Recently in Upholstery Category

Recycle Restyle: Pet Beds From Old Cushions

February 9, 2014

LI2-pet-beds-seuss.jpgWe got rid of a couch recently. It had been a second-hand freebie that took all kinds of abuse. By the time we were through with it, the arms were shredded and the seat supports weren't able to do their job anymore. 

But I have a difficult time throwing things out if I think I can get some use out of them, and the cushions were still in pretty good shape. What to do with a bunch of free-range cushions? Pet beds, of course!

This is a pretty straightforward makeover -- you just need to be able to sew a box. I actually made two versions of this project. One is a little easier than the other, so you can decide how much time and energy you want to invest in your cushion makeover. 


 I went with Dr. Seuss fleece for my first bed. To start, you want to cut a piece of fleece that's several inches wider on each side than your cushion. When working with a stretch fabric like fleece, I like the stretch to run across the cushion as you view it from this angle, but this will also work with non-stretch fabrics.

1-pet-beds.jpgYour fabric cut needs to be long enough that it can wrap all the way around the cushion with about 10 inches of overlap.

2-pet-beds.jpgFinish the edge of each short edge of your fabric. (If your fabric has stretch, I recommend a stretch stitch here.) Then, wrap it around the cushion, right side in, and pin the side seams so they sit snugly against the cushion, being careful to catch all layers into your pinning.

3-pet-beds.jpgCarefully remove the cushion from your pinned fabric, and sew along the lines you pinned. Then, create fitted corners by folding your slipcover so the side seam runs to the point of the corner, centered in the triangle you create in the process, and run a straight stitch perpendicular to the side seam. 

4-pet-beds.jpgTurn it right side out, and wiggle it onto your cushion. I barely got mine set onto the table before I had a cat sprawled on it.

5-pet-beds.jpgThe second pet bed is a little more involved, and requires some actual measuring. 

First, you want to measure the height of your cushion. Mine was a little taller than 4.5 inches. Next, measure the entire outside edge of the cushion -- mine was 86 inches. So, I cut a piece 4.6 inches by 86 inches -- I don't add seam allowance! I cut the exact measurements and then use a quarter-inch seam allowance when assembling, and then I end up with a slipcover that's nice and snug. I cut this piece along the selvedge edge of my fabric, and ended up having to piece it a bit because I only had 2 yards of minky. Once I had my 4.6 by 86 inch piece assembled, I stitched the ends together to form a closed loop.

7-pet-beds.jpgTo cut the top of the slipcover, I placed the cushion directly on my fabric and traced the shape with a marker, then cut it out. (Again, skipping seam allowances.) As you can see, one of my corners has a rounded edge rather than a square one. 

6-pet-beds.jpgTo create the bottom, I cut two pieces that would overlap, each about two-thirds of the length of the top piece I cut. 


8-pet-beds.jpgI finished one of the edges on each of my two bottom pieces. As with the fleece, I used a stretch stitch here. Then, I overlapped them to match the size of the top piece, and cut the matching rounded corner to accomodate for my cushion's asymmetric shape. I also pinned the two bottom pieces together and basted the overlapped sections.

9-pet-beds.jpgOnce my top and bottom were cut and prepared, I made trim by cutting bias strips out of twill and stitching it around cotton piping. I made about 6 yards of it, so I would have enough to edge the bed at both the top and bottom. (I had plenty left over.)

10-pet-beds.jpgI trimmed the seam allowance on piping fabric down to about 1/4 inch, and then stitched it all around the edges of my top and bottom pieces. Then I sewed my side edge loop to both the top and bottom pieces. The only trick here is making sure your top and bottom line up when you're stitching the side piece. I aligned the seam that closed my loop with one of the corner edges and made sure I matched the top and bottom corners I was using and had no problem.

11-pet-beds.jpgOnce I slipped this one onto the cushion, I loved it -- and more importantly, so did my creatures. 

12-pet-beds.jpgAnd these beds are  big enough for two! (At least, two cats or small dogs.)

13-pet-beds.jpgI'm so glad we didn't toss those cushions! Now my kitties have new beds, and I can just pull the slipcovers off and throw them in the wash. 

Nursery Bedding- Ladies first

February 5, 2014

I am in the process of redecorating my daughters' room and thought my dilemmas would make for an interesting post. Since it will house both a 1 yr. old and a 5 yr. old I wanted it to still be a nursery but able to grow as my girls grow, or out-grow the nursery. I decided to choose a neutral for the walls and let the bold colors of most of their toys and accents they already have (piggy bank collection, floating shelves, giant stuffed animals) serve as the color so when you walk in their room all you see is fun and comfort.

Girl collage 5 yr.jpg



    Girl Collage:

    1. Light Grey Bedroom with a bright yellow dresser. This is the foundation of my room. I love grey as a neutral and feel as my LO grows she can easily change bedding and accents without repainting. The bold yellow dresser gives a sunny look to the room.
    2. Tone on Tone Dots Yellow- This fabric will serve as drapes. The larger dots work well for such a large piece of pattern in the room, coordinates with the dresser and compliments the main accent color of coral. I will use two floor to ceiling panels on each window. It will also be used for shams and pillow cases to tie the bedding and the curtains together.
    3.  Michael Miller Stripes Chic Chevron Sun Yellow- This fabric and #4 will serve as most of the bedding for the room: sheets and duvet. The soft feel of quilting cotton makes for excellent bedding and the simple pattern makes matching easy. I love all the extra colors and tones it brings into the room which makes adding accents like lamp shades, book cases, and artwork easier.
    4. Aunt Polly's Flannel Polka Dots Peach- Great for the cold months, I love to bring in flannel for warmth but it is also nice for warmer months when used only on the top of a duvet, shams, decorative pillows and borders for sheets. I really love peach and coral together so I had to bring this fabric in.
    5. Threshold Lamp- the wooden base brings warmth and the larger shape grounds the space and tones down the juvenile theme so the room can host your child for many years and maybe even serve as a guest room in a pinch. The bird lamp shade coordinates well and brings in an animal touch that every child loves.
    6. Coral Chevron Rug- This features our signature color, coral, but has enough pattern to disguise dirt and even matches most juice colors.
    7. Ikea Tullsta Chair- I love the scale and shape of this chair. It will make a great reading chair. The shape cuddles your child so they can sit in any position and the scale is not oversized but certainly not tiny so it will grow with your child. I would recover it in our Marine Turquoise Vinyl which is very durable, wipe able and adds a complimentary accent of turquoise. I feared using too much coral and I love turquoise and coral together.

      Stay tuned for the next edition when I change out a few basic elements to turn this nursery into a boy's retreat that is anything but ordinary boys' toys. 

Directional Upholstery

January 1, 2014

Reupholstery_1.jpgWhen upholstering furniture you won't always get lucky with a solid fabric. One day you will want a stripe, a velvet or an obviously directional pattern and then what? It was all so easy when you could just slap your fabric on, make your cuts and staple it in place. However, with directional fabric it is very important to pay attention to the direction of the pattern but also the grainlines. You will want your stripes to be straight and your velvet (and other nap fabrics) to all go in the same direction. When reupholstering be sure to label each piece before you remove it with a directional arrow. This will help later when you are cutting new pieces. Make sure all your arrows face the same direction and if you are using stripes that each piece is oriented straight on the stripe. WIth velvet (and other nap fabrics) you also want to make sure all your pieces are exactly on grain. Any deviation will show in the sheen and when you rub your hand across the nap. 


If you want your stripes to match cut each piece 4-5 inches bigger (more or less depending on the size of the stripe. Bigger stripes will need more wiggle room and smaller stripes less) so you can adjust from left to right to match up perfectly. 


I upholstered this chair in a scalloped chenille as a Christmas present to my mom a year ago. It was particularly tricky because the scallops did not give me an exact straight line. I started it out with a hammer and tacks as mentioned in this post so I could easily reposition as I tightened the fabric and shaped it to fit. When I was pleased I would staple it in place (its faster). Once I worked with the fabric long enough (placing 2-3 pieces) I was able to see the direction better and could eliminate the hammer and tacks. Keeping the original pieces also helped because they retain all the original folds, tucks and even dirt. If your piece is old enough the worn areas will be dirty and the unworn clean so you can easily see how to replicate any darts, tuck or folds with your new fabric. 


My advice is practice, practice, practice. If in doubt cut big pieces, use upholstery skewers to pin your fabric in place, a hammer & tacks driven in half way so you can pop the tacks back out to reposition. But don't worry, you can always start again. 


Stitched Embossed Vinyl

December 4, 2013

Stitched Embossed Vinyl

This tutorial uses my previous post, Man Corner: Recovering vinyl bar stools, as a foundation. I wanted to give my husband something special for Christmas but this method can easily be applied to vinyl tablet cover, a vinyl clutch, footstools, headboards or even vinyl stocking cuffs for an edgy look. As soon as I finished my first bar stool which was to sit behind his counter at his motorcycle shop I thought how great it would be to cover another stool with his logo to sit on the other side of the counter for customers. However, I didn't want to just stitch it and be done; I wanted to stitching to really stand out and have an embossed appearance. To change it up for a more classic look try white vinyl with black stitching, for something more casual try a tone on tone scheme with turquoise vinyl and thicker, heavy weight thread for kitchen stools. I used a dark grey heavy weight thread. I considered black but I wanted the logo to be noticed but white was too high constrast (also it was going to a motorcycle shop which isn't the best place for white).

Continue reading Stitched Embossed Vinyl.

DIY Tufting

November 8, 2013

My last project (tufted window seat) got me all excited over tufting and I could not stop researching it. I found so much useful and interesting information on upholstery tufting that I wanted to share it with you. 

Did you know there are three types of tufting: diamond, square (AKA Biscuit) and rectangle (AKA Bun)?Bun tuftingBiscuit 


  • Only use a diamond pattern that is taller than it is wide for upholstery because otherwise it looks skewed and awkward asthetically. 
  • It is generally recommended to use either a solid fabric or a small print fabric design when planning a tufted piece. This is because there is folding, pulling and distortion going on that can take away from the over all design, can hide motifs in the fabric and create weird shapes. 
  • When tufting the best results come from supporting your tufts on the back so the thread doesn't pull out. This can be done by either stapling or nailing your thread or knotting in extra material, cotton wadding or another button to the back or underside of the project. 
  • You can tuft with or without buttons but if you want a deep tuft you will need to use buttons and cut into your foam. The button distributes the weight of the thread pulling on it and the cut foam allows the button to sink further into the foam to create a deep tuft. 
  • I recommend using a fabric with medium stiffness and drape so it can be pulled and folded into place without blowing away on the breeze. Too light fabric will wear too quickly and will not with stand the stress of the tufts rendering it useless and too heavy will be uncomfortable and will not allow for a generous tufting because it will resist too much.
  • I found this great blog post on headboard shapes. I wanted to pass it along because a headboard is a great first upholserty/tufting project. 
  • It is important to add a layer or two of batting on top of the foam to soften all hard edges and to reduce friction between the fabric and the foam. 
  • Be sure to plan out with a calculator the size of the shape of your tufts, how far apart and how tall and wide each tuft will be. 

Tufting tutorials:

You must check out this diamond tufted headboard by Blue Roof Cabin. It is a recovered french style headboard that is beautifully remade. You can find the full tutorial through the link. 

Another great diamond tufted tutorial can be found on Thrifty Decor Chick's blog. It is a softer tufted look that is much simplier with less work but with added nailhead trim. This is another great first project. 

If you want to try your hand at something more advanced check out Upholstery Journal Magazine's barrel back chair. There is a complete reupholstery tutorial on their blog and it is fantastic. 

Home: Tufted Window Seat

November 6, 2013


The secret to my success is not skill or creativity, it is my mom. She is among other great things my main babysitter and without her many of these projects would still be sketches on paper, unintelligible thoughts in Evernote or dreams that I keep captured in my head. So when she said she wanted a cushion for her window seat and that it should be smushy, cozy, and make you want to flop down and read a book, I said "Of course. I'm on it". We were able to translate smushy, etc into a picture of an old-fashioned horsehair mattress, which includes many imperfections in stuffing and tufting (Oh joy, I muttered sarcastically). The window seat is 101'' long by 24'' wide which is pretty hefty but perhaps your's will be smaller and more enjoyable because of it. Here's what you will need to get started. 



Fabric to fit your window seat (Choose a heavy weight fabric from our home decor section. It will hold up to the tufting and aforementioned flopping)

2'' thick medium density foam to fit window seat (Your finished cushion will be 3'' thick)

Poly fil stuffing (I actually pulled apart several old pillows. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle)

High loft batting to fit cushion (again I reused an old fluffy blanket)

approx 10 yds of wool yarn for tufting

Doll needle or really long, thick, sharp needle (Metal tapestry needle would be my second choice)

22'' zipper (or zipper need to insert foam into cushion)



Cut 2 pieces from your fabric using this formula (width of cushion + depth of cushion + seam allowance = A, length of cushion + depth of cushion + seam allowance = B) AxB. Add in your zipper to the middle back of both panels along the width using this tutorial. With right sides facing, continuing sewing around the rest of the cushion fabric becing careful to open the zipper a bit so  you can turn it rightside out. But before you do turn it rightside out make the gussets. I added 3'' gussets since that is how thick I intended the cushion to be. Turn right side out and insert foam. Then spread the blanket on top of the foam and finally lightly (and I mean lightly) add stuffing on top of the blanket. The tufting will thicken it up and too much stuffing will prevent a good, deep tuft. tuft3.jpg


Using a long ruler and a pen mark the placements of your tufts. You can choose a square pattern like this or a diamond, off set like me. I laid mine out 6'' spacing in rows and each row was 8'' apart. Then I threaded my big needle and went down from the top and out the bottom. I left a small 14-1/2'' gap and went back up from the bottom. Remove the needle and cross your thread to make a knot and pull it tightly. Complete by knotting it 2 more times. Trim yout yarn to 1'' piece ends. These will fray and fuzz and look delightful. Once you complete your tufting you are done. Mine took about 2 hours just for the tufting but again it was a huge cushion. Get your self a nice coffee or ice cream, because you've earned it. Don't forget to dress your cushion with some cozy throw pillows, a warm blanket and a good book. 


Man Corner: Recovering vinyl bar stools (on a regular sewing machine)

September 4, 2013

stool before after.jpg

Before and After

**Edit: I sewed this completely on my regular home machine. It is a Brother HE-120 so pretty basic and any sewing machine can sew this project. I used a Schmetz size 16 needle, Coat Clark All Purpose Thread and a piece of matte scotch tape on the bottom of my regular machine foot. The tape reduces friction when top stitching. 

My husband owns a motorcycle shop and is always bringing home cool motorcycle stuff for me to fix up man-style for his shop. A few years ago he scored a pair of stools from another motorcyle shop. These stools were practically in the dumpster when my frugal-minded husband snatched them up knowing he had a crafty wife at home. The stools have seen better days back in the early 90's (umm, maybe) but even then it looks like they were all looks and not much comfort. I took one look at them and knew I could do better. 



Kid approved

We started with 2 yards of black vinyl since my husband has since found a third stool. Since each stool seat is approx. 14'' in diameter and 4'' high I calculated that 2 yds would cover it. Next, find and mark the center point. This makes it easy to measure the diameter. Now measure the diameter, at least twice moving the ruler as you go. This means measure it one way then pick up the ruler and measure it another way. Yes, it is a circle but not all stools are perfectly round and since this stool is old it might be out of round and warped. It was but my average was 13.75''. Your vinyl will stretch a bit so go with the average measurement not the smallest or the largest. add 1'' to your circle measurement for seam allowance. Now, measure how tall your seat is. To calculate how big to cut your band, use a circle calculator and find the circumference and add 1'' for seam allowance. This is your band length. The height of the seat plus 2-3'' (for pulling and tucking) is the width of the band.


Now on the reverse of your vinyl draw your circle. Draw and cut your band. Sew the short ends of the band right sides together. As you pin the band to the circle, clip into both about 1/4'' and keep the pins in the 1/2 seam allowance just to be sure not holes show when finished. Next, start sewing about 2'' past the band seam and sew around to about 2'' before the band seam. If you have any measurement discrepancies or stretching you can easily adjust the band size without ripping any seams. Finished stitching.



See my band was too big but easily fixed

Clip all the way around just shy of the seam. Finger press your seam towards the band and topstitch it in place. Now trim that seam to 1/4''. 


Take 1'' foam (this is double the thickness of the foam I removed) and trace your original circle measurement on to it and cut it out with scissors. I used standard chair pads. Remove any old fabric and using spray adhesive attach your new foam to the seat base. Wait 30 min (time for a glass of wine!) then slide your seat cover over the base. Flip over your stool onto a clean smooth surface since vinyl can scratch. Using a staple gun start on 4 "corners" of the compass of your base and attach your cover. Work around the entire circle until your cover is secure. Flip is over and sit yourself down. 


Our stools will be going behind his front desk for the employees to sit on and for me when I come to visit and take my turn behind the counter. My bum is really looking forward to the new seat covers and increased foam thickness and density. Now its your turn to fix up your bar stools whether it is for your husband or your kitchen. Trust me, you'll feel better and its so easy!

Ikea Hack- Poang (kid version)

August 21, 2013


I jumped on the Ikea Hack train and, of course, went for a kid project, the child sized poang chair. You could do this same tutorial on an original poang to get a similar look but you will need to adjust your yardage. To recreate mine you will need 1 yd each two Premier Prints (I used JoJo Slub in navy and grey). 


All seam allowances 1/2'' unless otherwise noted. 

First, remove your cushion and measure the chair. Mine measured at 34.5'' from tip top to bottom. I added an inch for seam allowance and then dissassembled. I removed the velcro from the bottom and the floppy head pillow. Then, I laid the cushion down on my fabric and traced the top and bottom, not the sides (see picture below). Then I marked where the back and bottom pockets hit, added 2'' for a double folded hem and cut one each from my fabric. You can use the pockets to create your main pieces by tracing the pockets and drawing two straight lines up the side connecting the 2 pieces, approx 35.5'' long. This will create the same rounded corners. Cut two main pieces. Sew velcro onto bottom pocket piece. Place the main pieces right sides together with the pockets sandwiched in between making sure that they both face the same way. sew around the main pieces, leaving a turning gap at the bottom. Turn rightside out and stuff with original cushion. Topstitch gap closed with a 1/4'' seam. Place new cushion on your chair. 



To make pillow, cut two pieces 17'' by 9''. Cut two strap 9'' by 3''. Fold straps in half rightsides together and sew along one short end and one long side. Turn and repeat with second strap. Place straps approx 3-4'' from top center of one pillow piece and pin in place. Place the two pillow pieces rightsides together and stitch, leaving a turning gap on one side. Sew 1'' gussets on all corners and trim. Turn rightside out and fill with 1'' wide foam cut 15'' by 7''. Slip stitch closed. Place pillow on chair and use your snap awl to puncture a hole through each strap and the back pocket to place snap. I used Babyville snaps


You are done. Enjoy your new sophisticated but fun new kid chair. It's perfect for movie nights, playrooms or reading nooks. No more Dora or character chairs that are hard to work into your decor but its still bright and charming enough to win the heart of your little one. 



Blog of the Month: Young House Love

July 10, 2013

I have found over the years of working on this blog that many things inspire me to get to work sewing and knitting. All of you out there make so many wonderful projects that I want to recreate for myself and it is one reason I love getting up in the morning. I love you all. That being said, never before have I so deserately (I mean desperately) wanted to buy an ugly house and turn it into a treasure. But after reading this month's blog of the month, Young House Love,  I can feel that churning excitement in my belly: I need to buy an ugly house just so I can recreate all the projects found on this blog. 

*Side note- Please Santa if you are reading this, please find me an ugly house to buy, preferably with a front porch, basement and fenced in backyard. You know, for my dogs*

Continue reading Blog of the Month: Young House Love.

New Hot Patterns Free Pattern Download: Tumbling Leaves for Cozy Comfort

September 9, 2012

The change of the seasons from summer to fall is my favorite time of year. I love to welcome the start of holiday season with a decor refresh, and this year, we have a new Hot Patterns free download to help! The Tumbling Leaf Trapunto Pillow is a great addition to your home dec arsenal. If you've never tried trapunto quilting before -- a technique which involves sewing two layers of fabric together, then stuffing the stitched design via small slit openings in the backing layer -- this is a great intro project. It's sort of like trapunto-light. If you do a quick internet image search for the word "trapunto," you'll immediately see just how intricate and detailed the trapunto method can get. So, as I said earlier, this is a great way to dip your toe into the water before jumping in.

I actually assembled this pillow both with and without the trapunto approach so you can see the difference in dimensionality you can achieve with this method. Both of my pillows are made with upholstery velvet, so other than the difference in the detailing, all things are equal on these two.

1-autumn-leaves.jpgFor the first, non-trapunto version, I sandwiched two layers of Warm & Natural cotton batting between my velvet and my cotton backing fabric, and stitched the design through all layers to create the front of the pillow. This creates a very gently quilted look. Cotton batting is not as high-loft as some other batting choices, so a high-loft poly batting will give you a little more depth to your stitching.

2-autumn-leaves.jpgFor the second version, I assembled as directed in the pattern, stitching the design through the velvet and backing fabric, then cutting small slits in the backing fabric and gently stuffing in the details with small bits of batting. As you can see, this version has much more dimension -- the details on the leaf really stand out.

3-autumn-leaves.jpgHere are both pillows together again so you can really see, side-by-side, how differently they turned out from one another. I like them both, but I really love the sculptural look of the second one.

This is one of those dangerous projects for me -- it gives me alllllllll kinds of ideas about other pillows I could create. Imagine bats and skulls at Halloween, wreaths and holly and snowflakes at Christmas, even giant-sized conversation hearts for Valentine's Day with messages stitched into them!

5-autumns-leaves.jpgThis is also a good gift project. If you know someone who loves the great outdoors and likes to bring nature inside, you can easily customize these to match any decor. Since they're autumn-themed, you might have to give out holiday gifts a little early so the recipients can get full use out of them right away!

Ready to try your hand at these dimensionally-detailed pillows? Download the free pattern here, grab a half-yard of your favorite home dec fabric and get started!

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