Decorating · Sewing · Slipcovers

Have cushions, will travel.

Here is another example of a great patio furniture set that was in desperate need of a cushion update. The fabric was faded, worn,  stained, dated and basically just needed an update.  Because all of the cushions are custom fitted to this furniture with rounded edges and shaped to fit each piece perfectly, it made sense for Jessica to have new cushions made instead of buying ready-made.

Not only would they fit better, she could pick the exact color scheme she wanted in a fabric that would stand up to several years of wear and tear, dogs and kids.  Jessica chose a Sunbrella fabric in Cast Shale with a Sunbrella canvas black for the piping contrast from Decorativefabricsdirect.com. 

Though Jessica lives in PA, she travels back and forth to northern VA for business periodically.  So she loaded up her vehicle with the thirteen cushions.  After making thirty five yards of piping, I began work on the custom cushions for a three-seat patio couch, two-seat loveseat, side chair and ottoman.

This fabric was a dream to work with.  It was lightweight, non-directional and the same on both sides. What more could a  slipcover girl ask for?  It’s also easy to clean, durable, and a solution dyed acrylic that resists mildew, stains and fading. What more could a family with an active lifestyle ask for?

I have a busy month ahead with more cushions, twin chairs, a loveseat and swivel rocker all waiting for their chance to get redone.  If you have a special piece you need done for the holidays, now’s the time to start planning.  Give me a call. 

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Creative Things · family · Sewing · Slipcovers

Ben’s Big Boy Chair

When you think of slipcovers, you typically think of a wingback, club chair, parson chair, side chair, benches, the list goes on.   But let’s think outside the box for just a moment.

My grandson was about to turn one and I received an idea for a birthday gift for him. 

Original Chair: Before
Before: pink girls chair

His sister, Addy, had a Pottery Barn chair with her name appliqued on the back of it and my daughter thought it would nice for him to have his own chair.  But those chairs are expensive new, so I thought, what if I found a used one and redid it? It would be more personal to me, a challenge for something new to try, and the thought of making something handmade for him was appealing.  I found one for $25 on a local yard sale facebook page.   It was pink and had the name “Aberly” appliqued on the back but it had good bones (hee hee, foam inside). 

And so I began the deconstruction and transformation from a little girl’s pink  “Aberly” chair to a blue denim boy’s “Ben” chair with bright green trim.  I cut out the letters for his name out of fabric with little trucks and appliqued it to the inside back of the chair.

I trimmed the chair in a bright green piping, incorporated a back storage pocket and a coordinating handle for easy carrying.  A zipper on three sides of the bottom on the chair reveals the foam blocks tucked into their designated spaces and kept in place  by Velcro panels. The fabric was prewashed and would be easy to remove and put back together.

This was such a fun project to deconstruct and figure out and it gave me such joy to be able to give him something especially made for him. 

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Crafty Things · Decorating · Sewing · Slipcovers

Bathroom Rejuvenation

When you buy a house (not new) your imagination runs wild and free on big plans to remodel or update.  Initially I dreamt of gutting the basement master bathroom, replacing the huge shower, painting the vanity, doing something with the mirrors, maybe change the floor and add a soaker tub.  If I was a true do-it-yourselfer, that wouldn’t be too far out of reach.  That was my initial vision.  As other more important projects took a hold,  my initial plans for that bathroom soon became less important and cost-effective. But there still were a few issues I had with the bathroom.  This bathroom had no windows and felt cold, nothing a little creativity, paint and a sewing machine couldn’t fix.

I decided on a spa theme.  We had put in a hot tub earlier in the year and I thought this bathroom would a great place to change, grab a robe, and some flip-flops and get ready to relax. So piece by piece, issue by issue, I went to work.

Floor:  Since tiling was out of my comfort zone and budget in terms of time and money, I knew finding the right area rug would be a better option to address the plain cold tile. It would probably be the single most expensive fix for this bathroom and if I found the right rug the other pieces of my design puzzle would fall in place.  I found this natural fiber braided 8×10 rug at The Home Store. I love how it lifts up the room, is warm on the feet and pulls in the natural cabinets and blue color (bonus…its reversible!)  And because this rug compliments the vanity perfectly, I was no longer compelled to paint the vanity. reversible area rug

Paint:  Once I had the rug, I knew I was sort of limited in my choices of paint colors.  I didn’t want to go neutral as that would be hard to pick the exact color to go with the vanity/floors.  I really just wanted a warmer shade of blue than what was currently on the walls.  I decided to go with Benjamin Moore’s Palladian Blue but not after trying out all the different shades of blue that I already had in samples of several walls of the room.

Mirrors:   I never understood the choice of the mirrors over the vanity. The beautiful round mirrors had a rich wood tone that, in my opinion, clashed with the vanity.  So I painted the mirrors the darkest color on the paint strip (2 shades darker than the paint on the walls) and then hotglued a rope around the indent in the mirror.  Instantly nautical and coordinates perfectly with the vanity and rug!  Yay, three pieces of the puzzle were done.

Wall Mirror.  There were still a few things I wanted to do to cozy up the bathroom. I’ve had this big red/gold mirror for thirteen years and love it, but did not have anywhere in my entire house that it “fit”.  While still in my creative painting mood, I decided to paint this piece as well.  So I taped off the mirror with plastic, deglossed the finish, put a coat of the blue paint and then embellished it with some leftover tan and cream-colored paint I had.  Not too bad!  I looks fantastic laying up against the wall as you enter the bathroom, compliments the rug, vanity and mirrors yet doesn’t overpower the room.

Seating.  Besides the toilet, there was no place to sit and change.  The room was certainly big enough to accommodate something.  I stole a black vinyl bench from my daughter’s bedroom, with her permission.  It would be the perfect fit for another big wall in this bathroom.  Of course, the black wouldn’t do, but nothing a slipcover couldn’t cover up.  I looked for the right fabric, got many samples and in the end, used a bleached drop cloth.  I made a floor length pleated  cover  with a separate boxed and tufted cushion.  I am so glad I went a little wild and used a tan ticking for the boxing. It again pulls the tan out of the rug and vanity. It is so comfortable sit down on too while you get ready for the day or the hot tub.

Room Divider.  We had purchased this room divider for another purpose earlier in the year but wasn’t being used to it’s full potential, so I stole it for another room.  By placing it in front of the commode area, you now have a bit more privacy in case there is more than one of you in the room at the same time. It also is great to hang a towel on for the shower, and once again breaks the room up a bit and adds more of the warm  natural tan color.

Accessories.  A few serene pictures, a spa candle, new coordinated towels, sample size products for guests in a pretty jar finishes this room off.   I find myself wanting to visit this room because of the relaxing feeling it gives me. Isn’t this what we want every room to feel like? 

Shower.   The  shower is still big.  Theres no getting around that.  I jazzed it up a little by adding some green glass jars on the shelf to bring the color upwards. For something whimsical, I placed a little mermaid on the shelf (my granddaughter Addy loves).  I stole an idea from Pinterest regarding the shower rod with hanging baskets spring-rodded between two walls of the shower. It worked great unless you overload the baskets.   I really like the idea and so will work on a more permanent solution that is similar.  The last piece of the shower that I would love to do is a smooth stone shower floor.   I have one in my master shower and it is heavenly.  The smooth roundness of the natural stones feels so rejuvenating on your feet.  This will definitely be added to my winter project list. Eventually I will carry this serene feeling into redoing the master bedroom that this bathroom is attached to. I just need to get inspired by something and right now the lake is calling me!

Spa-a-a-a-h.

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Decorating · family · Sewing · Slipcovers

Graduation

Terre  was on a mission to pull together her living room for her daughter’s high school graduation and the faded striped chair and fraying ottoman either had to go or get a redo. The Pennsylvania House chair was in good shape except for the faded fabric and dated red stripe that didn’t go with her new neutral and relaxed room. 

The ottoman on the other hand was questionable.  She wasn’t sure it was salvageable and neither was I.  The top fabric had worn so thin that it had frayed.  With my newly acquired samples from Big Duck in hand, we found the perfect shade of fabric. fabric swatches Unfortunately, they wouldn’t have the yardage she needed until after the graduation so she picked a second choice, a Bull Denim Cotton Poly Blend in Sand.  It washed up beautifully with very little wrinkles.   Although it was preshrunk, I was advised by the fabric company to wash it again as there still might be up to 3% shrinkage left. I didn’t want to take any chances as she definitely wanted to be able to wash the slipcovers.   

With just four days until the festivities there wasn’t any time to waste.  I went to work first on the chair. Following the lines of the chair, the fabric covered the red perfectly and felt so soft to the touch.  We kept it simple with cording on the bottom to show off the wood legs.  It would be a great chair to snuggle up on, put your feet up on the ottoman and read a book….or take a nap.

The ottoman took a bit of research and thinking.  I mended what I could, pressed on a fusible interfacing and finally made a muslin wrap to pull the ottoman all together, hiding the top fix and giving it a clean start before making the slipcover.

  Once I took the time to fix the ottoman, the construction of the cover was pretty straight forward.  Again, we kept it simple with a corded bottom to match the chair.  The cover fits like a glove and the new ensemble really brightens up that corner of the room, pulling it all together.  And the best thing is, it’s washable!  I’d say this chair and ottoman graduated with honors.

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Decorating · Sewing · Slipcovers

Cushions

The pollen is done for the most part, and you have cleaned and re-cleaned the patios and porches to rid it of the fine yellow mist of gunk that seems to get into the tiniest of cracks.  Now that this is behind us and warmer weather is finally here, it’s time to put out our porch patio cushions, grab a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, your summer reading and relax.   But wait….your cushions may need attention too after years of wear, weather, sun and neglect.

My first client, Pam, sent me a picture of her tired and depleted swing cushions and wanted to know if I could help.  I sent her to JoAnn’s to pick out the fabric, some 3” foam and with a wave of my wand (if only), I made her these two delightful apple green—the season’s hot color– cushions perfectly coordinated with her throw pillows.  It certainly brightens the shady porch.

Mary had a bit more of a challenge.   Her cushions were in  desperate need of replacement.  The cushions were literally disintegrating when you touched them or picked them up.  The sun had completely dried out the fabric over the years to the point of crumbling.  The question was whether to buy new cushions or to make new covers. 

Her current furniture frames were still in excellent condition.  She had several chairs on her back porch but also wanted to coordinate with the current front porch décor.   Since she needed to find a fabric that would withstand the intense sunlight in the back yard over the summer, she decided to have cushions made in the exact same Sunbrella fabric she currently had on her wicker chairs and a coordinating fabric from Outdoorfabrics.com.  It has a great rating with a 5 year warranty against fading and mildew. 

When all was said and done, I made ten cushions, two double cushions for her recliners, two ottoman cushions and six dining chair cushions!  What a burst of color and brightness for this front porch and back deck with a coordinated and uniform look.  The little bit of extra time to match all of the stripes running up and down the cushions makes all the difference. 

Mary sent this fun picture to me. Completely unware that she had a top that just happened to match the Dolce Oasis stripe pattern on her new cushions.  Coincidence?   I think Mary really loves that print. And why not. It is vibrant, fun and full of life.  She certainly will get alot more years out of her patio set now. fabric match

It seems this year, more than in the past, I noticed a ton of options for cushions in the stores.   Many of these fabric are  spun polyester in which the color and design is printed on the base fabric.  Though these fabrics may wear well for a few years they typically are approved for 300 (some up to 800) hours of UV exposure so they may fade a lot faster.  Fabrics such as Sunbrella (and there are other brands too) are made out of 100% acrylic in which the fibers that the fabric is made of are dyed in a color solution before being woven into the design, not printed on the base fabric. Interesting huh?   By doing this, you now have a product that will be more fade resistant when in direct sunlight often for 2000 or more hours of UV exposure.  Of course, it makes sense that it is also more expensive.  So when contemplating your choice of whether to buy or cover your cushions, be sure to take this into consideration so you get years of enjoyment for your investment. Lots of fun stuff coming up this summer! Stay tune and let me know if you have a project you need done!

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Decorating · family

Memorial Day

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer with many of us having an “extra day off” from work.  You may have celebrated by grilling and hitting the beach or lake as I did with extended family this weekend at the lake.

Or you may have had a quiet rainy weekend watching movies, reading, or catching up on projects.  But I couldn’t let this day go by without acknowledging the service of all the military on this Memorial Day especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice.   Being the wife of a Marine for over 22 years (now retired) and having many friends and family who have also served, I’ve experienced first-hand the sacrifice and challenges both the service members and family members go every day.  We can’t say thank them enough.

And since it is Memorial Day, I thought I would bring attention to a national memorial you might IMG_0380not be aware of and that is practically in my back yard.  Just a short drive from Smith Mountain Lake and located at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Bedford, VA is the incredibly poignant National D-Day Memorial.  Why Bedford and not Washington DC?  Because Bedford suffered the greatest loss per capita during the D-Day invasion and was chosen to symbolize the loss all communities, large and small, realized on that day.  Located on 88 acres, you can  walk the grounds on your own but I highly recommend go on a guided tour to capture the true magnitude of the events on that day.  It’s hard to describe the beauty and symbolism of the many pieces to this memorial, you just have to see it and do the tour.   If you are ever in the area….make the time. You won’t be disappointed.

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                                                               Happy Memorial Day!

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family

April Showers and Trey

Living up to its name, April was a very rainy month…actually torrential!  We did a lot of spring yard work and a few house projects but nothing that can’t wait until next month to talk about. Instead I want to talk about Trey.TE

Trey is my fifteen year old nephew.  Trey will always be my fifteen year old nephew as he lost his battle with leukemia after a valiant eleven month fight.  In witnessing his incredible determination and positive attitude, and the unwavering love and support of his family and  friends, you can’t help but look at life a little differently.  Following are some themes that resonated with me and I think worth mentioning.

Family     Don’t pass an opportunity to spend time with family or to tell and show them how you feel.  Tomorrow is not guaranteed.  Reach out to someone who may need a hug or even a smile.  Call and actually talk to family members or write a letter instead of a text.   Be the spark that starts the fire when it comes to love and good instead of negativity and fights.IMG_1224

Time    Is there something you’ve been wanting to do?  Why wait?  I’ve learned that no one is immune to sickness and loss.  It can happen to anyone at anytime.  No one is promised tomorrow or next year so if there is something you feel compelled to do….why not do it or make plans to.  Live your life fearlessly and with purpose. Start a “Wish List” or “Life List” of things you have always wanted to do and see….and start doing them.

Forgiveness     Let go of what happened in the past and don’t let it affect/infect your future.   So much time and energy is wasted on holding onto grudges that keeps you stuck in the past.  Learn from it and then let it go, forgive and move on.  A weight will be lifted for you and allow you to live your life more fully and purposefully.

Faith       The older I get the more I appreciate my faith and lean on it to get me through these seemingly senseless losses.  My faith gives me the hope of seeing my loved ones again in heaven and I am comforted by the fact that they are happy and watching over us.

Get Involved     When we attended the Rainbow of Heroes Walk for bone marrow transplant the day after Trey’s funeral, it was never more evident how important marrow or organ donations are.   To see the amount of people who are touched by this selfless act and how much they depend on it for survival and hope is amazing.  If you can…help.   http://join.bethematch.org/swab

As for me, I will try to live my life with purpose and will always keep Trey as my guiding beacon to keep me on track.

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