Friday, March 25, 2011

Spooning at the Estate Sale

Here's a little find that deserves a whole post. It's a silver-plated sugar spoon I bought at an estate sale. The mark on it is WM Rogers and Son and it's the perfect thing to use when drinking tea in my new/old ironstone teacup and saucer.

I'm strictly a tea drinker. I've always wanted to like coffee but finally admitted that it just wasn't my cup of tea. HAH! Hilarious aren't I? I'm a little odd though, and not just because of that terrible joke, but because I prefer black tea. My favorites are Irish or English breakfast, but I drink it like the Chinese girl that I am. No milk or sugar. Guess I'm going to have to change that with my new spoon! Or I could always reserve it for guests when I have tea parties. Nothing's better than high tea! Well maybe having your husband make all the tea sandwiches and scones is a close second.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Blue Boy

SHE CAN TURN LEFT! (Zoolander reference...hope you get it...)
Here we go. I just finished one of the 4 dining chairs I've been talking about for weeks now. And get this, it's not white, distressed, or covered in drop cloth. I turned left!

I've named him "The Blue Boy" after the Thomas Gainsborough painting. It's the first thing I thought of after seeing my finished chair. 

And here's a REAL side by side pic! No it's not a photoshop miracle! And yes, you are seeing double! I took a picture of one of the unfinished chairs next to my Blue Boy beauty.

What do you think? Like the blue fabric? From the moment I saw it, I knew it would work perfectly against the dark wood. I don't know if it's everyone's taste, but I love it. It's so fun and lightens up the dark heavy, but beautiful, wood! But before I show more glamour shots, I'll go over what I did for the redo.

The chairs were sturdy and in great condition when I bought them, but the light blue fabric was, let's say, "aged" (and I don't mean in a graceful manner). There were brown and yellow stains all over and that's when I realized canvas drop cloth wouldn't be the best fabric for chairs that you constantly eat on. Instead I bought the beautiful blue patterned fabric from Hobby Lobby.

First, I tried to figure out if I could take the seat back cushion out because the fabric is featured on both sides. Here's a terrible cell phone picture of what the whole dining set originally looked like:

You can see in the close-up there's a slit on the frame of the chairs (on both sides) which ideally would allow the seat back cushion to be removed. Unfortunately for me, the person who previously covered them had a rough time with it and created an extra crack in the wood on one chair, and glued the slits close on the others. Oh boy!

So my plan was not to patch the cracks because I have no experience in that area, and I couldn't tuck in the fabric around the cushion either because there was no space for it. Instead I chose to staple my blue fabric around the sides and add matching trim to cover the staples. Also, the trim was the perfect detail to add to balance the wood against the patterned fabric.

How I covered the seat cushion was mentioned in this post. For the seat back, I held my fabric against the frame and cut around the cushion area making sure I had enough fabric to staple.  Next I pinned my fabric to the seat back cushion and began stapling away with the same basic technique I used on the seat cover. Top, bottom, right, left, repeat.

Next, I cut off the excess fabric as close as I could to the staples (which can be tricky because the frayed edges like to peek out of the trim if you're not careful), and began hot-gluing the trim. I start gluing the trim near the middle of the bottom and go all the way around, making sure it looks symmetrical on both sides.

I did the same to the back, which was a little more difficult because the cushion was flatter and there was some empty space between the cushion and the frame, but I just made sure to firmly hold the fabric before stapling and it worked out perfectly.

So here he is, the devilishly handsome Blue Boy!

And sorry I added the parties I'm linking this post to, but they disappeared on me. Here they are:
Furniture Feature FridaysPhotobucketChic on a Shoestring Decorating Making

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Oh what could have been...

Please tell me that this has happened to everyone so I don't feel alone here.

I was planning on going to the grocery store this afternoon and as usual, I was going to stop at the nearby Goodwill store to check out their new inventory. I go here at least once a week with the intention of just looking to see what people are donating these days and I tell myself I won't buy anything (Hah! Like I have self control or something). But I've never found anything good at this particular GW, or nothing for a good price.

So on my way there, I look down at my gas gauge and notice I'm almost empty. I decide to stop at the gas station a few minutes away even though the gas light hasn't gone on yet. Once I get to the GW, I glance quickly at the dishware, home decor, and wall art as I head directly to the furniture section. Immediately I realize that an estate recently donated their stuff because I see a ton of vintage prints of Vogue posters that are framed and a lot of silver pieces that were never there (the prints don't look that old and they aren't my style so I skipped over those). Immediately I see a dark wood antique embroidered needlepoint chair. I investigate it and don't see a price tag. Now I tell myself, I'm not going to buy it but I wonder what the price is. So I ask the GW employee and she goes to get her manager to check. The manager comes over and immediately says, "Oh, this has been sold. I was heading over here to get it and bring it outside." AGH! Now the chair definitely won't be mine, and I have no idea what the price was. I don't know what drives me crazier. I HATE not knowing the price. But I quickly get over it because there's a lot more to see!

And then I spot it. An Oriental or Persian red and blue runner rug in someone's shopping cart. I could tell it was a long one too. My husband and I have been looking for a runner rug with a similar print but decided we didn't want to shell out a ton of money for one. We even passed up a gorgeous one they were selling for $50 at an estate sale because I still couldn't justify spending the cash. So, first things first. Go run and see if there are any other rugs in the back. I'm looking and looking...and don't see anything. Disappointment hits. Then curiosity follows. "Go follow the person with the shopping cart just to see what the price is," I tell myself. "Is it even in my price range? OH MY GOD it's only $14.99. AGH! MUST HAVE RUG." The person actually walks away from their cart and I contemplate taking it, rushing it to the cash register, and running out of the store. I may have actually done it if I didn't have my daughter Aine with me. I know, that would be a mean thing to do. But c'mon. How often do you see a handmade wool rug, with a pattern and colors that you like, for $14.99??? I've decided at this point not to give up. Perhaps I was destined to be with the rug. I hover around the cash register when the person pays for their items to see if they really do end up buying it. Oh no! She's really buying it. SIGH. Must mentally move on...but of course I couldn't. I thought about that rug and how it would've looked in our room for hours afterwards.

Here comes the kicker. As I was hovering, I notice the next person in line admiring a long pentagon wooden frame with a yellow velvet background. In the frame are 3 vintage pins or medallions of women bordered by flowers. I tell her how pretty it is, and notice as I talk to her that she holds onto it even more tightly. I also watch as she pays for it and walks away. I think the price on the sticker said $4.99. DOUBLE SIGH. That thing was gorgeous! Now, I'm left thinking about rugs and pins.

Just my luck. I firmly believe my unnecessary stop at the gas station cost me those items. Maybe if I had been there 10 min earlier those would have been mine! Have you had a similar experience to this? Got excited by someone else's items, hoping against hope they won't actually buy it, and then walk away disappointed and slightly depressed thinking about what could have been. Please tell me I'm not the only one out there! I know some days it will be me with the great purchase, but right now it feels like I'll always be the one on the other end. Well, I guess I saved some money to buy something great in the future. But unfortunately for my husband, I firmly believe now that we can find a real Oriental/Persian rug for $15 or under and refuse to pay any more than that. Poor guy. He thinks we'll never have a nice rug. Ever.

To cheer things up a bit though, here's a nice pentagon glass box I did end up walking away with last week at a different thrift store. It's no Persian, but it's pretty darn cute.
If you're wondering, the necklace on top was my grandmother's who lives in Taiwan. She gave it to me a few years ago and I love it. It's considered rare because it's made of a certain type of coral which I believe is illegal now to use commercially.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tuesday Tutorial: Covering a seat cushion

Yes! Another post of a chair I'm working on. This time I have 4 chairs that belong to a dining set I spontaneously purchased last month. But I'm becoming predictable with the whole chair upholstery/redo aren't I? Well you just wait. Below is a total deviation from my usual look. Perhaps now you're a little curious and want to see if what I'm saying is true? Ah HAH! I knew it!

So are you ready? Here we go! Covering a simple seat cushion IS as easy as they say. Here's what you need:
Electric stapler - I use a Stanley TRE550 stapler/brad nailer that can take various staple sizes. I love it! Of course you could also use a manual or pneumatic one...lucky you if you have a pneumatic!
Staples - I'm using 3/8 in staples
Upholstery Fabric
Small hammer

And obviously you need a chair to recover! Here's the seat cushion for the chair I'm covering. At one point it was light blue, now it has hints of brown and yellow in it. Nope, not my preferred color scheme.

Make sure your new fabric has been washed and cleaned. It's also a good idea to iron it if it has wrinkles. If you're using a patterned fabric like I am for my latest project, decide how you want the pattern to look on the cushion. And yes for all of you unbelievers, I'm using a patterned fabric instead of canvas drop cloth! SEE? DIFFERENT! Look out! Emily's gone CRAZY!!!

Okay, whew! Got a little excited. Let's get back to the task at hand. Cut out the fabric about 1 1/2 - 2 in wider than the cushion. Place the fabric upside down and lay the cushion upside down on top of it. Now, staple away! Start the first staple in the middle of the front of the cushion, next staple the middle of the back of the cushion, then the left side and right side. Make sure to pull the fabric firmly before each staple. If you have a patterned fabric, make sure to check each time that the pattern is straight. Here's a lovely picture to illustrate my stapling technique (only showing staples 1-8...I use more staples than this in reality).

If you're wondering how far apart my staples are, there's about 1 1/2 in of space between each one. If some of your staples don't lay flat, it helps to use a small hammer to hammer it in all the way. Also if a staple doesn't end up where you intended it to go (mine do that all the time...those tricky devils), then use a screwdriver and pliers to pull it out. You could also use a staple lifter tool if you have one. 

I avoid all of the corners until the very end. Now that you have all of the sides stapled. You're left with corners that look like this:

Try to copy the original fabric fold you can see underneath. If they did a horrible job before though, then just try to follow my directions as close as you can. Do a test run and fold the fabric to see how it looks. Try not to create more than one crease on the side of the cushion. Also, try to crease the fabric towards the back of the cushion, not the front. Pay close attention to where the fold is and where there's extra fabric underneath. Carefully cut off the excess fabric. It should look something like this.
Now fold and flatten the bottom piece, and fold the top piece over. Staple in place (usually 2-3 staples will do the trick).

This is what it should look like from above. Nice and neat and only 1 crease! Such a comfy cozy little bundle.

By the way, I'm guessing everyone does it differently so I want to make it clear that this is just what works for me! Here's what my cushion looks like afterwards. How did yours turn out?

Most of my pictures were taken at night so the fabric looks a little yellow. The last picture is how the fabric really looks. And I'm not showing the whole chair yet, instead here's a teaser! Stay tuned for the exciting finale later this week!

Linking to:
PhotobucketMy Uncommon Slice of Suburbia mommahenscoopTransformation Thursday