Monday, June 11, 2012

Smug up-cycled pillow cluster

I promised I'd post my "smug up-cycled pillow cluster" for my sister.  The title comes from this website, and I feel there is just enough smugness in this compilation to reference it.

The story behind these fabrics is a good learning lesson for anyone who buys fabric off the Internet. I saw the tartan fabric and instantly thought, "Rupert bear trousers" - as you do. When I asked the seller what the composition was she said, "I don't know, but it has some wool in it."  It was cheap, so I took a risk. When it arrived it was immediately obvious that it was upholstery fabric.

So I made them in to cushion covers for our reading pillows. I just used whatever we had on hand to fasten the back closures - a heavy zipper applied externally and a button flap.

The new couch cushions though, were 'internet buying lesson'  in BOLD and CAPITALS.

I saw the fabric, liked it, and put an auto bid on. Several days later, I noticed that the description had changed to include evidence of damage. Was that added later or was it always there and I was too quick to put in a bid to read properly? I didn't know, and that worried me, because obviously I wasn't paying enough attention.

Then when the fabric arrived it had sun fade and 3 hems. Yes, not only was it heavily damaged it had also been heavily used - a salient fact the seller failed to mention.

She offered to refund, but I would have lost half the value in return postage so declined - better to have something to show for it. I made these cushions and they are nice. They won't last - the fabric has several small wear and tear holes that can only get bigger.

My experiences have not put me off buying vintage fabric from the Internet - after all, it is the only place to buy it these days. However, I've developed a little protocol:

1) always read the description carefully
2) ask for verification of fabric if in doubt- has the seller done a burn test?
3) work out in advance what the fabric is worth to me, and never exceed that price in the auction
4) place auto-bids only a day or two before the auction closes, to allow for "updates" from the seller
5) accept that the fabric will be different from what I expected and be prepared to change project.

Overall, I'm really happy with way I selvaged these dud purchases. Do you have any sour Internet fabric purchases? Do share.


  1. OMG little lady, no horrific Internet purchases, but that FYNCT tumblr is worth a few hours perusal. I was just going through my blog roll after trying to work off an irritation about something other than pretentious Internet home decor photos. When I saw that FYNCT site, I decided to indulge in my other little irritation. I think it will get a journal entry, and maybe a tweet. ;)

    1. I confess I have read the whole site, smirking all the way. I sometimes scroll carefully down to try to predict what is about to be mocked. I'm usually wrong -there is almost always several interior dec cliches being thrashed so which particular one sets the writer off can be anyone's guess.

  2. I love your cluster and what a way to make lemonade out of lemons. I sell vintage fabrics on trade me, I always do a burn test and I try to take photos that show drape. I don't have a bad buying story but I have a few bad selling ones. I put it down to people either not reading the description because mine are always really detailed or not actually understanding fabric terms. I did have one woman who bought a whole lot of stuff and then just dropped off the face of the earth.

    1. Miss Flossy I'm sure you are the perfect seller. Bad buyers, bad sellers - it's all a bit of a risk on the Internet - that's why I have an upper limit that I never exceed.

  3. The classic - not checking the scale of the print. Huge flowers... not the look I was going for...

  4. Oh yes I have been hit. 3.2m of teal (not)silk. I asked if they had done a burn test to check and was told that they were sold the fabric as silk in the shop -possibly got a little confused about the difference between silk and satin. The fabric melted dismally in my hand when I did a burn test. It looks like it will become a very expensive dress up cape, rather than the slinky lingerie I was thinking of.
    The cushions have been a great save!!

    1. grrr - how annoying. I saw some vintage "silk jersey" for sale recently. Real silk jersey is pretty rare and I've never come across vintage silk jersey. I asked the seller to verify and she never replied.

      The words "silk" "liberty" and "vintage" are pretty ruthlessly applied to any old crap. I always ask for verification for silk - a good polyester can fool the best of them, even I've been caught with a fake print that was emblazoned with "100 % pure silk" in the selvage. It was pure polyester and melted at the sight of a flame.

  5. Excellent cushions. They look very stylish next to the gorgeous timber in your new blog background.
    Internet shopping can be risky, but I haven't had any used fabric sold as new yet, that is low and cheating behaviour!

  6. These do look great cushions! Did you make the little robots too! I hope those red cushions last a while because they are groovy.

    I only tend to buy off one or two sources from the internet, so I trust the seller...then at least if they are not what I expected, they are still good quality. And sometimes, the fabrics turn up even better then I expected. I have learnt not to commit to a project until they arrive, because often the weight and hand differ from what I imagined.

    1. My sister made the robots and she'll be thrilled you noticed them. Yes, weight and hand are the things that make me change my mind about a project too: like upholstery weight instead of dress weight.

  7. Looks to me like you managed to "make lemonaid out of lemons" this time! Thanks for the tips about vintage buying on the internet. It's not something I've ever tried, but I would easily make all these mistakes.

  8. The cushions look great and I noticed the cool little robots too. As for buying vintage material from the internet .. no ..I have enough of my own!

  9. Nice save on the cushions. As to buying fabric on the internet, I have been caught out a few times by ebay. One was recent when I ordered some "dark denim" and got a mid-blue drill. I know denim is a drill but this was a drill.

    Another one I can think of it some really funky spaceman cotton lycra knit, but the men are about the length of my forearm. Way too big to use for clothing.

  10. The caption:

    "@#&$! your cushion cluster, your upcycled tapestry detail, your indiecraft robot pair, and your gang-of-buttons centrepiece"

    Brilliant collection, you know I'm only mocking for fun.

  11. Hey what about the repurposed blanket cushion with fillet lace? Let's not leave out any smug detail :)

  12. Fantastic save on those internet fabric mishaps. I really like the tartan pillows. My worst experiences have been non sewing sellers who say the fabric is silk when it is poly. My worst experience was with a beautiful rayon/lycra knit, floral border print. When I washed it, it emerged from the washing machine perfectly white, with no sign of the original print. I have never had that happen before. I did get a refund on that piece. That said I have purchased some gorgeous silks and wools at great prices from Etsy. The best ones were purchased from people with great fabric taste (some have blogs I read) that are destashing. I actually do searches using the word "destashing".

    1. Aah Audrey you are such an enabler. As soon as I read this I went on to our equivalent of Ebay and word searched "destahing" - fortunately for my already brimming stash box the only entries were for knitting wool! phew! Saved from myself.

  13. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  14. Definitely a good save. There's something so satisfying about making home goods-- more so when it's done. I ordered some beautiful subdued green linen once online only to discover that it was an electric lime color when it arrived. I'm actually making something out of it right now that I'm going to dye when it's finished.

  15. Probably from the same internet site, but some fabric that was sold as new and was filthy and stunk. After placing appropriate feedback, I was given retaliatory feedback....nice! But I have definitely had some wins as well. Like a complete roll of upholstery fabric for $7 with watermarks that wash out in the washing machine and lots of remnants for covering chairs and cushion making that I could never have bought rtw.

  16. Great saves. Your cushion covers are lovely. I'm desperately in need of new cushion covers. My current ones are covered in mould stains and everything else the kids have thrown at them. I've mostly had good internet purchasing experiences as I generally only use two different suppliers.

  17. Oh I looooove FYNCT!!!

    And I love your smug cluster :o)

  18. Are the robot cushions Mr and Mrs Smirk ? I see they are arranged in a way suitable for a family friendly blog ! I haven`t ventured much into internet fabric buying but so far I have been generally happy. I`m pretty cheap anyway so I`m not risking much if the worse comes to worse. Where do you find these sites ( FYNCT) - I found regretsy and then was horrified that one of my young teenage daughters loved the site.

  19. You can always ask the seller for a swatch. It only costs them (generally) 45 cents plus an envelope. Most sellers (myself included) are only too happy to oblige.

    That said, even though I sell vintage fabric, I am old school and need to touch fabric prior to buying. Luckily for me, I live in Portland, Oregon where we have several fabric stores to supply us.

    love the robots.

  20. Sorry to hear you had a bad experience with evilbay. Did you leave feedback saying what happened, so as to warn other potential buyers? Mis-representing items is against ebay policy. I'd check the specifics for your country but I'd say you're due a refund of some sort..

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