Country Traditions

September 14, 2010

How to reupholster a chair

Filed under: furniture — Tags: , , , — dmacc502 @ 12:39 pm
Singer sewing machine - 31K32 (detail 1)

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A chair, before and after reupholsteryThe reupholstered chair: from an auction house bargain to a thing of beauty

Try working with a piece of furniture that you find at an auction house or junk shop. When I talk about furniture picked up at auction, I’m not talking antiques. Consult your telephone directory to find a saleroom in a small town rather than one in a big city, which can be a lot pricier. Most sales have preview days, and it’s worth having a browse and looking closely at any pieces that catch your eye.

Check for basic soundness: is it fit for purpose, is it riddled with woodworm, is it more trouble than it’s worth?

I have found a wooden-framed chair with a back and seat that need replacing. The chair is a lovely shape and will work well with my other furniture. It’s not an old piece, cost just £8, and as it only needs stripping and small areas of fabric replacing it’s perfect in terms of time.

Obviously, if you are feeling brave and have the time you might well want to try something more ambitious. If you decide to use a chair, try to find a chair with a removable seat

What you need

Old chair
Paint stripper
Rubber gloves
Furniture wax or limewax
Tracing paper or pattern paper
Upholstery tacks
Sewing machine
Embroidery thread
Textile or craft adhesive
Staple gun (optional)

What to do: Stripping and cleaning

Paint-strippingPaint stripper needs to be used with caution (use outdoors if possible)

Before I strip and clean the chair I’m going to remove the pieces of fabric so I can use them as patterns. The chair has been coated with a thick, dark varnish and is generally a bit grubby. I’m using a product called Nitromors, which is a powerful paint stripper. If you are going to use a substance such as this you need to work outside or with very good ventilation. Wear a mask and rubber gloves, keep it away from pets and children and try not to splash it on your skin. Just follow the instructions and you’ll be fine.

LimewaxingLimewaxing gives furniture a soft quality and emphasises the grain of the wood

I’m going to wax my chair once I’ve finished removing the old varnish; this will bring out the grain and protect the wood. You can also limewax your piece; this will stain your furniture slightly and give it a chalky appearance. Limewax can be purchased from most good DIYstores or picture framers.


Vintage fabricA collection of beautiful old fabrics that I have sourced from Donna Flower

Try to use the existing upholstery as patterns for your new cover. Think about the type of fabric you are going to choose. I want this chair to be functional rather than merely decorative, so delicate fabrics won’t work. As the areas to be recovered aren’t huge I’m going to treat myself and buy some fabric. This is cheating, I know, butthe website I’m going to use to source my fabric specialises in reclaimed fabrics. It’s run by a lady called Donna Flower who is incredibly knowledgable, her website is a pleasure to use and she is constantly adding new fabrics. As I only need a metre of fabric and the chair was so cheap I think I can justify this little diversion.


Making a patternCut a paper pattern to fit your piece of furniture

Using tracing paper or pattern paper make yourself a pattern. Cut out your shapes from your selected fabric. I need to ensure that I cut sufficient material to allow me to pull it taut over the chair frame, but I don’t need to hem the fabric because any uneven edges will be hidden by the trim.

My next step is to replace the seat cover and back of my chair. Starting with the chair back I am going to secure the fabric with upholstery tacks. As the tacks are visible I’m going to create a trim to cover this edge.


Taking a bundle of ribbon, I’m going to join a variety of lengths and widths to make enough to fit around the fabric on the back.

Making a braidDon’t worry about any distortion created when stitching; you want your braid to have a wavy quality

When you have the desired length of trim, set your sewing machine to embroidery mode. Using contrasting machine embroidery thread, stitch a trailing motif along the length of your ribbon. Don’t feel you have to use an embroidery hoop for this; any distortion created through stitching will add rather than detract from your final trim. Using a good quality textile or craft adhesive, stick your finished trim in place. Allow the glue to dry thoroughly.

Staple gunA staple gun is often easier to use

Fitting the seat cover requires the fabric to be stretched tightly across the pad making certain that the corners are neat. If the seat is removable, then take it out first. Pin the fabric in place as you work before tacking the fabric in place on the underside. The new seat can now be replaced. If you want to you can use a staple gun to secure the new fabric to the base. It’s sometimes easier to get a tighter, more professional finish if you staple rather than tack. You should now have a unique piece of furniture which is both useful and lovely.


How to make table linen

Filed under: sewing — Tags: , , , — dmacc502 @ 12:32 pm
Embroidery in pedrle cotton yarn on cotton-lin...

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Making time: table linen imageAppliqué can transform a plain tablecloth into something stylish, in any design you choose

Appliqué is an easy way to completely transform a plain, vintage tablecloth into something contemporary and stylish, and at the same time cover up any stains! You could also use a vintage linen or heavy cotton sheet – I used an embroidered Swiss cotton sheet which was in perfect condition and wonderfully heavy. If you want to start with new fabric, organic cotton sheeting is ideal – it is extra wide, 2.85m/112in., so you can easily buy a piece big enough for even the largest dining table.

What you need

A hand sewing kit
Safety pins
Items to use as circle templates – plates, jars, CDs
Large piece of organic cotton, vintage tablecloth or vintage sheet
Scraps of medium-weight, washable fabrics which don’t fray too much
Embroidery threads

Note: You may prefer to iron lightweight interfacing onto the fabric scraps before cutting them out. It stops the fabrics from fraying and wrinkling

How to make it

Making time: table linen steps 1 & 2 compositeMark any stains with safety pins before covering them up with fabric circles

1. Pre-wash the base fabric and all the scraps you use for this project as you don’t want colours running in the wash. Also use a dye grabber when you wash, to catch any excess. Wash and iron the tablecloth/sheet/fabric. Mark any stains with safety pins so you can easily find them to cover with appliqué. If you are using new fabric, cut to the required size and hem all the edges.

2. Cut circles from medium-weight fabrics in a range of different sizes, from 6-20cm/21/2-8in. I used about 60 for this project. Spread out the cloth and pin the circles in a nice arrangement over the cloth, covering any stains if necessary. Pin in place, again using safety pins.

Making time: table linen step 3 compositeSew around the circle’s edges using either slipstitch or blanket stitch

3. Starting at one side of the cloth, sew the circles down. Sew around the edges of each circle using either slipstitch (a) or blanket stitch (b). Slipstitch is much faster, so it depends how long you are prepared to work on the tablecloth! Tack or use more pins if required and smooth out each circle to ensure it doesn’t wrinkle as you sew. Press when all the appliqués are attached.

It is quick and easy to make vintage linen napkins to match by sewing just a few small circles onto one corner of each napkin.

September 12, 2010

How to Make a Quilt

Filed under: quilting — Tags: , — dmacc502 @ 12:29 pm

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Quilt making is a fun and rewarding activity that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and skill levels. It is an act of creation of true beauty and an expression of emotion that is captured and shown in the careful choice and preparation of fabric and in the placement of each individual stitch.

The best thing about making your own quilt is that once it is finished you get to share it with your family and friends! A quilt can be used by someone on a day-to-day basis and serve as a constant reminder of the love, care and attention to detail that went into making it. For this reason many quilts are cherished and kept as heirlooms to be passed down to future family generations.

Getting started in quilt making

Making your own quilt is a very hands-on process that is very much a blend of art and skill. To make a quilt from start to finish can be a time-consuming process but it is not overly difficult to do as long as you do not try to rush it. The result at the end of the day is almost always worth the effort so remember just to relax and take your time!

In these pages you will find step-by-step guides to help walk you through all the stages of making a quilt from start to finish. Simply start at the first page and follow as each section leads on to the next, or browse down this list to find help on specific topics that you are stuck on.

Either way, take your time to enjoy the information presented here and hopefully you will find the inspiration to get started and make a quilt of your very own!

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