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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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  • Choosing the correct fabric for your project may seem like an easy task - you just pick the one you fancy right? Wrong!! Choosing the incorrect fabric can make sewing and fitting your garment difficult or downright impossible. Now I’m normally not a colour inside the lines kind of a girl (I've been called contrary on occasion) but I will always admit the people who design the patterns know best. So if I’m told to use a chambray or a cotton type you better believe I’m using a cotton! So in order to choose correctly you must first understand what these names mean. I’m going to break them down into their types and styles as a pattern might suggest them and explain what they mean.

    There are a few basic types of dress fabrics that you will come across again and again - particularly when reading the back of your pattern crepe or crepe de chine; cotton or chambray; sateen; taffetas; jacquards; satin/duchess satin and laces.

    What do these mean and why do you pick one over another?

    Chambray/Cotton types: This is usually taken to mean a cotton fabric that is not too thick with no stretch, these would be suitable for projects like shirts and dresses with some structure as they are not particularly flowy and so will not skim the body. Chambray is simply a cotton that is a woven mix of white and another colour. These are usually interchangeable with sateen (usually cotton with a smooth and shiny finish, not to be confused with satin) linen/linen types or seersucker which is a bumpy checked/striped cotton.

    So basically if you are told to use any of these fabrics what you are looking for is a cotton or linen fabric or even a mixed fibre that feels like cotton or linen but it should be non-stretch and relatively stiff. These are probably the easiest types of fabric to sew with and so are great for beginners projects.

    Gaberdines: Gaberdine is a tightly woven fabric usually interchangeable with lightweight wool blends. These fabrics work really well in suiting and trousers. If you want to imagine what they feel like think back to your school trousers or skirt. But fear not! There are all sorts of nice new versions that will frequently be labelled “suiting”.

    Denims/Twills: Twills are fabrics woven a certain way so that the surface of the finished fabric has diagonal lines and the reverse is smooth. A denim is basically a type of twill made from cotton usually in that classic indigo blue but there’s many versions. Patterns that look for these type of fabrics are usually utility style garments or garments with a firm structure like boiler suits or jeans which these fabrics really lend themselves to.

    Jersey: Jersey refers to any knitted fabric with stretch, they come in many weights from a light viscose jersey which usually drapes beautifully to heavier cotton sweatshirt style jerseys. Luckily your dress pattern will specify what type of jersey you need - some jerseys stretch in more and in more directions than others. 

    Ponte Roma: This is a double knit type of jersey which means for our purposes it’s usually slightly heavier and less drapey than other jerseys. This makes it easier to sew than most jerseys while still having good stretch and suitable for more structured garments.

    Scuba: Scuba or Neoprene are again double knit fabrics though much heavier than ponte roma with a smoother surface, it can be used for sportswear but is increasingly being used for evening wear as it gives great structure and will hold its shape.

    Crepe/ Charmeuse types: Crepe is nowadays a kind of cover all term for fabrics that have a light to medium weight and a nice flow and drape, crepe will usually have a slight dimpled texture. Charmeuse is a lightweight similar style of fabric with a smooth finish. Crepe is probably the most versatile of fabrics being used in blouses, dresses and any garment where draping and flow is desirable even certain trouser patterns.

    Taffeta/Dupion: Taffeta is a smooth woven fabric with a crisp finish, dupion is usually a stiff slubbed silk but synthetic versions are made. If your pattern calls for these or like this, what it is really asking you to use is a relatively lightweight crisp and stiff, non stretch fabric. These types of fabrics are mostly used for structured garments as they hold shape very well and look fabulous in full skirts.

    Satin/Duchess/Crepe back satin: Satins usually have a nice flow and are used mainly in evening wear. A satin finish means the fabric is woven a certain way to make the surface smooth and shiny. Duchess satin has a higher thread count and so is usually less shiny and has slightly more body than other satins though it still drapes beautifully. Crepe back satin is as it says a satin front with a crepe finish back which gives beautiful weight and drape and allows you to use both matt and shiny sides in the one garment.

    Lace/Chiffon/Tulle: These are all soft sheer fabrics usually used overlaid on a satin lining in evening wear. They can also be left unlined as sheer details on a garment or in jackets and the likes. Tulle can also be used to create frothy layers though not to be confused with it’s less expensive nylon net counterpart which is used to make stiffer underskirts and create volume. If you’re looking for these you’re most likely making occasion wear.  

    There's probably some fabrics I have missed but the types outlined above are the most common you will see. If your pattern calls for a fabric not listed above the most important thing is to understand how the garment falls and drapes and to match it up with the right style of fabric. Indeed the reverse holds true that if you fall in love with the fabric before you pick the pattern have a look and feel -  How does it fall? Does it stretch? Is it Stiff? Does it need lining? Once you understand the fabric properties you can choose the right project.

    Hopefully having read this you feel confident in your fabric choosing abilities but to help you along we have added some check boxes on our website to narrow the choice down. If you’re the type who likes a feel and a chat (and who doesn’t) then call into one of our Hickeys stores where our expert staff will be happy to offer advice! The most important thing is to have fun! Choosing your fabric is not only the most important part of your project but it's probably my favourite part. Having a look and a feel and imagining what the finished project will look like - and what shoes I'll wear it with! Please feel free to comment below/ ask me questions if I missed some or you’re unsure of what to pick.

     

  • Wave curtains are a modern style that are really making waves in the custom made curtain industry! (I'm so so sorry) Anyway puns aside it is a really simple and elegant style of curtain that particularly suits modern homes with large windows but looks great in any room where chic simplicity is the desired effect .

    Courtesy of Silent Gliss

    The wave heading makes a simple rippling fold effect in your finished curtain and so is a less fussy and ornate style than say french pleat or pencil pleat curtains. It must be fitted to a Silent Gliss track that is made specifically for wave heading.

    So why Wave?

    The Silent Gliss Tracks can fit any number of awkward spaces where a standard pole can't be used. If you've ever watched Dermot Bannon's Room to Improve you'll see that those poor people never have curtains because of Dermot's love of floor to ceiling room width windows. Somebody tell Dermo about Wave Curtains quickly - those people's neighbours are getting an eyeful!

    Courtesy of Silent Gliss

    If you have a window like this where standard curtains/ blinds aren't really an option then wave curtains on a silent gliss track can be a beautiful option, the track can be fitted very discreetly giving the impression that the curtains are almost floating from your ceiling. It can be fitted to bay windows and comes in a pole style finish to mimic the decorative look of a standard curtain pole, it even comes with electronic operated options.

    The Wave heading itself allows for less fabric fullness than is required in standard curtain headings allowing for a neat and crisp look that will stack back off your windows allowing you to let light flood in and enjoy the view!

    Voile fabrics look amazing in Wave Heading as they fall into beautiful soft folds and so are the perfect solution in rooms where some privacy is required but no heavy curtains are needed. That being said Wave Curtains look equally well made in heavier fabrics as long as they're not stiff or too bulky and can even be blackout lined for when you want a lie in.

    Courtesy of Silent Gliss

    So if you have a window you're struggling to find a solution for or simply like the look of modern simplicity then Wave Curtains could be for you. Find your local store and talk to one of our experts who will be happy to advise and give you a quote.

     

  • 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. 

    *Please note, you do not need to register, and all are welcome! If you have any questions or require further information, please contact us at [email protected]

    ******************************************

    Spring/Summer Events

    Henry St

    Hickeys Fabrics, 5 Henry St, Dublin 1

    • Saturday 16th February – 10.30 – 12.00 – How To Use a Sewing Machine & Read Patterns
    • Saturday 23rd February – 10.30 – 12.00 – Easy Sew ‘Communion Cover Up’
    • Saturday 2nd March – 10.30 – 12.00 – Easy Sew ‘Girl’s Dress’
    • Saturday 9th March – 10.30 – 12.00 – Communion Makes & Millinery
    • Saturday 23rd March – 10.30 – 12.00 – How To Use a Sewing Machine & Read Patterns
    • Saturday 30th March – 10.30 – 12.00 – Easy Sew ‘Working With Waterproof Fabric’ – kid’s coat
    • Saturday 6th April– 10.30 – 12.00 – Communion Makes & Millinery
    • Saturday 27th April – 10.30 – 12.00 – How To Use a Sewing Machine & Read Patterns
    • Saturday 11th May – 10.30 – 12.00 – Easy Sew ‘5 in 1 Holiday Dress’
    • Saturday 18th May – 10.30 – 12.00 – Hats & Fascinators
    • Saturday 25th May– 10.30 – 12.00 – How To Use a Sewing Machine & Read Patterns
    • Saturday 8th June – 10.30 – 12.00 – Hats & Fascinators
    • Saturday 15th June – 10.30 – 12.00 – Easy Sew ‘Beach Tote Bag’
    • Saturday 22nd June – 10.30 – 12.00 – Hats & Fascinators
    • Saturday 29th June– 10.30 – 12.00 – How To Use a Sewing Machine & Read Patterns
    • Saturday 6th July – 10.30 – 12.00 – Hats & Fascinators
    • Saturday 20th July – 10.30 – 12.00 – Hats & Fascinators

    Carrickmines

    Home Focus, Unit 4, The Park, Carrickmines, Dublin 18

    • Saturday 16th February – 14.30 – 16.00 – How To Use a Sewing Machine & Read Patterns
    • Saturday 23rd March – 14.30 – 16.00 – How To Use a Sewing Machine & Read Patterns
    • Saturday 30th March – 14.30 – 16.00 – Curtain and Roman Blind Making
    • Saturday 11th May – 14.30 – 16.00 – Curtain and Roman Blind Making
    • Saturday 18th May – 14.30 – 16.00 – How To Use a Sewing Machine & Read Patterns
    • Saturday 8th June – 14.30 – 16.00 – Curtain and Roman Blind Making *** CANCELLED DUE TO UNFORSEEN CIRCUMSTANCES***
    • Saturday 22nd June – 14.30 – 16.00 – How To Use a Sewing Machine & Read Patterns

    Tallaght

    Home Focus, Level 2, The Square, Tallaght, Dublin 24

    • Saturday 23rd February – 14.30 – 16.00 – How To Use a Sewing Machine & Read Patterns
    • Saturday 30th March – 14.30 – 16.00 – How To Use a Sewing Machine & Read Patterns
    • Saturday 18th May – 10.30 – 12.00 – How To Use a Sewing Machine & Read Patterns

    Blanchardstown

    Home Focus, Unit 406, Blanchardstown Retail Park, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15

    • Saturday 2nd March– 14.30 – 16.00 – How To Use a Sewing Machine & Read Patterns
    • Saturday 30th March – 10.30 – 12.00 – Curtain and Roman Blind Making
    • Saturday 27th April – 14.30 – 16.00 – How To Use a Sewing Machine & Read Patterns
    • Saturday 11th May – 10.30 – 12.00 – Curtain and Roman Blind Making
    • Saturday 25th May– 14.30 – 16.00 – How To Use a Sewing Machine & Read Patterns
    • Saturday 8th June – 10.30 – 12.00 – Curtain and Roman Blind Making *** CANCELLED DUE TO UNFORSEEN CIRCUMSTANCES***
    • Saturday 29th June– 14.30 – 16.00 – How To Use a Sewing Machine & Read Patterns

    Corbett Court

    Hickeys Fabrics, Corbett Court, Williamsgate Street, Galway

    • Saturday 16th February – 10.30 – 12.00 – How To Use a Sewing Machine & Read Patterns
    • Saturday 23rd February – 10.30 – 12.00 – Easy Sew ‘Communion Cover Up’
    • Saturday 2nd March – 10.30 – 12.00 – Communion Makes & Millinery
    • Saturday 23rd March – 10.30 – 12.00 – How To Use a Sewing Machine & Read Patterns
    • Saturday 30th March – 10.30 – 12.00 – Communion Makes & Millinery
    • Saturday 27th April – 10.30 – 12.00 – How To Use a Sewing Machine & Read Patterns
    • Saturday 25th May – 10.30 – 12.00 – Hats & Fascinators
    • Saturday 15th June – 10.30 – 12.00 – Hats & Fascinators
    • Saturday 29th June – 10.30 – 12.00 – Hats & Fascinators
    • Saturday 13th July – 10.30 – 12.00 – Hats & Fascinators

    Cruises Street

    Hickeys Fabrics, 33 Cruises Street, Limerick

    • Saturday 16th February – 10.30 – 12.00 – How To Use a Sewing Machine & Read Patterns
    • Saturday 23rd February – 10.30 – 12.00 – Easy Sew ‘Communion Cover Up’
    • Saturday 9th March – 10.30 – 12.00 –Communion Mini Makes
    • Saturday 23rd March – 10.30 – 12.00 – How To Use a Sewing Machine & Read Patterns
    • Saturday 30th March – 10.30 – 12.00 – Easy Sew ‘Working With Waterproof Fabric’ – kid’s coat
    • Saturday 27th April – 10.30 – 12.00 – How To Use a Sewing Machine & Read Patterns

  • 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.

    I suppose there’s a few general rules:

    • Your pole should be at least 6” (15cm) wider than your window to allow the curtains to stack back
    • Your pole should be at least 6” (15cm) higher than your window

    And a few things you will need:

    • Your pole and Screws
    • Hacksaw – if you need to cut down your pole
    • The correct rawl plugs for your wall type – speak to your local DIY store here if you’re unsure
    • Measuring Tape
    • Pencil
    • Drill
    • Screwdriver
    • Spirit level (if you have one)

    Start by measuring your window and add 12” (30cm) to figure out what size your pole should be:

    If you need to cut the pole it can be done easily

    If it’s a 1 piece pole:

    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

    If it’s a 2 piece pole:

    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

    Next figure out what height to hang the pole at:

    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

    • For pencil pleat: The top of the curtain is at the bottom of the bracket

    • For eyelet: The top of the curtain is at the top of the bracket

    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

    Now it's time to Break out the heavy machinery:

    • Drill and place in appropriate rawl plugs where the screw marks are – you’ll notice we used 2 different types here – the standard ones on bottom and an expanding plasterboard one on top because our surface was uneven. Speak to your local DIY store about this as they are the experts!

    • Next screw in your brackets into the plugs.

    • Place your pole on top of the brackets and tighten using the screws on the bracket.

    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.

    Luxaflex®

    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.

    Curtains

    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.

    Pole For Bay Window

    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.

    Yarn types:

    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 -

    Yarn Weights:

    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.

    So what does this all mean for you when choosing your 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 care because I love knitting and I want everyone to knit and be happy with their finished product!

    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.

    What's the moral of the story?

    • Choose carefully before you start your project. Let's face it knitting is a time consuming hobby, buy a yarn you love not only the look of but the feel of and you know you/your loved ones will be able to wear. I once bought a super chunky alpaca yarn to knit a sweater for myself - I have only ever worn this sweater once because it is far to warm and I am not a cold creature. I was a picture in my bright pink jumper with matching bright pink face!
    • Always use a suitable pattern for the wool you have chosen - see real life example above!
    • Buy the best you can afford. While there is always a place for a cheap and cheerful acrylic yarn - even I won't splash out on cashmere when knitting tea cosies - treat yourself/your loved ones to something you will really love and will last. As I have said repeatedly, knitting is time consuming, a labour of love if you will, so make sure you'll love the finished product by buying yarn you love.
    • If you're still unsure speak to an expert!

    In conclusion: My name is Laura and I am a Woolaholic!

    The Offending Jumper

  • 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.

    1. Pick the right size - this is an entire blog in itself which you can read here but basically if your curtains are too small they will never look right. You can pick the most beautiful curtains but they will hang like a sheet if there’s not enough fabric to gather nicely.
    2. Iron your curtains!!!! I cannot stress this enough -  if you wouldn’t put on a shirt without ironing it then why would you hang your curtains without ironing them? Your curtains have been folded and packed for some time before you receive them so they need to be unpacked and shaken out and pressed. Consult the label as to what temperature to iron them at and iron them on the lining side. If you’re not happy ironing them yourself or if they’re un-manageably large then ask your local dry cleaner - most will offer a pressing service for around €15.
    3. If you’re hanging pencil pleat curtains gather and hook them before you get up the ladder to start hanging, you don’t want to start messing about with tapes and the likes when you’re 6ft off the ground. If they’re eyelet curtains then have them folded in their pleats ready to go.
    4. Get some help - hanging the curtains is much easier if you get somebody to take the weight of the curtain while you do the fiddly bits at the top.
    5. Stand back and have a look and keep fixing and froofing (that’s the technical term) them until you’re happy with how they’re hanging. Always remember that the curtains are a ready made product and may need a bit of fixing to get them just right.

    See below for a step by step with pictures on how to get your curtains looking their best:

    • Get the iron and ironing board out - press the curtains on the reverse first, at the temperature it says is suitable on the label, I usually find it easiest to fold the curtains in half lengthwise and iron both sides then fold them out and iron over the centre crease.
    • Go to either edge and press the outside in to meet the lining, the fabric usually folds over by an inch (2.5cm)  this will have been done in the factory when they were stitched so you’re generally just going over and making sure the edges are sitting nice and flat.

    how-to-hang-ready-made-curtains

     

    If you’re hanging pencil pleat curtains this next bit is for you:

    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.

    • Pull the cords out of the tape a little at each end and tie a knot in both. This is probably the most important step as if you don’t, then you will pull the cords out and either have to darn them all back in yourself or hope a nice sales assistant in Home Focus takes pity on you and does it for you.

    how-to-hang-ready-made-curtains1

     

    • Next pull the one end of cord (usually the end that will be on the outside edge when hung) on the tape to pull the curtains to half the size of your rail/pole plus an inch (2.5cm), in this case the pole was 46" (116cm) so I pulled each curtain into 24" (60cm)

    how-to-hang-ready-made-curtains-2

     

    • Tie a knot that you can later undo to secure the tape and repeat this for the other curtain.

    how-to-hang-ready-made-curtains-3

     

    • Turn the curtain over to the front and space the pleats out evenly, take a bit of time to get this looking right at this stage.

    how-to-hang-ready-made-curtains-4

     

    • Turn your curtain back around and divide your hooks out evenly across the tape, use as many hooks as you have rings/gliders on your pole/rail. If you’re hanging the curtains on a pole - put the hooks in the second pocket down and if you’re hanging on a rail put the hooks in the bottom pocket. The general rule is to have 3 hooks per foot (30cm) but a few extra is fine.

    how-to-hang-ready-made-curtains-5

     

    • Now get hanging - as I said it’s helpful to have somebody take the weight of the curtains so you can hook them on top without the hooks popping out as you travel along. Start from the centre out as these rings/gliders all move and then when you get to either end you can pop the last glider in easily, either into the ring you have between the finial (end) and bracket on your pole or the last stationary glider on your rail.

    how-to-hang-ready-made-curtains-6

     

    • Next close your curtains fully and have a look at how the pleats are looking - you can have a last little straighten out now that they’re hanging.

    how-to-hang-ready-made-curtains-7

    If you’re hanging eyelet curtains:

    • Simply thread the rings onto the pole, making sure that the fabric is facing out on both ends. 

    how-to-hang-ready-made-curtains-8

    • Ensure that one ring is between the finial and the bracket on your pole.

    how-to-hang-ready-made-curtains-10

     

    • If you're using tie backs now is the time to hang them.

    how-to-hang-ready-made-curtains-11

    These pencil pleat curtains sat beautifully first time round but on the rare occasion your curtain still isn’t just right (sometimes some fabrics just want to bounce/kick a little) here’s a couple of more insider tips for you:

    • Tie your curtains into their pleats - basically gather them open into nice folds and use a few bits of fabric (even old tights will do) and tie them, leave them hanging like that for a couple of days and when you release the ties they will fall into their pleats beautifully.

    how-to-hang-ready-made-curtains-12

     

    • Open the seam at the end a little - sometimes they are stitched to the lining a little tight in the factory, a good tip is to rip the last few stitches out and press the seam flat again.

    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

  • Wool And The Gang 1

    "We've all done it, purchased low quality, cheap, fast fashion made in factories abroad and wondered 'how do they make it so cheap?' The reality is not good" - Wool And The Gang

    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 created Wool And The Gang out of a passion for incredible design that's produced in a sustainable way" - Wool And The Gang

    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.

    Wool And The Gang 2

    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.

    Wool And The Gang 3

    Wool And The Gang 4

    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.

    Wool And The Gang 5

    Wool And The Gang 6BILLIE 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.

    Wool And The Gang 7

    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!

    Wool And The Gang 8

  • 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.

    Upholstery vs Curtain weight:

    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?

    • UPH basically means that they have passed a test to qualify them for upholstery use, generally this is 20,000 rubs - meaning a machine literally rubs the fabric 20,000 times before wear occurs.
    • CTN means that these fabrics have never been through a rub test but are suitable for curtains.

    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.

    Fabric Composition:

    Cotton/ Linen:

    • Cotton is a natural fibre, quite matt in appearance and will hang very well as curtains and lend itself very well to cushions and the likes as it can usually be washed. Of course I would never recommend washing curtains but a cotton can be spot cleaned.
    • Cotton is very easy to work with and is a good choice for beginners projects.
    • Beware the shrinkage! Allow yourself 5% shrinkage and always pre-wash your fabric if you’re planning to wash it in future.

    Silk:

    • Silk is a natural fibre and is a beautifully luxurious fabric with a dull sheen but requires some care.
    • When using silk for curtains use a good lining to protect against sun damage as it will fade easier than other fabrics, generally they will be interlined with an extra thick lining for body.
    • Probably not the best choice for cushions due to its delicate nature but I have been unable to resist in the past and with careful cool hand washing they have lasted me quite well.
    • Silk generally won’t shrink.

    Viscose:

    • Viscose is derived from plant sources like wood pulp and then transformed to fibres - it has a beautiful drape and silk like lustre but is much cheaper.
    • It’s generally a good all rounder as it’s breathable like cotton so nice for cushions etc and as long as it is graded UPH will do a fine job for upholstery.
    • Viscose can shrink slightly and sometimes can be a bit “bouncy” to work with but if made up correctly it is a beautiful fabric.

    Polyester:

    • Is a synthetic fabric, essentially a plastic making it extremely versatile and it generally has a sheen to it.
    • It is frequently washable and doesn’t shrink - making it a good choice for either cushions, curtains or upholstery.
    • It is less breathable than most of the other fabrics so you may find you get a little warmer on a polyester upholstered couch or with polyester cushions.
    • If made into curtains you can nearly guarantee it will last for years as it won’t shrink or fade like some of the natural fibres.

    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.

     

    So here’s my top 5 tips if you’re considering oilcloth:

    1: Know your oilcloth - there are 2 types:

    • the less expensive P.V.C. usually retailing between €4.95 - €8.95, this is made as a plastic, it won’t wear as well as the more expensive oilcloth but is cheap and cheerful. This Is a good choice when you have toddlers etc as the chances are it will be full of bolognese and crayons and you’ll need to change it before it starts tearing anyway!

    • The more expensive Oilcloth usually retailing between €16.95 - €19.95 is actually a cotton that is then laminated so will last much longer than the less expensive ones and will look more like a fabric cloth.

    2: Invest in some table protector:

    • You don’t always need this but if you’re putting down hot plates/ dishes this will protect your table from heat where your oilcloth won’t.
    • It also helps to stop oilcloth slipping.

    3: Use clips - especially if you have children around:

    • These are simple little plastic clips with a bit of stretch that go over the edge of your table to hold your oilcloth in place, available in store.

    4: Remember that the oilcloth is protecting your table:

    • Wipe your oilcloth with some kitchen spray and a cloth
    • It will stain - if you spill curry or bolognese or the likes wipe it immediately but it may still leave a stain.
    • Remember every time you see a stain on your oilcloth - this is one less time you have ruined your table

    5: Get the size right - probably the most important on the list:

    • Measure the table! As with all things in life there is no such thing as an average table.
    • Generally you want your oilcloth to be 30cm (12”)  longer than the overall length and width of your table, this gives 15cm (6”) every side which looks decent and will hold the oilcloth down without it sitting on your lap when you’re eating your dinner
    • The P.V.C. / Oilcloth is usually 135 - 140cm (53  - 55”) wide so work with what’s available; if you have 20cm (8”) either side make it the same at the ends so it looks even all around.; If you have less in the width then still add the 15cm each end as you will need this to allow the oilcloth to drape.

    For example:

    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.

    Super Simple Plisse Skirt:

    You will need:

    • 1m plisse fabric
    • 20mm wide elastic to fit waist - * see below
    • Sewing machine
    • Gutermann sew all thread to match fabric
    • Pins
    • Measuring tape
    • Fabric Scissors

    *To figure out how much elastic you need - stretch it around your waist so that it is tight but comfortable and then add 2cm.

    Let's start:

    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.

    Easy Sew Skirt Ta Da!!!

    The dress may be even easier but you don't need to tell anyone that when you're wearing it:

    Easy Peasy Plisse Dress:

    You will need:

    • Approx 1 m fabric - *See below
    • Sewing machine
    • Gutermann sew all thread to match fabric
    • Pins
    • Measuring tape
    • Fabric Scissors

    *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.

    Easy Sew Dress Et Voila!

    This was all so easy that I got a little carried away and now Lauren and I have an entirely new plisse wardrobe!

    Easy sew dress Looking Fun and Flirty!

    Easy Sew Dress Our Edgy Model Look!

  • 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.

    For the Superhero Cape:

    Download Your Templates Here:

    Instructions:

    1. Fold the fabric in half length ways. Pin the template in place, with the neck opening along the folded edge.
    2. Cut out the neck opening and the curved line of the template finishing in a straight line to the bottom of the fabric.
    3. Cut out shapes from contrasting felt to represent the superhero of your choice and attach to the back of the cape using felt glue.
    4. Attach the Stick & Stick Velcro to the neck opening for easy dressing

     

    For the Superhero Masks

    Download Your Templates Here:

    masks-500

    Instructions:

     

    1. Cut mask template from one felt square.
    2. Iron on the Vilene to the back of the mask to add stability.
    3. Iron Bondaweb to the back of the other felt square, then cut out the super superhero shapes of your choice.
    4. Place the shape over one eye of the mask and cut out the eye socket. Peel back the Bondaweb backing and place back over the mask. Iron the shape in place on the mask.
    5. Attach an eyelet to either side of the mask.
    6. Measure elastic to fit around the head and thread each end through the eyelet. Secure with a stitch.

     

     

     

     

     

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