All posts by Anna

It’s been a while…

They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Well I think the past 8-9 months have definitely proved this to be the case.

Back in April when Chris and I moved into our dream ‘fixer upper’ home, I fanatically wondered over the many projects that we would undertake to build what would be our perfect house…both inside and out. Lists upon lists were written of what we needed to finish each and every room, magazines were thoroughly leafed through and pages torn out for creative reference, conversations over the differences of 50 shades of light grey were had and also what seemed like personal financial investment was given in places like B&Q, Wickes, Farrow&Ball and the local reclaimed Wood Store. However, it was what we always wanted. A project, something we could mould to reflect who were are and something we would fall completely in love with.

So, here we are 9 months down the line and I can safely say that we are on our way to achieving just that. With the main rooms of the house done (apart from the bathroom…we are still deciding between the wet room option or the traditional bath/shower combo…oh how our lives have changed), I am finding myself missing my smaller, more personal creative projects. Decorating a house is a challenging project in so many ways, that I have found myself craving my sketch book, staple gun and sewing machine.

I decided a step change was needed, therefore I took to our basic wooden chest with an idea to give it a bit of a make over. 

Wooden Chest

Inspired by a recent trip to a Flea Market in New York, I wanted to see if I could give this tired looking piece of furniture a trans-Atlantic makeover. The overall look for the chest was to be a more worn out, shabby chic look with a bit of an urban twist.

I firstly painted the wooden panels of the box with my trusty Annie Sloane chalk paint in three different colours – Grey, Off White and an Olive Green shade. After which I decided to add a numerical detail to the front of the chest using a stencil I made myself (the numbers turned out to be a bit wonky, which I kind of liked).

annie sloan paint

painting panels

sanding chest

painting numbers

After the paint was dry, I cut some upholsterers foam to size to fit on the top of the chest and softened it around the edges with some wadding. This was then covered with additional wadding and a large piece of cotton to ensure a comfy finish for the seat. I managed to buy some old sacks from the Saturday Market in Brighton and used these as my upholstery fabric layering an additional printed sack over the top as a design feature.

with seat foam

seating covered

I then used some thicker thread to hand sew the patterned sack into place and stapled all layers to the reverse of the chest lid, finishing by covering the messy edges with a neatly cut and sewn square of sacking.

finished product

The chest itself has already found pride of place in our study/creative space where I hope to use it as a perch to sit a doodle away in my sketch book, dreaming of more creative projects to undertake.

Simply Bunting

Last time I made bunting was for a very specific occasion…a summer of Britishness, and what a summer it was! I think I am still dreaming of mobots and Jubilee street parties. But now that 2012 has left us and we have 2013 to look forward to, I thought I would take a bit of inspiration from one of our (be it wetter) Summer holidays and some really simple yet gorgeous bunting.

It’s really easy to do and looks great as an easy decoration in the house and not just for special occasions.

Firstly you need your cardboard template. I wanted my bunting to be a bit smaller than last time so I measured it out at 10cm across the top and 13.5cm from top to bottom.

template

As before in my Very British Bunting blog post, I used a cardboard template to trace around. I picked a heavy canvas in Navy and in White to create a bit more of a nautical feel. Well, we do live by the beach. Anyway, after tracing around the templates on the white and then the navy canvas 6 times each I cut the pieces out.

triangle template on fabric

 

cut out fabric template

After all of the templates were cut out I used my herringbone tape and folded it over the top part of the bunting. The great thing about this bunting is that it is really easy to do in that you don’t have to sew two triangles together each time. It’s simplicity creates a great raw feeling that I love – it doesn’t matter if a few strands of the canvas comes loose around the edges, that just adds to the whole look.

fabric tape

Use your sewing machine to stitch along the tape making sure your canvas triangles are correctly inserted into the tape.

sewing of bunting

Instead of leaving a gap between triangles this time, I decided to sew them side by side in order to create a more compact look. I actually put my new bunting up this morning and it’s already made me feel like spring is on it’s way.

Sitting Comfortably

I think it would be fair to say that I have fallen in love with re-furbishing vintage and antique chairs and whilst it has been a complete learning curve for me, I have to admit that I have enjoyed all of the challenges that each of our Chair Projects have thrown at us. Believe me, these two were no exception.

We discovered these two ornate chairs in a gorgeous Flea Market in Hove called Department. Once we started to strip them back, we could see that they had already been re-upholstered once before. Lets just say that I think whoever did them before had got a little staple happy from looking at the Mount Everest size mountain of staples we had to remove from the two chairs.

Chairs Before

Close Up Stripping Of Chair

We wanted to try something a bit different on these chairs, something a bit more rustic and so after some hardy negotiating at our favourite Brighton Street Market, we came away with some Hemp upholstery fabric and decorative nail strips (which we had previously used, and loved, in one our New Throne post). I had a visual in mind of what I wanted the chairs to look like, so I turned to my trusty friend Annie Sloane to provide the paint distressed wood furniture finish that would complete our rustic worn-down vintage look.

Now, I know that you may have probably read through our chair blogs before and whilst obviously riveted by our tales of upholstery trials and tribulations, I wanted to focus more on the distressed paint effect achieved on this particular project. I read recently that Annie Sloane’s paints are a bit like a bug, “once bitten, your home won’t ever look the same again” and I realised how true that was. I counted back over our many projects and realised that we had equally fallen in love with this fantastic paint, along with the rest of the furniture restoration fanatics out there. So I thought I would share with you, how we achieved the look we wanted on these chairs.

Chalk Paint Close Up

The beauty with using Chalk Paint is that most wood surfaces do not need any preparation prior to applying the paint itself. However a good friend of ours said it was always best to give any varnished surface a good sanding to help the paint hold even better. We found this to be true.

Sanded Chair

Ensure that you use a good quality paintbrush and apply the paint quite thickly. Don’t be afraid to move the brush in different directions, garaunteeing that the paint gets worked into every nook and cranny. Depending on the finish you want to acheive, you may want to add another coat, however one coat is sometimes enough, as it’s very thick paint.

Close Up of painted chair

Once the paint (whether one coats or two) is dry then pick your sandpaper of choice. Again, depending on the look you want to achieve you may want to go for either a fine grain sandpaper or more of a coarser grain. For our chair we used a coarse grain sandpaper as we wanted the wood underneath to be quite noticeable. Be sure to think about where you are rubbing the paint away. Think about where the paint could naturally be worn away over time and concentrate your efforts on those areas more.

sanding chair

One alternative to sand paper is wire wool. This can sometimes be a bit more aggressive, but is easier to control around more rounded surfaces.

Wire wool chair

To seal the the painted surface, use a soft cloth to rub in a coat of clear wax. As we were using white chalk paint we only used the clear wax, but there is a darker wax you can buy that gives a more distressed and worn look. We had used this on our TV stand project earlier in the summer.

Annie Sloane Wax

 

Waxing the chair

After the paint was applied and finished with the wax, we set about stapling the fabric to the main body of the chairs. Again we had used the previous fabric as a template to cut out the hemp upholstery fabric.

Fabric templates

Close up of fabric

We decided to add back in the upholstery buttons which had previously been blocked up and covered when the chairs were re-upholstered before. Knowing that finish would look the better for it, we covered the twenty buttons needed. To see how to do this in more detail, you can read our blog entry ‘Push The Button‘.

Buttons front

 

buttons back

After stapling like crazy and applying the finishing touches of the decorative nail strip’s, the twin chairs were finished and ready. Actually I’m sitting in one as I type this now.

two chairs option 3

I’m dreaming of a beaded Christmas

I blooming love Christmas! It always gives me the perfect excuse to rummage through my craft cupboard and whip up a Christmas thing or two. Every December, I always start out with the best intentions of sitting in front of a much loved Christmas movie, drinking hot chocolate with marshmallows on whilst I make my Christmas cards. Christmas bliss right?

However and I don’t quite know how, but 2012 seems to have run away with me and before I knew it December was upon me and I hadn’t even unpacked my Christmas decorations, let alone even begun to think about how I was going to make this years Christmas cards.

Therefore, I needed something that I could make quickly as I did have around 45 cards to make, but also looked seasonal, fun and put a smile on people’s faces. The answer came in the form of picture beads. After looking for some inspiration online, I found some great images on a beautiful blog called craftandcreativity.com. Using this as inspiration I set about buying the materials needed to create my Christmas cards.

I already had some seasonal red and green card and envelope sets left over from last year, so all I needed to purchase were the picture beads and Hama boards themselves. After speaking with the staff at hobbycraft they told me that the best board to make snowflakes (my chosen Christmas shape) was a circle. A circular board in hand, plus a star shaped one (just because I love stars…), some red and white beads and some ironing paper I was ready to start making some picture bead shapes.

Templates

Always starting from the center of the board, build your snowflake outwards. Remember to make it symetrical by counting the beads as you build each stem outwards. The fun part about these beads are that you can really experiment with these shapes and be as creative as possible. Mix your colours if you like or keep it simple like I did. I needed the shape to fit easily onto the front of the card so I kept my snowflake quite small.

snowflake forming

After you have made your shape and are happy with it, you need to cover the board and the beads with the ironing paper. Then heat your iron on the hottest setting. Once ready to go, gently iron over the shape, slowly melting and fusing the beads together. Be careful not to press too hard and keep the iron even, as I learnt quite quickly when I ended up ironing the board as well as the beads. Lets just say I bought a couple more boards the next day, just in case.

ironing

Once the beads are fused together, leave them for a couple of minutes to cool down. I placed them in between two books to keep the shapes quite flat.

melted snowflake

I then placed the cooled snowflake onto the front of my card and sewed it on with a contrasting coloured thread. It added an extra hand crafted dimension to the card that I really liked. I actually enjoyed the ease of this process so much that I got a bit carried away and made several decorations, some gift tags and a star for the top of my tree! Easy peasy and quite effective.

card

 

close up snowflakes