfortable reach. The bay pole is aesthetically a very nice look, it is quite a modern finish and is a reasonably budget friendly option especially if you're handy with a drill and a hacksaw.
Custom Made Rail & Curtains: This is obviously my preferred choice and although it is the most expensive of the options it is the one that will last the longest and can even be recorded in 20 years time if needed. There are a few types of custom made bay rails - some that look like a pole and some are just plain white metal. In any case they are all the same basic principal - a heavy duty rail, either corded or uncorded that is made especially to go around your bay window. If going down this route a fitter will come and measure your window accurately, your rail is then handmade in Ireland to that specification before our fitter goes back and fits it perfectly on your window, adjusting cords etc where needed. If you are going to the time and expense of having a bay rail made it is most certainly worth having custom made curtains to complete the look, this is really the best way to get your bay window fitted perfectly.
If you are interested in finding out more about the best option for your own bay window; I would suggest calling into your nearest Home Focus Store with some basic measurements. This will allow our expert staff to guide you in the right direction immediately, keeping your preference and budget in mind, we will be able to provide a solution that suits your home.
It's confession time again here on the blog: I am a wool addict! I love wool more than I love knitting with wool and when I say wool I mean real wool - that lovely stuff that comes from sheep. My wool addiction has gotten so bad that my boyfriend remarked that "the amount of balls of wool coming into the house are not really proportional to the amount of knitted garments being produced". Well like yeah some of the balls just look nice hanging out in that large basket there!
So with my years of wool addiction and knitting experience let me share with you some what I believe to be vital information about wool and how to go about choosing wool for your project.
When we say wool it is somewhat of a misnomer so let's call it knitting yarn for now as most yarn isn't wool at all but man made fibres or a mix. There are some basic fibre types used to make knitting yarn – each of them have different properties and you might prefer one over the other for many reasons.
Pure Wool: Made from sheep’s fleece and has pretty amazing properties – it is warm, breathable, and will absorb quite a lot of water so if you get caught in a downpour in your knitted sweater you might get heavier but you won’t get wet! Pure Wool does require some more care than other types and will most likely have to be hand washed with care and dried flat.
Merino Wool: Made from merino breed sheep – all of the above properties hold true but merino wool is particularly fine and soft. This is probably my favourite type of yarn to use as it's lovely and soft to knit with and the result is a fabric that is warm yet breathable.
Acrylic: Probably the most common fibre in the yarns we sell – it is a man made, synthetic fibre and while it offers some of the warmth of real wool it isn’t very breathable and can pill relatively easily. It is washable and usually hypo allergenic, most baby yarns are acrylic for this reason. It also takes dye very well so they usually come in great, bright, vivid colours.
Cotton: Cotton is a natural fibre produced from cotton plants and is therefore very breathable and lovely against the skin. It’s not very warm and so is a lovely choice for spring /summer knits. You have to use the right pattern as cotton is quite heavy when knitted up and so can sag. Care wise - it can usually take a cool machine wash or hand wash and so is fairly easy care.
Bamboo: Bamboo is a natural viscose like fibre sourced from the bamboo plant – it has lovely drape and sheen much like viscose and is breathable and usually washable on a gentle cycle. It is ideal for adults and children’s knits.
Alpaca/cashmere: Types of wool but sourced from llamas and goats respectively, both have the same properties as pure wool but are softer and more insulating. Alpaca is particularly warm and has a very soft brush finish. They need a little care and attention and require gentle hand washing.
Many of the wools we stock will have some combination of the above fibres which will usually give you a mix of the properties of each. For example: Hayfield Super Chunky with wool is 80% acrylic and 20% wool meaning it’s robust and washable like regular acrylic and ha some of the warmth and loft of regular wool.
I suppose the next thing to consider is the weight of the knitting yarn you're using -
2/3 /4 ply – These are very fine yarns used mainly for crochet and lace knitting, most common in these is 4 ply in white as it is frequently used for Christening robes/blankets. Needle/Hook size 1.5 – 3.25mm.
Double knit – Probably the most common weight, it is especially used for baby knitting as it makes for a fabric that isn’t too thick. Needle/Hook size 3.5 – 4.5 mm.
Aran/Worsted – Aran wool is what’s used in those lovely scratchy jumpers, aran weight simply refers to the thickness of the wool – it is middle of the road thickness and is mostly used in adults garments but can also be used for kids knits. Needle/Hook size 3.5 – 4.5 mm.
Chunky – Thicker than aran but we’re still in the realm of yarn that can be used in kids knits, but not babies. It knits up nice and quick but is still manageable so would be my recommended size for a beginner knitter. Needle/Hook size 5.5 – 6.5mm.
Super Chunky – A really thick yarn ideally suited for accessories and adults garments – it makes a really thick, bulky fabric so isn’t really suitable for kids or baby knits. Needle/Hook size 10mm + depending on the yarn.
Often as knitters we don't really pay attention to what we're using - we see something we fancy the look of and go ahead with our project. In my years in Hickeys I would look on aghast as experienced knitters, people who had been knitting for 20 + years picked up an aran weight acrylic to knit up a double knit cotton pattern. What does it matter and why would I care? It matters because, as you can see from the brief outline above; every fibre and weight behaves differently -knit with the wrong type and you get the wrong results. Knit using the wool suggested in the pattern as much as possible or at least find a good substitute - the same weight and fibre type/behaviour is important.
I'll give you a real life example; a wonderful lady used to come into the shop and buy yarn all the time. I was talking to her one day and she remarked how she'd been knitting a cardigan for herself for weeks and how now it was finished she hated the look of it and this is why she never knits for herself and she'll just go back to the baby knitting. I suggested she brings it and the pattern in so we could have a look and see if it could be altered to suit her better. In she comes with a beautiful cotton cardigan that I will admit looked rather long; to my dismay when she showed me the pattern it was for a pure wool aran weight yarn. "Ah now there's your problem - you used a cotton" "But it's aran weight". So after a lengthy conversation explaining how cotton is so much heavier/more drapey than wool that once she had the garment knitted up, even though she stopped at the right point, the cardigan kept growing. I mean once she put it on, the shoulders started hanging and the cardigan was nearly down to her knees. The only option was to rip it back and start again, so we went and picked a suitable pattern and I gave her a hand starting the ripping back process.... 4 weeks later that particular lady came sashaying into the store delighted to be modelling her new cotton cardigan.
In conclusion: My name is Laura and I am a Woolaholic!
If there’s one thing I heard more often than anything else when I worked in our stores it was “mine don’t look like that” - no sniggering please I’m obviously talking about ready made curtains. You see when you see ready made curtains on display in our stores they have been hung by our amazing display team who know all of the tricks of the trade to make them look fantastic. If you read on I can fill you in on the steps to take to make your ready made curtains look amazing.
I know this might seem like a lot of steps but none of them are complicated and you’ll thank yourself later when you’re admiring your perfectly hung curtains.
If unlike me you're not naturally a person who loves a good preen or have too much other stuff to do to be ironing curtains then inquire in store about our expert fitting service.
We at Hickeys are so delighted to be the first stockist for Wool And The Gang here in Ireland. This incredible and innovative company work hard to reduce impact on the environment. The yarn they produce with all their hard work is nothing short of amazing, with so many varieties available. Check out their Billie Jean Yarn for example- it's made from up-cycled denim remnants?!
We've all been there, you buy something, wear it once and then it sits in your wardrobe for a while before you get rid of it. This brand are all about sustainability and ethically sourced materials. The idea that if you make something yourself, you're more than likely going to treasure it and keep it for longer- maybe even take care of it a little better. The high quality yarn that Wool And The Gang offer is soft, durable and long lasting- making it great for staple pieces in your wardrobe. They even have video tutorials over on their website, showing you great stitch patterns and techniques. I knit myself the Happy Days Beanie with the Crazy Sexy Wool in Bronzed Olive. It got such a reaction from people that I ended up taking requests for beanies in Hotpunk Pink and Tweed Grey.
Haven't heard of them before? Well, I am delighted to provide you with a little introduction to some of the amazing yarns we are lucky enough to supply to you.
CRAZY SEXY WOOL
Are you looking for a cosy yarn that will give you great results quickly? Look no further than Crazy Sexy Wool. It's great for beginner and experienced knitters alike. The wool is so chunky that mistakes (they happen to the best of us) are quickly noticed and easily fixed. The wool used to create this gorgeous yarn is considerably sourced from happy sheep in South America. Natural, renewable, biodegradable and an amazing array of colours to choose from- you will soon be in love.
FEELING GOOD YARN
Sustainably produced in the Andean Highlands, supporting Peru's remote Alpaca growing communities, you will feel SO good working with this yarn. It is light weight, but holds warmth really well with its soft, fluffy finish. The patterns we have available in our Henry St store to pair with this Feeling Good Yarn will make you all the more eager to get creative.
BILLIE JEAN YARN
Made using up-cycled pre-consumer denim waste, Billie Jean Yarn is produced without the use of chemicals or dyes- which saves 20,000 litres of water per kilogram of up-cycled material! It has a lovely drape and is perfect for summer knits as a light weight addition to your wardrobe. You can buy patterns for this specific yarn in our Henry St store.
Now that you’ve got the rundown- what are you waiting for? Go and treat yourself to a ball of yarn and make something you’ll be proud of!
Choosing the right furnishing fabric for your project may seem a bit daunting but if you know a few things before you get started you can choose with confidence.
Our furnishing fabrics will be marked with either UPH (upholstery weight) or CTN (curtain weight) - these are divided into 2 separate categories online. What do they mean?
You can generally use upholstery fabrics for curtains also, the only time this would not be the case would be when the fabric is too heavy to fall/pleat correctly, in our current range all upholstery fabrics can be used for curtains.
You can generally use curtain fabrics for cushions also, some heavier cottons I would even say you could use for kitchen chairs etc as they can be spot cleaned but they will not last as long as a fabric that is designated upholstery.
Most fabrics you see will be some sort of mix of the above fabrics giving them slightly different attributes. For example: Polyester is frequently mixed with cotton to give it the firmer handle of a cotton and dull the polyester sheen with the longer life span/ lack of shrinkage of a polyester; Viscose is frequently mixed in with other fibres to add lustre and drape.
Generally if you see a mix, you will be getting the best attributes of the fabrics listed rolled into one.
I hope you can shop more confidently knowing more about these fabrics, trust your eye, choose what you love first and then have a good look at the composition and care to see if it is suitable for your project. If you want further help you can ask out experts in store who will be happy to advise you.
Oilcloth has come a long way from when your granny had the terracotta teapots on her kitchen table. I dare to say it is downright cool with some fresh and funky designs available along with the more classic styles.
Your table measures 105cm (41 ½”) wide x 150 cm (60”) length and the oilcloth we’re buying is 140cm (55”) wide - we will have an overhang of 35cm (14”) let’s go ahead and add the same to the length and buy 1.85m fabric.
Now you’re educated about all things oilcloth (who would have thought there would be so much to know!) Shop our trendy range of Oilcloths now.
Let me confess something to you - I am not a dressmaker - I am generally crafty, knit more than I sew and I'll always run up a pair of curtains and a few cushions. I have even been known to quilt on occasion but when it comes to straight up dressmaking I find the whole thing a bit intimidating. I'm just not a great pattern follower - I tend to skip the instructions when reading a pattern and plod along only to realise halfway through that I have forgotten something vital. I have realised the reason for this is a somewhat short attention span and an assumption that they're probably being overly fussy and there's definitely a quicker way to do it. I am that monster that walks against the yellow lines in IKEA because I'm convinced I have found a more efficient way around it.
I have recently started to challenge myself to follow patterns properly and have had some success - no doubt I'll update you in some future blog - but until then let me show you the perfect project for those impatient souls among you who just want a new dress!
The secret to this easy sew project is plisse fabric - this is the most beautiful type of fabric - it's usually fairly lightweight and has tiny pleats the entire width and I am slightly obsessed with it! Don't be afraid of it -it will flatten out in parts when you sew but just don't stretch it as you're stitching and certainly don't iron it and all will be well.
Let me show you how to make a super simple skirt and an easy peasy dress and I swear to you I had both run up in less than an hour, from thinking about how to do it to the finished product.
*To figure out how much elastic you need - stretch it around your waist so that it is tight but comfortable and then add 2cm.
When you get your fabric it will be double folded with the pleats running across the width like this:
Next fold it in half widthways.
The next step is just a bit of shaping to give the skirt slightly less fullness at the hips - and who needs anything extra there? - mark a point about 34cm across - this is for size 10-16, for smaller go 31cm, larger go 39cm, then use your measuring tape to mark a diagonal line to the bottom right corner and cut along.
Fold it back out from quarters into half and cut along the top so you have 2 pieces:
Next with right sides facing, using a straight stitch and a 1cm seam allowance throughout - sew up the 2 sides of the skirt.
Then you want to make the waistband by making a channel for the elastic - with the wrong side facing you turn down the top by 25mm (1") - sew all the way around leaving a gap of about 25mm (1") when you get to the end - then stick a safety pin through the end of your elastic and use this to thread it through the waistband.
When you get to the end, pull both ends through and stitch together. Then stitch up the gap in the fabric.
Try on the skirt and cut the length if desired - it doesn't need hemming but if you do this you may want to reinforce the last inch of stitching on the side hems.
The dress may be even easier but you don't need to tell anyone that when you're wearing it:
*To figure out amount of fabric - measure your widest part, usually the hips and take 10cm off this measurement, for example my hips measure 120cm all around and so I used 1.1m fabric.
Lay out your fabric with the pleats running down, then mark the halfway point and cut up the length of the fabric leaving you with 2 pieces.
With right sides facing, pin at 28cm from the top on both sides, stitch up to this point, using a 1cm seam allowance throughout - this will be your armholes, this will be for size 10-16, smaller make it 26cm and larger go for 30cm
Now for the neckhole - make it 30cm wide for size 10-16, 28 cm for smaller and 32 cm for larger. Simply mark with pins evenly across the top and stitch to this point with a 1.5cm seam allowance.
That's basically it, turn the right way around trim any threads, as in the skirt you can simply cut to desired length, reinforcing the side hems at the bottom if you do. For the lighter plisse fabrics the neckline just naturally folds itself under but for the heavier one like this one with metallic finish you may want to hand stitch the neck seam down so it sits well.
This was all so easy that I got a little carried away and now Lauren and I have an entirely new plisse wardrobe!
Turn your little hero into a Superhero with these quick and simple no sew capes and masks. Batman, Ninja Turtles, Minions & Little Princess...the possibilities are endless with this quick and simple tutorial.
Download Your Templates Here:
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock the past year, you’ll know that ‘statement earrings’ are a big trend. Every retail fashion store has rows upon rows of the most colourful and eccentric styles you can imagine. I for one, am living for it. I think nothing jazzes up an outfit more than the colourful pop of an earring. So I have put together a fun step by step of some statement earrings that you can be proud of because you literally made them yourself!
What you will need:
Cardboard cut into the length you want your tassels to be.
Earring Pieces (You can buy them in store!)
Start by wrapping your embroidery thread repeatedly around the piece of cardboard. Be careful to keep count whilst you wrap, so that your earrings aren’t completely different in thickness.
Once happy with the thickness, thread through a piece of embroidery thread and pull it up to the top. Tie it tightly in a knot and slide your tassel from the cardboard. Cut the tassel and then even it out.
Thread your earring piece through the thread and tie a knot again to secure it. Now, protect your table! Lay down a piece of paper. We are using a glue gun and you do not want to get that on your surfaces.
Now, here’s the part that seems tricky but it really isn’t. Start wrapping the embroidery thread you used to tie the tassel to the earring, wrap and add a little glue to secure and then keep wrapping. Do the same with the other piece of thread. And there you have it!
A Pom Pom Maker (the one I am using is available in store)
Stud Earring Pieces (available to buy in store!)
Check out my Pom Pom Twinkle Lights post to learn how to use a Pom Pom maker. Or check out Pinterest to see lots of ways to create the perfect Pom Poms!
Once you have created your Pom Pom, get a piece of felt. Cut the felt to about 1cm width by 2cm length. Cut it directly in half.
Cut one of the little felt squares half way down the middle.
Separate a parting in your Pom Pom and add a blob of glue. Place a square piece of felt on top and press down.
Add a blob of glue to your felt secured to your Pom Pom and add your earring stud. While the glue is still wet, add your second felt pieces. The little slice in the felt will allow the stud to come through.
There you have it! A Pom Pom stud.
Try it another way! Thread your Pom Pom through a hoop. SO EASY.
A circular shape, like a €2 coin to use as a stencil
You can learn how to make a felt flower rose over on my Felt Flower Wreath step by step. Once you have made your rose, you pretty much follow the same step by step as the pom pom stud above! Easy peezy, right?! You could even switch it up and make a few different colour petals to add a little something something!
The sun is shining, the weather is sweet and it makes me want to move my dancing feet! Yes people festival season is upon us, the weather is good (for the moment) and I am not getting any younger.
In the last few years doing the festivals has become less rough and ready for me - I am not a young wan anymore and I like some comforts at a festival. I don’t mean giving the festival organisers €1000 for the glamping experience - I’d rather go on holidays to spain for that thank you very much, but making your own little slice of home in your campsite.
So as a somewhat seasoned festival goer here are my top tips and tricks on not only making your festival experience just a bit more pleasant but slightly more glamorous also!
You have the basics but let’s get fancier on it - not only will this make you feel like a sophisticated member of society but this is also a big help when finding your tent at 3 or 4 am.
I am never going to wear wellies in the real world but you may need them at the festival. I usually pick up a cheapo pair and stick in my orthotic insoles (told you I was old) but I will Customise. I have done all of these in the past and spent many a festival with that smug “Oh I just made them” glow when people asked me where I got my cool wellies. The glitter ones were my favourite as I had a matching gold bomber jacket and glittery cat mask - oh no there’s no pictures I swear!
So there you have it - life lessons from a seasoned pro. I know you might be reading this thinking that seems like a lot to haul around but I always fit it all onto one of those little trollies that they sell in those German supermarkets this time of the year. Take a little time setting yourself up and you will thank yourself all weekend! The items pictured above are available in most of our stores - find your nearest one here. Oh and don’t forget your sunscreen!