Slipcovers

Chairs and Cats

This was a fun project with a specific purpose other than updating an old piece of furniture. Often times slipcovers are used to give new life to old pieces of furniture. In this case, my client wanted (needed) a solution to preserve and protect her beautiful dining room chairs upholstery that her beloved cats started to use as their scratch post. When I arrived her chairs were completely covered in beach towels to protect them.

There were a few things that were important to Rachele when creating new covers. First, she wanted to keep the color and texture of the fabric about the same as her original upholstery. Secondly, she wanted to still show as much of the wood of the chairs as possible. And lastly, the covers needed to be washable with three little kids. Rachele actually gave birth to her last son during this process.

Fabric

For the fabric we used the same fabric from Big Duck Canvas I used for the couch and a pair of arm chairs I recently slipcovered, a cotton/rayon blend in a natural oatmeal color. I prewashed it to remove any shrinkage. Initially it wrinkles a bit, but nothing a little steam can’t handle.

Big Duck Canvas Cotton Rayon Blend in Oatmeal

Design

In designing the covers for these chairs we decided to make two piece slipcovers so if just the seat cover needs to be cleaned, she wouldn’t have to remove the top piece. Less to iron and wash! For the top, we used side tabs that allows for a removable but a tight fit option. It is secured to the chair with Velcro tabs that not only fit with the design but are pretty much hidden for their function. I lined the tops to cover all the seams providing a cleaner finished look.

The two captains chairs required a slightly adjusted design to work around the arms so that it could still be removable. Arm pads secured with Velcro under the arms finishes off the slipcovers and completely covers and protects the original chair’s upholstery.

The bottoms basically just covered the seat and Velcro around the legs, edged with a light self cording.

The overall look is simple, clean, and functional and hits all the criteria Rachele was looking for. Much better look than beach towels.

cushions · Slipcovers

Slipcovers for a State of Transition

My client Jenny is in that familiar state of transition.   You know, the time where your kids have all but left the nest and pursuing a life of their own but you’re too young to retire just yet.  Currently in a townhome, they do envision this a temporary place until the next phase.   Even then, they wanted to update and freshen it up to enjoy it themselves before any resale in the future.   My sentiments exactly.  Why wait until you are ready to sell before updating!  Been there, done that.  Do it now so you can enjoy it, keeping in mind what is timeless and sellable.

In addition to the typical repainting and kitchen updates, their furniture needed a bit of a refresh as well.  They had a heavy, comfortable and still functional couch, arm chair and ottoman that fit there space just fine and they wanted to repurpose instead of buying something new at this point. The textured chenille couch was a dated gold tone and the microfiber on the arm chair and ottoman were worn smooth in spots.   

Prep Work

The couch, arm chair and ottoman all required a bit of prep work before construction of the new slipcovers.  Did you know that on attached back cushions there is a zipper on the bottom so you can remove the cushion insert? FYI, if your cushions are looking a bit flat or squishy, you can remove the inserts and refill them to give them more fluff. Check out The Slipcover Makers tutorial on how to do this yourself. With Jenny’s permission, I removed the back cushions and made templates with the old cushions to make new loose cushions.  This was a first for me and I felt a little intimidated to cut off the existing cushions, but I followed some awesome instructions and all went well.  The Slipcover Maker has a great tutorial on this process.  I also cut off the skirt on the couch and stapled the skirts on the chair and ottoman to the bottom wood of the chair to reduce bulk so they would not interfere with the new skirts.  With the newly deconstructed furniture I was ready to tackle the slipcovers.

Arm Chair

For the armchair, Jenny chose a high performance, linen-look, washable fabric called Phoenician from Revolution Fabrics in a Toast color.  It compliments the fabric she chose for her couch and the rug and other chair she has in her living room.   A pair of arm covers will help extend the life of the slipcover and reduce the need to remove the entire slipcover should the arms get soiled.  But lets face it, in a house without kids full time, it shouldn’t need to be cleaned often.

Ottoman

In addition to stapling the skirt to the wood base of the ottoman, I converted the pillow top ottoman to a solid ottoman by add a layer of batting and a muslin slip slipstitched to the piping.   The end result is a clean and simple ottoman with a slipcover that can be easily removed and laundered. 

Couch

Jenny chose an oatmeal colored cotton/rayon blend from Big Duck Canvas .  This fabric definitely required prewashing in order to preshrink it for any future washing.  It did wrinkle a bit but nothing an iron and a little spray starch or steam can work out. The back featured two zipper panels that line up with the bottom pleats to make it easier to take on and off yet still allow for a tight fit. The final result is a more casual updated sofa to give them a few more years.

I always try to learn something new from my projects. After tackling the removal of the attached back pillows, I am inspired to try this on my own gray microfiber couch and loveseat for a fresh update sometime in the near future. 

cushions · Slipcovers

Wing Chair Update

This wing chair sat quietly in the corner of this client’s living room, unnoticed except for the fact that it was clearly didn’t fit into the décor and color scheme, though it filled the need to fill a space.  img_1499My client was in the midst of updating a lot of elements of her home and also preparing for a high school graduation.  This was the one piece of furniture that begged immediate attention.  Her husband would rather have gotten rid of it, but Anne Marie had another idea.  I helped her find the right lightweight cotton blend fabric that would work well with the navy blue and white trimmed living room furniture and the white and greige kitchen you could see from that corner of the room where the chair was designated. img_2614

We kept the design the same as the original chair but with a bluish gray contrast cording to emphasize the curviness of the chair.   The bottom of the slipcover Velcro’s to the bottom of the chair to give this newly slipcovered chair the appearance of an upholstered piece of furniture.  I refurbished the cushion by adding another inch of foam to the existing cushion along with new cushion wrap. Can you see the difference?

If you are considering using a patterned fabric for your project, be sure to figure in extra fabric to pattern match.  This fabric had a repeat of the pattern both vertically and horizontally.  What is this exactly?  It is the distance in inches of where the pattern starts and ends and then starts over again.

I try to match the flow of the design from front to back, from the top of the chair onto the cushion and from the cushion onto the bottom of the chair, as well as the boxing around the cushion (at least on the front where you will see it).  Curves and angles of chair can make this challenging if not impossible in certain areas but it is just one of those little details that I won’t skimp on to give the finished piece a professional look.

The end result of this chair got a thumb’s up and approval from the husband.  That is always a plus!

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family · Intentional Living

It all started with a kiss…

It was innocent enough.  My husband leaned over to kiss me goodbye as he headed out to work in the early morning.  I was editing my latest blog and trying to get it posted. So, rather than just focusing of the kiss, he also asked me to reach for his Ipad so he could pack it for our weekly trip to the lake.

The chain of events that happened next were unfortunate and frustrating.

As I leaned over and pulled up on the Ipad, the cord tipped my coffee cup which was sitting on the end table.  Got the kiss, got the Ipad and I got coffee on my laptop keyboard.

In what seemed like slow motion, I tipped my computer upside down and wiped off the little bit of coffee residue on my keypad.  It was just a little bit after all.  But of course, my computer shut down.  When I tried to turn it on, the light flickered and a hopeful sign that all was ok, “attempting recovery”….and then nothing.  A sinking feeling in my stomach.  When was the last time I did a back up to the external drive anyway?   I tried again, nothing.

I quickly made an appointment for that morning to bring my laptop to the Best Buy Geek Squad to see what they would say.  Of course they couldn’t do much there but give me a worst case scenario…”you may have to buy a new computer and we can transfer all your information over….if we can”.  I had to bite my tongue and hold back tears until I got back to the car, where I lost it.  I worked so hard to buy this computer less than nine months ago.  What if my information was gone?

So I did what anyone would do, I Googled it.

Google provided me with some bit of hope.  I took the solicited advise and sprayed air into my keyboard.  Still nothing.   So I took the next bit of advise, put my laptop away and just waited.

The waiting allowed me time to process what had happened instead of reacting to what happened.  It allowed me time to come to terms with the worst case scenario of buying a new laptop and…gulp…if I lost some of my data.   It allowed me to resolve to make another appointment with the Geek Squad on the weekend to do just that. I had come to terms with it all.

Then a funny thing happened.

My husband and I were relaxing on the newly cleaned dock at our lake house, sipping a glass of wine and recapping all the work we had done this spring to get it ready for the summer season. I was feeling pretty content, and then it creeped back into my mind…. If only the coffee hadn’t spilled on my computer.   Maybe it was the wine talking but I was feeling hopeful and said out loud, “wouldn’t it be nice if my computer would turn on and work?”

When we headed back to the house to watch Friday night Dateline, my husband grabbed my laptop and turned it on.  From across the room I saw a light, a light that did not go off.  Hope.  Hope that turned to joy and optimism.  I kept the appointment with the Geek Squad just to be safe, but as I am writing this on my laptop, I would say….all is ok.

I always learn little lessons from these unfortunate events.  How could you not?  You would think the obvious lesson was to not drink coffee and work on your laptop. Actually, though this is great advise, I wasn’t even close to the coffee, it was just a freak accident resulting from a chain of events.  The lesson is more to not do more than one thing at a time.

I should have just focused on that kiss.

And maybe do a backup more frequently.

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cushions · Slipcovers

Twin Chairs

My client had what looked like two very different chairs.   Obviously they had different fabric.  But one had a skirt and one had a corded bottom.  They also had different top pillows so they really looked like different chairs.

But once I took measurements it became clear that these were inherently the same chair.  What a perfect opportunity to take two different chairs and make a new set of chairs to place in the same room.   In order to do this we would use the same fabric, put a skirt on both chairs, and change the pillows to the same style.

June wanted something that looked like a linen but was reasonably priced.   We found this 12 oz cotton/rayon blend from Big Duck Canvas in an oatmeal color. img_2685  I see more slipcovers in my future with this fabric.

Typically I recommend you prewash your natural fibers fabric to take out any shrinkage in case you want to  wash your slipcover in the future.  This fabric shrinks about an 1″ on a yard (10-12%). Washed, this fabric has a more textured look rather than the polished sheen of the prewashed fabric and irons beautifully.  However,  June opted for the more polished look and did not want it washed.  Dry cleaning is recommended in this case to prevent shrinkage.

What a remarkable difference and perfect update a slipcover made on these two chairs and ottoman. These chairs just jumped decades into 2019.

It’s been a crazy busy couple of months and May is looking about the same. I feel so blessed to be able to do what I love working with fabric, repurposing and transforming your (and my) pieces. Thank you everyone for being environmentally conscious and not just throwing away your still good furniture. I’m a little behind on blogging on all my projects but hope to catch up soon.

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family

Mothers and Gifts

I caught a glimpse of a Facebook live post asking for viewers to share what you think you got from your mom in terms of a talent or gift.   It got me thinking about my own mom of course, especially with Mother’s Day tomorrow.  My mom has been gone now for some time, over ten years, after a long and slow decline from early onset Alzheimer’s.

When I was younger (teen years and then early married life), I always thought I had time to work on fostering and building a stronger relationship with her.  Once we had kids, which was in my early to mid 20’s, I thought we could definitely connect over that.  The grandkids, were so important to them but being in the military made it hard to connect often.

However, we made an effort to see each other at least once a year.   We didn’t have facetime, Facebook, or really even a computer back then so we really relied on letters, photos sent through the mail, video tapes recapping six months of events and milestones and phone calls with only the imagination and memories to recall faces.

Even though it’s been a while since mom has been here (over twenty years if you count the years we couldn’t be with her as she declined and lost recollection of faces), I think of her often, if not daily.   You know the old saying that you become your mother when you get older?   Well, I am starting to “see” more of her in me.  I hear her voice in mine, I see her face in some of my pictures of myself, and my hands callused and poked by pins. I definitely feel and think of her when I’m sewing.

My mom used to work at an Arctic Cat factory when we were younger sewing snowmobile suits and jackets.Mom in her Artic Cat sweater I remember taking a tour of her factory when I was younger, seeing all the industrial machines and being pretty impressed.   I’m not sure she really enjoyed it, but it was a job.  Later she would become a CNA at a local nursing home, the same one she would later live in and be cared for by her peers.  While at Arctic Cat,  she would often bring home bags of scraps for us to pull threads out of to get the batting in between the slippery layers to use for quilts and other projects.  We were great recyclers even back then….actually I think that is something that was engrained in me not only from my mom but my grandmother who reused the cardboard concentrated orange juice containers to freeze strawberries from her massive strawberry garden.  Nothing was wasted and everything was reused…even tinfoil.

Sewing at Arctic Cat was a job but sewing at home was not only out of necessity with six girls to clothe, but a talent and outlet for my mom’s creativity.  One that I believe I inherited from her.  img_2807Besides teaching me the sewing basics on her old manual Singer machine  starting with Barbie clothes and eventually graduating to my clothes and even quilts, my mom taught me patience (or at least tried to) especially when I would have to rip out a seam.  She taught me how to lay out patterns to use the least amount of fabric possible. She taught me creativity through her many “homemade” home projects using recycled elements anywhere from the plastic rings that held a six-pack together to empty thread spools (large cone ones I am assuming from Arctic Cat) and a can of spray paint.

So instead of focusing on regrets and how this disease stole our time and what could have been, I want to honor what I actually got from my mom.   I will be forever grateful for the gifts she gave me that I have been able to nurture and build my business.  Not a day goes by where I don’t think how lucky I am to be able to do what I love, working with fabric, helping people with their vision, and continuing the ever important repurposing and reusing which, I believe,  will become even more important.

I wish I could have one more day with my mom to catch up. I think she would be proud not only of me and my family but she would get such a kick out of her great-grandkids. Mom  playing accordian  with Megan and ScottI’m pretty sure she would pull out her accordion and play “Roll Out the Barrel”.

I saw this video and poem by Maggie Mobley dedicated to mothers on the Today Show this week and thought I would share it with you all. I dare you not to be moved.

Her Hands, Mother Poem

Happy Mother’s Day to all mom’s, mom’s-to-be, grandmas (mimi’s, grammys, nannas etc), great-grandmas, step-moms, Godmothers etc.

Denise

 

Slipcovers

Buttery Soft Loveseat

I always think it’s neat when I describe a paint or fabric color by the feeling it gives me or something it reminds me of and then find out that the name of that paint color or fabric color is actually called something very similar.  I’m sure this isn’t a coincidence.   

By looking at this twenty year old eggplant colored loveseat you would think it’s seen better days.  The fabric has a few rips in places and the print and color are dark and busy.  But all you have to do is sit for a second on this loveseat and you will know why my client decided she had to give it an update. 

The foam seat cushions have a down pillow top and bottom.  Ooo-la-la.   It’s so soft and comfortable.   The back pillows needed just a little refresh with some poly-fill, but that’s it.

Natalie wanted to pull the colors together in her sitting room by finding a color similar to her window treatments, the print in her side chair and an accent color in her rug.  She was looking for something with texture, neutral and easy to care for. We found the perfect shade of creamy buttery yellow from  Revolution Fabrics called Grande Butter.  Coincidence?  I think not.img_2196.jpg

Though this high performance fabric is not “washable” like a slipcover would typically be, it is removeable for cleaning if needed.  Revolution fabrics are inherently stain resistant and can be spot cleaned for most stains and if need be can even be bleached without damaging the fabric or stripping the color.  img_2177

The original loveseat had a very relaxed, uncorded, topstitched cushions but Natalie wanted to go for something a bit more structured looking and so opted to go with cording in the same color, to outline the chair and cushions.

A set of arm covers to protect the arms, a couple of updated throw pillows and you have a “new” loveseat that pulls together the whole room. img_2197

What an impressive makeover and my client and her husband were thrilled!

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Crafty Things · Slipcovers

Sunroom Makeover

The sunroom of this repeat customer just underwent a makeover, piece by piece.  A couple of years ago I slipcovered the little yellow slipper chair in the bottom right corner, along with two yellow accent pillows.  Recently she had a couple of chair cushions recovered for her sunroom.  They went from a faded red stripe cushion to a taupe/gray buffalo check.  We also replaced the crumbling foam to give them new life.

It’s a nice balance between farmhouse and a classic modern trend.   With the new cushions and the yellow slipper chair complete her loveseat felt a little left out still in it’s red stripe. 

Toni and her husband decided to go with a solid stone-washed canvas in a charcoal grey.   This beefy heavy weight canvas from Big Duck Canvas was prewashed to get out any remaining shrinkage.  Because it is a blend it also did not wrinkle very much at all.

Design details included a French style seam on the back of the chair and cushions.  The width of the fabric was over fifty-five inches, the length of home decorating fabric.   So this decision was partly due to that and partly due to a design factor. It was just enough to break up the gray and give it some interest.

A skirt on the bottom of the loveseat with similar pleats covers the existing pleated skirt.  A placket-concealed zipper in the center of the back allows Toni to easily remove and wash the slipcover.

We had just enough leftover buffalo check fabric to create a couple of small throw pillows to tie into to two side wicker chairs.   Toni wanted a big bulky zipper on the back that was not concealed.  In fact she wanted to have it be part of the design.

  I chose a creamy white colored coat zipper with metal teeth and stitched it so that it showed on the charcoal colored back of the pillow. A fun little tassel finished the look (it looks green in this photo, but I promise it is gray).   Sometimes it is all about the details.  Now she has a beautiful sunroom that exudes a calmness with the gray loveseat, a little break and interest with the buffalo check cushions and the  just the right amount of yellow to warm things up just in time for the warm weather.  Do you have a favorite color that draws you in?

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Slipcovers

Revolutionary Updates

I wish I could make decisions as quickly as my client Jacqueline can.  She says it’s out of necessity and time.   It has also been said that your first choice or instinct is usually the best one and we often way over think things. I know I do.  Sometimes we just want to go out of our comfort zone and pick something that is not what we would normally pick but afraid to take the leap for fear we will have regrets.   Choosing the right fabric for your slipcover project can feel like that especially because of the investment you are about to make.  

Jacqueline was getting ready to move into a new house and as you do, you look at your furniture and try to see what will work in the new space and what wouldn’t.   She dropped off two very different chairs that she’s had for a while but still were comfortable. 

She knew she could find a corner or space in her new home but not in the condition they were in…dated red checked rocker and a worn golden toned tapestry chair.   She quickly chose a print from Revolution Fabric, called Tangle.  Jacqueline had a great instinct on this fabric because the finished product turned out great with this neutral tone-on-tone design that is a nice combination of sass and elegance.  

To break up the pattern and to draw attention to some of the lines on the chair she opted for a solid tan fabric called Slipcover Twill also from Revolution Fabric.   A simple corded bottom velcro’ed to the bottom of the chair, and a placket covered zipper allows for a neat, tight fit that looks upholstered but is easy to take off. 

This particular fabric is washable, bleachable and dries in ten minutes, if you can believe it. 

For the rocker, she picked a complimenting linen-looking high performance fabric from Revolution Fabric called Hailey.  She wanted the same color of piping on the rocker as the chair and I think it was the perfect choice. 

You could easily have picked a creamy white piping to understate it, but I like the fun bold look of the darker contrast and it ties in nicely to the other chair as well.   A corner pleated skirt and side zipper complete this rocker and give it a fresh clean look that will fit where ever she wants in their new home.

If you are wondering where to start with fabric selection, check out my suggestions on preferred fabrics and then start looking at these different sources.   I’m also available for a complimentary in-home consultation.  Don’t be afraid to think outside the box, follow you instinct and go a little wild.  Remember, in the end, it’s what you love that matters.  

Enjoy the spring!

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cushions · Lakehouse · Slipcovers

Lake Stools Makeovers

A couple of years ago I purchased these fixer upper stools from the “Joyous Junque”  yard sale at the Catholic Church in Moneta Virginia.  I think I paid $20 a piece for them, my small part of the over $50,000 they raise and donate to various charities annually (click link above to read their incredible story). They definitely needed work but I saw potential and at the very least they would serve a purpose until I could get something else for my kitchen bar area.  

The first thing I did was spray them with bleach water, hose them down and cut off the nasty dirty vinyl flamingo pink cushions.   I wanted to be sure to start with a clean slate.   I took a wire brush and scraped away any loose pieces. After drying in the sun, I spray painted them with a creamy white. Spray paint was the way to go to make sure to get into all the nooks and crannies.   A few paint cans and a sore trigger finger later, I was ready to make new cushions. 

First I made a template of the seat taking in to account the curved back and cut around the front legs.  I traced the template onto my 2” foam and cut it with my handy dandy electric knife.  Fun fact…I used to work at J.C. Penney when we first got married in the houseware department.  I bought it for next to nothing for our first Thanksgiving together and used it for 35 years! It has now been designated for my foam projects. 

img_1328I was pretty happy with they way they turned out but in true ‘Denise’ fashion, I got bored with them and wanted to change them up again.  A few blog posts ago I talked about Inspiration and how you never know when or where it will strike. Well, this past year I binged a bit on the Netflix series, “Grace and Frankie”.  What does this have to do with my stools, you say?  Well, Grace (Jane Fonda) and Frankie (Lily Tomlin) live in a gorgeous beach house in La Jolla, CA.   She had these slipcovered stools that I just loved and I thought, well, I can do something like that!  So that became my next inspiration for phase two of these repurposed stools.

I decided on this high performance fabric from Revolution, called Beauchamp.  It is washable, bleachable, lightweight but provides good coverage and drapes wonderfully.  It was also so easy to sew and work with. My biggest challenge was creating the template to fit the stools and match up the stripes.  The extra time spent on making the template paid off and the fabric had enough give for me to be able to match up the stripes without too much trouble and they drape perfectly.  To help the covers stay in place, I sewed two ties into the back seat seam allowance that tie to the back to side posts.  Invisible.

I absolutely love the way they turned out!   I guess the true test will be when my grandkids are back and they crawl up and down.  See, there is still some life in these old discarded stools.

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