Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Reupholstered occasional chair

There were literally blood, sweat and tears shed upholstering this chair.  The excitement I felt at taking just 10 minutes to sand the chair legs dissolved pretty quickly after I spent the next three hours removing the tiny nails and tacks holding the fabric to the chair.  And that was the easy part.  I tackled a monster here and got chewed up and spat out in an eviscerated pulp.

A reminder of how it looked before, and how it looks now:

When I realised that it was going to take a while to finish this project, rather than strip back the whole chair completely, I worked on the chair in stages so when I returned to the project, I could remember roughly how each area looked when it came time to put the new fabric back on.

I started with the legs and seat.  The wobbly leg and back of the chair were fixed with a few well-placed screws.  It's very sturdy now.  Then I removed all of the old wadding and hessian fabric in the seat of the chair.  60 year old kapok is quite manky.  I tried not to think about that too much. I stained the legs a mahogany colour.  It was very fast-drying, only needing 30 minutes to cure.  I'm really pleased with how they turned out.

There are some coil springs in the seat of this chair, and they are in great condition, thankfully.  I used some wadding from my craft stash to pad the springs and then threaded some string around the springs with my wool needle to secure the wadding in place.

My clever and economical idea to use some oversized cushion inners as my padding turned out to be not so clever after all as they failed the Sit Test (even with adding the wadding, I could still feel the springs).  A friend put me in touch with a local foam distributor and they cut some foam to my required dimensions.  It was not as expensive as I thought it would be, but once you factor in the cushion purchases, and the lining and the upholstery fabric and the upholstery tacks, it all amounts to a very expensive project.

Add to that the fact that I cut myself on an old broken staple jutting out of the framework and bled over the fabric lining in a few places before I even noticed, so I had to make yet another trip to purchase some more fabric.

I covered the foam with some duck cloth and secured the fabric with my staple gun.

Who knew that you could work yourself into a sweat stuffing foam and yanking on fabric?  The lining is so tight, if this chair was a human, there would definitely be some internal bleeding going on, possibly even a severed liver.

I used the old chair fabric as my template to cut into the new fabric, and added 100mm to the seat edges and 75mm to the chair back edges to allow for the new foam.  The print is a Leanne Culy design called 'Rata'.  This was the part that scared me the most; I adore this print, but it's knee-bucklingly expensive and even though I bought it on sale, the bubble of my children's university funds popped loudly in my head.  Many deep breaths were taken before I cut into it for fear I'd cut it too short and render it useless.

It probably wasn't the most sensible fabric to use, given it has a pattern.  If I was to upholster a chair again, I think that I would go with a solid colour so pattern alignment is one less consideration. All up, I used around 2.4 metres of fabric.

The observant amongst you will notice that I left the buttons off the chair back.  I debated whether to add them, and decided against it for a couple of reasons, one being that I could not find any big enough to match the old ones.  The other reason was that I felt buttons might compete with the circles already in the flower, so I decided to leave well enough alone.

My favourite part of this exercise was making the piping that finishes off the chair back:

I remember my mother having some old chairs reupholstered when we were children and not being allowed to sit on them unless they had a blanket covering them, which, at the time, made me question why she even bothered getting them recovered.  I totally understand where she was coming from now!  My plan was to put the chair in my bedroom and it will certainly be safe from little Marmite and jam fingers there, but it's so comfortable now and I like it so much I want to leave it in the lounge. Scotchguard, anyone?!

Time taken: 12 hours
Degree of difficulty: Let's just say I'm in no hurry to upholster anything else
Result: There are parts of the chair that highlight that this was done by a first-timer, but on the whole, I really like it.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Wallpaper drawer liners

It's been a while since I did anything papercraft-related, and this probably is stretching things a bit, but technically, paper is used and I used a craft knife, so I think I'm safe.

What do you think of my drawer liners? It took me longer to write this post than it did to finish this project, that's how quick this was to do.

I bought some meterage of this wallpaper at ES design store's sale recently (please don't ask me what it's called, I have NO idea!  I just liked it, that's all.  Turns out my husband didn't, so it had a snowball's chance in hell of ever making it onto a wall. It got relegated to prettying up the inside of a drawer instead).

Here's what I did:

Measured the inside width and length of each drawer compartment (the lefthand compartment was slightly wider than the other two, so it was just as well that I did this).

Cut the wallpaper to size using a craft knife and a straight edge (this metal ruler is totally the bomb! Would not be without one of these, a craft knife, glue or doublesided tape in my crafting arsenal):

Played with the offcuts:

Applied double-sided tape to the back of each piece, about 5mm inside from the top and bottom edges.  (This will make it easier for me to remove the wallpaper if I want to change it later on):

Played with the offcuts some more:

Stuck the pieces into the drawer compartments:

Stood back and admired them.  Yep, I'm happy with them.

Cost: $1.25.  I know, right?!!
Time taken: 10 minutes
Result: Doesn't it just want to make you craft some paper dolls and play Towns with them?  I might just have to do that.  For my girls, of course.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Occasional chair project

Sounds a bit swanky doesn't it?  I've never owned a chair that you only sit in every now and then.  It makes me laugh even thinking about the idea of it.

This 50's chair was a bargain secondhand purchase for $20, which became not-so bargainish when it was found to have a loose chair back, a wobbly leg and an unmistakable buttock-shaped indent in the seat *shudder*.

Nevertheless, I love the shape and style of the chair and the buttons, but the fabric is very careworn and faded, and the underside has seen better days:

Fingers crossed that I don't wreck the chair even more.  My plan is to replace the wadding and reupholster the chair, and stain its legs.  Then it will reside in my bedroom and wait to be sat on. Occasionally.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Crochet heart garland

We don't celebrate Valentine's Day here, my husband thinks it is too commercial.  Every now and then, he surprises me with a romantic gesture, so it's not all doom and gloom.

So, it falls to me to mark this day in some way.  Obviously, what I have created is not a John Cusack boombox moment.  Clearly, this is so much better.  I made some crochet hearts and strung them together to make a little garland.  I planned to make a whole bunch of hearts in different sizes and patterns and festoon the handrail upstairs with them but I settled on five because I thought it would be a nice symbolic representation of the great loves in my life; my husband, my children, my family, my friends and Whittakers Dark Chocolate.  Ha! Who am I kidding?  I just got sick of making them so that's how many ended up on the string. You might say I was feeling a little half-hearted.  I know, I'm hilarious.

Time taken: 1 hour
Degree of difficulty: Easy
Result: Upon seeing my handiwork, my husband shook his head and I even detected a slight cringe. That just made me want to display them in full view on our wedding photo frame even more.  Happy Valentine's Day to all the romantics out there.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Pleated skirt

Ever wondered what to do with all those annoying thin lengths of fabric in your stash that seem too big to throw out but are never quite large enough for any big sewing project?  You make a girl's skirt with them, that's what you do.  Yes.

When I uncovered a long since forgotten narrow piece of khaki twill and some smaller offcuts in my stash today, a plan was hatched to make a pleated skirt for Aimee.  I used this pleated skirt tutorial as a guide, but I had to make a few allowances here and there as I was using smaller pieces than the tutorial suggested, plus I wanted to have a larger waistband which meant I had to sew some strips together from my scraps.  It took me the whole afternoon to work it all out.

Aside from the waistband, the other main differences to the tutorial are that my version has fewer pleats and a single button closure.  To add some length to the skirt, I paired the twill with the floral cotton left over from Renee's dress. The button on the waistband is covered with the same fabric.  I love how it turned out.

I've just worked out how to add a button when linking to other people's blogs, I'm pretty excited about that. So, even though it's Sunday here, I'm joining in (I hope she won't mind):


Degree of difficulty: Fairly straightforward - always helps if there's a tutorial to guide you
Time taken: 4 hours
Result:  Cute and carefree.  Next time, I would reinforce the buttonhole, I can see that's going to be the Achilles heel of this little skirt.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

And the winner is...

Well my lovelies who entered my charm square giveaway, you had a 25% chance of winning, and the random number generator selected comment number 1:

so congratulations...

...you are the proud owner of 40 random squares of fabric.  Hope you've got big plans for those ladybirds.  They are all packaged and ready to go, please get in touch through my blog to let me know how I can get them to you.

Thank you to everyone else for playing along.  Hope your weekend is going FABulously well.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Restyled 50's dress

Remember the vintage floral fabric I acquired?  Here is how it looked made into a dress back in the late 50s.  My mother made this outfit herself at the age of 14.  I don't know about you, but at 14 I'm pretty sure I wasn't sitting at a sewing machine making my own clothes.  Such wasted opportunities - and something I plan to address (did you get the pun - heehee) with my own girls.

When she decided she no longer wanted to wear the dress, mum pulled it apart and saved the material from the full skirt.  There was roughly two metres of fabric, more than enough to make a swing dress for Renee.

Despite her expression, she truly does love the dress.  Something stung her on her upper leg just before I took this photo.  I captured the moment she realised she had been stung:

What the....??
Poor girl, our photo shoot was very short-lived.

Inspired by the mini Boden dress below (isn't it adorbs?), I drafted a pattern and made up a test dress using an old sheet.  The first attempt was a bit snug and the neckhole was too tight so I'm glad I took that step instead of cutting straight into the fabric.

Tackling the panel and facing on the front of the dress was the hardest part. I made two attempts at it and I am still not entirely happy with it, but since I have no fabric left to have another go, it shall remain like it is until it falls apart.  There is probably an easier way of making a facing with a neckline shape like this, but I ended up making a full facing that is in a 'y' shape to neaten the panel from the reverse side.

The most enjoyable part of constructing this dress was stitching a diamond pattern on the front panel.

I don't know about you but one thing I cannot do on a sewing machine is a blind hem stitch. Somehow, I miss stitches completely in places and have huge stitches on the outside of the garment in others and, to me, it just looks so messy with all those v-stitches on the reverse of the fabric.  I usually just topstitch my hems to avoid this issue altogether, but for this dress, I ended up hand sewing the hem and front facings.

The dress has deep hidden pockets, good hidey holes for Renee's little treasures and she thinks they are the best part of the dress - although for a child who has been known to be a little light-fingered at times, I'm not sure I thought that one through...

The dress is a little on the big side, but at least this way, she will get a couple of years' wear out of it.

Degree of difficulty: Inserting the panel into the neckline at the front of the dress and the facing was hard, the rest of the dress was easy
Time taken: 2 days
Result: Renee loves her new dress and wants to wear it to school while her mother will spend the whole day praying it won't fall apart in the playground.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

FABRuary giveaway

Would you look at that?  It's February already.  That means I have been blogging for nearly five months.  I'm still full of ideas, fair bursting at the seams in fact, and seeing more people join up to read about my crafting journey motivates me even more to see the projects through. So, to thank you for coming and visiting my little part of the blogging universe, I am going to have a giveaway (oooooohh) and it involves fabric (aaaaaahhh).  I'm dubbing it my FABRuary giveaway for all by FABulous friends.

In honour of my husband's significant birthday next week, I have cut 40 charm squares (roughly 13x13cm) from some fabrics in my stash for one lucky reader.  Some are slightly undersized, but I am sure you will forgive me for that and for the fraying edges; I need to invest in some pinking shears.  Some of these prints are, shall we say, inexpensive, but there are some nice quality ones in there too, and even one or two hard to find Kokka pieces.

You might think I've gone a bit dotty:

Most fabrics are light to mid-weight cottons:

There are also some wool blends:

As you know, we are heavy on the girl prints in this household:

But there are some boy prints thrown in too:

So, hopefully there is something in there for everyone. Are you excited??

All you need to do is leave a comment telling me which is your favourite charm square bundle (I'm just curious). The giveaway is open to New Zealand-based members of my blog only (I am sorry about that, my international lovelies).  I will announce a winner next Saturday.