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Beginners Guide to Ready Made Curtains

A handy guide for buying ready made curtains. How to choose the correct size, heading and the right type for your window.

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  • If any of you were up late enough and not out dancing on Saturday night you may have been sitting happily at home watching the Ray D'arcy Show with a cuppa (or glass of wine). If you were one of those people you no doubt saw Sonia Lennon, Brendan Courtney and Hickeys' very own head of display Cathy Doran (we're not related) discussing the topic on everyone's lips "Meghan Markle's guna". I had the pleasure of being involved in the recreation of that dress on Saturday and assisting Cathy as she worked her magic, recreating the wedding dress in a mere 6 hours.

    The finished product onstage

    I sat at home that morning thinking to myself "oh I hope it's going to be a lacey number so we can show off our beautiful laces" -  you can imagine my disappointment when I saw how simple the dress was. There's no doubt that she looked gorgeous, though I'm fairly certain that she could wear a bin liner and that would still be the case - but as a fabric woman it was all just a bit.... well.....plain. Elegant; yes, beautiful; most definitely but this was not the princess moment I was expecting.

    The Real Deal - pic courtesy of townandcountrymag.com

    As I cycled into our Henry st store to meet Cathy and Joanna (the dreamteam) to prepare for our 5 mins of fame I had plenty of time to think about the dress. Did I love it? No. The veil was really the star but the more I thought about it the more I loved it - those who know me know I'm not really one for the understated but what I loved was that this is the dress of a woman who knows who she is. I think as we all get a bit older, creeping into that mid thirties bracket we get a bit more assured of who we are and what clothes we like. I know my style has developed over the years (I was once a full on goth) and while the eyeliner remains as black as ever, I have got to a place in my style where I know what I like and what suits me. I recognised this in Meghan's wedding dress - here was a woman who was confident in who she is and knows what she likes to wear. Meghan eschewed the traditional in favour of an understated number that would let her beauty shine through.

    So what about the dress itself? There was rumours abound about the designer Meghan would go for, everyone assuming it would be a British fashion house in honour of her new country. What did she do? She picked a french fashion house in Givenchy but helmed by a British native, their first female designer, the uber talented, Claire Waight Keller. The dress was made from a "double bonded silk cady", well what is that you might wonder? It's basically 2 layers of fabric bonded together to make a heavy, fabric with beautiful drape and minimal shine, it was lined with several layers of silk organza to make it stand out. This meant that the dress would have been heavy - while the weather was great for everyone else I'm sure Meghan was cooking slightly inside her dress! We used a very heavy matt duchess satin with layers of soft tulle underneath to mimic the look on the day.

    The real stand out for me - and the thing that I think Meghan Markle has single handedly started a trend with - was the cathedral length veil. The veil was about 16 1/2ft (3.5m) and was made from silk tulle hand embroidered with 53 flowers representing each of the countries of the Commonwealth. This was a truly unique detail which really told a story. I'm sure the seamstresses who lovingly stitched those flowers on nearly died when they saw that fella ball it up and ram it into the carriage when they were leaving the church! For our penance on the day, we cut and hand stitched 17m of lace trim onto tulle to recreate the look.

    Joanna and me working on the veil

    It was a day of strong and independent women at the royal wedding, which we can take lots of inspiration from - there was Oprah, Victoria Beckham, Serena Williams, women who run empires and look good in heels while doing it! There were a couple of standout looks in the sea of pretty and blush ensembles and you can see our takes on these looks in our Henry st store.

    Firstly, and let's get her out of the way because we all know what I'm going to say - Amal Clooney, she looked ridiculously good and again was true to her intelligent, elegant self! The ochre hue was out of the ordinary and the shape was perfect on her, accessorizing with a matching hat and a handsome man didn't hurt either!

    Secondly there was the lesser known Janina Gavankar, which you may not recognise from such TV shows as True Blood and The Vampire Diaries. Why did she stand out so much? Again the gorgeous colour was a factor but I also loved the story of the outfit - It was a 1930s dress from The Western Costume Company's private archive which she and her stylist landed on after being passed over by designers they reached out to to dress her for the wedding.

    Details of our replicas

    You might wonder where I'm going with all this rambling and what the royal wedding has to do with Hickeys anyway? I'm not a super girly girl and certainly not one of those girls who dreams about her wedding and the big white dress, so why was I so interested? Other than being involved in recreating the look for the Ray D'arcy show the thing that made me smile most about the day was all of these Independent Beauties being true to themselves. Meghan herself looked exquisite but nobody would have predicted that dress. There was countless intelligent, gorgeous women who attended that wedding and they all looked unique.

    Which brings me neatly to my Hickeys related point. Why go cookie cutter with a dress that anyone can buy in any store? If you're getting married or attending a big event why not be your unique self and go custom? It will generally cost the same or less and if you work with a dressmaker you will have an exquisitely tailored piece made only for you. I know it may seem daunting but you can call into your local Hickeys store and they can give you some dressmakers details. By finding the right dressmaker and the right fabrics, you could change your outlook on occasion dressing forever!

  • Get The Look: Your Favourite Jeans - Back To Black 1

    There is nothing worse than your favourite jeans aging on you. What was once a cool black denim, is now a washy grey. The dark indigo navy, is now more of a mid-blue. They still fit like a glove, but the shade just doesn’t pack a punch the way it did when you first put them on and felt like a god(ess). We have all been there, I too am a victim of washed out denim. You end up trying to stretch out the wears between washes, the thought of handing out another €60 to buy another pair is just too much to bear. Luckily, it is Dylon Machine Dye to the rescue! These nifty little pods are an upgrade from their original machine dye, where you would have added the salt separately. The new and improved version has all the hard work done for you. You literally just pop it into your machine! I have put together a really easy to follow tutorial, helping you get to know the Dylon Machine Dyes, so you can give your favourite jeans a new lease of life!

    Get The Look: Your Favourite Jeans - Back To Black 2

    Step One: Get your jeans out of the wardrobe and ready. To achieve optimum results your fabric needs to be damp. I popped the jeans in a sink full of water and then squeezed them out a bit so they weren’t soaking.

    Step Two: Pop your jeans in the drum of your washing machine. Make sure your machine is clean, no scummy bits around the edges as the dye will catch. I gave mine a good wipe down, getting rid of little bits of fluff and cleaning the rubber. Dylon Dye won’t cause any issues with your actual machine or washing experience, but a stained machine doesn’t look the nicest really, does it?

    Get The Look: Your Favourite Jeans - Back To Black 3

    Step Three: Carefully peel the packaging off the colour pod and place it in the drum on top of your clothing or fabric.

    Get The Look: Your Favourite Jeans - Back To Black 4

    Step Four: Pop on the wash, at either 30C - 40C. A full cycle is perfect, don’t cut it short.

    Get The Look: Your Favourite Jeans - Back To Black 5

    Step Five: Do another wash with the jeans in the machine, adding some detergent. This is to rinse the excess dye from the fabric, otherwise you might pull out a drippy black mess.

    Step Six: Dry as you normally would and love your life because you’ve got yourself some jazzy new jeans.

    Some tips!

    Ok, so the actual act of dying your jeans is pretty straightforward. There are however a few things you’ll have to be careful with. You’ll thank me later.

    * Please, PLEASE be careful opening the dye. Although Dylon have made it very easy to open, spillage on your floor/clothes/hands will likely stain. Hands will eventually return to their normal colour- floors will not. Use with caution.

    * The Dylon Colour Pods are best used on Cotton, Linen and Viscose. Fabrics that are mixed with synthetics, like a Polycotton blend, will colour but it will likely be a lighter shade. Pure synthetic fabrics like polyester will not catch the colour and you will likely ruin the garment in the process. My jeans are actually a mixed material - 64% Cotton, 32% Polyester, 4% Elastane and as you can see they coloured brilliantly, the more natural fibres the better.

    * If your garment is advised as ‘Dry Clean Only’, don’t try to dye it. Again, you’ll ruin the garment because it is not made to be put in a washing machine.

  •  

    Let’s face it; there have been some horror stories over the years of children being caught in the cords from blinds. Now I’m not here to scaremonger but rather to reassure as modern blinds have all sorts of new safety features.

    In 2014 a new European Standard was set, and all of our blinds made after that date were made to conform to that standard. So what does this mean? You can read the full ins and outs of the “European EN 13120” here but basically it talks about looped cords and what should be done to make them safe.

     

    Most blinds be they roller; venetian; or vertical will have some sort of looped cord to control them, this closed loop is really the source of danger. This has been the danger that the standard has set out to eliminate. If you're not familiar with blind types and would like to know more before reading on check out our Beginners Guide to Window Blinds.

    Looped cord

    So what did they come up with?

    The first and foremost solution is to make all cords a minimum height of 1.5m (60”)  from the ground. This is why when you give your blind measurements you now have to give the measurement from the top of the blind to the ground, even if the window is well off the ground - we need to know the full length so we can make the cord the appropriate length. This measurement is required for every home, not just those with children and if your blind is going to be in an awkward place, like over a sink where the cord cannot be easily reached, let us know and we can fit an alternative safety feature.  If you’re not sure if your cord can easily be 1.5m from the ground then that is definitely a job for our fitter to check.

    The change in cord length was perhaps the most obvious solution to a problem, little hands can hardly reach 5ft off the ground? But as we all know children can get themselves pretty much wherever they want if they want to! So the second solution is to have the cord under tension, this basically means that the cord is held taut with a cleat at the bottom. Not having the cord hanging loose means the little ones can’t get themselves tangled in them too easily even if they do manage to climb up to investigate.

    Cleat Holding Cord Under Tension

    The other feature which when suitable is on all of our blinds is an “Easy Break Mechanism”. This means that your cord is not one continuous piece but rather joined together with a small mechanism that will pop off if pressure is applied. The 2 ends can simply be popped back together if this happens. In cases like an awkward window like a dormer or if a person has mobility issues and can’t easily reach 1.5 m off the ground we can even make blinds with a “Double Break Mechanism” which is essentially 2 points where the chain can break, so the bottom of the chain basically drops off if any pressure is applied to it. Again, this can be easily re-attached.

    Easy Break Mechanism Joining 2 Cord Ends

    If you want to eliminate the issue altogether if purchasing rollerblinds you can opt for a spring mechanism, which simply pulls up and down with a toggle in the centre.

     

    The Curious Case of Roman Blinds

    I’m not going to lie to you, roman blinds were a major issue when this standard came in, as they’re basically made of all cords, talk about a hazard!! For those of you who aren’t familiar, a roman blind is attached to a track and pulls up and down with a series of cords running up and down the back of the blind.

    Cords Running Down Roman Blind

    The solution to this was to make each point where the cord attached to the rails at the back an easy break mechanism. This can be a pain at times - where if you, or someone in your home pulls the blind a bit too vigorously, they pop off. Now I’m not looking at anyone specifically here but either pull the blind yourself or teach that person who shall remain nameless how to re-attach the cords. This is of course an easy enough job and if you purchase a blind with us and you’re fitting it yourself, our expert staff can talk you through all this.

    Roman Blind Safety Break Away Mechanism

     

    So what does all of this mean if you already have blinds?

    You probably can’t have your blind altered at this point if they’re more than 5 years old but my simple suggestion to you is to buy a cleat. Keep the cord under tension so the little ones in your life can’t get wrapped up in them. If you’re handy you could go in store and buy an easy break chain connector and cut the chain to the appropriate height yourself. You can only do this if the full length of the chain is longer than the blind after you cut it, if the chain is shorter you won't be able to pull the blind up and down fully.

    Of course if your blinds are more than 5 years old and you’re worried that they’re not so safe maybe it’s time to treat yourself to some new ones!

    If you would like to talk to someone further about our child safety features please talk to our experts in store who will be happy to help.

     

  • Maximalism. A retaliation against minimalism, an idea that more, really is more. This trend is a great excuse to truly lavish yourself in everything that you love, it doesn't have to follow a theme or make sense- it breaks all the boundaries. If you love rich textures, bold prints and jewel toned shades- this is the trend for you. Florals, stripes and plains all combining together to create a variety of themes and elements to your home, what's not to love?! The great thing about prints and bolds is that you can use them as much or as little as you like. The maximalism world is your oyster. We have a few ideas and concepts of maximalism put together in this post, to give you a little inspo into how you can truly ramp up your interiors.

    Pattern Play

    Ah, prints. From flourishing florals to nautical stripes, a print will always add a little 'juj' to a room. Layering prints with a variety of colours and patterns may seem like a bit of a risk, but the end result can have a very contemporary and modern look (it doesn't have to look like your nana's house). Layering bright florals like our Secret Garden Cream furnishing fabric piled with bold prints and contrasting tones adds a flurry of colour. If you are feeling extra fancy you can always throw a velour cushion into the mix (I love all things velour).

    Don't forget, you don't have to reupholster your whole living room to get the look. Here at Home Focus we have a wide range of patterned ready made curtains, cushions and bedding. Or if you'd like to get creative with our fabrics, why not check out our recent collaboration with Dainty Dress Diaries? She created some amazing Envelope Cushions and has a handy step by step blog and YouTube video!

    (Main image: Fern Glad Linen Furnishing Fabric, Top Left: Secret Garden Cream Furnishing Fabric, Top Right: Fern Glade Linen Furnishing Fabric, Bottom Left: Droplet Cream Furnishing Fabric, Bottom Right: Paradise Springtime Furnishing Fabric)

    The Modern Home

    If a jumble of patterns isn't your thing, you can still embrace this trend using textures. Juxtaposing a variety of plush materials, such as cottons, velours and knits with contrasting materials like marble or wood creates a layered opulence. Focus on one bold print, like the gorgeous Henning Mimosa and pair it with our Sula Bauble Knit throw and Roksana Cushion, to create a comfortable opulence. You can use prints and bolds in such a subtle way, that although modern and classic, your home will have so many lovely aspects to it - you won't want to leave!

    (Main Image: Henning Mimosa Furnishing Fabric, Middle Left: Henning Mimosa Furnishing Fabric, Middle Right: Glamour Silver Furnishing Fabric, Bottom Image: Roksana Ochre Cushion)

    Tones and Textures

    When you think of maximalism, you might not think of a tonal decor. However, as mentioned previously, the beauty of this 2018 trend is that it gives you the freedom to create your own rules. Big, bold prints like our Bergen Ochre contrast beautifully with the modern design of the Linear Ochre. We are lucky enough to have some lovely velour touches in this tone, with the Santorini cushion and the Glamour Ochre Fabric. More is more, is more!!

    (Top Left: Bergen Ochre Furnishing Fabric, Top Right: Glamour Ochre Furnishing Fabric, Bottom Left: Santorini Linden Green Cushion, Bottom Right: Linear Ochre Furnishing Fabric)

    In case you haven't already guessed, velour plays a fantastic role in the Maximalism concept. That may be just my opinion, but I have browsed through enough Pinterest posts and interior magazines to know that it is a texture that is very much here to stay. A truly modern, yet decadent fabric in our selection is the Glamour collection. Available in a variety of stunning, jewel toned shades, they will add a little lift to even the most neutral of home decors. Emerald and Teal will make you feel as though you are in a stately home, Spice has a lovely earth feel, while Ochre is simply sumptuous.

    (Image: Glamour Spice Furnishing Fabric)

     

     

     

  • Dainty-Dress-Diaries-Envelope-Cushion-1

    This week we have teamed up with the lovely Catherine from Dainty Dress Diaries, who has created a video over on Youtube, and written a blog post all about how you can create an envelope cushion. We are sharing the post here on our platform as we think it is something that any crafty person can do, no matter how experienced you are in sewing! If you are a fan of the Dainty Dress Diaries like we are here in Hickeys Fabrics- why not check out her Blog or Youtube Channel?

    Dainty-Dress-Diaries-Envelope-Cushion-13

    Today I have teamed up with the guys over at Hickeys to show you how to make an easy envelope cushion. Making an envelope cushion was my very first project when I was learning to sew. I did some evening sewing classes at my local school and I remember the excitement when my teacher Mary showed us how to make a cushion! I was a complete beginner and could barely thread my machine at the time so it really motivated me and inspired me to sew more when I completed my first project. Hands up who has a sewing machine collecting dust? From chatting to some of you ladies on Instagram I know you guys have sewing machines collecting dust, why not take them out of storage, dust them off, thread then up and have a go at making today's project.

     

    Dainty-Dress-Diaries-Envelope-Cushion-2

    What you will need:

    The first thing you will need to get is some nice fabric. I love picking fabrics and have a soft spot for florals. I used fabric today that would match my pink chair in my bedroom. I want to change up the cushions on this chair to give it a freshen up. That is the fun thing about sewing, if you want to change up your decor then get a metre or two of fabric and get crafty, you can save yourself money and get to have pieces in your home that others don't have. I am using fabric from Hickeys, I normally head to my local Hickeys in Blanchardstown for fabric but you can also shop online if you are not near a store. If you are a beginner then I recommend starting off with the cotton or poly cotton fabrics. These have very little stretch and are easy to work with when starting off. There is a wide range of fabrics available in store and online. When I was first learning to sew my favourite thing was heading into Hickeys to pick fabric for my next project. If you are like me and love your florals then you will be pleased to know that they have loads of stunning printed fabrics in stock at the moment.

    Dainty-Dress-Diaries-Envelope-Cushion-3

    • 1 metre of fabric (depending on how many cushions you want to make)
    • Fabric scissors
    • Pins
    • Thread in a matching colour to your fabric
    • Paper to make a template/pattern
    • Cushion pad in the size you want to make
    • A good iron

    When it comes to thread, I highly recommend using good quality thread and avoid the threads that come in sets. Keep the cheaper quality threads for hand sewing. When I was learning to sew, I had trouble with poor quality threads bunching up in my sewing machine and leaving me with poor stitches. Nowadays, I always use Guttermann threads in my machine and these are great quality. Home Focus at Hickeys stock the Guttermann threads in store and online so you can easily pick up a contrasting thread for your fabric.

    Make a template/Pattern

    I find it easier to make myself a template. In today's post, I made a 16x16 inch cushion and I also made a 18x18 inch cushion. If you make yourself a template then you can easily take it out whenever you want to make some cushions. It also makes it easier when you are making a few cushions at one time.

    Using my tape measure and some paper I measured out a template. You will have a front and a back template for this project. For the front of the cushion, you will need to make a 16x16 inch template. However you need to allow for a 1 inch seam allowance so you will need to measure out 17x17 inches on your paper. For the back template, you will need to measure out 17x14 inches.

    If you want to make a bigger or smaller cushion then just adjust your measurements. So, for example, my 18x18 in cushion I cut a 19x19 inch pattern. So, whatever the size of cushion you want to make, just adjust it and make sure to allow for your 1 inch seam allowance.

    Dainty-Dress-Diaries-Envelope-Cushion-4

    Cut your fabric

    Iron your fabric before cutting it, having crease free fabric will make it easier to cut out your template. Pin your template to your fabric. You will cut one piece for your front and then two pieces for the back. Your back has two pieces as they overlap giving the envelope shape to your cushion. Always take your time cutting out your fabric, cutting fabric is just as important as sewing your piece. You want to cut the fabric as straight as you can to make it easier for when you are sewing.

    Dainty-Dress-Diaries-Envelope-Cushion-5

    Using your fabric scissors cut out the three pieces of fabric that you will need to make your cushion. I highly recommend getting good fabric scissors as they will last years and you can get them sharpened too. The one I am using is the Fiskars Universal Purpose scissors. When cutting a lot of fabric your hand can get tired and sore, these scissors are easier to hold and gives good grip making it easier on your hand. Never, ever use your good fabric scissors to cut paper. You will ruin the blade of your scissors so always keep your fabric scissors for fabric only. When I started sewing I used cheaper tools and I ended up having to replace them over time, my best advice it to spend on good tools as they will stand the test of time and be more valuable to you in the long term.
    Dainty-Dress-Diaries-Envelope-Cushion-6

    Sew a hem on your back pieces

    You are now going to sew a 1 inch hem onto your two back pieces. These two pieces need a hem so the fabric won't fray on you. Using your iron, fold over half an inch and press. You can use your measuring tape as a guide. Once you have ironed your half  inch you are then going to fold it over again and press. Depending on the fabric you may need to secure it with some pins. Using your sewing machine you will then sew a straight stitch down the hem of your fabric. Start with a reverse stitch to secure your stitch and stop it coming loose. I have put together a Youtube video which I will link below if you want to have a look at how I did this.

    Dainty-Dress-Diaries-Envelope-Cushion-8

    Sew all your pieces together

    You are now going to sew all three of your pieces together and form your cushion. The most important thing here is to make sure you face the right sides of your fabric face together. I place my front piece down on the patterned side of the fabric facing me. I then lay a back piece of fabric to the front making sure the two patterned sides are facing each other. I then add the third piece and I pin the fabric together. I use a lot of pins to make sure the fabric stays in place when I am sewing, Place your pins facing outwards as this means you can sew on them.

    Dainty-Dress-Diaries-Envelope-Cushion-9

    Once your cushion is pinned together you can now sew it on your machine. Make sure to leave your 1 inch seam allowance. You can use the guide on the plate of your sewing machine as a guide. Make sure to start and end with a reverse stitch to stop your thread from unravelling. Sew all around the cushions. Once finished you can remove all of your pins. To make sure the corner goes into a nice neat point you can snip the corner of your cushion before you turn it right inside out.

    Dainty-Dress-Diaries-Envelope-Cushion-10

    My favourite part of the project is turning it from inside out to right side out, I get the crafters buzz when I see the project coming together. Once you turn your fabric over you can give it an iron to flatten the seams and finish it off. You can then add your cushion pad and have fun admiring and styling your new cushion.

    Dainty-Dress-Diaries-Envelope-Cushion-11

     

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  • I assume I'm not the only one who wrestled with their Granny's roller blinds as a child. I swear that woman loved to ask me to pull the spring roller blind halfway up only to watch it fly up out of my hands and roll all the way up only to giggle at me wrestling it back down to the height she requested. Well let me tell you blinds have come a long way baby!

    Not only the designs, fabrics and choices have gotten seriously cool over the years but the mechanisms have become darn right user friendly. The choices you'll be faced with are almost endless but we can divide them into a few basic categories while you're deciding which ones will suit you best.

    Roller Blinds:

    Luxaflex®Roller Blind

    Roller blinds are what would have been known as Holland blinds, they're the most basic type of blind, being a piece of stiffened fabric rolled around a roller which you then pull up and down by either a chain at the side (chain mechanism) or a pull in the centre (spring mechanism). There is an amazing range of choice of colours and prints available, which makes them a good choice when you want a splash of colour in a kitchen or the likes. There is also a really good range of blackout colour available which makes them an ideal choice for bedrooms. They also start at a very reasonable price so are a good budget friendly option. Then if you want to get fancy with it, not only can you pick a more expensive fabric but you can add cool finishes like metal bottom bars or pelmets to jazz them up.

    Silhouette/Facette Blinds:

    Luxaflex® Silhouette Blind

    Within the roller blind category we have the relatively new Silhouette blinds. These are basically a continuous length of fabric rolling around a mechanism top and bottom. The fabric is divided into equal panels of opaque and sheer fabric, allowing you to adjust the amount of light into the room, line all the opaque ones up and you let the least amount of light in, then get rolling to allow the light to diffuse into the room. They're generally more expensive than regular roller blinds but allow you a lot of control and diffuse the light beautifully into the room.

    Vertical Blinds:

    Luxaflex®Vertical Blinds

    Vertical binds are made of stiffened strips of fabric that hang from a rail, almost like a curtain rail and can be pulled open across entirely or tilted to block some of the light without being closed fully. They are an extremely practical style of blind as they can be made to fit huge windows and even bay windows. So many of our customers have moved into homes with amazing floor to ceiling - wall to wall windows and then wondered how they're going to get anything to fit them. In this case vertical blinds are your best option, particularly if you're on a budget as they're quite reasonable.

    Venetian Blinds:

    Luxaflex® Wood Venetian Blind

    Venetian blinds are blinds made of slats running across that can be either opened fully or tilted to diffuse light into the room. Venetians are a good choice for most rooms in the home; left down and tilted they are great for privacy so can be used as an alternative to the old net curtains. They are also a good choice for french doors as they can be supplied with hold down brackets for the bottom, meaning that you can tilt the blinds easily and open and close the doors without the blinds moving around too much. Most styles of venetian blinds will come in a few widths of slats 25mm (1"), 35mm (11/2") and 50mm (2"). It's good to note that the wider slats will let in more light, both when opened and closed. It's also important to realise that although they might be made of wood or the likes, the fact that they are slatted blinds means that they will not act as a blackout blind, even when closed. They are available in wood, aluminium and the new kid on the block faux wood. Let's talk a little about what each means:

    Wood Venetian Blinds:

    Probably the most popular of all, they provide a very soft, natural look and generally have a nice colour range. They cannot be washed so it's important to keep them dusted regularly; break out the ole feather duster once a week.

    Faux Wood Venetian Blinds:

    These basically have all the benefits of the wood but being made of a composite material they can be fully submerged in water, allowing them to be properly cleaned. When they first came on the scene they were much more expensive that the regular wood venetians but have come down to a similar price range.

    Aluminium Venetian Blinds:

    As the name suggests they are venetian blinds that are made from aluminium. This means that they come in a huge variety of colours and can be wiped with a damp cloth to keep them clean. The downside is that the aluminium is noisy when being pulled and they don't have the warmth of a wood blind but they work really well in a kitchen or bathroom where you want a statement splash of colour.

    Roman Blinds:

    Luxaflex® Roman Blind

    Roman blinds are probably the most elegant and even "curtain like" of all the blinds available. They are made from a lined piece of fabric, that velcro onto a track and pleat up into beautiful, simple folds. The best thing about roman blinds is that they are completely custom in the sense that you choose your fabric and your lining, they also give a nice finished look to your window. Let's be honest about it, in living rooms or bedrooms most people will use a roller blind or venetian blind and then put a curtain over it to dress and finish the window. This is not the case with roman blinds as they already have a very soft, finished look. They can also be hung inside or outside the window recess, making them very practical for awkward spaces, for example a bedroom window in which the wardrobes are too close to the window to accommodate a full curtain or a dormer window.

    That covers the basic styles of blinds available. There are other styles of course like pleated or duette blinds, which you may just really love, though in my experience if you're looking at these styles it's because you have an awkward window, like in a conservatory or such. Our expert fitters can help in these situations and advise on what might be most suitable.

    If you're feeling inspired, then get to your nearest Home Focus /Hickeys store to have a look at our extensive range of blinds. We do offer a full measuring service but in my experience if you have some basic measurements (recess size) on your first visit it really helps to narrow things down as not all blinds will suit all size windows. Each type of blind has their place in the home and hopefully this blog will have helped you decide which is most suitable for you.

     

  • diy-kimono-tutorial

    The kimono look is still going nowhere and with our lack of fine weather and generally pale skin we Irish girls love a cover up (or maybe I should start fake tanning). It's one of those items that once you have in your wardrobe you'll wonder what you did without it. Wear it with your skinnies during the day, over your bikini on the beach, over a dress for night or go daring and make yourself a long length one for some major sex appeal at your next function. There are some fab options on the High Street as featured on the gorgeous Curves and Confidence and Pippa blogs.

    You might wonder why you would bother making one when you can buy one for like €40? I'll tell you - not only can you make one that will cost less but you certainly won't see anyone else in the same one or as I like to call it "The Penneys effect". Oh and yeah there's that smug look you'll get when someone asks "where did you get that" and you get to go "oh this? I made it", yeah like no big deal! In any case the kimono style is super wearable and super easy to sew. It's one of those projects that if you make once you'll find excuses to make and wear again and again.

    Here's what you will need:

    *Picking your fabric:

    Choose a fairly lightweight fabric with a good drape, a viscose or a drapey satin will be really good. Also if you're going for a pattern choose an all over print that will look ok going the wrong way; as you're making the kimono in 1 piece the back of it will have the pattern going the wrong way. I chose this gorgeous printed satin. If you're unsure of what's best go to your local Hickeys and have a chat to one of our staff who will be happy to point you in the right direction.

    So I'll show you a little sketch of what we're doing here:

    Basically you're going to be cutting your fabric into a T shape and then sewing along the edges of that "T" before creating an opening

    This is how to fold your fabric:

    Kimono cutting template

    Then how to cut and sew:


    * Size calculator:

    To figure out where to cut your fabric along the length, measure around your widest part (usually the hips), divide that by 4 and add 2 cm on for some ease and seam allowance (4cm if you plan on wearing it belted as a dress to allow it to overlap). In my case the widest part was 120cm all around, so divided by 4 that gives me 30cm and then adding 2 for ease and seam allowance I'm cutting my folded fabric at 32cm.

     

    Let's Get Started:

    • Lay your fabric out flat with the right side facing you

    • Fold it in half lengthways so the wrong side is facing you.

    • Fold it in half again crossways.

    Now it's time to get cutting:

    • As per our little diagram above cut across 30cm down from the top to however far you have decided you need for the width.

    • Then cut down the length of the fabric at this point.
    • You can see the basic shape now.

    Let's get stitching:

    • But first get pinning - open the piece above so it is laying in a flat "T" shape with the right sides of the fabric facing each other.
    • Pin along the edges, along the bottom of both sleeves and down both sides.

    • Sew all the way along about 1cm from the edge using a simple straight stitch on your machine.
    (I really should dust my machine)

    • Now to make the opening, just lay your completed "T" shape flat and cut up the centre of the top piece of fabric only (you don't want to cut all your hard work in half now!)

    • And to make a neckline cut across the top, 10cm each side from the middle.

    • Then mark a point approx 18cm down from the top.

    • Let the 2 sides naturally flop back till this point and cut along the line that they make.

    Now let's get hemming:

    This is probably the most time consuming part of the make but is definitely worth doing properly - oh and you're probably going to burn your fingertips with the iron at least once (or maybe I'm just a klutz).

    • First press all the seams that you just stitched flat.
    • Next get pressing those hems; do the fronts and neckline first; fold the fabric over by approx 1cm and press.

    • You may need to clip into the corners to let the fabric lie flat along the more curved edge of the neckline.

    • Then fold this over again and press and pin to get a nice neat edge.

    • Sew along the folded hem close to the edge.

    • Next do your sleeves in the exact same way.
    • Then last but not least the bottom hem the whole way around.
    • At the 2 leading edges, press right to the edges, then fold back your hem, fold the outside edge to the fold line to make a little triangle.

    • Then fold it up and pin and sew the same way you did the other hems, giving you a nice neat edge.

    That's you basically done, give everything one last press and get ready for the compliments to flood in!

    Oh and do try to look nonchalant while posing in the middle of the street!!

    Here's another version made from a lightweight  jersey:

    This geo print jersey has a really nice drape, the beauty of this jersey one is that I didn't even have to hem it, as the jersey itself created a nice, clean edge.  When sewing the jersey just use an overedge stitch to sew the edges together, which will give a nice edge to your jersey and will prevent the seams puckering.

    Don't forget to have your Angelina Jolie leg moment:

  • buyingreadymades
    So you know you need curtains but haven't got a clue where to start? Then read on as I am about to fill you in.

    The very first step is to measure for your curtains. Once armed with this info you can decide what size you need. Not all ready made curtains come in all sizes but you will generally find one to suit. However if your windows are particularly large or a special type, like a bay or apex window then our Custom Made option might be the one for you.

    Ready made curtains are sold in pairs, with the size on the pack being the measurement of one curtain lying flat. If I can stress one thing above everything else when buying ready made curtains is to buy the right size - don't be skimpy, the more fabric you have the better your curtains will look!

     

    If you know your pole/rail size you can use the handy chart below to figure out what width you need:

    *This is based on you having twice the *fullness* of fabric

    * Notes on fullness:

    This might surprise you but to have your curtains looking as nice as possible you generally want twice the amount of fabric as the width of your pole/rail; even more if choosing pencil pleat; this will allow the curtains to gather nicely.

    If you're in between sizes I would say to always go up a size. Let's say your pole is 81" (210cm), logically you might assume that buying a pair of 66" (167cm) wide ready made curtains is the size you want - 66" + 66" = 132" of fabric which is plenty, right? Well no! - as an amazing woman I used to work with would say "If you want them to look like a sheet on your window go ahead". When you see our curtains hanging beautifully instore you're looking at curtains that are nearly 2 1/2 times the width of the pole, what we refer to as "fullness". To put this in perspective we would put a 66" (167cm) curtain on a 54" (137cm) pole. Of course there are exceptions to every rule, if you're unsure what size you should be getting you can talk to one of our expert staff in your local store.

    So hopefully now you've figured out what width you need; the drop of your ready made curtain is a much simpler prospect:

    It's just a matter of choosing which one is the closest to what you need. The easiest way to do this is to take a metal measuring tape up to your window and see where the drops listed below will come to, if you're between drops you will have to choose the larger one and either have it altered or if you can, raise the pole higher to suit. The drop listed on all ready made curtain packs is approximate - so 90" may be 89" or 91". This is particularly apparent in eyelet curtains as different brands may take the length from different points; some may take the drop from the very top of the curtain; some may take it from the ring itself. There's no standard unfortunately so you won't know until you're ready to hang them. In an ideal world you will hang your pole/rail only when fitting your ready made curtains so you can hang it to suit the drop you have purchased.

    *It's really important to note that not all curtains will come in all the sizes listed above, for example, blackout bedroom curtains may only come in the shorter drops

    Now that you've figured out what size you will need we can start looking at Readymade Curtains:

    Ready made curtains are available in either pencil pleat or eyelet heading:

    ready made curtains

    Pencil pleat curtains, like the ones pictured above are made with a tape on the top, which you pull to size to create the pleats. They are then hung with hooks from a ring or glider. Eyelet curtains are a simpler style, that has metal rings in the top of the curtains that simply slide over your pole. If you have a pole fitted; you will be free to choose either heading so the world is your oyster as they say, if you have a rail fitted; you will be limited to pencil pleat curtains. It's important for your sanity to note that the eyelets will be made in a colour that best suits the curtain, so a very gold curtain may have an antique brass eyelet, most will have a kind of dull pewter finish. If you already have a pole up, please don't drive yourself crazy trying to match the colour of the metal eyelet to the metal of your pole, the eyelet is picked to match the fabric best and I assure you, you won't even notice the difference when they're hanging. It's generally better to hang eyelet curtains on a metal pole as they will run smoothly and won't get scuffed/scratched the way a wooden pole might.

    Ready made curtain linings:

    All of our ready made curtains come fully lined. This is a standard light/mid weight lining but there are a range of thermal/blackout curtains available also. The standard lining is simply to make the curtains drape better and to protect the fabric from the sun, it also gives all of your curtains a nice uniform look from the outside as across all brands it is generally an ivory colour. Blackout curtains are ideal for bedrooms as they will block the light coming through the curtains, they are also fantastic for keeping rooms cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Be careful when buying, some curtains are labelled "blockout", these are more of a thermal weight, which will block a good portion of the light but are not fully blackout, they will also keep rooms cool in summer and warm in winter. In any case in either "blackout" or "blockout" curtains, you will notice that it's generally not a separate lining but a coating on the back of the fabric that does the job.

    As ready made curtains are an off the shelf product you may not always get exactly what you want. You may prefer blackout or eyelet heading but the fabric you like most is only available in pencil pleat heading. My advice is to choose the fabric you like first and work from there. Ready made blackout linings can always be added if you need that extra hour in bed. When it comes to pencil pleat - I know you think you prefer eyelets but I assure you once you buy the right size and hang them properly, pencil pleats look really well. If you really really do prefer eyelets talk to our staff in your nearest store as we can alter that heading for you!

    Now that you're armed with the information, you can browse our gorgeous range of ready made curtains and pick the right curtains to suit you.

  • What-glue-is-the-glue-for-you-1

    Buying glue for a project may seem like a straightforward proposition but a glance at the glue section of our website will tell a different tale as there are so many to choose from. So which one to get?

    Our glues basically fall into 3 different categories:

    1. Craft Glue 

    These are great for use on paper, felt and some can be used on other non porous materials like ceramic. They are generally very useful for craft projects like scrap booking or card making but not generally good for use on fabrics, particularly if you want to wash the item after.

    Glues like the PVA and school are great for kids crafts as they’re non toxic and dry fairly quickly. Though they dry clear they are white from the bottle so little ones can easily see what they’re doing.

    There is also an amazing range of glues called Mod Podge which are available in store and can be used for all sorts of projects like decoupage, ceramics and even image transferring but that's a whole other blog for a whole other day!

    A really good basic craft glue to have on hand is Impex Multi Purpose as it’s a great multi tasker, sticking most objects and will even do fabrics like felt or ribbons, especially onto hard surfaces like card. This is generally just a good glue to have in any crafter's arsenal and I always have a bottle on the go!

    Get some cool papercraft ideas from our friends at DoCrafts, we have some of their range in selected stores if you're feeling inspired!

    what-glue-is-the-glue-for-you-2

    2. Fabric Glue 

    These are designed specifically for use on fabric which means they dry clear and don’t leave a residue on the fabric. It also means you can wash the item afterwards safe in the knowledge that the glue won’t dissolve! Check the instructions on the particular glue you choose as it may need the heat of an iron to set it. I must confess to a love of Fabri Tac, I have literally glued myself into Halloween costumes in this and survived the night, modesty intact!

    3. Embellishing glue

    These are glues you want when embellishing items with beads/ motifs. They dry clear and don’t leave a reside on fabric.

    Gemtac is pretty amazing stuff as it’s washable, dries quickly and doesn’t affect the clarity of your stones. This is the one favoured by most of our “blinging” customers, particularly those “Dance Moms” out there who have spent many a night painstakingly applying rhinestones to dance costumes.

    Here’s how they do it:

    • Get yourself a tweezers and a shallow dish like a saucer*
    • Pour a small amount of glue into the saucer and pick your gem up with the tweezers
    • Dip into the glue, taking care not to submerge the jewel and apply to your garment

    * Frequent embellishers may want to invest in a SILICONE MAT as it stops the glue drying out too quickly when you’re using it and also saves you using the good china!

    4. The Glue Gun

    So you've caught me - I  lied at the beginning of this blog - there's really 4 types of glue, but the glue gun is kind of all the types rolled into 1. Armed with this (pun intended), you will basically be ready for any craft action. The beauty of the glue gun is that it dries immediately, so whatever you want to stick will be secured quickly without you trying to hold it all together while it dries. It's great for cool projects like embellishing shoes and making fascinators.  So why would you bother with any of the others if this does everything you might wonder? Well it can have its disadvantages. For a start it can leave a residue if you're not careful with it and it can leave a bulky line underneath fabrics. My advice here is to keep your glue gun for gluing embellishments and fabrics onto solid surfaces and not to bother trying to glue fabric to fabric with it.

    Now that you're in the know, you can choose the right glue for your project from our range.

  • Step-By-Step-Flower-Wreath-1

    Felt Flowers are a fun and relatively easy craft to follow. Some flowers can be a little complicated, but I can assure you that the pretty roses used in this project are straightforward enough and the pay off is fantastic. Who knew felt could look so pretty? As we have been gifted with the rainy weather (April Showers, give us a break!), why not bring a little piece of Spring into your home?

    This would make a fantastic gift for a loved one, you could use their favourite colours to really make it personal. I added a few leaves to my wreath but really, they aren’t necessary. You can go all out and fill the whole hoop with flowers, using little and large roses, or you can go really minimal and rustic by not wrapping the hoop with embroidery thread. This craft will take you an afternoon, I personally opt for a mug of tea, dressing gown and a good film on in the background- the perfect rainy Saturday Craft!

    What you will need:

    Felt – 1 sheet of felt per rose, ideally. This will vary depending on if you want to vary the size of the roses.

    Glue Gun - with glue sticks because you don’t want to run out half way!

    Embroidery Hoop

    Needle

    Embroidery Thread (for wrapping the hoop) and separate thread to use for the flowers.

    Sharp Scissors

    Marker

    Circular Shape – To use as a stencil, Approx. 1.2-2” Diameter. I used a shot glass ?

    Step-By-Step-Flower-Wreath-2

    Step One: Start by tracing around your stencil, as many circles as you can fit on the sheet.

    Step Two: Cut neatly around the circles, try to not have any marker on the felt circles, trim them a little as the pigment may ruin the finished piece.

    Step-By-Step-Flower-Wreath-3

    Step Three: Cut each circle in half.

    Step Four: Separate your embroidery thread in half, so three threads in total. Thread your needle.

    Step Five: Take one half circle and create a stitch along the edge. Don’t worry about the stitch being perfect as we will be pulling it later.

    Step-By-Step-Flower-Wreath-4

    Step-By-Step-Flower-Wreath-5

    Step Six: Once you get half way (about two stitches) across your half circle, take another piece of felt and lie it evenly behind the first and continue your stitching. Repeat this, so that after covering every half piece of felt, you add another half circle to create a chain of half circles.

    Step-By-Step-Flower-Wreath-6

    Step Seven: Once you have run out of felt half circles, gently pull the thread at the edge. This will create a bunching up at the front of the chain. Move the felt along the thread to even out the bunching and keep pulling. This will create a lovely petal-like look to the felt.

    Step Eight: When you are happy with the bunching, tie a knot in the thread.

    Step-By-Step-Flower-Wreath-7

    Step Nine: Turn on your glue gun and let it heat up. Take one side of your petal thread and in the middle of the first petal, dot a blob of glue from the gun. Gently fold the petal in on itself.

    Step Ten: Repeat this process, adding a little blob of glue and twisting the petals around each other. (As you progress to make more flowers, you will be able to vary how tight or lose you twist the petals over each other, creating different textures and looks for your flowers.)

    Step-By-Step-Flower-Wreath-8

    Step Eleven: Once you have finished twisting your petals, you should be left with a beautiful rose flower. Add a circle of felt (I chose green because- nature) and glue it down, creating a base for your flower. Trim the edges so it doesn’t show when you are looking at the flower directly.

    Step-By-Step-Flower-Wreath-9

    Step Twelve (Optional): Get your embroidery hoop and take some embroidery thread. Add a blob of glue to the top of your hoop and wrap tightly, covering the entire hoop. I used the equivalent of two spools of embroidery thread for this hoop size.

    Step Thirteen (Optional): Cut out felt in the shape of leaves and add them to the base of some of your flowers. This will just add a little splash of colour!

    Step-By-Step-Flower-Wreath-10

    Step-By-Step-Flower-Wreath-11

    Step Fourteen: Lay your hoop out and take a look at where you would like to place your flowers. Add a little mark as a guide if it helps you. Add a blob of glue to the place on the hoop you would like to place a flower. Don’t add the glue to the base of the flower as it can be a bit messy and is easier to place the flower on a blob of glue, than cleaning glue off the table because you misplaced the flower.

    Leave it all to dry and voila!

    Step-By-Step-Flower-Wreath-12

  • How-To-Measure-For-Curtains-1

     

    Measuring for curtains is a little bit chicken and the egg; should you have your pole up first? Should you measure the bare window? I’m here to tell you that either is fine as long as you understand what you’re doing.

    In an ideal world, when measuring for curtains you’ll be starting with a blank canvas; a window with no pole/rail up but sometimes it’s already there and you need to figure out what size to buy. I say in an ideal world because you can always hang a pole to suit your curtains but if the curtains only come in a 229cm drop and you have already hung your pole 235cm off the ground you’re fairly snookered. I’ll explain what to do in each case shortly but first let me give you a few tips to live by when measuring for your curtains

    My first and most important tip when measuring for curtains is to use a metal measuring tape. I’ve worked in Home Focus/ Hickeys stores for years and have seen all sorts of crazy things; pieces of string, bits of wool, plastic bags and that infamous incident when a woman told me her window was one and a half times the length of her arm!! Let me tell you people, these thing stretch or are weird and will leave you with an inaccurate measurement.

    The second suggestion I have when measuring for curtains is to use what you know; if you’re comfortable with inches, use inches. The poles and ready made curtains will all have their sizes listed in inches and centimetres and if you’re really struggling our staff will help you convert.

    Measuring with no pole/rail up:

    Measure the width of your window across, from plaster to plaster, and from top to bottom. Then add on 6” (15cm) above the window and 6 - 10” (15-25cm) either side of the window to allow for the pole/rail size. This is to allow the curtains to clear the window when open, maximising the light into your room. Usually, the bigger the window, the wider you have the pole.

    How-To-Measure-For-Curtains-2

    Measuring with a pole up:

    If you have a pole up, measure the width of the pole, not including the finials (ends), measure the drop from just under the pole to where you want the curtains to fall.

    How-To-Measure-For-Curtains-3

     

    Measuring with a rail up:

    If you have a rail up measure the width of the rail, including any overlaps or returns, measure the drop from the top of the rail to where you want the curtains to fall.

    How-To-Measure-For-Curtains-4

    If you’re thinking of getting Custom Made curtains, then stop here and visit your local store armed with this information.

    If you’re going for Ready Made curtains then read on:

    So now that we’ve figured out what size our pole/rail is likely to be we need to figure out what size curtains to buy. Without going into too much detail, you want your curtains to be approximately twice the width of your pole/rail, this is basically so they will be nicely gathered and look their best.

    Use the handy little chart below to figure out what width you need:

    How-To-Measure-For-Curtains-5

    Now that you know the width, the drop is a more straightforward prospect, you’re either hanging your curtains to just below the windowsill, to the radiator or to the floor. I have listed the standard sizes on the chart below, so it’s just a matter of picking which one is closest to your desired drop.

    How-To-Measure-For-Curtains-6

    Let’s do a real life example of measuring for curtains:

    Take this window in our training room here:

    How-To-Measure-For-Curtains-7
    I have measured the width across = 43” (109cm)
    The drop to the bottom = 34.5” (88cm)

    So adding 6” (15cm) each side we estimate that our pole should be 55” (139cm) wide and adding 6” (15cm) above we get 40.5” (103cm).
    So going by the charts above our curtains should be 66” x 54” (167cm x 137cm) and there you have it!!

    Now you know what size you need shop our gorgeous range of Ready Made Curtains.

  •  

    I was always slightly puzzled by the groups of girls on hen parties in matching outfits I’d see roaming the streets of Temple Bar on a Saturday night. Not puzzled because there was a uniform - I realise that this is an easy way of identifying each other when three sheets to the wind. Puzzled because not only were they in the same uniform as the three other hen parties in Coppers that night but because nobody really looks like they’re wearing what they want.

    If you’re planning a hen for your bestie and don’t really want to spend €20 per person for an ill fitting T - shirt that says  “(insert name here)’s HEN” then maybe I could tempt you with an easy little craft project. Make your own individual “sequin pocket T - shirts”, these look pretty cool, you will all be coordinated without looking OTT and will be cheap as chips to make.  I’m pretty sure you could even rope your co - bridesmaids into helping with the right amount of prosecco!

    So this is the deal:

    Get yourself a load of white/black t - shirts, with a pocket, everyone knows their size in Penneys, so take a note and get shopping. That being said if one of your hens is plus size, they can supply their own top, this is why the basic t shirt is always a good option. Let’s face it everyone likes to look good on a night out and as a former size 22 I can remember the chill going down my spine when people would hand me an XL t shirt from a kiosk  for one of these things!! I really wish I had convinced someone to do this project sooner, I would have slightly less embarrassing photos in my past!

    We’re off to a good start; you have your T-shirts; now get yourself to a Home Focus or Hickeys and buy a tube of Gem Tac glue and some tubes of flat sequins in the bride's favourite colour. The glue might seem pricey at €11.95 but you’re definitely going to get all the T-shirts out of one bottle and it dries flexible and clear so you can be as messy as several glasses of prosecco gets you!

    You will need:

    • T-shirts, with a pocket*
    • 1 tube Gem Tac Glue
    • Flat sequins of your choice ( 1 tube will do approx 4 shirts)

    Now here’s where it gets really difficult:

    • Lay your T-shirt out flat

    • Use the nozzle to pipe 2-3 lines of the glue along the top of the pocket
    • Spread it down a little with the flat end of your tweezers
    • Use the tweezers to apply the sequins, laying them really close together, even overlapping them a little

    • Continue on in rows like this until the pocket is filled, it should only take 10 - 15 mins
    • When you get bored of precision application with the tweezers, use your fingers - it doesn’t matter too much if you get glue on top of the sequins as the Gem Tac is designed for this and so won’t dull the sequins or mark them

    • Let dry flat overnight
    Here's how it looks filled in and let to dry:

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    *If you have a t-shirt with no pocket, get creative - either trace one on with tailors chalk or if you have an artist in the bunch get them to draw shapes, even a star or a heart on the T-shirts and then get blinging.

    So there you have it, a fairly fun, unique look for your Hen party night out, one that should keep everyone happy, and the cost down. I got this T shirt for €3 from you guessed it “Penneys hun” - in a style I like and there was about 20 other types in every style imaginable. The glue cost €11.95 and the tubes of sequins €3.95 so if I were to do 12 T-shirts they’d only work out at €5.30 each. I think for €5.30 and a couple of hours of bedazzling that’s a fairly good hen outfit. If you’re a stressed out bridesmaid who could use some craft therapy; take a visit to your nearest Hickeys or Home Focus at Hickeys store to get your blinging supplies. Then get yourself and your girls out dancing!!!

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