Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Pillows Galore!

I've been sewing and printint up a storm (albeit a mini-storm) for the Peterborough Handmade fair - good news, I have been accepted as a vendor! 

I'm selling pillows as I make them for now...the fair is still a while away.  So, these could be yours for $15 each!  I can also do custom pillows for between $15-$25 depending on fabric and graphic.


Want to hear a little trivia about me, and the time I was a real, live elf in the North Pole?  Unlike 'Law & Order', this story totally depicts a real, live person.  Me!

My middle name is Fay (as in the 'Fay' from 'Fay Grayson Home.'  Yeah, that's me).  According to the irrefutable website The Free Dictionary, 'Fay' or 'Fey' means the following:

Word History: The history of the words fey and fay illustrates a rather fey coincidence. Our word fay, "fairy, elf," the descendant of Middle English faie, "a person or place possessed of magical properties," and first recorded around 1390, goes back to Old French fae, "fairy," the same word that has given us fairy.
So 'Fay' means elf, obviously.

Then you've got the 'Emily' part.  Would you believe that the Latin, French, America, German, and Teutonic (basically Germanic peoples) meaning of the name 'Emily' is 'industrious' or 'hard-working?'  No?  Check it out:
Teutonic Meaning: The name Emily is a Teutonic baby name. In Teutonic the meaning of the name Emily is: From the Roman family name Aemilius, meaning 'industrious.' Also a From the Old German Amalburga, meaning labour and the Latin Aemilia.
American Meaning:
The name Emily is an
American baby name. In American the meaning of the name Emily is: Hard working.
French Meaning:
The name Emily is a
French baby name. In French the meaning of the name Emily is: Hard working.
German Meaning:
The name Emily is a
German baby name. In German the meaning of the name Emily is: Industrious. From the Roman family name Aemilius. Famous bearer: French writer Emile Zola.
Latin Meaning:
The name Emily is a
Latin baby name. In Latin the meaning of the name Emily is: Industrious; striving. From the name Aemilia, the feminine form of the Roman family name Aemilius. 
So...let's see....
Emily + Fay = Industrious, hardworking elf.  
(FYI: this is the limit to which my math skills can be stretched)
Have I told you about the time I lived in Qikiqtarjuaq, Nunavut...which is, basically, to round up, the North Pole of Canada?
Oh! Oh! And check out this extra little chestnut which I have no idea how they could come up with, because it doesn't describe me at all.  Pffft.  Pop-sci (or whatever).

"People with this name tend to initiate events, to be leaders rather than followers, with powerful personalities. They tend to be focused on specific goals, experience a wealth of creative new ideas, and have the ability to implement these ideas with efficiency and determination. They tend to be courageous and sometimes aggressive. As unique, creative individuals, they tend to resent authority, and are sometimes stubborn, proud, and impatient."

Honestly, people, I can't make this stuff up.
True story.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Upholstery Corners....My Way

Through some trial and error (OK, it's more like MUCH trial and error), I've settled on a technique I like for folding corners on upholstered pieces.  I mention this technique in my Reproduction Coffee Sack Chair post and a reader asked for more clarification.  Totally fair request!  As I wrote the instructions I was thinking "this is barely making sense to me" but I didn't have any photos to post for an in-depth tutorial at the time. 

I've fixed that now. 
Behold!  Upholstery Corners...my way (which may not be the 'right' way.  But I like it). 

Step 1                                                                                                  

Staple around the piece you are upholstering, but leave an inch or two on both sides around the corner.  I fold my corners in at the end.  Waiting until the end to fold in the corners helps to even out the tension on the fabric and allows you to pull everything taut (so long as you have been mindful of stretching your fabric evenly throughout the upholstering process). 

Step 2                                                                                                  

Take the unfinished 'tail' of the fabric, and, while pulling it taut, fold it over the corner of your piece and place a staple in it to keep the tension secure.  Your corner should look like the picture above. 

Step 3                                                                                                  

Step 3 is easy - just trim away the top of the fabric.  You will remove a 'triangle' of fabric from the upholstery.  You do not *technically* have to do this, but I trim it away because it cuts down on the 'bulk' at the corner.  Corners can get bulky awfully fast depending on the type of material you are using. 

Step 4                                                                                                  

Fold over one of the corners and staple in place.  In the picture above I have started with the left-hand-side corner.  Pull nice and tight, and try to avoid folds or wrinkles in the material, especially on the 'curve' or side of the piece you are upholstering.  I find that wrinkles around the sides of a reupholstered piece are a dead give-away that it's a DIY job! 

Step 5                                                                                                 

Carefully trim the top, or excess fabric bulk, off of the corner of the folded over piece.  Again, you'll be removing a 'triangle' of fabric.  This cuts down on the bulk of the fabric when you fold over the final side. 

Step 6                                                                                                  

The final step is to fold over the other flap of fabric and staple it down - in this case, it's the fabric on the right side.  It doesn't matter what side you start with!  Sometimes, I have to remove a staple or two right next to the corner because the fabric is bunching or I didn't pull the fabric taut enough when I was stapling the sides.  This is OK!  Just remove the staples, reposition the fabric, get rid of wrinkles and bunches, and restaple! 

I like to complete my first corner and then have a glass of wine repeat the process with the corner that is diagonally across from my first corner.  This keeps the fabric evenly stretched and creates a really nice, smooth finish.  Obviously you have to do this to all four corners.  Obviously. 

That's it!  Easy as pie (actually, pie is not that easy, so clearly, whoever came up with that saying is a really big over-achiever).  What I mean to say was 'easy as picking up a pie at the bakery' (with which I have far more experience)!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Burlap Pillows

It's official: I am currently having a love affair with burlap. 

It's not that I don't see Burlap's flaws, I *do* (it's scratchy, it sheds, it doesn't clean up after itself, it hangs around even when I don't want it to, it's hard to handle and can be unpredictable)...it's just that I don't *care*. 

True love, fo sho.

I also really love NOT using a Silhouette machine to create stencils (because I can't afford one...so it's not so much a choice as a necessity) .  I can do whatever I want and make it as big (or small), as I want. 

I'm trying to put together a collection of 'smalls' for a craft show in the Spring.  Believe it or not, people, I'm a craft show virgin.  I've been waiting for just the right craft show, and I think I've found it.  Check it out: Peterborough Handmade.

I worked on these ad-or-able pillows over the weekend.  Now, I'm worried that I'm two-timing because I love pillows.  It's tough around here.

First, I measured the throw pillow I needed to cover, then I ironed and cut the burlap to size - with about an inch of seam allowance (like how I use that term, as if I really know what I'm talking about when it comes to sewing?  Yeah, me too). 

Then, I sewed the burlap together using some acrylic wool.  BY HAND.  Why?  You guessed it!  Because I don't have a sewing machine.  Yes, I need to get a sewing machine.  Anyone want to donate?

I found an image I liked and thought would be ad-or-able on a rustic looking pillow, printed it out, and cut it out of some contact paper with sewing scissors.  This is my go-to way of creating my own stencils.  Works like a charm.  They're even reuseable if you're careful! 

A little black latex paint, a little white-ish latex paint...et voila! 
PS: Homemade chalk paint doesn't work as well for stencil-painting.  I prefer pure latex; it creates a cleaner line and deeper pigmentation on the fabric. 

Cute, right? I'm planning on selling these for about $15 each. Would you buy one?
Sharing this DIY here:

  DIY Project Parade featured image
The Shabby Nest

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Reproduction Coffee Sack Chair

I love reusing things and making them new.  I wish I'd actually been able to find an old coffee sack for this project.  From the hits you can get on Google when you type in 'coffee sack chair' you'd think these things are being given away at your closest DIY or thrift store.  Not so, my friends, not so.  What's a girl to do?  MAKE ONE, obviously.

And so I did. 

I was given a stack of old burlap sacks a few months ago.  I washed them, dried them, washed them, and dried them...and then hung them out on the line for ages.  They shed.  Worse than a collie.  Here's a tip for you: if you wash industrial grade burlap and then dry it in your clothes dryer, check your lint trap about every 5 seconds so your house doesn't catch on fire.  I'm not saying my house caught on fire, but it could have.  Seriously.

Here's what I started with:

It was an occasional chair (possible one of a set of dining room chairs that got lost) and it was in great shape.  There was even still plastic on it from the manufacturer.  Could I actually take this thing apart?  Was is sacrilegious?  If you think so, you should probably stop reading.  Obviously I took it apart.  With abandon. 

When I take things apart, I usually attack them with a combination of screwdriver, chisel, hammer, and brute strength.  Sometimes I also use pliers.   That's what I did here, too.  I started with the front - everything was in great shape, so I was able to reuse the original foam and keep the trim (welt or piping, if you will).  I even kept the old fabric on there!  Saved me time, and kept everything in line (ie: foam on the backboard).
I ironed out the burlap, cut out a piece generously larger than I would ever need and set about stapling and triming.  It's not rocket science, but, like anything, the more you do the better you get.  I'm pretty good at reupholstery these days.  A tip?  Throw a few staples in place on either the top or bottom of your piece.  Use your flat palm to smooth and stretch your fabric down to the opposite end of your seat (or whatever you are reupholstering), and staple in place.  Go back up to the top, throw down a few more staples, and repeat the process.  This gives a bit more of a 'balanced' stretch to the fabric.  Repeat this on the sides and you will avoid those awful 'over stretched' moments when the fabric has been pulled too tight - this is especially important when using fabric with stripes. 
About corners: there are lots of methods for corners.  I like mine.  I staple the top, bottom and sides most of the way, but leave a couple of inches unstapled around the corners.  I pull the corner piece over the seat corner (or whatever corner you are dealing with) and throw in one staple to keep it from moving.  Then I trim the fabric on corner, effectively cutting of a 'triangle' of material.  This gets rid of bulk.  Then I pull over and staple the two corners one at a time - I trim away the excess fabric of the first corner I staple and then the second corner usually lies nice and flat.

Update: Hey guess what?  Because this section is totally confusing, I made a separate tutorial about how to fold upholstery corners.  You can read all about that here.

I covered the seat and two back pieces in what felt like a few minutes.  It was probably more like half an hour.  Or maybe three.  There are no windows in the basement so who knows?
Because I didn't have a 'real' coffee sack and was using burlap to recreate the same look, I could paint on any kind of pattern I wanted.  Just my style.  I opted for a unifiying triple stripe on the front and back.  I measured a mid-point on the chair seat, sketched a line in pencil all the way up the seat and then eyeballed an about-an-inch stripe for the centre and marked with tape.   
I 'eyeball' a lot.  I'm sorry.  Not everyone can do this.  You can do the extra step of measuring an inch each side of the centre line to get an exact measurement, and then tape off. 

I used plain old latex paint in an off-white for the centre stripe.  I didn't use much paint, and applied with a daubber for stencils.  Also, since I'm too cheap to buy 'real' painter's tape (unless it will ruin a surface) I used regular old masking tape.  Easy.

Guess what? I eyeballed the other stripes. I'm such a baller. Just tape 'em off and paint 'em. 

I like making stencils out of Contact Paper (or Mac Tac).  I print off the image I want to use (in this case I made one up in Word, save it as a jpeg and blew it up using Block Posters), and I glue it to the contact paper.  Then I cut the design out with nail (or sewing) scissors.  I like them better than an exacto knife...much easier to handle and easy on curves.


Quick paint job...

I was able to reuse the contact paper stencil twice - for the seat and for the back.  I didn't want everything to be too matchy matchy so I staggered the stencil on the back.  Perfecto!
I did a quick paint job on the chair with homemade chalk paint.  Gave it a really gentle distressing, and then reassembled everything.  I reused the original piping as it coordinated with the large stripe on the burlap sack.   
Check out the makeover linked up below, plus lots of other great redos!

Update: In March 2013, I was featured on 'Better After' my favourite blog devoted to the best part of DIY - the makeovers!  Have a look and fall in love with Lindsey's website youself - click below...
  Furniture Feature Fridays

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Union Jack Retro Dresser

As per usual, it's taken me a little while to catch up with the hot *new* "Union Jack" trend.  Better late than never? 

Here's my contribution!

The waterfall dresser needed some work before the flag could be laid... I had to fix past water damage to the dresser resulting in peeling and missing veneer along with bubbling and ill-fitting drawers.


The veneer issues were fixed with a healthy dose of paintable wallpaper (awesome for creating some visual appeal and saving a lot of time patching and sanding) and some extra nails in the right places. Here's an example of a nail in the WRONG place. No wonder the drawers had a hard time closing and sliding! Who would do that??

The drawers were whipped (and hit...and pressured) into shape. A little wood glue and elbow grease solves a multitude of problems!
After all the fix ups, she was ready for her first treatment. I like to use plain old white glue when applying wallpaper or other decoupage pieces to furniture. I'll also use Mod Podge...but only on soemthing that needs extra attention. Rolling on the glue with a roller brush helps to give an thin even coat and prevent air bubbles.

Applying any kind of paper is best done carefully and slowly, rubbing out bubbles and wrinkles as you go. I like to keep my paper rolled up (it keeps it easier to handle) and only unroll the portion I need as I go.

I also measure the width of my surface to find the midpoint and make sure that I centre the pattern of my wallpaper in the middle - nothing worse than off-centre patters!

After the wallpaper was applied, it was time for the first coat of homemade chalk paint. As an aside on homemade chalk paint (I make mine with Plaster of Paris): some folks worry about the 'lumps' or 'bits' in their paint. I often strain these out of my newly mixed batch using the leg and foot of an old nylon stocking. The nylon catches the larger lumps and gives the paint a much smoother consistency. The grit of the paint sands away after it's dry.
I use a projector for images as much as I can.  Here, I taped off the white stripes ONLY using the help of my projector.  You could do this using *shudder* GEOMETRY *shudder* but that causes me to have bad flashbacks of high school math class, so I try to avoid it at all costs. 
Once I'd taped off the white stripes, I painted them using three coats of chalk paint in an off-white colour.  I didn't wait for them to completely dry before removing the tape.  Most of the lines were clean and I only had to do minor touch ups.  Then it was like a puzzle...I only had to paint in the blue and red triangles and voila!  A Union Jack flag without ANY math!  I have a pretty steady hand so painting in the triangles of colour wasn't too challenging for me - if you feel more comfortable (and have much more patience than me), you can tape off each individual triangle - but you have to wait for the paint to completely dry on the other parts of the design before taping.  Boooooring. 

After painting, I distressed the drawers and sides of the dresser. I wanted to give it a 'war worn' appeal. I may have just seen Les Mis and may have been inspired; now the French probably don't like me very much. Quelle dommage.

I splurgged and bought a tin of Varathane floor varnish. This stuff is AMAZING. It's ubber durable and doesn't yellow. I love it. Buy some.
There is a small flag detail on the top drawer of the dresser.  It is a colour print-out of a Union Jack flag that I Mod Podged on and then painted to look distressed like the lower drawers. 
The hardware is reused from another project and painted with black Rustoleum spray paint.  I often do 'batches' of hardware at a time so it's ready when I need it. 
There she is - ready to "Keep Calm and Party On!"