Friday, March 27, 2015

Furniture Friday: Advice on Upholstering a Channel-back Chair

You'll notice that in this post all of my photos have people in them - none are staged.  I redid this chair sometime between the end of 2006 and the beginning of 2007.  It was fun for me to look back at them!

OK, if you take a look at most of the new upholstered furniture around these days you'll notice that not many pieces are covered with the "channel back" design.

They seem to be rarely made anymore, or the ones that are made new, are very expensive! Like anywhere from $400-$4000 expensive (for a real stuffed channel back with thick, deep panels, not just darts sewn in to look like slight channels)!

In my opinion they are costly because they require a little more sewing skills than normal upholstery jobs and have to be sewn evenly and stuffed evenly or they turn out wonky. 

So, what can you do, if like me, your sewing skills are minimal and you don't really want to re-stuff the AMAZING channel back chair which you just found?! 

Well, let me tell you that a glue gun is your friend when upholstering a channel back.  

This is the first chair I upholstered, ever!  The fabric on the channels were shredding with age and wear, but the channels themselves were in wonderful shape.  The adage "they don't make things like they used to" can, and usually does, apply to old and vintage furniture.  That stuff was built to last!

When I brought the chair to the class, the instructor, a 30 year veteran of upholstery and who was a fantastically patient man named Gary Malec,  said that I was crazy to start with something so complex!  But it was the only chair I owned that needed work so he decided to make it easier by showing me this secret!

Basically, I took everything apart from the chair in usual order (back off first, then outside arm panels, inside arm panels, etc.) except that I left the front in tact.

Yeah, excuse me looking funny, just walking in the door.  My husband snapped this - but currently I am pretty excited that I actually found a picture of the chair with the back off and just the front channels still in tact!

Once all the nails and staples were out, and after re-doing the springs, the instructor had me take a large rectangle of fabric and drape it over the front of the seat back.  Then we just started from the center, placed a thick strip of melted glue, and tucked the fabric into the groove.  After that, he instructed me to go the one one next to the center, then the opposite side, and so on and so forth until I was at both the right and left sides of the chair back. 

The green upholstery is setting against the window (you can also see the cedar love seat that was talked about here)

After that it was just your regular upholstery job!  So, don't fret if you can't sew well, just give some glue from a glue gun a try and you should be set!

In case you'd like to give completely re-doing a channel back a try,
This is an example of taking an 18 channel chaise lounge and making it into a 7 channel one.  I tip my hat off to Karen and her hard work - she made the channels even and the reduction of channels really turned out nicely!
And Kim, from Kim's Upholstery has a four part YouTube tutorial on how to do it well.  

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Whatever Wednesday: Peep Wars!!


Easter is approaching with all it's divers kinds of candies and sugar-coated deliciousness!

In my opinion, Peeps is not one of those "sugar-coated delicous" items.  My kids love them but personally, they are just not my thing....until a friend introduced me to Peep Wars!  She's been having Peep Wars for years!

Here's what you do:

  1. Buy some Peeps - chicks or bunnies (we chose chicks because they stand up more easily and because I think they are the original shape of those sugar-coated marshmallows).  
  2. You and your child, friend, or significant other choose a Peep.
  3. Decorate your Peep with a toothpick sword, javelin, bow and arrow; a microwavable hat out of a cut off Popsicle stick; etc.     
  4. Then place your Peep and your opponent's Peep on a plate facing each other. 
  5. Put in the microwave                                                             
  6. Cook for 30 seconds.                                                                       
  7. The best part is watching those Peepish fiends going at it. Whichever one blows up the largest and/or drop his weapon(s) last wins.                                                                                     
  8. Listen to your children's peals of laughter (or if it's a day with little sleep, you may be laughing uncontrollably with your spouse too)                                                                 
  9. If my kids win, they get to eat their Peep.  If I win, they have to get me a piece of chocolate at the next possible opportunity.  (You see, I love chocolate waaay more than marshmallows!)  Yes, I totally won this one!  We've never actually had one of the Peeps stab the other (gruesome) but it happened this time!  Awesome!
Are you going to go get some Peeps for a Peep War this year?   If you do, let me know how it goes!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Furniture Friday: 5 Tips When Upholsterying With Vinyl

Have you ever been to a Goodwill Outlet?  This place is amazing for great deals!  The clothes are $.49 a pound, housewares are $.79 a pound, and my niece even found two retro-style chairs for only a little over $1.50...for the pair!  When you visit the Outlet, wear gloves (though I always seem to forget mine).  Just picture tons of gigantic blue bins filled to the brim with who knows what from all the Goodwills in your area.  And picture lots and lots and lots of people searching for great finds with you.  Yeah, so, again, wear gloves and be ready for amazingly great deals!

To those chairs:  of course, they needed a little bit of work.  As with any good retro (50s/60s) chair, they were bedecked with chrome and vinyl.  Other than being a little smudgy, the chrome was in great shape.  But the vinyl had large rips in both chairs.

So, I set out to fix them.  It seems that vinyl is a little more tricky to work with than regular fabric.  This is my first project with vinyl and here are a few things I learned:
  1. Sometimes you can leave the old upholstery on the chairs and recover over it.  Not so with vinyl because you can feel the ripped portion and even see it a little when covered with the new.  
  2. If you have cording on your furniture piece, use that cording and just upholster over it.  Cording is expensive and re-using the current parts of the chairs when possible helps.  Plus, the cording from this project had indentations in it from where the chrome portions smashed it down making putting it back in the correct place more easy.  It also was already curved to fit the seat in all the right places. 
  3. Making corners with vinyl is a bit difficult.  If you remember from this previous post with a tutorial on corners, there are a few ways to do them. With vinyl, it is seems it's best to cut the fabric to make the vinyl sit better.   I found this tutorial after I was finished.  Ah, if only I'd seen it before!  But he does a great job explaining corners for vinyl and you can see what I mean from the cut portion.  
  4. I didn't have any problems sewing my vinyl because it had a fabric-y (non-vinyl) backing on it.  But if you do, you can use tissue paper over your vinyl and it should help pull the vinyl through the sewing foot.  source
  5. Don't be afraid to give it a try.  I was nervous to try it out for months.  But when I finally did, it turned out just fine - not perfect, maybe, but it looks decent and should last a good long while. 
 Take off the old vinyl (because of the rips and so you can re-use the cording).

Remove the foam padding from the wood part of the seat deck.  You want the vinyl to fit tight and for your measurement to be a little precise. 

 Place the seat deck on the wrong side of the vinyl.

 Trace the seat deck with a heavy marker.
 Measure around your traced portion anywhere between 2-4 inches and make little dots to connect (fun, eh?).  I chose 4 inches on my first one and only 3 on the second to get better looking corners (with less excess vinyl - but maybe if I'd seen the YouTube video on it as linked above, I would have done the corners fine no matter how much excess I had - seriously, check it out!). 
Cut along all your dots around your traced portion.

(sorry, blurry picture - taking with my left had while trying to iron - lol)
 Iron.  You can stretch your fabric, but it will look more professional if it is ironed too.  If your vinyl doesn't have the nice backing like this one, use a sheet or dish cloth to iron through and put your setting on low!
 Place your seat deck and foam on the vinyl as evenly as possible.
 Staple all four corners.
Stretch the vinyl a bit to let the staples keep it taut. 
 Staple like crazy.
Cut the corners to make the vinyl sit better. 

 Use a cording foot or zipper foot on your sewing machine if possible.
 Leave a space where there is no cording. This allows you to tuck the cording (on the left side) into the portion of vinyl where there is no cord (the right side that is being held open).  Once the cording is sewn into place, staple it around the edge of your seat deck.  

 Enjoy your newly vinyled seats.  I'm pretty excited about them!  And if I can do this, so can you!

Afterward, I found this site with more hints for a professional look. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Whatever Wednesday: DIY Family Tree Wall


A while back my friend, Tracy, contacted me to ask if I could help her put a family tree on her wall.

Originally I was thinking it would be something along these lines:

This was shared with me on Facebook; I don't know the original source. If you do, please feel free to let me know.
You know, this picture is on a small flat wall.  Cute, minimalistic and elegant.  

That type of wall is what I was imagining when I agreed to go help my friend.  Complete with an oak tree, sycamore or some other hard-wood type tree. 

When I got to her house, she pointed to the wall where she wanted to tree; right up her stairwell!  

Gliding up the stairwell with an oak tree just would not work.  So, I checked out drawings of willow trees and wind blown trees on Google images.  

And came up with this drawing on paper for her space: 

Then started to sketch it on the wall with a pencil.  

Tracy and I debated for a while about what type of paint to use.  Initially she bought brown craft paint, but she had some really great blue-green accents in her house, so we ended up with a dark teal. We also decided that using semi-gloss wall paint would be best. And it's a good thing we ended up with a pint of wall paint instead of two bottles of craft paint - because we used about half of the pint or more!

This was a really fun project! Mostly because I got to hear so many fun and interesting stories about Tracy's ancestors.  Overall the project probably took about 6 hours to finish.  I couldn't really time it well because we were having too much fun looking at chatting and looking at photos to decide which one could go where.

PS - The pictures are in order.  Her progenitors on are the trunk and her ancestral lines climb up the stair wall.  

Monday, March 16, 2015

Make a Mix Monday: Onion Soup Mix

Last Monday I posted a recipe for brown gravy mix - which I have since used again, and it was, again, delicious and easy to use!

Today, since I also needed Onion Soup Mix for my grandmother's cabbage rolls, I am posting where I got that recipe, how it turned out and whether or not I thought it sped up the process of cooking time.

I found the recipe over at Raining Hot Coupons.  I liked her recipe because it didn't have turmeric in it, like some of the other recipes I'd found.  Not that I have anything against turmeric!  I just don't always have it sitting in my cupboard, waiting to be used.

The recipe was super-duper easy to make and in the cabbage rolls, it turned out fantastic!  Also, I only had beef bullion granules and not bullion powder, but it turned out just fine anyway.

I thought I'd share 10 great recipes to try with your onion soup mix (the first eight are crock pot recipes!):

  1. Root Beer Roast Beef Sandwiches
  2. Slow Cooker Turkey Breast
  3. Creamy French Onion Pot Roast
  4. Slow Cooker Classic Meatloaf
  5. Slow Cooker French Onion Soup
  6. Ranch and Onion Pork Chops
  7. Pot Roast Tacos
  8. Crockpot Beef Stroganoff
  9. Easy Cranberry Chicken
  10. Tender Onion Baked Chicken

Friday, March 13, 2015

Furniture Fridays: Wing Back Chair

While we were going to university, my husband worked in the alumni center.  During that time the department was renovating and offered some of the furniture to us.  So we got this really nice mustard yellow wing back chair. Seriously, nice; as college students it was probably one of the nicest things we owned! 

(Heh, this is Christmas morning and my husband's arm - the only before pic I could find.)

We kept it the lovely mustard color for about three years until I took an upholstery class and needed a project. 

Nate liked red and gold, so below was the end result.  Sadly, we don't own it anymore but it was a very nice, comfy chair and it was a great project to learn how to upholster.  

(And yeah, that's apparently the storage space for our iron. lol)
And you know?  I think that, now, I would like the mustard color better.  Crazy how you change your mind about things, eh? 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Whatever Wednesday: Pallet Flower Garden


Are you ready for spring?  Yeah, me too!! With how cold it was this winter, I am so excited for spring this year!  Last year at this time we were getting our house ready to sale.

For curb appeal, we needed to spruce up the area in front of a very long part of our house.  It had two beautiful bushes, but water was pooling around them and getting into the basement, so we ripped those out and were at a loss as to what to put in their places.

After browsing Pinterest I saw so many fun gardens using old shipping pallets that I thought I'd jump on the band wagon and give it try. 

My husband and I (and the new owners of our house) really liked how they turned out!  It was a fast and simple, yet pleasing, project to spruce up our front yard.