Patchwork Quilt – Part 2

On Sunday I got out my new (old) sewing machine and pieced together all of the squares for my patchwork quilt. Love the new machine. Its an old Bernina Record 830 that my Granny kindly gifted to me and after some initial teething problems (completely forgot how to do a reverse stitch) I really got into it.

So all of the squares are now pieced together and I’m really happy with the result. Just need to order some more batting now so that I can start the actual quilting…


Kitchen makeover – painting cupboards

Its official… I have finally begun work on our kitchen.

We’ve been round and round in circles with it – shall we get a new kitchen put in which will be bottom of the range (and top of our budget) but still very beautiful compared to our current one OR paint the kitchen cabinets of our current kitchen, replace the worktop and sink etc.

We even went as far as getting a new kitchen designed. But it ultimately came down to cost. My car died a death in December costing me most of my savings so it would have been a real struggle to afford the new kitchen.

So we’re going for the MUCH cheaper option and in my opinion… much more fun option!

Unfortunately, when you read these blog posts of amazing kitchen makeovers and people who have painted their kitchen cupboards the authors talk about how solid and usable the old kitchen is. In our case I can’t even say that. It really is a terrible kitchen that was poorly installed and the units aren’t great quality. The doors are ugly wood effect melamine and nothing is symmetrical. The kitchen itself is in the middle of the house with very poor natural light so its a very dingy space.

Despite all that I think we can work on it and make it a much nicer place to cook and hang out.

The first step is to paint the cupboards. I’m going for a stark white as we already have terracotta tiles and the natural darkness of the room means the lighter the better as far as I’m concerned!

This will be a work in progress leading finally to a before and after.

Here is the kitchen when we first moved in:

And hello grime!! We spent the first two days cleaning alone.

We painted the walls white, replaced the oven and got some nice decor up. But as you can see its still a bit of a dungeon! Here is a photo of the kitchen in it’s current state:

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A Kenyan patchwork quilt

I’ve made a couple of small patchwork quilts and really enjoyed the whole process. As a gift to my sister I’m currently working on a bigger quilt using some gorgeous fabrics that she brought back from Kenya this Christmas. She spends a lot of time volunteering over there.

One of my favourite things about patchwork is the fact that nothing really has to match, yet it always comes together to make something awesome. This one seems to be no exception – I love the bright garish colours.

Last week I spent some time cutting the fabric into infinite squares and a few days back I set it all out and planned the design. That’s currently as far as I’ve got as it requires a bit more time than I have at the moment to get the sewing machine out and start piecing it all together!

Reupholstering dining chairs

I’m going to apologise in advance here for a lack of good pictures. I had planned to take some and then got carried away and forgot to!

A couple of months back I decided I couldn’t bear our green chair any longer. They were (of course) second hand and although they’re quite simply the comfiest dining chairs I’ve ever sat on the green corded seats were looking very tired and definitely didn’t match our dining room. At some point I may refinish the wood itself but for now I’ve just done the seats.

For years I’ve had this lovely dog fabric in my collection and thought what lovely seat covers it could make. So it finally got it’s chance to shine.

My chairs do not have removable seats so it was never going to be as simple as removing them and stapling on the new fabric. I did a fair bit of googling and improvising but I’m pleased with the final result. So here’s a step by step process of what I did as I found limited information on how to do this on the web.

Here is one of my ugly green chairs (with a beautiful schnauzer photobombing).

Step 1:
Remove the trim. The trim covers up the staples holding on the old fabric and gives the chair a finished look. They’re usually just glued on. So I found a loose bit, cut it and peeled the rest off. This left the staples exposed.

Step 2 (optional):
Remove the old fabric.
I had next planned to remove the green fabric. However, I found that the staples were almost impossible to remove. I got a few out but there were loads on every chair and it was turning into a right faff. Perhaps if I had all the right tools I could have done it but as I’ve said, I’m on a tight budget and buying new tools was not a possibility. So I decided to skip this step.

Step 3:
Make a template for your new fabric.
I did this by simply finding an old piece of scrap fabric (in my case a pillowcase) sitting it on top of the chair and working out where I would need cuts in order for it to fit around the back. I made it larger than I would need around the edges so that I could trim to size after stapling. For a chair of this design I worked out a simple template that allowed me to tuck the fabric into the ‘corners’ where the posts for the back were.

Step 4:
Cut out the fabric for your chairs.
I actually took a photo of this step!
As you can see my template was very rough, it didn’t need to be precise as I was trimming it neatly once on the chair.

Step 5:
Secure the fabric.
I did this by placing my cut piece onto the chair, tucking the corners in securely and then going around the edge with a staple gun. You have to be really careful to ensure you pull the fabric taut at all times. I found it was easiest to do opposite sides at a time. Corners are a little fiddly. Here’s a photo of a corner on a finished chair. Basically, you pull the fabric from each side together at the corner then fold flat against one of the sides, trying to avoid loosening the fabric too much.

Step 7:
Cut the fabric to size.
At this point everything was secure but the fabric was longer than it needed to be and hanging down below my line of staples. So I just went around with a pair of scissors. You don’t want to cut too close to the staples in case the fabric pulls away from the staple but not so long you can’t cover both the staple and fabric edge with a trim. A few mm is fine. Just line it up with the wood of the chair!

After this point I’d achieved this – you can just about see how the edges are still messy where they’ve been cut to size:

Step 8:
Attach the trim.
In order to make my chair look beautiful and hide all those messy staples and badly cut fabric edges I needed a trim. I ordered some online from ebay for a few quid that matched my fabric and wasn’t too ornate. You want to check the width is right. I matched the width of trim on the old chairs pre-makeover. This is where I splashed out and bought a glue gun. If you do any sort of DIY I highly recommend a glue gun and staple gun in your collection. Mine were both very cheap.
To start the trim, put a dot of glue on the end of the trim and fold it over to make a nice neat edge or it will fray. Then glue this to the edge of the chair, covering the staples. With a glue gun you need to work quite quickly along the edge, gluing a few cm at a time. When you get to an end cut to size allowing for you to glue and fold over the edge again. You can see what I mean in the below photo – note the tidy edges.

And voila! You have a beautiful chair! I’m really pleased with mine, they’ve really transformed the room and I adore the fabric.

Stripping a pine coffee table

When my OH and I first moved in together we had no furniture and were renting an unfurnished house. So we bought some very cheap second hand furniture from charity shops and got lots of generous family members who had stuff lying around unused in garages.

One of my favourite such pieces of furniture is our coffee table. It was given to me by my auntie as a slightly broken gleaming orange piece of love. My wonderful dad fixed the slightly broken leg and its served us very well since. Its actually the perfect size for our needs and I love the fact its that little bit higher than most coffee tables.

A few months back I decided it was about time I gave it a makeover – my first foray into a bit of upcycling.

So here’s the orange beast in all its shiny glory

It had lots of white water marks from poor coaster use and one time we put a hot pizza directly onto the table during a *rather inebriated* party.

I bought some paint and varnish stripper from Screwfix and painted it all over. Left it for a few hours then added another coat.

Then the magic happened. I was so overexcited that this actually worked that I was jumping up and down on my own in the garden.

I used an old toothbrush to get all of the varnish out of the intricate bits and steel wool on the legs. When it was all looking good, I cleaned off any remaining sticky bits and dried it off.

And we have the no-longer-orange beast!

Just look at that! I decided that because the wood had come up so nicely I wouldn’t paint any of it and it now resides in my living room in all it’s rustic glory. I still haven’t treated it with anything. Can’t decide what to use as don’t want to varnish in case it goes orange again.

DIY, decorating and crafts

I guess the standard protocol would be to introduce myself in my first post. In 2015 my lovely other half and I bought our first home. A little terraced house that we got relatively cheap. We wanted at least two bedrooms and an enclosed garden. On our budget we couldn’t afford to buy a house that filled those requirements and looked nice (unless it was falling down). Eventually we came across our lovely house – it was the perfect size, structurally sound (!), with a little garden out the back. It needed a LOT of cosmetic work but that suited us perfectly… I was dying to get my decorating clothes on after renting drab and dreary houses and it meant we could afford it!

We’ve done a lot of work on the house since then, nearly every room is now ‘done’ so I thought I’d share some of the journey. Of course, nothing is ever really ‘done’ and I’m constantly making little changes, adding new furniture etc as we can afford to.

Before we got our place I’d never held a drill in my life or been in a DIY shop to buy something beyond paint. Its a terribly fun learning experience as I muddle on through making some things I’m proud of and others that don’t turn out quite like expected.

My other half is not at all DIY minded although he’ll help with some painting if needed and he always has faith in my ‘visions’, even while rolling his eyes!