Budding interior designers take note! Whether you want to pep up your sofa with a scattering of homemade cushions, try your hand at a patchwork throw or even master the art of 'haute couture' embroidery, then you're sure to find an inspiring soft furnishings course among the staggering 1,500 different ones on offer around the country. You might already work in the interior design field and want to try out something fresh or just fancy learning a new skill (who can resist the intriguingly named experimental tapestry for instance?). Either way, the world of soft furnishings is bursting with colour, print, pattern and a host of inspiring courses that are fun and practical at the same time.
A broad introduction...
If you have your sights set on becoming the new Kelly Hoppen, then perhaps a broad overview of soft furnishings is a good place to start. Remember, good design will inject a large dose of wow factor and comfort into your home and boost its saleability to potential buyers if you are planning to sell. Generally taking place as a series of part time, evening classes, these all round courses will introduce you to a number of key soft furnishing techniques including how to make curtains, cushions, blinds, tiebacks and pelmets. You will learn the correct way to measure and estimate fabrics, layout, cutting, making up, pattern matching and hand sewing. Check course details and requirements, although most soft furnishing courses of this type are aimed at the complete beginner and the more advanced learner alike, with projects tailored to both. Sewing machine and hand sewing skills are an advantage but not always an essential – but again, do check before you start. You will leave the course having learnt how to make a variety of beautiful soft furnishings for your home to a really professional standard. And just think you will be able to revamp your home, season after season, with a brand new set of tailor made curtains and bespoke cushions – and be the envy of all your neighbours!
Or something more specific...
Whether you are a beginner or a design professional, why not enrol on a specific soft furnishings course where you can learn something new and exciting. A week long digital embroidery course for example is great for those from a textiles, fashion, graphics or decorative arts background. You might simply be an enthusiastic amateur who wishes to learn the basics of the multi-head machine and digital design software and create beautiful embroidery samples. There are also a number of beginners’ hand embroidery courses where you can learn ribbon work, smocking, appliqué and a range of basic stitches amongst others, as well as the delightfully named 'haute couture embroidery' using sumptuous materials like organza and silk dupion. How about a dip-dyeing class, an evening course on patchwork quilts or a day workshop learning how to create corsages from silk flowers – all of which will add a touch of bespoke luxury to your home accessories and your wardrobe if you wish!
And, judging by the huge array of felting courses on offer, who would imagine that this humble cloth is so versatile, practical and totally on-trend? A short felting taster course will show you how to make a felted woollen item in one day – either a small bag, corsage, scarf or purse – and embellish it with a stunning embroidery stitches. Other felt making courses will teach you essential felt making techniques (including the wet method with hot water and soap and needle felting) and how to turn your fabric into a beautiful design to take home.
Don't forget, there is a soft furnishings course to suit all abilities, experiences and desires. Should you wish to learn fabric printing, silk painting and lace making, or knitting, crocheting and how to make a Roman blind, these are fun, short courses where you will meet a new group of people and learn a clutch of creative and useful skills at the same time.
Five top interior designers
Check out these five top interior design gurus for masses of inspiration on soft furnishings:
Kelly Hoppen: Internationally-acclaimed interior designer, Kelly Hoppen, is known for her cool neutrals, clean lines, classic furniture and subtle fusion of East meets West. She has also had a stint as a Dragon in TV programme Dragon's Den.
Michael Reeves: Neutral, chic interiors are the trademark of Michael Reeves, As well as working on interior design commissions for private homes and commercial buildings around the globe, he sells his own range of sofas, tables and rugs from his Pimlico Road showroom in London.
Charlotte Crosland: The work of interior designer Charlotte Crosland is all about comfort and colour – big bold splashes of patterned wallpaper, opulent lighting and rich, textured fabrics. With three children of her own, Charlotte has also become a specialist in interiors for families.
Louise Bradley: Louise Bradley's signature style is a byword in luxury. She creates beautiful, functional spaces tailored to the client's needs and wishes. Her own collection of furniture and accessories ranges from simple gold bowls to silver leaf cabinets and decadent crystal chandeliers.
Nina Campbell: From designer wallpaper to scented candles and luxury glassware, interiors guru, Nina Campbell, offers an extensive homeware collection (both online and in-store) as well a sought-after interior design service. She is said to be one of the world's most respected and influential interior designers working in the residential and commercial fields.
By Lara Sargent