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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?

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Roll Up Beach Bed Tutorial

Life takes us on many unexpected journeys,  and this craft project was the beginning of our 2015 holiday that did not exactly work out the way we had hoped. Or happen at all that year in fact.  However, as with many disasters faced with a positive attitude and a healthy dose of irreverence, in the end it worked out better.  While it took us an extra twelve months to get there, in which we had a 7 month wait for permission from Minister’s delegate to get passports for our girls, we managed to amend our holiday to take in New Zealand, New Caledonia and Vanuatu so it wasn’t so beach oriented for the girls.  In all honesty, this is a post I started writing about 18 months ago, however after our holiday fell through, I put it aside for a little while.  But here we are, so let’s have a wander down my crafty memory lane together.

Create a Roll Up Beach Bed. Comprehensive Sewing Tutorial.

So there I was planning a superb family holiday to the South Pacific, fourteen glorious nights cruising around three gorgeous countries – Fiji, New Caledonia and Vanuatu.  Sun, sand and snorkelling, who could ask for more?  I could almost feel the sun on my back and the waves gently rocking me as I snorkelled through the reefs.  The only drawback was that, in the words of my youngest daughter, “I’d like the beach if it wasn’t for the sand and the waves.” Also, there is no wifi on Mystery Island, which is a problem if you are a fan-fiction addicted 14-year-old who secretly dreams of being a superhero.

I shouldn't need to be sewing to make this place enjoyable for my nerdlingsNow obviously I wanted my girls to enjoy our tropical holiday as much as the snorkelling aficionados in the family.  And since I was unable to convince them that swimming with turtles and all manner of brightly coloured fish is the most amazing experience to have when on tiny islands in the South Pacific, I found a crafty, lazy compromise.  The amazing Stella at The Golden Adventures of a Very Dark Horse came up with the solution; I’ve just tweaked it to fit with my family’s love of fantasy and things that deviate from the traditional norm. (And also because I’m essentially a 7-year-old in a grownup’s body and I like to DO IT MYSELF! *stamps foot in a petulant and precocious manner*).

Seeing Stella’s idea on Pinterest made me think about how I could make the girls’ island adventure relaxing and fun in their own way.  We’d planned horse riding in rainforests and abseiling down waterfalls to cater to their uniqueness, but I wanted them to enjoy their beach time as well, even though they don’t like to swim at the beach.

So with tutorial chosen, I was off to Spotlight to find some suitable material that wasn’t all ‘beachy’, ‘girly’, or ‘old lady’.  I chose a cotton fabric with a Wonder Woman print for Miss Ash, one of the only DC characters allowed in our house without a heartfelt discussion on why Marvel is better than DC and serious debate over whether Batman is a Super Hero or not.  (For the record, my vote is cast for Ninja with Gadgets in the Batman debate.  He’s not a superhero.)  And then off to the nearest department store for two bath sheets in matching colours, I went with a dark grey to satisfy the curled-up-in-her-room-not-being-social-and-reading-by-the-glow-of-the-tablet vibe she had going on at the time.

I’d like to point out that this is an excellent craft to use up bits of leftover fabric and upcycle old towels. I used new because I was trying to make a brand new gift for them rather than indulge my inner hippie.

Create a Roll Up Beach Bed. Comprehensive Sewing Tutorial.

With two beach sheets, some hobby fill, a metre of Wonder Woman fabric and matching thread in hand, I was ready to begin the day’s crafty adventure.

Create a Roll Up Beach Bed. Comprehensive Sewing Tutorial.

The first step was to decide how big I wanted the pillow part of the bed to be.  Keeping in mind that the finished product will wrap around this, making the finished size of the bag slightly larger than the size of the pillow.

Create a Roll Up Beach Bed. Comprehensive Sewing Tutorial.

I cut the first towel into four pieces as shown above.  The large piece on the right is for the pillow.  I made mine the width of the towel x 33 cm.  The two skinny pieces in the middle are for the handles and once again they are the width of the towel x 15 cm.   The last piece is leftovers, don’t throw it away though, I have a way to use it up at the end.  I hate wasting crafty goodies.  And Tim Tams. Never waste a Tim Tam.

Sew a Roll Up Beach Bed. Comprehensive CraftTutorial.

Next I put the pillow part together by folding it almost in half, leaving about 5cm of the raw edge exposed (this ‘flap’ is where the other towel will be attached to the pillow).  I sewed the open ends together and raw edge down, leaving a gap along the raw edge to push the stuffing into.  (Don’t worry about the exposed raw edge as it will be hidden by the other towel very shortly).

Sew a Roll Up Beach Bed. Comprehensive CraftTutorial.

I sewed the gap closed and then pinned the second towel over the exposed raw edge to hide it and create the rest of the bed  part of the beach bed.  To make sure it was strong and the stitching reinforced for lots of lazing, I sewed it in three separate places as marked above.  Sewing along the side of the pillow was awkward; somewhat like trying to drive a car with a Pillow Pet under each arm.  My best advice is to take it slow, pull it through straight, use LOTS of pins and remember that the towelling is quite thick, you’ll want a sturdy needle on the machine unless you want to break a few.

Sew a Roll Up Beach Bed. Comprehensive CraftTutorial.

Sew a Roll Up Beach Bed. Comprehensive CraftTutorial.

I rolled up the beach bed with the right side on the inside of the roll, set it aside for the moment and got the Wonder Woman fabric out.  I cut two strips that were 6.5 cm wide…well, in reality I made two small cuts in the fabric 6.5 cm apart and ripped the fabric down to the end.  This makes a much straighter line than I could ever cut freehand, is quick, and oddly satisfying.  But if you want to cut it like a grown up with scissors and the like, go right ahead.  I folded the edges of the strips 1cm in on either side and pressed them.  If you want ties that aren’t as wide as mine, turn the edges in further or make your strips slimmer. I wanted the strips wide enough that I would be able to reinforce the stitching as they will be holding the whole project shut while there is a fair amount of weight in the side pockets.

Sew a Roll Up Beach Bed. Comprehensive CraftTutorial.

Fold the strips in half longways so the pressed edges meet and press them again.  There is an inordinate amount of pressing at this stage of the game. You may as well leave the iron plugged in for the time being.  Run a seam down the open side close to the edge. At one end of each of the ties, fold over twice to hide the raw edge, press and sew to keep it in place.  At the opposite end, fold 1 cm over and press down.  This is the end that you will attach to the towelling.

Grab the rolled up beach bed that you had put aside and place the ties evenly along the opening.

crossPin and sew the ties in place.  I wanted these stitches to hold with the weight of books and sun block pulling at them, so I sewed the ties on with a cross pattern for extra strength, like sew (like so… I slay me):

Incidentally, the answer to your unasked question is yes.  Three of the ties will be on the edge of the foot of the bed and three of them will be in the middle of the back of the bed.  This is why we rolled it up with the right side facing in.

Sew a Roll Up Beach Bed. Comprehensive Wonder Woman CraftTutorial.

Next, it was time to put the pockets on the side.  The size of the pockets you create will be dictated by the size of the stuff your little nerdling wants to carry to the beach. The best way to create the pockets is to measure the nerd crap your non-snorkelling, geekling wants to bring to make the outdoors feel more like indoors and custom-create the pockets.  For the ones I did, I made sure that there were pockets and sleeves the right size for books, headphones, sunblock, a Nintendo DS and sunglasses.  They will also be dependent on the size of the towel you started out with.

For the long pocket, I cut (and by cut, you know I mean ripped) a length of fabric that was 66 cm by 21 cm.  Then it was back to the iron to press the edges over by 1cm.  Along one of the long edges (the one that is now the top of the pocket) fold it over again and press so this edge does not have a visible raw edge on the back. Run a line of stitching along this top edge to keep it in place.

Grab your rolled up beach bed and position the long pocket underneath the ties as shown in the picture.  Make sure it is parallel to the foot of the bed so things aren’t inclined to fall out of wonky pockets as it is being carried.

Sew the pocket in place then, measure the items most likely to be carried in the pockets and sew dividers along the pocket as illustrated by the dotted lines above.  I do not suggest leaving it as one long pocket as it will sag in the middle and things will fall straight out.

Sew a Roll Up Beach Bed. Comprehensive Wonder Woman CraftTutorial.

Flip the bed over and create pockets on the other side.  Mine were cut at 33 cm x 21 cm and were created with the exact same process as above.  Create as many small pockets or another large one if you wish.  If Donna’s first meeting with the Doctor has taught me anything, it is that pockets are always handy.

Sew a Roll Up Beach Bed. Comprehensive Wonder Woman CraftTutorial.

The only thing left to do to finish off the beach bed is to make the handles using the two 15 cm wide pieces of toweling you cut in the beginning.  Fold each one in half and sew down the raw edges.  Turn right side out.  Using your patterned fabric, create sleeves for the ends of the handles.  Cut 4 pieces 10 cm x 21 cm.  Fold 1cm down on each end, wrong sides of the fabric together and press.  Flip it over and fold in half, right sides together. Press.  Run a 1 cm seam down each side and clip the corners.  Turn right side out and slide them on to the handles like end caps.

Sew a Roll Up Beach Bed. Comprehensive Wonder Woman CraftTutorial.

Unroll the bed and place the first handle on the foot of the bed near the ties, top of the patterned sleeve flush with the edge of the towel.  The width of your towel will determine how far in from the edge the handles are placed. Mine were 14 cm in from the edge.  Pin in place.  Place the second handle the same distance in from the edge as the first.  Pin in place.  Using the same cross pattern as above, sew the handles one.  Roll the bed back up and pin the other end of the handles in between the ties on the other side of the opening.  Sew using the cross pattern.

Clip all the loose threads.  Sit back with a self-satisfied smug look of self-congratulatory contentment.

Oh, remember that piece of leftover towelling that you kept aside for the end?  It is perfect for cleaning off sandy feet before sitting on your newly created beach bed.  Use some leftover patterned fabric to cover the raw edge of the towelling then fold it up and place it in one of the handy dandy pockets of your beach bed.

Sew a Roll Up Beach Bed. Comprehensive CraftTutorial.

Sew a Roll Up Beach Bed. Comprehensive CraftTutorial.

Sew a Roll Up Beach Bed. Comprehensive Wonder Woman CraftTutorial.

Wonder Woman Beach Bed Craft Tutorial.

 

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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.

original_poster

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’.

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