Friday, January 25, 2013

A Simple Side Chair

I spent the fall buying various chairs. I decided that we don't have enough seating in our house. It's the truth, our house is not that big and with 2 kids and all their crapahem, I mean, stuff we did get rid of some of our old furniture and never replaced it.

I just made it sound like my chair buying spree was absolutely necessary, didn't I?

Necessary or not, it happened. Since November I've bought 4 "new" chairs to add seats in various areas in my house. I did finally decide to stop myself after buying 2 different armchairs in one day. Because they all need to be refinished, naturally. Which requires finding the right fabric, paint, or strip and stain, a whole new round of shopping, etc...

So, I basically bought myself 4 new projects. I finished the first chair right before Christmas, a cute little Bentwood that ended up being my new sewing chair.

Now onto the next, a simple side chair for our bedroom. It really could be a dining room chair, but there was only one at the thrift store, and I liked the style and size so I brought it home.


Meh. Not horrible, but not great either, and definitely not my style. I stripped the old fabric off and painted the legs a dark red. (see what painting one piece of furniture has done to me!) Then I found some nice dark brocade fabric with blues and golds and just a bit of red to reupholster it.


Much better! The fabric picks up all the colors in our bedroom and the red legs give it a nice pop of color.


I also think it has a masculine feel to it which, as it turns out is a good thing because even though my original intention was that this would be my chair, I decided to let my husband have this one.

Because I found something better for me. That post to follow soon....


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Alison's Chairs

There is something about re-upholstery. Or re-finishing or re-painting or re-doing. For me, there's something about the act of taking a favorite piece of furniture that's old and worn, and re-making it into a "new" favorite.

So, when my friend Alison mentioned her pair of 30+ year old armchairs that needed to be re-done, I, naturally, jumped at the opportunity. The chairs are really nice size and are structurally in perfect shape, just really, really worn. And white. Rather, they were white once, but with a houseful of kids (3 boys!) and at least 15 years of wear, they're now sort of a whitish grey.


A cute chair in desperate need of new fabric if ever I've seen one. Alison picked out a lovely, dark (3 boys, remember) colored floral brocade to re-cover them, and I got to work.

One interesting thing about re-upholstering old furniture is what you find underneath the fabric. Most older pieces will have cotton batting inside which looks like this--


A little sad looking, but padding gets flattened out over time. So, what I like to do, is add some new polyester batting to the chair in order to add some extra padding.  Then the chair looks like this--


It already looks better, doesn't it? Then, I just begin the re-upholstery process. Starting with the seat--


Now, on this chair, the inner parts of the arms and the back are all one piece. So, after sewing them together, they all go on as one big piece like this--


Once that was done, I added the buttons. 16 per chair in all. Then I finished the sides--


And the back--


Then I sewed a new cushion for the seat and put the whole thing back together--




Quite an improvement, I'd say! I'm loving this fabric on this style of chair, and the colors are much better for a house with children. And the best part is that it's still a favorite piece of furniture, re-done and made "new" again. A perfect upcycle.


Linked Up HERE

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Quilt in Progress

Sometimes I just want to sew something.

I know that sounds weird since it seems like I sew all the time, but that's not really the case. There are a lot of steps between an idea and the sewing machine and sometimes I find myself weighed down by the in between steps and start longing for the simplicity of just sewing.

So, I decided to start a quilt. Yes, there's a lot of cutting involved in a quilt, but once that's done everything else is sewing, perfection!

I have quite a stash of gorgeous designer cottons thanks to our local store SAS Fabrics. (Seriously, local Tuscon folks go to this store, there are so many treasures for such a great price. I promise you won't be disappointed.) So I pulled out a bunch of my fabrics, and mixed and matched colors and patterns until I had a combination that I liked.


I really like bright colors, and I really wanted to incorporate oranges and golds with some blues, plus these are some of my favorite fabric designs, especially the owls. I also wanted a simple square block so I chose the Bright Hopes quilt blocks. It's a quick and easy pattern to put together; remember I really wanted to SEW!

Once I cut my fabrics, I laid everything out on my cutting board so I could mix and match and see what worked best together.


It took some shuffling, but I finally had all the pieces in the right order, and then spent the evening sewing the blocks together. Ahhhh....finally, some quality time with my sewing machine!

Once I got my blocks together, I decided to add some sashing between them with some off-white Kona cotton that I had in my stash.


And that's my quilt progress so far. I did get a border around the outside edge and cut my pieces for the back, but that will have to wait until next time. I really like how the quilt is going so far, and of course I was really happy to spend a few hours just sewing. So, progress...but not quite finished.

Stay tuned!


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

My "New" Sideboard

This is one of those projects. You know, the ones that you pick up cheap from the thrift store (again with the thrift store??) and think, oh this will be a quick and easy re-finish project, it will be done in no time!

And fate laughs at you for even daring to think those words.

In reality, the project sits, forgotten, on the back porch for several long months until getting it done becomes the single most urgent thing you've done since giving birth.

Ooookay, so maybe that just happens to me.

Anyway, I bought this beautiful antique sideboard  for just $60 to go in my kitchen back in August, and just got around to re-finishing it. I was so excited when I found it, for one thing it's made of real wood, with dovetail joints on the drawers, and has an original factory sticker from Jamestown, NY. (I love to find furniture that's made in the USA)


But, it was in pretty rough shape. There was a lot of water damage on the top, and there was a lot of swelling in the joints near the top, as well as the drawers. Normally, I would sand, strip and re-stain a piece like this, but the water damage on the top and the swelling on the joints was bad enough that I decided to repair it and paint it.

First, I took all the hardware off the cabinets and drawers, and glued all the loose parts back together. Then I sanded all of the pieces and put two base coats of Kilz on the whole thing.





Then I painted the whole thing hi-gloss green. Now, I bought the green from the mis-mixed counter at Home Depot, so I was worried that it wasn't enough of a contrast from the pale green of the walls in my kitchen, but I really liked the color so I took a leap of faith.





Nope, I shouldn't have worried about that.  In fact, when we moved it into the kitchen, for several days, I would see it out of the corner of my eye and be surprised by the color.

We moved it in as we were putting up the Christmas tree, which blocks the largest front door in our house. That's why I was frantic to get it painted, I wanted to make sure that we got it into the kitchen the easy way.

So, I got the whole thing painted in a weekend, except for the second side of the cabinet doors. But, we moved it into the kitchen anyway.


And for a day and a half, it looked pretty much like this, no doors on the cabinets, while I painted the back of them.

But, as happens with most projects, eventually the whole thing gets finished. With new hardware, it is the perfect sideboard for my compact kitchen.


And yes, it's exactly the right shade of green, nice and bright, and I love it! I admit, I was nervous about painting a beautiful antique piece of furniture, but the whole thing turned out just perfect. It just fits, if you know what I mean, the perfect sideboard for my kitchen.


Linked Up HERE

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A{nother} New Project Bag

Okay, I'm just going to admit it. I have a thing for bags. I love tote bags, knitting bags, project bags, even purses. Maybe it's because they're like portable containers (and I do love a container!) Maybe it's because I like to compartmentalize everything. I just really, really love a new bag.

A few weeks ago a friend of mine posted a photo of a Japanese knot bag in our knitting/crochet group and I was immediately smitten. They're a very different shape than all my other knitting project bags, and very small, definitely a one project sized bag.

I found a fantastic pattern on All People Quilt that I used to make this bag.


I have been hanging on to this fabric since last February (at least) and here, finally, is the right project for it. 



The design that the larger handle slips into the smaller one is such a great way to close up the bag.


There are even inside pockets for needles, stitch markers, small scissors, or whatever else you like to carry in your project bag. I will say this, the one thing I'd change in this pattern would be to make the pockets a little deeper, but that's just my preference. The pattern is great as written.


There will be more of these in my future, I'm sure. This one is already on its way to it's new owner....hope she likes surprises!


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Friday, January 4, 2013

An Easy Chair Upcycle

Happy New Year!! I hope everyone's holidays were awesome and not too exhausting. I don't really make New Year's resolutions, but I am looking forward to getting a bunch of new (and not so new) projects done this year. With that said, let's get started....

I love thrift stores. Sometimes I think I may love them a little too much. Not that buying 3 chairs in one day was excessive at all.

Nope. Not at all.

One of the chairs ia a nice little bentwood with a caned seat, which is not something you see around very often these days. But I remember my nana having these chairs around her kitchen table when I was a kid, so between the nostalgia, and the size (perfect for my sewing table) buying this was a given.

So, I brought it home and used it, until the inevitable happened.


The caning on the chair was so old and brittle that it just splintered. And for a while I thought about re-caning it, but Arizona heat and dryness can be really hard on wicker, so I decided to just go ahead and re-do the whole chair.

First I removed all the old caning and spray painted the whole chair a matte dark brown, I believe the color is called "Espresso".  Next, I cut a circle out of 1/2 inch plywood to fit the seat. Then, I dug around in my fabric stash and found a scrap of one of my favorite fabrics that was just big enough to cover the seat.

And with a wave of my upholstery stapler----


A cheerful new little sewing chair. I love this fabric, it just makes me happy every time I see it.


It's also super comfortable and fits right in with the odd mix of fabrics in my craft room. One day, the craft room re-do will be finished and I will be able to share that....lots of work to do yet. In the meantime, I'm enjoying my new sewing chair!


 Linked Up HERE