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