I started by tackling a project that I've meant to do since last fall - a table cover for our IKEA butcher block island. I thought it would be a nice easy project to ease back into sewing, but it turned out to be the most difficult table cover ever.
I decided to make it similar to the one I made for our coffee table, which was made with laminated cotton, and has been great for protecting the table from spills and cup rings.
I had a piece of laminated cotton that I love, and I'd been using it as an unfinished table cloth on the butcher block, but I only had about half a yard and I couldn't find any more of it. I don't even know who made it, but I wish I had picked up yards of it, as all of the colors work so well in our house.
I got the idea to use it, but to add a border around it so that it would fit the required dimensions. I went to Bolt to see if I could find a solid color to pair with it, but they don't carry solids. They did have a "wood grain" oilcloth however, so I thought that would be the next best thing.
Unfortunately I made this purchase without thinking it through and came away with the following realizations:
1) sewing through multiple layers of oilcloth is a pain.
2) measure before you purchase fabric.
I got home, measured the table and realized that I didn't buy a long enough length of oilcloth and would therefore have to piece it together on the long sides.
I used Adobe Illustrator to draft up a pattern that included pieced together sides, mitered corners, and drop sides. With all that precise measuring and drafting I was hoping for a sharp looking finished product.
I ended up with corners like this:
Apparently my measurements were off somewhere.
Ultimately, the finished product is still very useable, though not without a lot of headache.
I ended up binding the edges of the laminated cotton with bias tape, then sewing that on top of the oilcloth border. I then added the drop down sides (returns). Those sides would not stay flat! So I had to then top stitch them to the seams inside. It was a long and arduous process, and my sewing machine did not like all those layers of oilcloth. I realized that the coffee table cover was so much easier because I used a single layer of laminated cotton and the table returns were angled, making the cover stay on quite nicely.
That said, I'm glad I got back into sewing and ended up with a practical finished project. And perhaps it was better to start off with something difficult - it'll all seem like cake from here on.