Tuesday, April 22, 2014

My First Reupholstered Chair And What I Learned From It

For a while now, I have been looking for a small but comfortable chair to tuck under my computer desk downstairs. I stopped in at my favorite thrift store last week and saw this ugly duckling:

The fabric was super dirty and ripped, there was paint splats on the metal legs, and it was overall kind of sad looking. BUT...

it was only $1.99.

And it was sturdy and pretty comfortable. I figured for two bucks I was willing to take it home and see what I could do with it. The closest I have ever come to reupholstering something was when I made a new cover for my carseat (HERE). But like I said, I was willing to give it a go on this thrift store chair.

It looked relatively simple. I started by unscrewing the back and the seat and taking out a bazillion staples.

Then I used the old fabric as pattern pieces for the new fabric

I sewed them up, stapled them back on, putting it back together the way I took it apart.

And check it out:

It has a totally new life! I was really torn between several great fabric choices, but after I got this West Elm Honeycomb fabric home, I knew it was the perfect choice. I love the fresh, sleek vibe the chair has now.

I did not mean for the fabric to go in two different directions. It was accidental. This is where we get to the "what I learned" part...

1. You think you will remember how things go back together, but you won't. This particular seat cushion has one side where the fabric tapers and for some reason, I assumed it was the front of the chair. I had already cut out and sewed the cushion together before I realized that I had assumed wrong. And I didn't have any extra fabric to try again. That's why the pattern goes in two different directions. Lesson learned: label everything before you take it apart! If I had stuck a piece of masking tape on there that said THIS IS THE FRONT OF THE CHAIR, I wouldn't have made that mistake.

2. Stripes, geometrics, or any fabric with a distinct pattern is hard to work with. My fabric is a little crooked. I cut it out correctly, but all that tugging to get things smooth and flat while I was stapling made the pattern end up not quite straight. At first it bugged me. Then I realized that I would have to undo a gazillion staples to fix it and suddenly it didn't bug me so much. Ha!

3. Have a friend, husband, or kid help you while stapling. I didn't, and it would have been so much easier if someone else was holding the fabric tight so I could use two hands on the staple gun. I think this would have also prevented some of the pulling that made my fabric pattern look crooked.

4. Wash the metal frame before putting the fabric parts back on. You would think this was a no-brainer, but I didn't do it. Then it was ten times harder to get into the nooks and crannies to remove the dirt and paint splatters.

5. Reupholstering is totally doable! You only need a few tools: your sewing machine, a staple gun, needle nosed pliers and a screwdriver. It's like doing a reverse puzzle. You take all the pieces apart, then try to put them back together again. I can't believe the difference new fabric made for my simple metal chair. It makes me want to try something a little harder... like a wing back chair or something.

I bought 2/3 yard of fabric, but I probably could have gotten away with only 1/2 yard. The chair ($2) plus the fabric ($7) means I got a "new" chair for $9.

I think I might do our padded folding chairs next!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Matching Easter Outfits

Can I just start this post by saying that getting three kids dressed and groomed and then keeping them clean long enough to get a photo where they are actually smiling is impossible?! Man! I just couldn't seem to make it happen. So you get what you get in the photo department.

But... on to the sewing...

I made matching outfits for the kiddos for Easter! And I even finished them early for once! I had big plans to post all about them last week, but one thing led to another and here it is Thursday already. Dontcha hate it when that happens?!

I bought the mustard polka dot fabric at Hobby Lobby because I just couldn't say no to it. It's not very Easter-pastel like, but I just don't care.

I decided to make super ruffly skirts because I've been realizing lately that my little girls will only want the fru-fru for so long and I need to take advantage!

For the baby, I made a ruffled underskirt topped with a Belle-inspired ruched overskirt.

Hmm... looking at this photo makes me think I'll add the gathers to the side seams as well. What do you think?

These are what the pieces looked like before I sewed them together:

I have no idea how you are supposed to sew the gathers on the skirt. So I made something up. I drew lines on the skirt, sewed it, gathered it up, then sewed over the gathering line onto a piece of ribbon to keep it in place, like this:

Who knows what the right way is...

Big sister got a "peekaboo" skirt (inspired by THIS).

It's just three rectangles of fabric: one plain yellow back piece, one yellow front piece with the swoop at the bottom, and a third piece of white with ruffles on it. I basted the front piece with the white piece, then sewed the skirt together like normal.

I whipped up a cute handsome (he hates when I call him cute) bow tie for brother and we were good to go.

I very roughly followed THIS tutorial, but I used elastic instead of adding a clip-on doo-hickey or a fabric strap. I dunno why...because it seemed easier?

This is where we get to the failed photo shoot.

Big sister's skirt is on crooked and pulled down super low on her waist. Little sister's pot belly pushed her skirt down and it's all smooshed and not sitting right. Brother's shirt is untucked and his chin is hiding his bow tie! And obviously no one looks happy. Ack!

And that was the best shot by a landslide!

I gave up when this started:

She was NOT a happy camper! Thus ended the photo shoot. Luckily, we get to try again after church on Sunday... if everyone can stay happy and clean long enough!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Homemade Cream Puffs

When I have to bring treats somewhere, my favorite treats to bring are the ones that look really hard to make, but aren't. I got this recipe from my friend, Kathy. She brought them to a party once and everyone was raving. Now I am the one bringing them to parties and people will say to me, "Wow! You made cream puffs? From scratch?!" And I just smile and say, "Yep!" They think I have much more kitchen skill than I actually do, because these treats really are not hard to make! Thanks for teaching me the ways, Kathy!

Cream Puffs:

1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium saucepan, combine water, butter and salt. Bring to a boil. Add flour all at once, stirring vigorously. Cook and stir until mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat. Cool for 10 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well with a wooden spoon after each egg.

Drop dough by the tablespoon (I made 20) onto a greased baking sheet. Use a second spoon to scrape the dough off. Swirl into a ball shape.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Watch them closely near the end.

Remove to cooling rack and cool completely.


You can get creative with the filling. Pastry cream, whipped cream, cream cheese, even boxed pudding... they are all delicious! This is one option for cream cheese filling:

1 8 oz brick cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
1 pint whipping cream (or tub of whipped topping)
**Reserve 1/4-1/2 cup cream for chocolate topping
1 tablespoon vanilla

Beat whipping cream and sweeten to taste. Set aside. Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add vanilla and keep beating. Add sugar, a little at a time. Fold in whipped cream.

Spoon filling into a pastry bag. Poke the tip into a hollow spot in each cream puff and squeeze the filling in. I like a lot of filling, so I fill it until all the hollow places are full of cream.

Chocolate Topping:

1 bag chocolate chips (I prefer milk chocolate, but any kind will do!)
whipping cream

Bring whipping cream to a boil. Pour over chocolate chips and stir until chocolate is melted evenly. Spoon evenly on top of each cream puff.

Refrigerate cream puffs until service.

I brought these to a baby shower, so I added pink food coloring to the filling and drizzled them with pink chocolate just to make them a little more festive and girly.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Single-Serve Eggless Cookie Dough

I can't decide if you are going to love me or hate me for this post. I have a new treat to share and it is ah-mazing, but it's a total diet buster.

It's so easy that I can whip it up any time i need a little something, which can be dangerous... because let's face it, half of my diet plan is that I'm too lazy to bake.

Not so with this little gem of a recipe. Now I can have a little nibble of chocolate chip cookie dough any time I want.

Dangerous, right?!

Single-Serve Eggless Cookie Dough

1.5 TBSP butter
3 TBSP flour
1 TBSP white sugar
1 TBSP brown sugar
dash vanilla
a few drops milk

Smash butter, flour and sugars together with a spoon until they are evenly combined. It will be a little crumbly. Add vanilla and continue smashing. Add a few drops of milk at a time if it's not quite the perfect cookie dough consistency. 

Now you are ready to turn on a chick flick or peruse your favorite blogs with a little bowl of deliciousness!
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