Tuesday, January 27, 2009

All done!

Yesterday was a day filled with feelings of "I don't want to" for me. There are shoes to be made, but I don't want to. Laundry and dishes to be done, but I don't want to. The house is a disaster and I really should do something about it but... well, you get the idea. Instead I did some things that I sort of wanted to do, like finishing up this chair. I wasn't dying to work on it, but figured that since it was so close to being done I might as well.

I'd already cut the leather strips for the back so all that I needed to do was give the raw wood parts a couple of coats of spray varnish then staple on the strips. So, what 'd ya think?

My plan is to keep it in our guest room, along with a wood daybed that's being delivered this evening to help make it cozy and inviting in there, for us and for guests. My computer currently resides in the closet, so I do spend a considerable portion of my day in that room. I can't wait to make it lovely and welcoming, ready for a visit from my Mom when the Baby comes in a couple of months.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

New look for an old chair

I awoke yesterday morning with the realization that I probably had strep throat. A trip to the clinic confirmed it, so I was confined to my house for the weekend. While Daddy & the kids were away at a soccer game, I got back to work on my newest upholstery project. Here's the before photo again:

Last week I set the chair on my living room floor and proceeded to pull off the upholstery, one staple and tack at a time. Here are some photos of that process:

The back had this burlap stapled to it, with a piece of cotton padding on top of that. The cotton was in good shape so I kept that, as well as the fabric. The burlap on the seat was in shreds, which explains why the seat stuffing itself was in such a state.

I had to junk all the seat stuffing. The only piece I kept was the actual fabric to use as a template for my new upholstery.

All stripped and ready to be cleaned.

Next I rubbed it down with some furniture cleaner. When I came back to it yesterday I just used my fingers to fill in the tiny tack and staple holes with some stainable wood filler. After that I gave the unfinished parts a good sanding and the whole thing another good wipe down.

I had decided against re-doing the upholstery and instead wanted to try a woven leather technique I'd seen a while ago. I had some really heavy embossed leather sitting around that I thought would be perfect for this. My only worry was that I didn't have enough. I measured the dimensions of the seat, adding in the height of the sides to determine how much leather I'd need. I did the same for the back and determined that, if I cut it carefully, I'd have just enough. Here's what I got done yesterday:

Something else I decided to do was remove the curves on the two back pieces (you'll notice in these last photos that they're straight across on top and bottom). I figured this would make it easier to apply the leather strips if I didn't have those bumps to deal with. I used a straight edge to draw my cutting line, then got out the jig saw and cut them off. The power sander smoothed things out and corrected some of my sawing mistakes.

Now, before I can wrap the back I'll need to do something to the unfinished wood to make it look similar to the rest of the chair. I'll only wrap the leather between the two rungs, so there will be some exposed wood below the arms. The whole chair looks weathered and worn, so I'm not worried about getting it to match perfectly. I'm thinking all I'll do is give it a couple coats of gloss polyurethane and call it good. I wish I'd thought to do this to the seat before I wrapped it, but luckily not much of the wood shows through the leather.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing this thing finished. It should be pretty cute.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Weekend distractions

I thought I'd share a couple of projects that I got to work on this past weekend, even though I had plenty of shoes that I could have spent my time on. It's nice to have something else to do for a couple of days, though, so I ignored the shoe pile and made these instead.

The sweetest gal on the planet (named Sara, coincidentally) contacted me a couple of weeks ago via the most flattering email EVER, politely asking if I might be able to make her coming bundle some "sleep sacks", as I call them. Apparently the ones currently on the market are rather generic looking, especially for boys. I agreed to give it a try and immediately had to make a practice one from some knit fabric I had on hand with a pattern I already owned. It turned out great and didn't take forever, so I was hopeful I could make something similar for her that she'd be happy with. Then she came up with the brilliant idea to send me some of her husband's old tee shirts to use so I wouldn't have to purchase fabric. Awesome!

She sent me five to choose from, 3 of which had collars and one was a graphic tee. All of them were big enough, so I chose the ones that I thought would look cutest on a baby. Here's what resulted:

The blue & brown striped one is my favorite, mostly because that color combo is just so dang cute. I cut off the collar and used it to lengthen the sleeves because the sleeves of the original tee weren't quite long enough. The buttons at the neck of that one and the beige striped one were kept in tact, all I did was carefully snip off the collars. The orange striped one was also a collared shirt, but it was longer than the others so I was able to make a plain-collar sack with it.

Another nice thing that worked out well with these is that I was able to use the tee's hem for the elastic casing for most of them (hemming is my LEAST favorite part of sewing), and the hems from the original sleeves as well (except the blue one). I have to say, though, that if I didn't have a serger these wouldn't have turned out quite as nice. All the inside seams are tidy and overlocked, though I did sew everything together with my standard machine, so it can definitely still be done without using a serger.

Anyway, I heard from Sara today and she seems really pleased with her son's new sacks. He'll need to do a little growing before these will fit well, but I'm sure he'll be filling them out in no time!

My other weekend project was a spur of the moment idea that actually turned out pretty well also. I grew up in a household where we used fabric "bags" of corn kernels or rice heated in the microwave to soothe sore muscles, aching legs, upset tummies, etc. If anyone asked, "Where's the corn?", we all knew what they were after. Recently my son woke up in the night crying, complaining of hurting legs, so I stitched up a very quick rice bag for him to sleep with. It worked like a charm, but it was u.g.l.y. So, I decided it was time to make a nice one. Out came the wool felted sweaters and I went to town. Here's a great tutorial if you want to make a simple one of your own. And here is another for a more decorative one with a removeable cover (SUPER good idea, in my opinion. This tutorial also has a lovely idea for a flax-filled eye pillow to throw in the fridge or freezer. How great would that be?). I used my own dimensions for the bags and just filled the inside bag with rice until it felt right. *Remember to only use natural fabrics for this project (as mentioned in the tutorial) because these will be going into the microwave and you don't want anything to melt. I used 100% wool felted sweaters for the outer bag and bird, and cotton for the inside bag.

I did add some scented oil to my rice as well, though it wasn't essential oil like the second tutorial suggests. I wasn't sure where to find essential oil around here, and being the impatient crafter that I am, didn't want to have to wait by ordering it online. Instead I found some fragrance oil in Wal-Mart near where the potpourri is (in the home dec section, kind of near the candles). A few sprinkles into the rice, smoosh around in a zip-top freezer bag and voila! Vanilla-scented rice!

I decided to catch the edge of the inside bag in the seam of the outside bag when I sewed it shut in order to keep it from moving around inside the case. Then I stitched the corners of the inside bag to the outside as well for good measure. The bird applique was just to jazz it up a bit. You may recognize him from this little project. (The bird was added before inserting the rice bag and sewing the outer bag closed, by the way- don't leave it 'til last!)

As soon as I'm done typing I'll be giving this guy a whirl. I took a spill yesterday and today I feel like I've been in a car accident. Aches EVERYWHERE. I'm confident this will provide some much needed, if temporary, relief until I can get to the chiropractor.

Yeah, falling at seven months pregnant is a bad, bad idea. Avoid it if at all possible.

Where's the rice...?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Thrift store awesomeness

Last night, for some inexplicable reason, I was in a bit of a gloomy mood. (I blame pregnancy.) So as I'm carrying an armful of boxed up shoe orders to set by the front door, my husband stops me at the top of the stairs and says, "Tomorrow I want you to go to the thrift store and spend $50." While at the time this didn't generate the sort of gleeful reaction that it normally would, I woke up this morning in a much better mood, excited to go hunting. I wasn't entirely sure what I'd be hunting for, but the most fun part of thrifting (to me) is just seeing what there is to find.

At Savers I scored an entire collection of rocking horses. There were about a dozen to choose from, so I tried to grab the most interesting and diverse mix that I could. Here's what I ended up with.

The tall, skinny iron one is weirdly cool. Not your typical rocking horse. The wooden one has kind of a rough-looking tail, but I liked it because its legs move when it rocks. I got two of the brass ones, the one in front and another just like it but smaller.
This fabric horse has a wooden bead for an eye and some sort of organic fiber for its mane and tail. It sits on just one rail, making it hard to stand up, but a couple of pieces of ticky-tack underneath help a lot.
I think this one is my favorite. I'm not sure, but I think the tail might be real horse hair, and all that hand painting is just sweet. This one also swings back and forth on gliders. These will probably find a home on a very high shelf in my son's room, perhaps to be added to in the future.

Today I visited a used furniture store that I'd never been to before and came across this old rocker. Yes, I now have yet another old rocking chair project. I studied the chair carefully, especially the upholstery, to make sure that it was something I could handle. The fabric itself is very dirty and worn, and the seat needs some restructuring as well. I had the salesman tighten up one of the arms for me before I left with it, but overall I think it's in good enough condition to make over- especially for $18! (It was marked $19.50 but was 10% off.)

We're in the process of turning our computer/junk room into a computer/guest room, and that's probably where this will end up. Now I just need to find a nice futon to put in there. Is there even such thing?? Anyway, I'm excited to get to work on it. If I'm on the ball enough I may even take pictures of my progress. Maybe a little upholstery tutorial? I just hope it's as easy as I expect it to be.