Tag Archives: Fabric

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.


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

Push the Button

If there is one thing that doing all of these wonderful projects for our blog site has taught me, it is that I love re-upholstering furniture. Hopefully, one day I’ll even be able to sell a piece and someone will get as much pleasure out of that piece of furniture as I did creating it. However, every project that I have undertaken has always involved a huge amount of self taught skill (and I use that word lightly). From learning to fabric line an old school desk to creating a shabby chic paint effect. But one simple skill that I really enjoyed learning was how to cover and make my own buttons. So I thought I would share with you how to cover your own buttons, whether for upholstery projects, making your own craft projects or for decorational purposes.

1) Firstly you need to invest in one essential tool – a self cover button tool. It’s really easy to use and covers 5 sizes of buttons to cover from 11 – 29mm. You will then need to pick your cover fabric and purchase the actual buttons themselves. I have recently covered 20 x 23mm buttons for an upholstery project. I purchased the buttons via Hobbycraft and searched for ‘self cover metal buttons’, however you can also get them from most haberdashery shops (the buttons come in 2 parts).

2) You then have to cut small circles of fabric that are around 5mm bigger round the edge of the button. This allows you some overlap to tuck into the teeth on the reverse of the upper part on the button. Place the circle of fabric plus the upper part of the button on top of the softer rubber portion of the self cover tool (lining up to the correct button size).

3) Push the button down into the rubber mould and tuck the excess fabric under the teeth of the metal button itself.

4) Then take the back of the button, pop it on top with the ridges facing down, so the metal loop lines up with the slot of the back button (if that doesn’t make sense then look at the picture below).

5) Finally use the rigid plastic part of the cover tool to push the back of the button down into the covered portion of the button. Depending on which cover fabric you use, you may have to use a little force to make both portions of the button click together. 6) Once they are connected, you can then pop the button out and ‘viola’ you have a covered button.