Vintage Footstool goes Shabby Chic

As the seasons change we see our “stuff” literally in a different light.  But before we decide to part with something, it might be worth taking a moment before sending something to landfill to consider if it could be given a new lease of life.  Even if an item no longer has pride of place in our own home, it might still be of use or value to someone else, either as a gift, or possibly in exchange for an unused object or collectable in their bottom drawer, or even to sell on.  After years of “Highstreet-ality” and seeing the same old same old in every shop in every town, interest in the original and unusual is beginning to grow once more.  It’s so refreshing to be different!

Recycling is a concept we are all now very familiar with.  Giving something a makeover is not only recycling at its best it’s also satisfying.

Shabby Chic Footstool
Vintage Footstool goes Shabby Chic

We took one old vintage footstool that was in very tired shape and gave it the works.  The legs were shortened to give it a more modern feel and then the base and legs were given a coat of paint in a soft shabby chic grey.  French Grey is a very popular colour, but you can mix your own shade using a standard water based quick dry satin in white and adding a similar quality black in the amount of your choice to achieve the desired shade, which you might wish to vary according to the item you are painting.   This gives you a lot of paint shade choices at minimal cost.  Just be sure to mix enough to complete the project in hand as having to remix a new batch might result in colour variations.

The cover is made in a patchwork of a selection of florals, checks, stripes and plain in linen and cottons in complementary shades of Duck Egg Blue, Naturals and Offwhite by designer company ROMO.  These top quality furnishing fabrics will give lasting pleasure across many seasons, not just one.  As well as being perfect for putting up your feet after a long day, the footstool can also be used as a meditation stool, or as a small side table for a tray with your favourite cuppa and biscuits as you relax in front of the fire.

Shabby Chic Sidetable
Shabby Chic Sidetable

Got time and paint left over…….?

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How to Make a Patchwork Throw

Use to cover a chair, as a picnic blanket or a child’s play mat

Close up of Patchwork in pink, yellow and green
Close up of Patchwork
Patchwork Throw on a Lloyd Loom Chair
Patchwork Throw on a wicker Lloyd Loom Chair

You will need:

  • 15 pieces of material 35 x 25cm each in complimentary colours in fabrics of equal weight and thickness.  Being eco-friendly, we used 100% curtain weight cotton fabric from an old pattern book
  • Two strips of plain fabric 135cm long and 17cm wide for the top and bottom borders
  • Two strips of plain fabric 115cm and 17 cm wide for side borders
  • 1.5m Lining fabric or plain cotton fabric (137cm or more wide) for backing
  • Sewing thread in appropriate colour/s

A 1.5cm seam was used throughout.  We recommend pressing seams open as you go for more accurate results

How to make the throw

  1. Lay out the fabric squares and decide best how to arrange them
  2. Sew together the top row of three and press seams open
  3. Continue by sewing the next three together, press, and follow with the third , fourth, and fifth rows
  4. When all the rows are sewn together, join the top row to the second row, being careful to match the seams of the squares by placing a pin into the seam at right angles to hold the two together ready for stitching.  Stich together and press seams open carefully
  5. Continue in this way until all five rows have been sewn together making a finished area of three squares by five
  6. Find the middle of a long border strip, and mark with a pin, fold or pencil dot on the wrong side of the fabric.  Do the same for the patchworked piece and match the centre points.  Pin carefully in place and sew together, leaving ends extending away from sides (approx 17cm).  Repeat for the bottom edge.
  7. Repeat the above for the side borders, trimming away any excess length once you have matched the lower part of the side strip to the sides of the top/bottom borders, which now lies between.
  8. At this point you can add a layer of wadding if you wish for a warmer, padded quilt.  Pin the wadding at regular intervals making sure that the fabric lies flat and that there are no folds catching in anywhere. Basting the wadding in place will help to reduce any movement.
  9. Lay out the completed top layer, right side up, either on a large table or on the floor, and taking exact measurements of the finished piece cut the lining fabric to size.  Place the lining fabric over the completed patchwork with right sides together matching side seams and corners.
  10. Sew around the outside edges of the throw leaving 40cm open along the bottom edge.  Turn the throw inside out and press around the edges, folding in and pressing the seam allowance at the bottom opening, and then handstitching this closed.
  11. Press the whole throw until you have a good finish to the edges and the seams are all well settled.  Top stitch around all four edges about 0.5cm in, and again on the inside of the border edge.  You can use the same colour or choose a contrasting colour as a feature.
  12. To anchor the throw in the middle section, we used a small decorative flower feature stitch in the corners of every other square.  This holds the layers together while  allowing them to be flexible at the same time.  For a more quilted effect you can sew down every seam from top to bottom, and across in a grid, but bear in mind that this requires greater accuracy in the preparation of your piece as any discrepancies in measurements will surface at this stage.  You can also use crochet cotton to “tie in” the layers at the corners of the patches.  Stitch through from the top with the thread leaving the end free, coming back up, down and up again, then double tie  and trim the ends leaving tufts, for a more rustic or shabby chic style finish.  Again you can make a feature by using a stronger colour.

From a recycling perspective, you could also use fabric from old curtains, or old shirts to make this throw, as long as the fabrics are of a comparable weight, clean and in good condition.  A variety of textures and colours can be fun.

Making eco soft-furnishings yourself with recycled materials contibutes to a more sustainable way of living and brings great pleasure both in the making and use of the finished item.  If you would like to let us know how you get on, or have ideas to share, or other examples of upcycling,  we’d love to read them in the comments box.

Happy making!

Pink Patchwork Throw folded view
Use as a picnic blanket or a baby play mat

 

Some later projects…

Pink Patchwork Throw
Pink Patchwork Throw
Blue Patchwork Throw
Blue Patchwork Throw
Red Patchwork Throw
Red Patchwork Throw

Make a decorative window curtain

Personally, I have never been a fan of net curtains.  I love to be able to look out of my window and see the trees, the sky, the birds, it gives me a sense of connection, a link to the outside world.  However, depending on where you live, your window may be somewhat exposed to the eyes of passers by.

Here’s something I came up with which doesn’t completely do what a net curtain will do, but nevertheless breaks up the line of vision and usually absorbs people’s attention in its own right.

A decorative window curtain, or display.

Window Curtain by Day
Window Curtain by Day

The great thing about this is that it’s really fun to make.  You can allow your creativity full reign and add things in different colours and textures, or you can use pieces that are all the same tone with just a few accents of colour here and there.  You could choose a specific theme, the obvious one at the moment being Christmas decorations, with pretty fabric hearts in vibrant reds and greens, or later in the year change to a nautical theme usings blues, pieces of string with driftwood and shells for example.  You could make a statement with unusual recycled or vintage artifacts. shabby chic style, or handpaint your own glass baubles or wooden hearts.   It’s also a very affordable alternative to curtains as you do not have to have to spend a lot upfront, but can add bits as you go along.  If you’re a collector, like me, you’ve probably got lots of bits of ribbon and buttons tucked away somewhere.  Or create a 3D scrapbook of memorabilia.  What’s great is you can just remove anything you are bored with, and change with the seasons.  I have hung my bits and bobs over a simple curtain rod which can be bought very cheaply and has a spring mechanism which holds it in place in the window recess so no need for drills or anything high tech.  Just measure your window before you buy the curtain rod to be sure you buy the correct size.

 

Window Curtain by Night
Window Curtain by Night

Of course this is quick and easy to apply if your windows are as small as my present home.  In a larger window I had in my previous house I bought a beaded door curtain and hung this from two hooks in the centre of the bay window.  I cut it to the length of the window sill, but of course check that the beads are fixed individually before doing this!  You can personalise as you wish, adding beads or ribbon to suit your taste and the mood of the room, or leave plain if you prefer a simple look.

Post us a picture when you’re done.  Have fun!!

Make your own door draught excluder

Door Draught Excluder
Door Draught Excluder

Now that autumn is here and those nights are becoming chillier and the wind is often gusty, how about checking some of those draughts and saving on the heating bills by making your own door draught excluder?  It’s easier than you think.  You don’t have to have a single large piece of fabric, any scraps will do.  You can mix and match a range of colours and textures to create a lovely bright feature for your hallway.  Here’s how …….

 

Door Draught Excluder Fabrics

Select some fabrics.  These can be in a similar tonal range, but in different textures.  Here we have used some heavy weight upholstery fabric with an almost North African flair which was left over from making a chair seat cushion for a client, teamed with some pieces of velvet from a book of samples of discontinued fabric.  You could use a variety of different colours with a similar texture, or colours and textures which contrast.  Or why not use florals and stripes, or checks?  You may even find some interesting fabrics in charity shops – a perfect bit of “upcycling” (see our March entry)

Step one

Fabric pieces for door draught excluder
Layout pieces in possible combinations

Play with different combinations of colour and texture until you find a combination that you like.  You can create all sorts of ‘looks’ – rustic, shabby chic, modern bold stripes of colour, anything that matches your own style of decor and colour scheme.

 

Step 2

Sew fabric pieces for draught excluder together
Sew pieces together in chosen order

Sew all the pieces together allowing at least 1/2″ (or 1.5 cm) for seams.  If the fabric looks likely to fray it may be better to overlock the edges if  you can, but as the seams will be inside the draught excluder this is not usually necessary.

 

Step 3

Make up the pieces for the draught excluder to the required length
Make up to the required length

Continue to join fabric pieces together until long enough to fit the door, plus seam allowances at each end.  We made ours 34″ (cut 35″ with seams) long which is fairly standard for a front door, and 7″ wide as the door has a stormboard outside and we wanted to be sure to cover the gaps to each side.   Repeat the process to make a second strip of fabric.  Press all seams open.

Step 4

Place both fabric pieces together, right sides facing and stitch around the edges, leaving a 6″ gap to turn right sides out and to add the filling.  You don’t have to buy special wadding.  We used scraps of fabric cut into strips.  You could also use an old towel,  old pullovers or T-shirts, or old socks.  As long as they are clean!  You could even use shredded newspaper, or if you have some old cushions that have become matted you could use the fillling.  There are all sorts of eco-friendly materials you could use.  Once you have enough filling in place, fold the edges in, press and pin in place.  Close the seam either using handstitching or machine very close to the edge.  Your door draught excluder is ready to go.

The draught excluder in place
The finished draught excluder in place

Got some ideas you want to share?