Thursday, October 28, 2010

Reupholstering Old {Beautiful} Chair -- Part 1

Tomorrow I hope to post about my daughter's Halloween costume (and have it done!) but for now I'm bringing you part 1 of the saga of reupholstering this most beautiful and comfortable chair to date.  I am going to try to do it as much "by the book" as I can, using real upholstering techniques and upholstery fabric (NO lightweight cotton fabrics, even though they are cute and trendy). 

Step 1 -- If you have an older piece of furniture upholstered with tacks, buy a tack remover!  It's all of about $3 (at Joann), but it is such a wonderful tool and saves so much time, effort and headache!  I've even used it to help pry up staples that were in too deep to use pliers. 


Step 2 --  Start removing tacks from the last piece to be put on the chair (usually the underside of the seat).  Actually on a chair like this it doesn't really matter where you start since the sections are not overlapping each other.  If I started on the seat or the back I would take off the gimp (or trim) first, then remove the tacks holding the fabric.


Note:  Be sure to take LOTS of pictures to help you remember how to put things back together again, and how to layer the pieces of fabric to get a nice, clean finish... 



...and the subtle folds that shape the fabric smoothly around corners and curves.


Horse hair stuffing -- a sign of quality
Step 3 -- Carefully remove the fabric (you may want to keep the pieces to use as patterns to cut your new fabric, although if you do, make sure add a little extra around the edges so the piece isn't too small and difficult to staple).  You can also keep the original stuffing (if it's not smelly or rotten) and use it again, with a fresh layer of Dacron (upholsterer's batting) on top.

Again, take lots of pictures of how things are put together
Step 4 -- If your chair has springs, make sure and take many detailed pictures of how the springs are tied.  This is very important for stability and strength in the seat.


Then remove the springs (and store them carefully so they don't get bent), and your chair should be...  Just a wooden frame!


Step 5 -- Repair any structural issues.  My chair was a little wobbly at the arms, both where they attached to the back and at the seat.  I used wood glue (I've heard Gorilla Wood Glue is great for this, I personally have not had good results Elmer's Wood Glue) and squirted it in the joints (being sure to wipe up any drips!), tied the arms together as a "clamp" to hold the arms where they should be while the glue dried.  I had to keep checking back as the glue dried because there always seemed to be a new drip somewhere.  Wipe them all up before they dry or else they will be a major pain to try and remove...  Not that I would know that from experience or anything... !

P.S. Wood glue soaks through newspaper... put down some plastic!
Keep checking back for part 2!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dollar Store Kids Knight Halloween Costume

I wasn't really thinking too hard about costumes a couple weeks ago when my kids and I took a trip to the dollar store (to pick up some of those pumpkins you all have been doing wonderful things with). When we walked down the Halloween aisle my son immediately grabbed a knight's helmet and put it on. I noticed they had a breastplate, arm guards, a helmet, and a shield in both gold and silver. Surprisingly the quality was decent (nearly as well made as the set I bought for him for his birthday in April... which I paid almost $25 for... which is still too big, and the helmet too small). The helmet was bigger than his other one, the breastplate was smaller, which was a better fit as well, and the shield could be held at one point instead of two. For $4 I'll take it! [I also picked up two things for my daughter's costume which I hope to post soon]  I must admit, though, that not all parts of this costume came from the dollar store, but everything else I had on hand already, so that was the only additional expense for the outfit. 

As soon as we got it home I noticed the 1/4" ribbon glued on neck of the breastplate was not going to cut it (as it pulled off in about .5 seconds). So I decided to reinforce it a bit, but still try to keep it easy for my son to put on and take off by himself (which he does repeatedly throughout the day).

Cheap glue -- not child grade

So I took some 1/2" to 5/8" (I don't remember which) ribbon that I had and, because it was fairly thin, I sewed two pieces together.  It would also work to use grosgrain ribbon.  I threaded it through the slots at the top and hand-sewed the pieces on.  Then I tried it on my son and crossed the ribbons across his back, pinned them where they intersected, and made sure I could still get it over his head.  Then I hand-sewed the intersected ribbons.



Then I folded over the bottom edges and sewed Velcro (making sure to sew it on the correct side to keep the ribbon laying flat across my son's back!) to the ribbon.  I also tried gluing the other side of the Velcro to the breastplate with hot glue, but it pulled off too easily.  Then I tried superglue and it works great (although it takes longer to dry than the bottle says it will)!




The emblem on the front also started to pop out, so I tried two things (both worked equally well).  I just hot glued around the peg in the back (had to hold it in place until it cooled), then I tried melting the edges of the peg with the hot metal nozzle of the glue gun (making the edges wider than the hole, so they wouldn't slip through).


The upgraded breastplate
I also made a tunic from some fabric I had laying around (which, now that I think about it, is almost the color of chainmail).  The tunic can also be made from a pillowcase and can be narrowed and/or shortened depending on the age of the child.  Just make cuts similar to the picture below.  (You can also make a square neck and straight, slanted armholes to make sewing the edges easier).

Yes the carpet is really that color
Shoulder and side seams sewn, hemmed
The finished tunic
I actually had made a cape a couple months ago for a pair of Superman pajamas my son received as a hand-me-down.  They had two tabs of Velcro on the shoulders where a [now missing] cape had previously attached.

IMG_3992 copy
Pardon the laptop trackpad-drawn lines
I made the neckline wider than it had to be, then pleated it
Folded, sewn edges and velcro tabs
So I just had to figure out a way to make it attach to the knight's costume.  I took two strips of Velcro (making sure it was the opposite side from what I sewed on to the cape!  I know, I know, common sense... but I still have to check myself sometimes!), folded over and sewed one end.


Then threaded it through the breastplate's top slot as shown below, bent it backward and attached the cape.  I wanted the tabs to be removable in case my son wanted to wear it without the cape. 



To finish the whole thing off I made a sash to hold the sword and sheath my son previously got for his birthday.  I cut a long strip of fabric that would end up (after sewing) to be the same width as the slot in the sheath.  I had to sew two pieces of fabric together to make it long enough to go around my son's waist, tie, and hang down a bit.


I sewed it as a long tube, then turned it, tucked the raw ends inside at an angle and top-stitched it in place.  


And that (along with the already-owned black pants and white button-up shirt) completed the whole project!  Thankfully my son is still excited to try it on after all the fittings and waiting.  Here it is, in all it's frugal glory...




Stay tuned for "Dollar Store Fairy"...

(I'm linking up to the parties in my sidebar)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Two Shirt Refashions

I don't often browse the clothing at my local thrift stores (since I have two crazy kids that run around all over the place and I can't leave them alone, especially after hearing terrible things that happened to a little girl that was left alone in the toy section of a thrift store).  So one night my husband was watching the kids and I decided to take the time to rummage.  I got several shirts, all but one needing some sort of alteration or refashion. 

Here are two of them I've recently completed.  Can I just mention that stretchy knit fabric is difficult to sew?!  Rather irritating if you ask me.  Especially since I love to wear knits and want to make things from it all the time.

Shirt 1 - 2

Shirt 1 - 1

Shirt 1 - 3

 I took off the lace, sewed up the neckline a little, cut off the bottom lettuce ruffle edge, and took in the sides a bit.  I cut off the sleeves and cut them into long skinny rectangles.  Then I hand-sewed a running stitch along one edge and gathered it into the flower shape. 

Shirt 2 - 1

Shirt 2 - 2

For the blue shirt I cut down the neckline to a scoop neck and cut off the sleeves.  I used the sleeves to cut little petals and sew them on the shirt.  I also cut a narrow strip to bind the seam at the neckline.  Then I went back over the petals with embroidery thread to help them stay put.

The shirts turned out okay I think, although I'm not super excited about them.  Hopefully the other shirts I got will turn out better!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Framed Seashell Display

Here I am dreaming of my blue and white ocean/beach theme bathroom again.  (I've been doing this recently because we may possibly be moving sometime in the spring)  Although it is just a possibility right now, I can't help but think of what might be!

Plus, I found a really beautiful wooden frame (with mass-produced artwork) at a yard sale for $1, when it originally sold in stores for $40!  The glass was missing, but that was perfect for me since I wouldn't be using it anyway.  It was a metallic silver color, so I just spray painted it white.  (Sorry, no before picture... I blame my impatience!)  At the very same yard sale I got a big basket full of seashells for $1, too!  I purchased some burlap at a local fabric store, and used the artwork (flipped over, so it was plain cardboard under the burlap) and cut the fabric so it would wrap around a few inches on each side.  I laid out the seashells and took a picture so I would remember the placement I wanted.


 I wrapped the burlap around and hot glued it to the back of the cardboard.  I had to trim the corners a bit because it was too bulky.  Then I rearranged the shells, checking with my photo to make sure they were where I had them before.  One by one I glued the shells to the burlap.  I rubbed the glue in through the burlap to make sure it would stick to the cardboard so the weight of the shell would not pull the burlap away from the cardboard when it was hanging.  



I love three dimensional art!


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Painting a Mat and Frame

My mother-in-law sent us these two framed drawings of San Francisco a while back.  I really liked the drawings but the mat was a strange orange/peach color and the frames had gold trim which didn't fit in with our decor (or at least my idea of what I want my decor to be... not that it's at that point right now!).


So I decided to paint both the frame and the mat.  I started to paint the frame by hand, but it was taking so long and the black was showing through too much, so I ended up spray painting it.  It had to dry overnight (I hate waiting!).  Then I added a little antiquing (sort of).  The mat I painted by hand, and had to be very careful because the drawing was glued to it and I didn't want to tear it by trying to take it off of the mat. Now that I think about it, though, I could have just covered the mat with some really pretty scrapbook paper.  Oh well!

I didn't think it was necessary to show steps for this one, so here's the end result. 


Now they're just right for my [someday] blue and white bathroom.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Love... In the Form of a Chair

I've been browsing the local online classifieds (as well as thrift stores) trying to find some beautiful furniture for my home.

We have furniture that works, and is in decent condition (except for light colored fabric with kids... crayons, pens, spills just never seem to come out!), but it's very modern, stiff, straight line kind of stuff.  That may all be well and good for some people.  I know many people pull off beautiful, very modern homes.  But that's not my style.  I like curves.  Not entirely, of course.  I love the straight lines of molding, pillars and multi-paned windows.  But with furniture curves just seem much more inviting, warm and comfortable. 

So one day in my browsing I came across a photo of four antique chairs and instantly was drawn to the one in the back (I should have saved the photo).  The others were plain wood, but the one in the back was upholstered, carved and gorgeous.  Now, keep in mind I had also recently been to several antique stores and saw some very beautiful chairs similar to this one for $200-$300 (no thanks!).  This one became mine for $35! 

Here she is!
She will be my chair in the room I call my studio.  I have plans to paint the frame white and use a lavender/purple upholstery fabric (if I can find one... so far not much luck).  I have to strip it all the way down to the frame since the webbing is stretched out and falling down, so it will be a lot of work, but I'll post some step-by-steps along the way to help out anyone else who may be tackling a similar project.

It is not only beautiful but very comfortable as well.  You really can have it all!


(With my daughter jumping on it)


The Handbag I Will Make for Myself Very Soon

I was referred to the site Sew, Mama, Sew! by a friend and the first time I visited they had a link for a free pattern from Amy Butler's new book Amy Butler's Style Stitches: 12 Easy Ways to 26 Wonderful Bags. 

Yes!  This is just the style of bag I've been wanting and looking for, but not wanting to spend lots of money on.  I am going to make mine out of leather (black or brown?) with a blue leather flower.  I'll post as soon as it and my 5 million other projects are done!

Here's the link:
Awesome bag

It should still be there for a while, so go snatch it up!
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