Louisa drew the brush through her honey-colored hair, counting silently. Fifty stokes, every evening, until it shone in the candlelight. She smiled at her reflection in the mirror and dabbed perfume at her temples. Is there anything more classically romantic for a bedroom retreat than a beautiful vanity? This week, as we return for the final chapter of our Romantic Bedroom Retreat series with Rowan and FreeSpirit Fabrics, we have three new projects to help you create a lovely vanity table, a matching chair cushion and three accessory boxes. One of our original goals with this series was to show you how to bring some of the new substrates into your design planning. Westminster is an industry leader in this area, producing collections in a terrific variety of substrates, from voile to corduroy to knits and more. Today's vanity skirt and cover feature voile and laminate. The voile for the skirt provides the billowing drape; the laminate for the top gives you a surface you can simply wipe clean.
The entire Romantic Bedroom Retreat series features four collections from our wonderful sponsor, Westminster Fibers Lifestyle Fabrics: FreeSpirit Pagoda Lullaby by Tina Givens, FreeSpirit Birds & Bees by Tula Pink, Rowan Bromley by Victoria & Albert and Rowan Cameo by Amy Butler. Want to learn more about how we brought together these four different collections into a cohesive design? Take a look at our tutorial: A Romantic Bedroom Retreat with Rowan & FreeSpirit Fabrics: How to Mix and Match Designer Fabric Collections.
For all of the projects in our series, Westminster helped us put together a very handy Where to Buy Retailer Locator, giving you a fast and easy way to source the fabrics we are featuring from both brick and mortar stores in your area (the page is broken out by state) as well as online options. The collections are just coming out now in-store and online.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Any sewing machine (we recommend the Janome DC1050)
- Teflon® foot or similar (we used the Janome Ultraglide foot)
- Zipper foot
Fabric and Other Supplies
Our base table came from Ikea. The total cost of the the tabletop and the four adjustable legs was just $79.99. It was easy to assemble, is quite stable and the top is substantial yet lightweight. You could certainly buy a new base table as we did or cover an existing table. The top of our table measured 47¼" wide x 23¾" deep x 1⅜" thick. The legs were adjustable from 23⅝" to 35⅜, we set ours at 27". Below, we show you how we arrived at the cut measurements to fit our table. You can follow the same equations, adjusting accordingly for the measurements of your base table.
The supplies listed below are to fit our sample table.
- 4 yards of 53-54" wide print voile or a similar draping fabric for the overskirt; we used Bee's Knee's in Sunset from The Birds & The Bees collection by Tula Pink for FreeSpirit Fabrics
- 4 yards of 53-54" wide solid voile or a similar draping fabric for the underskirt; we used a solid white voile, FreeSpirt has a beautiful selection of Solid Voiles in their Designer Essentials collection
- 1 yard of 54-55" wide print laminate for the table cover; we used Squirrel in Sunset from The Birds & The Bees collection by Tula Pink for FreeSpirit Fabrics
- 4 yards of ¾" STICK-ON Velcro®
- 4 yards of ¾" SEW-ON Velcro®
NOTE: You will waste some Velcro®. We used stick-on to adhere the hook side to the table, but did not use the corresponding loop side of the stick-on. We attached the skirt to the loop side of the sew-on, but did not then use the hook side of the sew-on. So the two remaining halves of each type were tossed. If you want to be very frugal, you could skip the stick-on and glue the hook side of the sew-on to your table edge. For us, time, patience and precision over-rode the little bit of extra expense in Velcro®.
- 5 yards of decorative piping; we used a twisted braid piping with a ¼" flange (purchased locally)
NOTE: This type of piping is found in the trim and/or home decor section. We recommend it over packaged piping because of the deeper flange. You could also make your own piping from a coordinating fabric.
- 3 yards of 1" wide decorative ribbon; we used black velvet ribbon (purchased locally)
- All-purpose thread to match fabrics
- See-through ruler
- Tape measure
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Straight pins
Measuring the table for the skirt fabric
- As mentioned above, our table top measured 47¼" wide x 23¾" deep x 1⅜" thick.
- The first step is to apply the Velcro® as this with change the perimeter of the table.
- Using the hook side of the stick-on Velcro® and starting at the center back of the table top, adhere the Velcro® all around the table edge. Trim as necessary so the two ends butt together at the center back of the table.
- Apply the loop side of the sew-on Velcro®, starting, as above, at the center back of the table and continuing all the way around. Keep the layers nice and flat against one another. As you come around to your starting point, overlap the end by about 1".
- With the Velcro® in place all around, make easy-to-see pen marks on the sew-on strip at three points: the center front, 10" in from the right front corner, and 10" from the left front corner. These 10" marks are for the ribbon ties.
- Remove the sew-on Velcro® strip and measure it. It will be a few inches longer than the raw table top perimeter. Our raw perimeter measurement was 142", the Velcro® strip measured approximately 145".
- The decision for how much fabric to get has a couple variables: how dense of a gather you want and how best to economize on fabric. For our design, we wanted a soft gather, which meant we could err on the low side of the traditional two to two-and-a-half times multiple when figuring how much flat fabric is needed to gather into a final length. 145" x 2 = 290"; 290" is just over 8 yards, so we rounded down to 8 yards to best economize on fabric. This means we need a total of 8 yards of both the overskirt and underskirt fabric to gather around the table.
- That's a lot of fabric... but don't give up yet!
- Because we have to figure in height. Our legs are set at 27" and we want the skirt to float just above the floor, so we will work with the actual height as our desired cut measurement. Because voile is traditionally a wide fabric (53-54"), and because we smartly chose a non-directional print, we can cut one 4 yard panel exactly in half to yield two 4 yard x 27" panels or 8 yards total at 27".
- So, you really only need 4 yards of each fabric. You will construct our skirt as two halves made into one piece by sewing both halves to the Velcro® strip. Yay!
Measuring the table for the top cover fabric
- Calculating the amount of fabric needed for the top cover is a bit more straight forward.
- To the original dimensions: 47¼" wide x 23¾" deep x 1⅜" thick, you need to add additional amounts for the depth of the drop (the edge of the cover) and you need to account for the thickness of both pieces of Velcro® as well as the two layers of fabric gathered and sewn to the Velcro®.
- Our table top was 1⅜" thick and so we decided on a finished drop of 2½". We felt just 2" would have been cutting it too close to the raw thickness of the board. Adding the extra half inch and knowing the piping itself adds a fraction more insures we will easily cover the edge all around.
- Finally, give yourself about ½" to account for the thickness of the Velcro® and the gathered skirt.
- So the equation for both width and depth adds 2½" to each side for the drop (5" total), plus ¼" on each side (½" total) for a seam allowance for the piping. Measure the flange on your piping to determine your seam allowance. Ours was ¼", yours might be smaller or larger. Finally, add the ½" for the skirt thickness.
- Our sample table top equations were:
47¼" + 5" (drops) + ½ (seam allowances) + ½" (skirt thickness) = 53¼" for the width
23¾" + 5 + ½ + ½" = 29¾" for the depth
- After all this precise calculating... you can then choose to fudge a bit if you want. Laminates, like the voile, are a wide fabric, traditionally 54-55". So, we will end up simply using the full width of the fabric.
Okay..... Now you can cut!
- From the fabric for the overskirt (Tula Pink's Bee's Knees in Sunset in our sample), cut the 4 yards (144") of fabric into two equal panels: 27" x 144".
- From the fabric for the underskirt (White Voile in our sample), cut the 4 yards (144") of fabric into two equal panels: 27" x 144".
- From the fabric for the table top cover (Tula Pink's Squirrel in our sample), fussy cut ONE Width of Fabric (WOF-54") x 29¾" rectangle. We were very careful to fussy cut our piece so the squirrels were centered top to bottom.
- Cut the ribbon into FOUR 27" lengths.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- Collect all four 27" x 144" panels that make up the overskirt and underskirt.
- On each panel, create a narrow hem on both 27" sides and the bottom 144" side.
- You can make a simple double turn hem or a rolled hem. We chose to make a simple hem.
NOTE: If you are new to hemming we have tutorials on both techniques: How To Make A Rolled Hem and How to Make A Simple Hem.
- Pair up the panels so you have two sets of one underskirt panel and one overskirt panel.
- Place the underskirt panel right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Place the overskirt panel on top on the underskirt, also right side up.
- Align the raw edges of the two panels on all four sides.
- Sew two rows of gathering stitches along the top raw edge through both layers.
NOTE: If you are new to gathering, we (of course!) have a dandy tutorial.
- Repeat with the second pair of panels.
- Gather each set of panels to approximately 72".
- Find the strip of sew-on Velcro® on which you made the center and ribbon marks.
- Place the strip right side down (loop side down) on your work surface.
- Starting at the center front mark, and with the skirt panels right sides facing out, pin one skirt panel set to each side of the Velcro® strip.
- Pull up or loosen the gathering stitches to best fit onto the Velcro® and even out the gathers.
- The skirt will split at the center front and center back of the table, but the Velcro® will only open at the back. The skirt panels should butt together in the front and overlap slightly at the back.
- Find the four 27" lengths of ribbon.
- Find the 10" ribbon marks along the Velcro® strip. Remove a few pins if necessary to give yourself a little room to work.
- Slip one ribbon right side down against the underskirt and with the raw edge of the ribbon flush with the top raw edge of the fabric. Pin in place.
- Place another ribbon right side up against the overskirt. Pin in place.
- Repeat at the second ribbon mark.
- Replace any additional pins you removed and re-adjust the gathers if necessary.
- Carefully move to your machine. If possible, work with your machine on a large table or cabinet with plenty of flat surface to the sides and the back. This will really help you work with this large project.
- Attach the skirt panels to the Velcro® using two lines of stitching, one at an approximate ¼" seam allowance and one at an approximate ⅜" seam allowance.
- Remove the basting stitches used for gathering.
- Find the laminate rectangle.
- Using your see-through ruler, mark a 2½" x 2½" square in each corner.
- Fold each corner on the diagonal, matching the drawn lines.
- Stitch along the drawn line to create the corner. Pin the "tail" of the corner to one side so the bottom edge of the laminate is even.
NOTE: If you are new to making box corners, we have a tutorial coming up on Wednesday with this technique as well as others.
- Find the piping cord.
- Starting in the middle of what will be the back side, place the the piping cord along the edge of the laminate, aligning the piping's flange with the raw edge of the laminate. Pin in place. Overlap to finish the ends.
- Attach a Zipper foot.
- Stitch the piping in place, running your seam as close to the cord as possible.
- Remove the project from the machine. Flip under the raw edge of the laminate so the piping becomes the bottom edge of the cover all around.
- Attach a Teflon® type foot, such as Janome's Ultraglide foot.
- Topstitch all around, using an approximate ½" seam allowance - you want a narrow hem but also want to be sure to catch the piping flange on the back.
- Here's what your double stitching looks like from the front and the back. You see the two lines of stitching on the back, but only the topstitching on the front.
- Drop the cover into place like a little hat. The fit is a bit generous not snug. This allows the laminate to look smooth and graceful but it still stays put just perfectly. Blouse the front on each side as shown in our photos and tie the drapes in place with the ribbons.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Kathy Andrews, What Sew Ever