Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas Creations - DIY Advent Calendar Tutorial

I finished it! And it is not even December 1!! Woo-hoo! As promised, here is the Advent Calendar that I made this year. As I mentioned earlier, I have always by-passed the ready-made cheap ones you can pick up everywhere. They just weren't for me. So, I usually didn't think about them come the Christmas season. However, this year, the idea came to me to make my own, after hearing about others making their own. DUH!! A perfect solution! So, here is my version of the Advent Calendar.

My inspiration came to me when I stumbled upon these little tin containers. You can find these in the wedding favor aisle of department stores or even bead containers in craft stores.

Next, I had to label each of these with the numbers counting down the days until Christmas. Now, obviously it had been a very long time since I had even looked at an Advent Calendar because I thought, mistakenly, that you needed 25 spaces. After all, December 25th is Christmas. I was very wrong. You only need 24 as I am sure was obvious to you, just not to me!

I decided to use scrapbooking paper that I already had on hand. I went with the red, black and white to coordinate with the rest of the decor. I cut a large black circle, a smaller red scallop and finally a small white circle that had the number printed on it by the computer in various fonts.

I glued the black circle to the front of the tin's lid using a regular school gluestick and then glued the red scallop on top of that. Finally, I used foam tape to apply the number, adding a little dimension.

Once that was done, I got my husband to cut me a piece of MDF (again, from stuff that we had around) that was just the size I needed. I decided to make a rectangle and make the calendar look like a present. I did toy around with the shape of a tree but thought it was a little trickier to figure out the size of the wood. Just tricky enough to make me choose the rectangle.

Once the wood was cut, I primed and painted it using Krylon paint. I had used this for the armchair redo and loved the 360 degree rotating nozzle. I decided to use it again.

After the paint dried, I hot-glued each of the little tins on the wood, leaving an appropriate sized edge of wood all around. I set the rows closer to the bottom to make sure there was enough room for the bow on the top.

I filled the tins with 4 pieces of chocolate each, 1 for each child, not including baby, or mom and dad, for that matter. Maybe next year I will make one for the two of us and fill it with dark chocolate for me and white chocolate for Jay!

Add a bow and VOILA!! My very own Advent Calendar! Isn't it just great? And reusable, too!

Finally, if I have time after I tackle more laundry today and school tomorrow, I want to add Scripture references to each tin. I want us to trace the whole story of Christ's birth as prophesied in the Old Testament and realized in the New Testament. After all, that is the real meaning of Christmas, isn't it? Let the countdown begin!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Christmas Decor - The Tree

Ah, the tree! One of my most favorite parts of Christmas decorating is definately the tree. I remember with fondness the live trees we always had when I was a child. As an adult, I still insist on a live evergreen even though my husband still tries to convince me of the virtues of a fake one! And, this year, we got a beauty! Until last year, we have always gone to cut our own tree, trudging through the snow and the freezing cold with all the kids in tow, looking for that perfect tree. Usually I end up just saying "Whatever, that's fine" because we are all so frozen and no one cares anymore! But, I would do it all over again! We almost always went with friends, took sleigh rides when the weather was mild enough, sat by a fire and roasted marshmallows - it really was a treasured time for me - not so much for Jay as he gets cold fingers REALLY easy. What a good sport he is! This year, as last year, we went to the local gas station and selected a pre-cut tree. I found a 9' Balsam fir that was marked as a 6'-7' tree, probably due to its narrowness. This is a tall tree but not a wide one. Absolutely perfect! We have a vaulted ceiling so height is no problem, it is floor space that is precious. So, this weekend was filled with tree decorating. I admit, at times it was a tad stressful, thanks to all the little helpers. But only one ornament was broken, so that is pretty good! We will see how that number changes by the time the tree comes down!

I think this was the very first year Jay helped me put lights on the tree! And it was very entertaining, listening to him complain, all with a smile on his face! We had so much fun putting on the lights and the ribbon. Well, I think it was fun, he thinks it was . . . tedious and unnecessary. ☺ However, the tree is finally done and it feels just like Christmas!

I chose black, white and red ornaments last year and stuck with those colors again. Probably will for a few years. I am not about to buy new ones each year. However, I think the idea of a hot pink and black Christmas tree will need to be pursued in the future! You know, when we live in the country and have 3 Christmas trees (right, Dear? wink, wink!!)!!

Tah da! What do you think?

Some of my favorite ornaments include these masks (I have a Fine Arts degree in theatre so masks have always intrigued me! Maybe I will pursue that . . . when we move to the country and have more space!!)

and these flowers.

I love these ornaments - they make me think of flamenco dancers. Not sure why, they just do.

Oh, and these just had to come home with me. Check out the rings! So big and sparkly! So girly! So perfect!

I love mirrored ornaments. I have these little mirror balls in red and silver plus some larger cone-shaped mirror "trees" - I just love the way they reflect the light!

And I know this is not the tree but you can see the reflection of it in the mirrored barn windows I made this summer. I added a "NOEL" sign above it and replaced the feather wreaths with large black sparkly stars. So pretty!

Finally, one last story to share with you. I remember back to last year at this time. I was 7 months pregnant with baby #5. Jay was on a 4-day trip to Calgary for a farmer's summit, something he won and we both thought he should attend. I decided to decorate the tree while he was gone. So, I bundled up the kids, went to the tree stand, picked a tree by myself, helped the guy tie it on the van, drove home and brought it inside by myself, carried it up the stairs and set it in the stand by myself and decorated the whole thing by myself. I was extremely proud of all that I accomplished by myself and even more thrilled I didn't go into labor with all that activity!! Knowing my independant spirit, Jay was not at all surprised and maybe just a little thankful he didn't have to help! PS: In spite of what it may sound like, I have an amazing husband who lets me decorate to my heart's content, even if it is not what he would do! I love you, sweetheart! Thanks for being you and letting me be me!

Well, I must run and finish up the advent calendar! I am so close to being done and excited to show you what I came up with! Stay tuned!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Lea Carolina Retreat Bunkbed Transforms Room

Ever since those bunkbeds arrived 3 days ago, the girls' room has been THE stompin' grounds. THE happenin' place. THE absolute place to be. Everyone who is anyone is hanging out in that room, at least in this house! They are in that room more now than they ever used to be. I like to think they are smitten by the beauty of the new beds, just as I am. However, more than likely, they probably just like it because it is new and different. And that top bunk is about as close to heaven as you can get in this house! So, I thought I would show you what all the fuss is about! I told you about our dilemma in finding nice white wooden bunkbeds over here, which was when we actually ordered them. So, the wait was long but so worth it. The bunks are absolutely beautiful! The detailing. The femininity. The color. The quality. All of it combine to create a gorgeous sleeping arrangement. Here is the photo of the bunk from the Cymax website, though whom we ordered them. The name of them is Lea Carolina Retreat.

And this is the same set of bunks in my girls room. Aren't they just great?

They definately emphasis just how small their room actually is (9' x 9.5')but there is absolutely nothing we can do about that. The disappointing part is that the beautiful detailing is mostly hidden when you look at the beds from the door. But, I know these beds will eventually make their way to our new house where the floor plan will be completely different. Hopefully, the beds can be used separately there. However, for now, this is how it will be. So, here is what the end panel, the headboard, of each bed looks like. Isn't it just gorgeous?

I just love the curve of the headboard. It adds such charm. What you cannot properly see in the pictures is the bun feet on the bottom bed. I love bun feet. And I love that these beds have them.

Jay and I, with help from all the kids, put the beds together ourselves (talk about an environmental nightmare with all the styrofoam packing pieces!). It was not hard at all. In fact, it was very easy. So few pieces. But you can tell they are quality. The headboards and footboards are heavy! Actually, the Lea company is a La-Z-Boy company so I was confident in the quality of the furniture as I know La-Z-Boy has a good reputation.

Anyway, here is a picture of the girls' room with the cribs.

And here it is with the new beds. Oh, so pretty!

Finally, to make the room complete, I need to refinish this cabinet. It was given to us by some friends when they were moving a few provinces away. It is just perfect for this room. Plus, it has bun feet! A total winner. However, it needs to be painted. It is currently just pine wood with a clear finish on it. My intention is to add some picture frame molding to it, paint it to match the beds and add new silver knobs. Should make this really functional piece really beautiful as well!

So there you have it. The new room. And, in case you were wondering, our baby also sleeps in this room. Yup, she came down to join the girls. Her playpen fits between the end of the bunkbeds and the wall, right beside the cabinet shown above, with about 3 inches to spare. But I knew it would work. After all, I graphed it out! Eventually, when she outgrows her playpen, we will slide a crib mattress under the lower bunk and use that as a trundle bed. And then, before she outgrows that, we will move and have more rooms! But for now, this is the new and cozy girl's room! Now to beautify our own!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Just a Part of Life

I thought I would fill you in on what is going on around here not related to decorating. Or home improvement. Or projects. Well, I may mention them but no tutorials or anything.

First of all, you should know that when you are 5 years old and thin as a stick - and I mean really skinny - life is so stressful trying to find a pair of pants that fit. Most mornings I hear whines and complaints about the pants falling off. So, we tighten the adjustable waist A LOT and then all the bunches from being tightened hurt. And if you add a belt then the big bump in the front is bothersome. Sweats. That is the answer. And apparently he needs more!

Last night I received that magic phone call that told me the bunk beds were coming today! YIPPEE!! So it's been a long, loooooong wait but at least they are here. And we weren't scammed. I am waiting for that second call to give me a better idea of what time they will arrive but tonight I will sleep without a baby in the room!! 9+ months later and she has her room back! Oh, the celebrations that will occur (and that will not necessarily mean what you think it means ☺). UPDATE: He just called - between 1 and 3pm! I cannot wait to put it together. I love putting things together. I would be very disappointed if it was all assembled. Did I mention I love to assemble things??!!

I am not above bribing my children. Pepe has a somewhat significant speaking role in the Sunday School Christmas program this year and he is stressed just thinking about it. AJ has a smaller role, 4 short lines, but still broke down in tears with wailing and gnashing of teeth when we tried to practice in the safety of our own home. So, what does any good mother do? Bribe them. And bribe them well! Both boys will get to choose their very own mini-Lego set if they speak their lines well for everyone to hear without breaking down in tears. Talk about incentive for 2 little Lego-loving boys!

I stayed up until 2am last night trying to sew a hat for RJ. Her sister has one and her mom has a few but she has none. I am trying to make her one for Christmas but I am not so sure I am winning. However, if anyone knows me well, I will succeed. It may frustrate me and cause me to say some unnesessary things but I will do it. And then I will wonder why I didn't just go buy one!!

I was driving to the city to do some shopping the other day and an advent calendar idea smacked me right in the center of my head! Don't you just love it when that happens? I have refrained from buying those cheapy ones you can find but it never occurred to me to just make one. Then I read online in a place or 2 about making your own. I have been mulling it over and then - BAM!! I now have all the supplies, I just have to find time. Which always seems to disappear around here . . .

Speaking of supplies, I also intend to make a fabric-covered headboard for our room. I have all the supplies, except the wood, for that, too. It, also, just requires some time. Once the girls are all settled in maybe I can work on it. Of course, I should finish all the sewing first. But, we will see. I know it could be done quickly (that's what I say now!). And the difference it would make!

School marches along just wonderfully. When I say that, I mean that I haven't gotten too impatient or upset with them. Which makes school a lovely experience, wouldn't you say? ☺

Finally, in the very back of my mind, is the desire to decorate for Christmas. I started with my table but there is so much more that can, and will, be done. First, I need my hero-husband to grab the decor boxes from the shelves in the garage and then I need a real tree. I cannot stand the fake ones. There is something so magical about that smell of fresh evergreen. Mmmmm. I can almost smell it now! However, I did tell Jay, that if we got a fake tree, it would be noticeably fake, like black or white or red or hot pink or something! And that would not only be a tree, it would be a statement. So, anyway, maybe this week we will get our tree and the real decorating can begin!

That is our life in a nutshell right now. Things are going well. Really, they are. In my heart and in my life. I hope your life is going well, too! Have a great Wednesday - I know I sure will!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Christmas Decor - Table Scape

I have been trying to postpone pulling out the Christmas decor until we have had our final Thanksgiving celebration this coming weekend. However, when I saw a certain piece of fabulousness at London Drugs, I said forget that! I am not hosting the gathering at my house so why can't I decorate for Christmas?! I started (and for now, ended) with the dining room table. As I mentioned, I found this set of 3 tall covered cake stands on sale for $29.99 at London Drugs (reg. $49.99) and I once I saw them I knew I had to have them and I knew exactly what to do!

I bought a number of tree ornaments and, with the bowl part held upside down, placed the ornaments in the bowl. Then, with the bowl still upside down, I placed the stand on it (so now the bottom of the stand is sticking straight up - make sense?) and inverted it. Voila! A beautiful stand of ornamental wonder! After finishing all three the same way, I placed them on a mirror I bought at MCC a while ago for maybe $3. Perfection! Add a couple of feathery ornaments and the table centerpiece is complete! Oh, so fabulous! Oh, so pretty! Oh, so easy! I cannot wait to get out all the other decor. {Patience, my lovely, patience!}

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Christmas Creations - Kid's Aprons and Chef's Hats

In between dishes and school and cleaning the house and making food and all the other duties a day with 5 children holds, I have been happily sewing away some fantastic Christmas gifts! Currently I am working on these adorable kid's aprons and chef's hats. A couple of years ago, I bought an apron and hat set for my oldest son from Pampered Chef. It is perfect for him! My intention was to just copy the design and make some for the next 3 kids. That is, until I found this fabulous tutorial all ready for me to use! These are perfect instructions for making either kid or adult-sized aprons. I really like the adjustable ties! I added a front pocket but otherwise followed the instructions exactly as stated.

I went on a fabric shopping spree and found some fabulous home decorator fabric to use (I still have 2 more hidden away downstairs. If you are counting, that makes at least 5 aprons and I only needed 3. I wonder what they could be for? ☺). It came in such fun prints and it was a bit heavier than cotton. To me a cotton apron doesn't keep the wet off of you! Just remember, when sewing with heavier fabric, use a thicker needle!!

Alas, she did not include instructions for a chef's hat. After a little more searching, I found this tutorial (don't you just love the internet??!!). It creates a perfect kid's chef's hat! I made the band out of the same fabric as the apron in order to add a bit of pizzazz! As for the white part of the hat, I found that material at MCC. As a matter of fact, I picked up some more just like it the other day for the rest of the hats I have yet to make!

All in all, a perfect Christmas present for all of my little helpers! Adorable, don't you think?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Graph Paper Magic

Although I should be moments away from teaching the boys (even though the rest of the school division has an inservice day, we will still do our own), they had a sleep-over at Grandma & Grandpa's house, along with a few of their cousins, so I thought I would quickly blog before they arrive home in 1 1/2 hours. Hopefully, hooooooooopefully (fingers crossed) this is the week the girl's new bed arrives. With that in mind, I need to figure out where everything will go. In the past, long before I ever read this blog, I was already plotting things out on graph paper to figure out what would fit where in a room. Seeing as Dusty has already detailed it for you, head on over there for all the particulars. I am not into moving big huge bunkbeds around in a small room, plus various other pieces of furniture, to figure out what configuration would be best. Graph paper is the most logical answer plus it saves a lot of backbreaking work, not to mention the floors. So, that is my goal for today, graphing the girl's room, along with cleaning it up! I cannot wait for that magic phone call that asks me when they can bring that bed on over!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Stop, Drop and Pray

Today started out alright. I had full intentions of having a great day. Especially since yesterday was a day I would rather forget. I met with some friends this morning and shared some of my woes. I cried. I prayed. I went to MCC. I intended to have a great day. I came home from my meeting and my husband had tidied up in the kitchen. All was looking good. Then somewhere along the journey through the rest of the day, things went downhill. Jay and I got into a discussion about our responsibilities, the things that we do and don't do. You know, when you decide to do something, like homeschool, something else may suffer, like housework. Or laundry. When that happens, spouses may have to pick up the slack. Which means their list of a million things is not getting accomplished. Which means they have to work longer. Which means you see them less. Which makes you irritable. Which makes you grumpy towards those you love the most. A never-ending whirlwind of emotions that generally cause you to feel like crap. Like why are you doing what you are doing? And, in the midst of all that, I was baking bread. Which is a good thing seeing as AJ loves his toast. So, I am baking bread and making pizza. 1 oven full of bread after which the pizza was to go in before the next oven full of bread. Well, this was in the middle of the discussion. Never have discussions while baking. It causes you not to think. I forgot I was going to put the pizza in before the second batch of bread. So, supper would now be delayed another 1/2 hour (the whole idea of having double ovens now makes sense! In fact, they may even be good for our marriage. Just like a double shower. But that is a completely different matter! ☺). 6:30 isn't tooooo bad. So, timer beeps and I go to check on the bread. It looks so much lighter than the first batch. I look at the thermometer that hangs in the stove and the temperature is waaaaaay down. What? Oh, smarty-pants over here turned OFF the oven. How dumb is that. Supper will be at least another 1/2 hour. Then to bake the pizzas after that. Agh. At this point, Jay realizes it would be best to bathe the kids before supper seeing as we would practically be eating at midnight (and yes, I do realize I have a slight tendancy to over-exaggerate just a little!). And at this point, I loose it. I needed something. I needed Jesus (which is exactly what AJ told me on Friday - "Mommy, you need more Jesus in you!!" How right he is!). So, while Jay was downstairs bathing the kids, I went to my room, dropped to my knees and cried out my heart to my Lord. Right then and there. I stopped what I was doing, dropped to my knees and prayed for peace to come. For Jesus to hold me. For this day to at least end okay. Now, you may think that sounds so spiritual and all. But, as a matter of fact, those sorts of things happen way to little in this house - or at least with me. I try to get along on my own. In my own strength. With my own wisdom. Maybe if I just work hard enough or sleep a little less or plan a little more, things will work out the way I want them to. Uh, no. Doesn't happen that way. I am realizing over and over again how little I can do on my strength. How little control I have over the way my day goes. The only thing I can control is the time I spend on my knees with my Lord and Saviour, the one who loves me more than anyone else does, the one who created me and formed me and would do anything for me, the one who IS strength, the one who IS love, the one who IS peace. If only I would remember to stop, drop and pray.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Gourmet Casserole

If there was such a thing as a gourmet casserole (in my head, those two just don't go together - casseroles are good and all but gourmet?!), this would be the one! It takes a little longer to prepare than most but it is oh-so tasty and makes a huge dish full. Plus, it is full of veggies and other yummy ingredients! I found this recipe in a Cookin' With Chicken pamphlet I received who-knows-when. And, no, no picture. My food pictures aren't that great anyway! Just make and see what it looks like and take a picture if you really need one!

Country House Chicken Penne

2 Tbsp olive oil
2 onions chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 1/2 pounds ground chicken
1 can crushed tomatoes (28 oz/796 mL)
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp dried basil
1 tsp salt
pepper to taste
4 cups cooked penne pasta
1 package fresh spinach (10 oz)
1/3 cup grate parmesan cheese

Cheese Sauce
3 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup flour
3 cups milk
1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat; stir-cook chicken, breaking up chunks, until no longer pink. Add onions, garlic, carrot and red pepper; stir-cook until softened. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, salt and pepper. Simmer for 30 minutes. Toss penner with chicken sauce and spoon into a 9x13-inch casserole. Top with spinach. Pour cheese sauce over spinach and sprinkle with parmesan. Bake at 375F for 45 minutes. Let stand 15-20 minutes at room temperature before serving.

Cheese Sauce
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and stir-cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes or until thickened. Stir in mozzarella, salt, pepper and nutmeg and stir until smooth.

**My personal substitutes/modifications**
  • First of all, I don't use chicken. I know, it is called Chicken Penne but I don't use ground chicken. I use ground pork as I seem to have an abundance of it! I also don't use 1 1/2 pounds, I use 2 because trying to cut a frozen 1 pound package of ground pork is next to impossible!
  • I add more veggies whenever I have them around. Yesterday, I added chopped zucchini and parsnip.
  • I don't just use 2 Tbsp of tomato paste, I use the whole little 5.5 oz container. For me, the extra would just go to waste so I might as well use it up.
  • I add a layer of cottage cheese when I have it on hand. I add it just after putting the chicken sauce into the dish and before sprinkling with parmesan.
  • I never measure the amount of spinach, I just use however much fills up my dish.
  • Finally, I don't use a 9x13 pan. I use a large stoneware bowl that I got at a garage sale somewhere. It is so fantastic for this meal and keeps it hot for a long time.
  • I love to serve garlic bread/biscuits/toast with this meal. It seems to compliment it so well.
  • This reheats really well!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Art of Gifting

With Christmas just around the corner, the thoughts of gifts fill my head. And not just gifts for myself, though that certainly is fun to ponder. Most of my time is spent thinking of the perfect gift to give to others. Some people are givers. Gifts are really important to them. They speak volumes about the giver and about the recipient. I am a gift-person. I am a giver. I love to give. I love to receive. Gifts speak volumes to me. And as such, gift certificates also speak volumes. To me, most of the time (though not always), they speak of someone who didn't want to take the time to think about the recipient, who they are and what they like. They speak of laziness. If you would ask me what I would like for a gift, a gift certificate will never be mentioned. I love a well-thought out gift. I love to take the time to think about the recipient, who he/she is, what they like to do, what is important to them, and buy or make a gift appropriately. When someone's whole Christmas list is gift certificates from this, that or the other place, what the person is really saying is that what you would buy for me will never measure up so don't bother trying. Words like that to someone who loves to give are painful words. Words of death. Sometimes I think my attitude towards Christ could be the same when he sends "gifts" my way. "No thanks, that's not really what I need. I would much rather pick my own, thank you very much!" Lord, help my attitude to be one of gratitude and thankfulness, even if the gifts I receive are not always what I wanted.
Now, there are times a gift certificate would certainly get me what I wanted. Some gifts I have received make me wonder about the giver. What possessed them to buy that?! But, think about it from the other person's perspective. Life is not all about you! Christmas is not all about you. Allow your friends and family the pleasure of choosing something just for you. Don't rob them of the joy that comes from giving. Do I buy gift certificates? Sometimes I do. And I think through the location very carefully. I am not opposed to them all the time. Last year, as a thank you gift, the ladies of my MOPS group bought me a gift certificate for a pedicure at the luxurious Ten Spa in Winnipeg. I was absolutely thrilled. I have never had a pedicure. Nope, not once in my life have I had a pedicure. That will be remedied this summer, thanks to the gift certificate. And they knew I never had one. And they knew I would never go to that spa on my own. So, that was a well-thought out gift. It was supposed to be used while I was pregnant but the time flew by and the spa had water damage and now I will wait until summer when I can show off my toes! I am so glad God thought through his gift to us, knowing what we needed and putting his all into giving his very best, his only Son. Now, as I head down to sew up a storm of gifts I am hoping the recipients will love, I will leave you with this blog that I just discovered. I have only glimpsed at a few of the entries but I know I will visit often. Maybe it will help each one of us in the art of gifting.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Goodbye Ugly, Hello Beautiful (DIY Armchair Redo)

Finally, fiiiiiiiiiiiinally, this wonderful DIY project is complete and I couldn't be more thrilled with the results! It is not that the actual amount of time spent on the chair was that much, just finding the time was a bit tricky. But I needed to complete it in order to get on with Christmas sewing. Anyway. Enough of the ramblings, I know what you are really here to see - the Before and After. Are you ready? It will blow your socks off!
Here is the ugly orange chair I bought at the MCC thrift store this past summer for $35.

Here is the gorgeous chair that will now grace my bedroom (once baby and all her stuff moves out. Kind of like a celebratory I-finally-have-my-room-back chair!). Can you believe the difference?! Unbelievable! I am still in awe.

One more time, just for effect! I am LOVIN' it!

Now, I know that zebra print material may not be for everyone. It is a bit bold. A little sassy. A tad unconventional. But it is oh-so-me! The hunt for the perfect zebra print upholstery material was an adventure, that is for sure. I looked in stores and online but nothing was quite right. I decided to try a fabric store on the other side of the city, a bit of a longer drive. And this lovely, this beauty, this unbelievably fantastic print was calling out my name. What you cannot see in the picture - well, what you cannot FEEL in the picture is the texture. So soft. Slightly fuzzy. When my 6 year-old touched it, he said it felt just like a zebra! Not sure where he has been touching them but that gives you an idea. What do you think??!!

When I saw the price of this beauty, I was a little hesitant. $25 a metre. A bit more than I was comfortable with. I walked around the store and saw other inferior prints but this one kept calling to me. Begging me to bring it home. And I knew if I left it there, I would always be disappointed for not taking the PERFECT fabric, the exact one I was looking for. Turns out it had just come in. Was, in fact, a special order. And it was all for me! I took my 2 metres, paid the price and have not looked back since!

The process of redoing a chair, such as this, is easier than you may think. Well, for this chair, anyway. The most important thing to remember is to mark all your fabric pieces as you are removing them (they are your template for your new fabric) and take lots of pictures to help you remember what goes where.

That being said, to start removing the fabric, you need to remove the welting (called welting in upholstery projects, piping in sewing projects). Find the end, grab it with a plier and pull!

Once you have removed all the welting, you need to take out all the other staples holding the rest of the fabric on. You will discover that they use about a bazillion trillion staples to hold everything together (well, I may be exaggerating just a wee little bit). And your hand may get a little blistered. Maybe do a little bit each day? That's what I did. And my hands survived. A flat-head screwdriver and a pair of pliers will be your best friend. Try to refrain from swearing as it can get a little . . . frustrating. ☺ Try not to gouge the wood excessively. Wood filler can only do so much! As you are removing the fabric, try not to tear it. Mine was old so it tore easily. Try to be as gentle as possible. The old fabric is your pattern. As you are removing all the fabric, you will gain a much bigger understanding of how it all goes together in the end.

Once all the fabric is off, you are left with a beautiful wooden shell, so full of possibility! I was so pleased to finally get to this point! And I knew exactly what I wanted to do. You can leave the wood as-is or you can sand it and spray paint it the color of your choice. Mine was black. I used a black satin finish. I sanded it with a electric sander until most, but not all, of it was bare wood. I painted it. When it dried, I could totally tell where the patches of bare wood had been. UGH! So, I waited until it had dried 24 hours then resanded it with 220 grit sand paper, by hand. I filled all the holes, nicks and chips with wood filler. I painted it again and VOILA! A beautiful even finish.

Now, the time came to make that first cut into the fabric. I was a little hesitant. After all, that speaks commitment. You cannot turn back once you make that first cut. You can only plunge ahead. So plunge I did! I cut the piece for the front side of the back first. Then I had to carefully line up the fabric for the seat cushion so the design would be even and straight - a little tricky but it worked perfectly. To avoid this issue, choose a fabric without a obvious need-to-make-it-straight-or-it-will-look-funny pattern.

On another note, I decided to make the cushion for the chair different from the original. The original had a box cushion connected to a flange. The flange was then stapled to the chair. Though I was confident I could recreate this type, I found it a little too . . . fussy. Plus it created extra hiding places for crumbs, dirt, etc. I changed that to a simple fabric-covered cushion like you find on many dining room chairs. I liked this look better and it created less crevices for debris. Plus, it was easier and used less fabric!

So, here is the old cushion still attached to the chair.

Here is it stripped down to the frame.

I used the old foam that was in the cushion but covered it with some new quilt batting, two layers thick. It gave it that new plumpness. Then I covered the whole cushion with the zebra print and attached the fabric directly to the wood frame with lots of staples. I wouldn't want to disappoint the next person who decides to recover this chair (you know, when I die, cause while I am living I will never change this chair!) with less than a million staples. ☺ The cushion will be attached to the chair frame at the very end with screws.

Once the cushion was done, I attached the back of the back of the chair. You know, the part you see when you are behind the chair looking at it. Just remember, when you are standing in front of the chair looking at it, you will see the WRONG side of the fabric. Also, remember to use staples. Lots of them. I tried using the air nailer with staples but they are not designed for fabric since they were so narrow. I reverted to the staple gun. Not as fun but at least it worked. Also, this chair had a little groove or channel all around it where you were to put your staples in - sure made it easier.

Once the back was on, I started on the arms. Now, the original design had fabric that went from one side of the arm, up and over the wooden arm, and down the other side of the arm. Uh. Yuck! (And yet I have a big comfortable arm chair covered in fabric that I love. So, the fabric-on-the-arm-disgust is only directed towards this particular chair.) I decided to change the design slightly. No fabric on top of the arm. Instead, the side of the chair looks remarkably like the back of the chair. So, put the fabric WRONG side facing the inside of the chair, the RIGHT side of the fabric facing out. You will totally get what I mean when you try it out. (The green stripe is a nylon webbing that provides some stability to the back of the chair. I just reused what was previously there.)

This is the old arm. I don't love.

This is the new arm. I love!

Once the outside of the chair was done, I started on the inside. Now, you may have noticed that the inside of the arms is not zebra print fabric. Well, that was totally intentional. Okay, so maybe not completely! Way back in the beginning, I had planned on making the seat cushion the same as the original and leaving the arms completely exposed with no fabric on them whatsoever. That was my original intention and I bought fabric with that in mind. Once the chair was stripped, I decided fabric on the arms was necessary or there would be a huge gap between the seat cushion and the frame. Not so good. So, I changed the design of the cushion and added fabric to the arms. However, I did not have enough to cover both sides of the arms with the zebra print. No big deal. I love the look of chairs that have more than one type of fabric on them. I decided this chair would do well to have plain black on the inside of the arms. So, I went and got some black vinyl. I like the contrast between the fuzziness of the zebra print and the smoothness of the vinyl. And I think it gives the chair a slimming effect. Okay, I am just joking about that one! I think it might have been a bit overwhelming for everything to be zebra so the black is perfect. Let's just say I planned it that way the whole time. ☺ So, when attaching the vinyl, obviously you make sure the RIGHT side of the fabric is facing OUT. Staple to your hearts content.

Next came the trickiest part. Tufting the back cushion. With the seat cushion, you can tuft it once it is attached to the cushion frame which provides some stability and the fabric is already smoothly stretched and attached in place. Not so with the back cushion. You need to tuft it before attaching it to the chair. So, take your back cushion, cover it with your quilt batting and your fabric. Make sure the fabric is centered over the cushion and start to tuft. I won't explain that process here. Basically you are sewing on the buttons. I will explain tufting in another post really soon. However, I did want to say that I made these adorable buttons using a button covering kit. Don't you just love the fuzziness?

Once you have all the buttons on the back cushion, attach it to the chair. Make sure you are pulling the fabric tight to remove any wrinkles and ensure a smooth finish. Staple, staple, staple.

Finally, you need to cover up all those staples with something. Originally, it was the welting. I choose not to reuse the welting but used nice trim instead. Rather than using more staples, this was hot glued on. I started where the arm meets the back of the chair, went along the arm and down the side of the front of the arm. I did that on both sides. Then I applied the trim on the back. Start at the bottom of one side, go up one side of the back, along the top of the back and down the other side. Once again, when you are looking at the chair, it will all make sense. Just remember, you are covering the staples. That is the point of the trim. Cover the staples and all is good.

Tuft your seat cushion, put your seat cushion on the frame, screw it on from underneath and YOU ARE DONE! Isn't it fantastic? I have the desire to redo more chairs but was slightly concerned about where to store them in the meantime. Well, remember that property we bought that has a house trailer on it? Can you say storage shed??!! ☺

Once again, just to remind you what can happen with a little hard work, some paint and some beautiful fabric:



Have you ever recovered a chair? I would love to hear all about it!

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