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Recover your Barstools and Revamp your Space

Refresh, restore, renew.

Today’s project is brought to you by the prefix re-.  As in refresh, restore and renew an item instead of buying new.  In part because I love to get hands on with my home renovation projects.  And also because I am flat broke having found myself retrenched.  Yes, you heard correctly. I am (unfortunately) currently between jobs.  But as they say, every cloud has two birds in the bush and you can’t put a pig in a wet sack. Or something like that.  I seem to remember more silver linings and maybe something about another door opening in the original proverb.

But I digress, as is my way.  I have always wanted to work for myself, and while I know it will take quite some time to be in a position to support myself with the Blogging and Virtual Assistant business I have decided to move forward with, I am positive and looking forward to this new adventure.  Plus, this new change of direction will give me time to get stuck in to all the half finished jobs around the house (that don’t require me to spend a cent because I already planned for them ages ago).

And there are sooo many half finished jobs that I am spoilt for choice.

When my lovely in-laws heard that I was looking at setting up my own business while also looking for paid employment, they donated the two wrought iron stools they had laying around in the shed to the cause.

I knew they had the potential to be an absolutely perfect addition to my breakfast bar (the chairs that is, not my in-laws) and the ideal place to put my tuchus as I sent out job applications and worked on my business.  A little worn, a little rusty and a little weary.  But brimming with potential.  So I promptly left all the unfinished renovations unfinished, and set to work on this newly presented project.

Since I was going to have to do this project without spending a single cent, I had the choice of two suitable fabrics I had bought several months back to make cushion covers for my bedroom.  Thank goodness for my innate need to buy a little extra of everything ‘just in case’.  I loved them both for this project and was leaning towards the patterned fabric until my daughter pointed out it might be a little bit too much once I got all the pictures hung on the stairwell wall nearby.  As usual, she was right and I went for the plain grey fabric, with a little surprise burst of colour on the underside of the stools.  And I considered the idea of making little bolster cushions out of the patterned fabric to stop them looking too plain.

But first things first – for those of you playing along at home, for this project you will need:

  • Fabric of your choice, the exact amount needed will be determined by the size of your seats. I used an unlined triple weave curtain fabric, but whatever you chose make sure it is durable and not too lightweight.  For my seats I used about 70 x 63 cm.
  • Scissors
  • Drill with screwdriver bit/screwdriver
  • Staples and staple gun.
  • Staple remover (or flatblade screwdriver if you, like the vast majority of humans, do not possess a staple remover)
  • Pliers
  • Dressmaker’s pins
  • Wine to celebrate your success. Or to get drunk enough not to see your mistakes.  Up to you really.

1. Remove the seat

The first step is to determine how to remove the seat of your stool.  Flip it over and take a look.  Thankfully for me it was four simple screws holding it in and with the use of my trusty, and much loved Ryobi One Drill it was a simple matter to remove them.  They were a little rusty, so I went downstairs and got some new ones for when it came time to put everything back together.

2. Pull out the staples

With your seat off, place it upside down on your work surface (aka kitchen bench) and get to work removing the staples.  The tiny ones holding in the bottom fabric on my seat were near on impossible to remove any which way I tried, so I simply ripped the fabric off.  This exposed the much larger staples holding the upholstery on.  And while I *have* a staple remover, I certainly didn’t *use* a staple remover.  I used a flat blade screwdriver to get those suckers out (a fact which we will not be sharing with my husband, the technical owner of said screwdriver).  Slide whatever makeshift tool you are using under the staples and lever them out.  Any that are shifting but are being a little more stubborn can be manhandled out with pliers once you have enough to grip. This still left the tiny staples from before, so I once again simply ripped the fabric away from them.

As a side note, before you remove the staples that hold the seat covering in place, look at how the fabric is folded/cut as this is what you will be aiming for in order to have nice smooth edges on your recovered seat.

3. No seriously, there are more staples than you think…

With all the fabric gone, it left enough space for me to be able to manoeuvre a smaller screwdriver under the staples and pull them out with pliers.  But let’s face it, this side is going to be completely covered so technically it wouldn’t have changed the aesthetics of the project if you left them there.  But I knew it would bug me to know I’d only half done the job, so I got stuck in and ripped them all out.  And that’s the longest and most tedious part of this project over and done with.  Pretty quick and easy, right?

If you find that the cushioning of your seat has disintegrated, now would be the time to duck out and grab some foam and cut it to size.  Thankfully mine was absolutely fine and comfy, so I forged ahead without worrying about this.

4. Cut your fabric

Now you have a naked seat, it’s time for the fun part.  Recovering your poor, nekkid seat.  And getting the cut right is easier than you might have first thought.  All you need to do is grab the fabric you had removed from the stool, place it face down on the back of the fabric you will be using, pin in place and cut around it, using the old fabric as a template.

5. Staple fabric in place

Lay the fabric right side up (shocking, I know!) over the seat of your seat, smoothing out any unwanted wrinkles.  And I would assume that all wrinkles are unwanted wrinkles in this situation.

Check it is positioned correctly by folding the fabric around to where it will be stapled.  All good?  Excellent.  Grab your staple gun and start by putting a couple of staples side by side in one side.  Move to the opposite side and, pulling tight to give the completed project a taught, smooth look, put a couple of staples in here as well.  Now work your way around, making sure you remain wrinkle free have neat, even folds to account for the curves.

6. Cover the base

Looking good?  Mine too.  At this stage I was thrilled with how it was beginning to look.  To cover the raw edges of the fabric and exposed woodwork, you will want to lay the fabric you will be using on the bottom face down on the bench.  You could simply use matching fabric, it would give it a professional finish, especially if you are, like me, using a plain fabric on top.  However, I like colour, fun and little bit of a surprise so I chose the patterned fabric that may have come off as too busy when choosing fabric right back at the beginning of this project.  As I had already used these two fabrics together on another project I knew they contrasted perfectly.

Use the seat as a template and draw around it on the back of the fabric.  Cut around this, leaving a couple of centimetres to fold under, hiding the exposed edge.  Then flip the seat back over and staple in place.

7. Clean the framework

The stools I was revamping had been left out in the weather so there was plenty of elbow grease needed to remove the rust and dirt.  If yours look as tired as mine, now is the time to break out the sugar soap and scourer.  As tempting as it is to put it all back together so you can revel in your genius, you don’t want to mess up your fresh, clean fabric with dirty water and grime.

8. Reattach the seat to your stool.

Finally, it is time to firmly reattach the seat to the frame. I used my Ryobi One drill again, but if you are way more energetic than me, get out your screwdriver and go for it.  Flip right side up and stand back to admire your handiwork.

9. Sit on stool feeling accomplished and drinking wine.

You don’t need guidance for this step – I believe in you.

And there you have it.  A total revamp of your breakfast bar stool that needs zero outlay and is easily accomplished in an afternoon.  Isn’t it amazing how small things like this change the entire look of the space?

pin me

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Captain America LED Monogram Tutorial

Or ‘How do you get molten glue off of raw flesh? Asking for a friend.’

I wanted to make a tutorial for the Hollywood style ‘movies’ sign that I made for Christmas last year and used for our staycation a few weeks back.  But I already have a movies sign, so what would be the point in making another one?  Nothing, that’s what.  Bummer.

Fossicking around downstairs I came across some leftover LEDs from that project which I had bought at the $2 store.  Sadly, I’m a numpty sometimes and I accidentally bought some coloured lights when I needed all white for my original project.  But luckily for this numpty those forgotten red and blue LED packs sparked an idea for a new, but strikingly similar project.  I would supersize my original sign and make a Captain America themed LED monogram letter for my daughter.  We are slowly going through and refurnishing her room, this would be a great addition to the makeover.

I feel it only right to mention here that the Hollywood style movies sign was not my idea.  I wanted to create an outdoor movie theatre for Christmas for our kids and I saw one in a picture I found on Google images.  It looked easy enough to make my own so I broke out the hot glue gun and had a bash.  Quite the successful bash if I do say so myself.

captain_america led monogram tutorial_pin

Now, my daughter’s name starts with A, so that is what I went with and it is what I will be referring to as we go through the tutorial.  Substitute the first letter of your child’s name in or leave it as an A for America, Captain America.

Sorry, started to channel James Bond for a moment there.

captain america led needs list

Before we start I would just like to put it out there that I still have all my own skin despite my inherent clumsiness and my husband should just sod off.  I can totally be trusted with the hot glue gun.  I mean, I did suffer minor burns, but that is to be expected.  A craft project without serious injury is a success in my book.

publisher document captain america a

Using whatever graphics program you have (or drawing it up by hand if you have more skills than I do) print your A to size.  Although I don’t use it for anything else, Publisher’s banners function allows you to print over several pages with no effort so that’s the program I chose.  My letter took up four pages.

Layer three circles onto the A to create the rings of the ‘sheild’.  Cover up the middle of the A with a triangle shape that has white fill and no border and replace the middle with a star.

Print two copies out.

Turn each copy over and tape together.

captain america led monogram tutorial step two

Attach one of your printouts to cardboard with a light run of glue.

Using art knife cut the A out, including the star in the middle. Pull your template off.  If you work quickly the glue won’t have had time to dry.

Rule a line half way in from the outer edge.  Mark every 2 cm.  Using something pokey like a skewer, poke holes through the card every two centimetres.  This will be your guide to where your lights will go through.

captain america led monogram tutorial step four

Using the second template you printed, cut circles out of card.

From largest to smallest you will need to cut: white, red, blue.

captain america led monogram tutorial

Glue a piece of red card to the front of the A, completely covering it.  Cut off the excess, including the star in the middle.

Glue the white circle onto the middle of the A.  Cut off excess

Repeat for the red and blue circles, cutting off the excess after each layer.  Check all edges are secured and glue down if necessary.  You should now have a shield on your monogram, congratulate yourself and try not to drink the wine until after you have finished using the hot glue gun.

captain america led monogram tutorial step 5

To build up the back make frames by tracing around the A on to more cardboard.  Rule a line 1 cm in from the edges and cut to create an outline and cut out the middle.

Do this twice more

captain america led monogram tutorial step six

While you are at it, cut two more As exactly the same as the first.  One out of the cardboard and the other from red card.  Put these aside, they will become the backing pieces.

captain america led monogram tutorial step seven

Using hot glue, secure the frames to the back of the A one on top of the other.

Trim the outside edges to make them straight.

Cut strips of red card 8 cm wide.  These will need to be long enough to go all the way around the outside edge of the A.  Depending on the length of your card, you will need to cut at least 2 and secure them end to end with hot glue.

Draw a line 2 cm in from the edge and score with the back edge of your art knife.

If you have never scored anything before, this is just cutting a VERY shallow line in the card to give your fold a crisp edge.

Starting at the top of a long straight edge of the A, run a line of glue along the built-up edge.   Glue the red strip along the edge.  The scored edge should be at the back of the A with the 2 cm overhanging the back.

Run the red stripping all the way around the A, scoring the corners as you go.

Cut into the corners and clip just like you are covering school books with contact.  Hot glue the overhang down at the back.

Take your 3 LED strings and join them together using a spot of solder.  If you don’t have skills and a soldering iron or (like my husband often threatens me with) you have had your hot-and-burny-things privileges taken away due to clumsiness you can either of the following:

  1. Use one longer string of lights
  2. Use the three strings and just have three battery packs on the back.

I’ll endeavour to have a separate post for soldering the lights together within the week and link to it.

captain america led monogram tutorial step eight

Cut a notch in the star just large enough for the light string to poke through on the backing A you cut earlier.  Cover over the edges of the backing piece with red card.

captain america led monogram tutorial step i-lost-count

Flip your monogram over and grab your thin pokey thing again.  Punch the holes you made earlier all the way through the card you glued over the original guide holes.

Now turn it back to the front and widen those holes so they are just smaller than your LEDs.  I used a philips head screwdriver for this.  You want to push it through from the front to make the cleanest hole.  It will minimise the ragged edges to be cleaned up later.

Alternating the red, white and blue lights, push the LEDs through so just the tip of the light is showing.  Once they are all in place, secure them with a spot of hot glue. If you have a few LEDs left over without holes, it is no big deal.  Just leave leave them loose and entomb them inside the body of the letter.

With the battery back on the outside, glue the thick cardboard backing piece in place.

Cut an 8 cm strip of blue card, securing two together if needed as you did with the red card.  As with the red stripping, draw a line 2 cm in from the edge and score.  Line the star in the middle the same way you did around the outside with red card.  Swear a little and try not to drown your frustrations in wine.

Fail, drink wine and continue on.

Fold the scored edges to theback and glue in place.

Cover the back with the red backing card you cut earlier.

All there is left to do is to secure the battery pack to the back of the letter with hot glue and you can drink the rest of your wine without fear of having to explain your hot glue gun accident at the emergency room.

captain america led monogram tutorial 1











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DIY Wishing Well or Cards Box for your Wedding

wishing well header

AKA ‘check out my box’

I’m a big fan of not spending $35,000 on a wedding.  My second (and favourite…so far) wedding was a simple ceremony held on a little rocky outcrop overlooking the scalloped beach below.  Waves crashing against islands scattered throughout Brisbane Water in the distance .  I was married in jeans, a cheesecloth shirt and FABULOUS shoes.  There was no stress, little expense, and we were able to spend the morning sightseeing our way down to the ‘venue’ with family who had never visited the Central Coast before.  It was the most relaxing and memorable day.  Ten guests, lots of love and laughter and only a little bit of drunkenly setting fire to a napkin at the reception.  Accidentally.  Accidentally setting fire to a napkin; the word accidentally is integral to the situation and often overlooked by my husband as he retells that anecdote.

A friend, for whom I will be a bridesmaid for in October, posted on Facebook that she would like someone to make a box for her cards to be put in at the wedding.  The post was accompanied by a shared picture from the  DIY Weddings Central Coast Facebook page.


Eager to be helpful and, to be perfectly honest, just as eager to have an excuse to break out my hot glue gun, I was all over that like a stressed out mother on a bottle of wine.

A quick trip to kmart to purchase the box and a not so quick trip to spotlight to gather roses and I was ready to begin.

wishing well list

The hardest part about this project is deciding how you want your flowers to look.  I opted for an alternating pattern that would create a nice, slanting line of each colour. I did consider a randomly placed effect, but I was concerned the bride’s OCD would kick in and cause her to have a nervous tick.

wishing well tutorial step one

Place the flowers around the outside edge of the lid of the box if you’re going for the same look as mine, alternating the colours.  Make sure you’ve got the same number of roses down each vertical edge and each horizontal edge.  Mine held 13 roses horizontally and 10 roses vertically.

Hot glue in place once you’re happy with the look of them.  Continue on your merry way filling in the pattern with the rest of the roses until the whole lid is covered.  Give yourself a pat on the back and celebrate not burning yourself for a change with some sauteed mushrooms, chorizo and scrambled eggs for brunch.

wishing well tutorial step two copy

Print out the letters for CARD, or whatever you want it to say.  If you’re going to cover them in ribbon as I did, you’ll want a fairly basic font.  If you want a fancy font, an alternative is to buy some wooden lettering and paint it.  To get the ribbon covered effect I have used, cut the lettering out that you have printed.

If at this time you feel a bit of pain emanating from your hand, look down and discover the source of your pain is the torrential amount of blood pouring from your finger.  It is best not to question how you managed to hurt yourself on the blunt part of the scissors, it is bound to make you feel a little special and inept.  Place band aid on finger so as not to stain your pretty pastel project and replace every time it is soaked through.  Soldier on, this is crafting, there are bound to be casualties.

Use your handy glue stick to stick the letters to some corrugated cardboard from a reclaimed box that has most likely been cluttering up your shed just waiting for an occasion like this.  Make sure there is no printing on the side that will face out for obvious reasons.

Use an art knife to cut the letters out.

wishing well tutorial step three

Now use these as templates to create another set.  Glue these together to create one thick super-letter.  A gluestick will be fine for this, it will all be held together with ribbon, hot glue and love soon anyway.  Congratulations, you are ready to start covering them in ribbon.

wishing well tutorial step four

To avoid having raw edges showing, cover the ‘feet’ of each letter first. To avoid creases in the ribbon and to work around awkward areas such as the middle of the ‘A’, use short lengths and hot glue at the back rather than one continuous length.  The ‘A’ above has the ‘feet’ covered (you can see the ends of this poking out from under the horizontal lengths) and four smaller lengths wrapped around and glued at the back.  Next I covered the edges of the cross piece and wound ribbon horizontally over it.  Continue on and hope for the best.  You’ll be fine.

Around the curved edges, switch to using the narrower ribbon.  You will get a much nicer finish.

tips copy



Tip for beginners:  Best not do this in your onesie. Large gaps between buttons can lead to the following text needing to be sent.

wishing well tutorial danger warning

To impede the speed at which you can create your project, you may find this is the point at which the glue stick in your hot glue gun will become quite comfortable where it is and require you to move it along in teeny tiny increments with a pen shoved down the end.  Chalk it up to another casualty and soldier on.  There is crafting to do.

Once the letters are finished, you are almost there.  All that is left to do is arrange them on the lid to make sure you’re happy with the positioning before you use your recalcitrant glue gun to secure them there permanently.

wishing well tutorial step five

All that you have left to do is to add the final embellishments.  Grab your tweezers, beads, stamens and wire to bring it all together.  I threaded beads on to gold wire, twisted off the ends to secure them and glued them in place.  The tweezers are important here as they will keep your precious skin from falling victim to very hot glue and allow you to position the embellishments perfectly, hiding the glue and raw edges.

wishing well tutorial step six

Now lets take it one step further and bring it all together.  I used the remaining roses plus a few beads and sprays to decorate two of the inside corners of the box.

wishing well tutorial finished

And there you have it.  Your personalised, wishing well/cards box for your upcoming nuptials.

Whatever your style, this is a DIY wedding project that can be adapted to reflect your individual personality.  Fill the lid with pokeballs, Marvel character logos or pearls; just make sure it screams ‘this is the day I dreamed of’.