I Reupholstered An Accent Chair with MY MODERN MAJESTIC DESIGN (SEWING INVOLVED!)

I Reupholstered An Accent Chair with MY MODERN MAJESTIC DESIGN (SEWING INVOLVED!)

After two glasses of Port I think I’m a bit uninhibited and so I’m blogging again….You have two options: A. Leave or B. Forgive me

I keep mentioning that I’m going to reupholster old chairs I got at a flea market in Germany.

A couple years ago I bought BOTH of these lovely button tufted accent chairs for $70 at the American Ramstein Airforce base. What a terrific deal! As you can see here, chairs of this nature are not cheap: I was told that they were airport seats from France circa 1960. Waaaait whaattt? French airport seats from 1960?!? I fell in love.

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But the vinyl has started to break down in places and become very dingy–even spray paint would not fix it :(.  Be careful when spray painting vinyl, it can leave a sticky, (nearly) permanent residue as it binds to the material. The particle board underneath the vinyl was literally starting to crumble apart.

 

I decided to embark upon another reupholstery venture, at least for one of the chairs. This time, it would be more challenging as I would need to sew the vinyl covers for the chairs. I would also need to cut out new pieces of wood to affix to the foam (thanks Dad!); particle board doesn’t last forever.

Make sure to cut off all the vinyl pieces neatly so that you can re-use them as your pattern. I decided to use a bunch of extra blue vinyl left from my previous chair project that you can see here.

 

Cut out your new vinyl using your old vinyl as a template. I’m just using vinyl scraps that I had from my previous project (so I didn’t purchase any new materials for this project).

It turns out that sewing coverings for chairs is akin to sewing clothes. Sewing the sides of the chair is almost like sewing sleeves. NOT FUN:

I want to be honest. This was one of the most difficult sewing tasks I’ve yet attempted. YOU KNOW HOW HARD IT IS TO MAKE A PIECE OF MATERIAL FIT SNUGLY TO SOMETHING ELSE? At one point I started to re-do my project. I decided to add in a couple stripes of another color of vinyl (teal) to my chair to give it a bit of flair:

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I won’t bore you with the details–this chair was a REAL struggle. Finished results are here:

It’s the chair with the book perched on top of it. It offers some exquisite modern beauty to our living room: I’m so proud of my striped vinyl design–all from scraps!

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Yes! I still need to reupholster the other chair. To be continued…

We have a big paint job coming up and I will share the details for that too. All of those salmon colored walls in our living room? We’re turning them white.

 

 

 

 

 

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I Reupholstered Our Dining Chairs With KID FRIENDLY Vinyl (2nd time!!)

I Reupholstered Our Dining Chairs With KID FRIENDLY Vinyl (2nd time!!)

Before our big move to Alaska, I was busy reupholstering our dining room chairs. I wanted to finally share the results!

I know what you’re thinking, “Didn’t you already reupholster those chairs a couple years ago?” Yes! I’m still working with the same chairs.

You remember when I bought these (pseudo?!) Chippendale lovelies for only $20 euros a piece at a little flea market in Germany? (That’s right, I got 4 of these CHAIRS FOR ONLY 80 Euros!). If you go to your local Pier 1 Imports, you’ll be spending a minimum of $100-$120 PER CHAIR, so I think I got a good deal.

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Remember I decided to reupholster them so I removed the cushions from the chairs and tore off the old fabric.

I reupholstered all 4 chairs with this black and white striped IKEA fabric:

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Sensational results, I thought. They looked rather striking with our table here. By the way, I got this solid mango wood table on sale for 250 euros at Mobel Martin (in Kaiserslautern, Germany).

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But sadly as physics would have it, all things are subject to entropy.

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So, once again, two years later, I removed the fabric and decided on different material. How about vinyl? It’s easy to wipe off spills and is far less penetrable than cloth fabric.

I was able to buy a roll of vinyl (4 1/2 yards I think), for around $40 bucks at Joann’s Fabric. Remember to bring in your 50% off coupon for one item to get that price– otherwise you’ll be spending around $80 for that amount.

I chose blue vinyl, regular $14.99 per yard (but half off with my coupon).

Removing old material is usually pretty easy. Just use a pair of needle nose pliers and a little flat head screwdriver. (I broke 2 in the process). Yank off the old fabric and use it as your template for cutting out your new piece of fabric that will cover the chair. When cutting the new fabric, make sure you cut a bigger piece than your previous piece. You want lots of material to work with in order to get it just right.

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Just lay the piece of cut vinyl on top of the seat cushion and tape around the underside of the seat first, positioning it in place (not shown here, sorry). Next, use your staple gun and start pulling the fabric nice and tight as you staple the vinyl to the underside, wooden section of the seat.

Here is the underbelly of the seat and what it looks like when you staple it.  As you can, it can be quick and doesn’t have to look perfect. No one will see it.

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These are the tools I used for my reupholstery job:

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And the kids couldn’t resist playing with them..

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Here are the chairs with the new vinyl material. Maybe not as striking as the black and white fabric, but they sure do wipe off quickly!

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AND….I still have quite a bit of blue vinyl material left. 🙂 Which means this reupholstery job was much less than $40. Come back soon if you want to see yet another reupholstery job I’m working on with this same fabric; I’ve got a more challenging chair.

 

 

My Rocket Ship Birthday Cake(Celebrating my Son’s FIRST BIRTHDAY!)

My Rocket Ship Birthday Cake(Celebrating my Son’s FIRST BIRTHDAY!)

“You are not in a contest with other people, you are in a contest with yourself. Every day find ways that you can improve yourself–your character, your efforts, your knowledge, your creativity, your ambitions…your emotions.” –(me–quote from me today)

 

For my son’s first Birthday, I wanted it to be extremely simple and cheap (use what I already had on hand) but also have some fun and bright memories (and pictures) for future years.

If you’re not into children’s movies/cartoons/videos/characters what to do for a Birthday? I’ve found that a good (and extremely cheap) way to create a “Birthday Party Theme” is to look around your house and take account of toys and books that you already have.

No, I do not go onto the internet first “to look for ideas”. In fact, I highly discourage it because you’ll be intimidated by all the amazingly perfect creations put forth by other experts. You’ll either decide not to do anything–for fear that it will be a failure or you’ll be tricked into thinking that you have to spend a bunch of money “to get the right look”. (I’ve probably been on Pinterest less than 10 times in my entire life! No kidding).

Also, this isn’t very creative is it? The point is, COME UP WITH THE IDEA IN YOUR OWN MIND FIRST and, if you absolutely have to, start surfing around the internet because, say, you forgot the recipe for the frosting you have in mind. You get the picture.

What are a bunch of things already at your fingertips that you can extract a theme from? For us, it was space-related things. Mind you, we only had a couple things in this category, but I thought it would be fun to create a tiny little First Birthday Party for my son along this genre. It would just be our family, of course, since we don’t have any relatives or friends here in Alaska.

I didn’t want to buy a cake; but I did want to experiment with another homemade cake that you form into something related to the theme. After all, I had all the ingredients on hand and it’s more baking practice for me. 

This time, I chose a rocket ship. I used the same white cake recipe I’ve used in the past–extremely boring and not the best flavor in the world–but SUPER EASY TO WORK WITH. You can find it on an earlier blog post of mine called “Pagan Party For Kids” or “My Robin’s Easter Egg Cake”.

Once baked and cooled in the fridge in plastic wrap (overnight), I pulled it out and cut the cake into a rocket ship using a template I made from paper.

 

And I did a quick frosting job here. No, that’s not fondant, it’s just powdered sugar, butter, milk and vanilla frosting that has been tinted.

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With a cake like this, we will be flying to the moon in no time.

 

I also made a couple little rocket ships from cereal box cardboard.

Our Baby having his first Birthday!

Everything pictured here are things that I already had on hand. I didn’t buy a single thing. Even the Birthday candle was my daughter’s when she turned 1! Remember the old phrase, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”. Birthday presents were sent to us from Grandma and Grandpa and Auntie, of course.

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British Columbia, The Yukon and Alaska Trip (Recap of our BIG MOVE).

British Columbia, The Yukon and Alaska Trip (Recap of our BIG MOVE).

Ahh, so you’re back to check out my blog! Thanks for showing some interest. This time, I’ll take you on a brief recap of our LONG DRIVE from central Oregon all the way to Alaska.

I can’t believe that we are starting a new life in another world. I only wish I could have had the time to go over our journey in detail– and describe it to you to accurately capture it’s magnitude.

We traveled for over a week. Our road trip began in Central Oregon and ended in Alaska. Below: Our trip started out in dry, central Oregon. Here is our darling Clementine–just past the Ghost Town of Shaniko. Wheat fields begin to emerge.

For 7 days we stayed in motels, hotels and lodges in Washington state, British Columbia, the Yukon and finally, Alaska.

As a child I would think of the northern Washington border as where the land ended. It was a fuzzy, almost invisible place in my mind. You can imagine my surprise when we crossed the northern Washington border into another country– Canada–and entered into the Grand, seemingly endless expanse of British Columbia!

We were lucky to have my parents come along for the journey. They helped with the looooong days of driving both our vehicles–with a screaming 10 month old in the backseat (sorry Dad!) and a demanding 2 1/2 year old in the other one.

One of the things you’ll notice about Canada is that once you cross the border–everything appears more orderly…less sprawling. Space seems to be used and conserved more neatly. Even the people are in better shape. I didn’t realize how many vineyards there were in British Columbia! Remember to turn on your headlights when driving in Canada–even during the daytime.

You’ll notice two prominent fast food chains that seem to pop up in every city–Tim Hortons and A&W. We shuddered when we heard the locals refer to Tim Hortons as “Timmy’s”; of course, they could have referred to it as “Horty’s” which would have been even worse. It’s a coffee-bagel-doughnut-sandwich shop all rolled into one that the Canadians seem to be quite proud of.

If you aren’t aware, Canadians frequently use expressions like these:

1. You Betcha’

2. Oh

(Fun Fact: Like Canadians, Liberians are another group of people who use the expression “Oh” and attach it to the end of some sentences to add emphasis and drama).

3. Whenever the word “out” was used, it sounded more like “oat”–as in Quaker Oats.

Kelowna, British Columbia.

This place would have been SURREAL had it not been for the cloaking of smoke that suffocated the entire province during our travels.

If you have a chance, type the words “Kelowna, BC” into Google. You’ll be shocked that such a gorgeous city exists–and you never even heard about it. There is an incredible lake in Kelowna with beaches, docks and scenic boatyards. A park wraps around a section of the lake just walking distance from downtown. There you’ll find resplendent flower beds like these.

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Kelowna is cute–and tight–with a sufficient population to make you feel like “You’re in the big city”. I hear that this lovely Canadian city is GROWING–one of the fastest growing cities in Canada. I’m sure on a sunny day you can see the beautiful city with the lake in its fullness and the vineyards that surround it in the distance.

I met a couple amicable bums in Kelowna and I found a little clock tower..

Valemount, BC

We stayed at a Super 8 motel here run by a friendly Indian couple. It was super clean too. There’s a little seating area and fireplace in the lobby with (if I recall) Elk racks on the walls. You feel as if you’re about to embark on some grand hunting expedition.

Valemount is a perfect launching-off spot if you want to head into Alberta and check out Jasper National Park.

Jasper National Park, Alberta.

Even with all the smoke, we were riveted by this glorious National treasure. Think of Yellowstone on Steroids. Nah, it doesn’t even come close with these towering peaks!

Dawson Creek, British Columbia.

This is where the famous Alaska Highway begins … ALCAN HIGHWAY.

Northern Rockies Lodge, British Columbia

I can’t find adequate words to capture this spot. Northern Rockies Lodge was, by far, one of the best experiences of our trip. It was the quintessential mountain lodge made of hewn logs, hidden inside the northern-central region of British Columbia–AWAY FROM EVERYTHING. You even get a Canadian cowboy strumming a guitar in the middle of the dining area singing country tunes.

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Our Lodge on Muncho Lake. They offer little float plane rides into the mountainous scenery for $250 a person.

I highly recommend this place if you ever happen to be in the tip-top North of British Columbia (in the summertime, of course). You’ll go through some stunning mountain territory just to get to the lodge. Then, you’ll be ready for an Alpine dinner! Wait…I feel like I’m in Switzerland.

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We even came across a mama and baby moose in the middle of the road. If you take a moment and squint, you can see the moose in my very professional video here. I didn’t want to get out of the vehicle. Moose are 1000 lb animals and they can charge. My husband was driving the car in front of us.

The scenery in the Northern region of BC is terribly dramatic. I want to go camping here someday.

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NORTHERN BRITISH COLUMBIA. MUNCHO LAKE.

Dad making a wild buffalo angry. Wilderness in Northern BC

My Video: I’m walking towards these mountain goats/sheep?

Yukon Territory

This place is weird but truly amazing! We were accosted by people dressed up like unicorns at the Yukon border. This never happens.

You gotta check out the visitor center once you get into the Yukon. My little baby boy was happy to be with Grandma!

Ahh, the splendor of the Yukon territory. Crisp, pristine and unspoiled by annoying campers. It unfolded in all its glory for us to see. If you want to get away from tons of campers and hikers (and actually enjoy the scenery) the Yukon summons you.

MY DAD LEFT ME STRANDED IN THE YUKON WITH NO CELLULAR RECEPTION

I WAS BUSY TAKING SELFIES OUTSIDE OF OUR CAR AND MY DAD (also taking pics on the other side of the road) HOPPED BACK INTO THE CAR AND TOOK OFF WITHOUT ME! I WAS LEFT STRANDED IN THE MIDDLE OF THE YUKON BY MYSELF WITH NO INTERNET OR CELLULAR/PHONE connection.

All I can remember is watching my Dad hop back into the vehicle and floor it down the road. “WAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIITTTTTTT! DAAAAAAAAAAAAD! DON’T GO! I’M STILL HERE! If you were a bear you could hear me screaming in the middle of the road as he left me in the dust. No one anywhere. No towns for miles. Cars almost never passing. Nothing. Just brutal, beautiful nature. Oh, and there are TONS of wild animals here!

Fortunately my Dad noticed I wasn’t in the car about 45 minutes later (He thought I had fallen asleep in the back seat) and turned back around. This was a very memorable experience.

Whitehorse, Yukon

I can’t stop raving about this place. This is one of the most awesome spots on the planet. The Yukon river flows swiftly beside the city of Whitehorse. There is a quaint little downtown with great restaurants. There’s even a rainbow colored crosswalk for all of you LGBTQ folk. We found a cool Totem pole here–picture below.

I encountered a white Canadian Photography couple who were taking photos of a native Canadian man, carving a moose (or elk?) rack. When I asked if I could take a picture of him carving the rack too, they all three stared at me in disbelief.

Where are you from?” the white man asked. “I’m from Bend (Oregon).” “Where are you from?” I asked back. “Well, we’re from Yellowknife (Northwest Territories).” And it ended like that. Go figure. They’ve probably got more street cred than I do.

In the summer, the sun seems to shine brightly with tons of blue sky. The air is so refreshing here that you’ll be instantly purged of toxins. The mountains that surround Whitehorse are at your fingertips offering trails galore. If you hate the cloying heat in the lower/middle parts of the globe during summertime but enjoy the sun…the bright light….this place is just for you!

Tok, Alaska.

Clementine stacking the creamer containers while waiting for food at Fast Eddy’s. (Paradoxically, you’ll wait for a long time to get your food here.)

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The last part of the drive!

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We ended our trip in Anchorage, Alaska. To find out more, please keep following my blog!

I MADE A SUMMER TANK TOP (AND A YELLOW SKIRT TOO!)

I MADE A SUMMER TANK TOP (AND A YELLOW SKIRT TOO!)

I think it was Jordan Peterson who said, “Compare yourself to who you were the day before, not to who someone else is today.”

Learning to sew clothes has been a trial and error process–but I’m learning to compare my sewing to how I was sewing a few weeks ago…a few years ago. I’m terrible with spatial cognition. I don’t see things very quickly. My visual processing speed is delayed (compared to others) and my mind has a hard time manipulating objects in space and considering alternative, yet accurate positions.

Sewing has been a rough pursuit but it’s EXACTLY WHAT I NEED. I need to have some outlet for strengthening these intellectual capacities. Even better, I get to meld my penchant for creativity and art with this hobby. I don’t think there is any activity that gives me more FLOW than attempting to SEW. Sorry. Bad rhyme.

It’s the designing part that really draws me in. Attempting to design a piece of clothing and then sewing it. Ahh, nothing feels quite like it–especially when I get it roughly right. Painting is a close second.

I’m realizing that I need to take more risks with design and sewing. I often worry that “I’ll be wasting fabric”, so I hesitate to try something. It’s super easy to mess up! I’ve done it repeatedly even when making a fastidious effort to follow instructions.

If I go all the way off the tracks, can’t I expect to have a mess on my hands and fabric that will end up becoming pillow stuffing? YES. But compared to nonexistence, making mistakes is BLISSFUL!

I’ve started to get more creative and worry less about my final product. I work with what I have–mistakes and all, and try to come up with something. So far, I’m figuring things out.

I was having THE MOST DIFFICULT TIME with this TANK TOP that I designed. It would be the first shirt/tank top I have made for myself. I made enough mistakes to call it quits. I kept adding on and cutting and changing things around.

I used a knit fabric and here is where I started. I also added some teal knit fabric to it because the tank top WAS TOO SHORT.

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And here is my final result! I zig zag stitched the edges around the tank top and a ruffle emerged! INSTANT FASHION!

If you look closely (or maybe even from a distance) you’ll notice its asymmetric. Not on purpose of course, but I’m pretending it was intentional. You can see how the sleeves/shoulder straps (or, whatever you call them) are of different widths.

Not gonna lie, I LOVE IT! IT FITS PERFECTLY. Then again, you’ve got to be pretty bad if you can’t fit into a knit!

I’m just so pleased with it, especially considering how it was looking beforehand, how I didn’t use a real pattern…I just pulled it out of no where. Adding that extra strip of teal fabric from my stash not only added to the length–which I desperately needed–but gave it a fashionista look.

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To think I almost threw out this wad of fabric, but I kept going with it, kept playing around.

I’m so happy I kept playing around with it! It fit perfectly–as knits have lots of stretchy give to them. Perfect for hot summer.

Here is some cheap fabric that I bought from Walmart. I had pieced it together–almost like pillow cases and then started to randomly sew. I didn’t know what I was doing here. I thought, why not sew it all together and form it into a skirt?

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And here is my final skirt result after MANY CHANGES. It was tough to get it just right! I installed a long, 7 or 8 inch zipper in the back and lots of random, off-kilter darts. But who cares? Notice that I added a piece of fringe polka dot fabric on the bottom for extra flair and zig zag stitched the edge! Still, a very simple look.

The trick to making a skirt is wrapping some fabric around your waist and then going from there. That’s all I do. Once you have a rough idea of how much fabric you’ll need for your size, you just start sewing. Towards the end you decide…do I want to add a top waist placket? Do I want to add a zipper or elastic? You can make those decisions later.

The best part? It FITS PERFECTLY! Hello Summer. I feel like I should be behind a Lemonade Stand or something.

 

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How about some homemade lemonade spiked with some Pinot Grigio? Chilled white wine is PERFECT for a summer evening on your porch with your Kindle. I’m still trying to finish Ben Sasse’s book “The Vanishing American Adult”.

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The key to sewing is not being discouraged by Nazi seamstresses who keep insisting that “There’s only one way to do it”. 

Keep trying and keep thinking up creative combinations. You don’t have to follow someone else’s script. You’ll improve with measurements and sewing machine accuracy eventually–but let that go for now! Put your focus on the fun part–THE DESIGN! It will motivate you to keep going!

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Visiting the Painted Hills and Exploring the Wild West Town of Mitchell, Oregon!

Visiting the Painted Hills and Exploring the Wild West Town of Mitchell, Oregon!

We’ve only been in central Oregon for a year and we haven’t explored enough! I’m the type who would be off exploring the Wild West and hitting up every possible western town thinkable but with years of very little sleep and toting two young ones– my motivation has dipped.

I arrived pregnant. Three months later we had our 2nd baby. As anyone with a new baby knows, these past 9 months have been a blizzard of crazy. Hectic, sleepless nights and seemingly endless hours of screaming during the day. Who says babies sleep all the time? They most certainly do not, and if you can get them to nap for two 20 minute naps in a day, you’re lucky!

Lately though, I’ve been getting more rest at night and we’ve been getting out more! It’s like life is enjoyable once again.

This past weekend we made a sudden escape to the REAL wild west. Unlike manufactured, hyped-up, touristy places like Bend or Sisters Oregon, we hit up Mitchell (population 130), which appears to be the real deal!

We met terrific residents in this small Oregon town. The man in the picture below sells rocks under this canopy. He finds them around the canyons and hills in the John Day Fossil areas. He told us about PROSPECTING FOR GOLD in some of the nearby creeks. Not a lot left. Apparently the Gold Rush is over.

MITCHELL RESIDENTS ENJOYING THE HOT AFTERNOON WITH A DRINK. THEY ACTUALLY LET ME TAKE THEIR PIC!!!!

If you look closely at the picture below, you can see locals sitting outside the cafe near the “Open” sign having a Saturday morning chat. These are NOT tourists. They’re locals. You really feel like you’ve gone back into time. It’s surreal!

Next to the cafe, the general store greets you with well worn hard-wood floors and elk and deer racks all over the walls. The shelves are sparsely stocked with goods. The locals say they drive 1 1/2 hours to stock up at Costco in Bend.

Here is Mitchell’s famous Chinese Apothecary–established in the 1800’s.

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We also scoped out the glorious Painted Hills 8 miles outside of Mitchell.

I will be back. Maybe in the next few days or weeks…or years. This is a highly underrated place for all its breathtaking beauty. My only fear, RATTLE SNAKES!!!!! I told my husband that they needed to invent some kind of special shoe to walk around this place–don’t snakes go for your ankles and lower legs? And then, a lightbulb moment hit. These shoes have already been invented long ago—they’re called COWBOY BOOTS. DOH

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