Archive of ‘Sewing’ category

Reupholstered Living Room Chair: Upholstery Part 2

Reupholstered Living Room Chair Reuphostery Part 2_social

The chairs are done! Finally! Here are the final steps to finishing up the living room chair upholstery and here’s what I used:

  1. Staple gun (Manual Staple Gun or Pneumatic Staple Gun)
  2. Staples
  3. Fabric (Linked Navy Blue)
  4. Scissors
  5. Pen
  6. FireLine Beading Thread
  7. Upholstery Button Kit
  8. Rubber Mallet
  9. Glue Gun and Glue Gun Sticks
  10. Pre-made cording/trim or ~20 yards of 6/32 welt cording
  11. Optional: Sewing machine and zipper foot
  12. Optional: Thread

I started by making the upholstery buttons to make the tufts for the chair back. I bought an upholstery button kit online which comes with all the parts you need except for fabric and a rubber mallet.

Reupholstered Living Room Chair Reuphostery Part 2_01  Reupholstered Living Room Chair Reuphostery Part 2_02


I cut out a small square of fabric with about 1/4″ wider than the tuft button size. I flipped the fabric wrong side up and wrapped it around the aluminum tuft button piece and tucked the excess fabric into the center. Then, I took the whole thing and shoved it into the rubber circle thing (technical parts).

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Next, I placed the flat piece of aluminum (hook side up) on top, followed by the blue circle thing (again, very technical). I held the rubber piece with a pair of pliers (I’ve smashed my fingers with the mallet more than once so this is for the safety of my fingers) and hammered it with a rubber mallet. I use a rubber mallet because I don’t want to mess up or dent any of the pieces.

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Once the flat piece was smashed into place to hold down the fabric, I just popped it out of the rubber piece. Tah dah! One button down, 9 more to go (for just one chair).

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Nine more buttons later, I was ready to attach the buttons. I started by cutting out a piece of fabric a few inches larger than the original fabric. and laid the old foam on top of it.

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I took a pen (dark blue) and started smashing it in the tufting holes where the previous tufts were to mark where to place the stitches. I used dark blue so you can’t see it as much on the other side. I think you can use fabric marking pens, but I don’t have any.

I started attaching the buttons by sewing the button to the fabric where I marked the original tufts and weaving the thread around the brown cards left from the original tufting. I’m sure there is special tufting thread, but I just used FireLine beading thread from some jewelry making projects. That stuff is pretty sturdy so that’s what I went with.

One day I’m going to find a better way to do this if I ever decide to do tufting again. This did quite a number on my hands. The original tufts used brads instead of a loop, but I couldn’t find any online.

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Once the tufting was done, I put the original padding back over the foam and started attaching the fabric to the chair.

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I used the same method of attaching one staple on each of the four sides of the fabric to start. After anchoring the fabric, I placed staples all around the edges of the chair, making sure to place the staples into the channel of the chair back where the cording goes. After attaching the fabric, I trimmed all the excess fabric around the edges.

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Next up, cording. This step is optional. You can purchase pre-made cording from Jo-Ann’s Fabric instead.

I wanted the cording to match the fabric exactly, so I opted to make my own cording. I cut strips of fabric 1″ wide, wrapped it around the cording, and sewed the cording into the fabric using a zipper foot. The zipper foot holds the two pieces of fabric together while stitching right up against the cord to get a tight wrapping around the cording. This thing is amazing and keeps people wondering how the heck you did it when its actually super easy.

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After sewing enough cording to wrap around the chair, I trimmed the excess fabric along the seam leaving about 1/8″.

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Next, I got out my glue gun and glue sticks and started to attach it to the chair. I squeezed the glue into the channel and shoved the cording in, stitched side down. I used a screwdriver to shove the cording into the channel where needed to get an even long around the border of the chair.

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After I attached all the cording, I put the seat cushion back on to the chair and attached it with the original screws. Another chair later, I was done!

Reupholstered Living Room Chair Reuphostery Part 2_Cover

Thrifted Pants to Striped Tote

Pants to Tote_Summary

I’ve been on a mission to DIY my own tote, particularly as fewer grocery stores are providing plastic bags here in Southern California. I always forget to bring a bag and and am kicking myself as I’m checking out and shoving as much stuff as I possibly can into my purse. I’m hoping that if I make my own, I’ll be more excited to use it and actually bring it to the store.

In the spirit of recycling and reducing waste, I went to Goodwill to source my fabric. Thinking about what would make the most durable fabric, I went straight to the denim section and searched for the most colorful fabrics in the largest size I could find to maximize yardage. From $2.99 – 6.99 a pair, this was an awesome deal.

Pants to Tote_01a  Pants to Tote_01b

Here’s what I ended up with:

Pants to Tote_01

  1. Yellow stretch denim (BIG BIRD’S PANTS!)
  2. White stretch denim
  3. Medium leather belt

The checkout clerk looked at me kinda crazy because these pants were obviously not going to fit me. I’d judge me too, but that didn’t stop me from buying them. I was going to have a super cute tote! In addition to my Goodwill haul, I also used:

  1. Scissors
  2. Ruler
  3. Pencil
  4. Optional: Rotary cutter and rotary cutting mat
  5. Rivet Kit
  6. Leather Hole Punch Tool
  7. Sewing machine (mine: Brother SC9500)
  8. Optional: Serger (mine:Singer 14CG754 ProFinish)
  9. Rubber Mallet
  10. Optional/As Needed: Pliers

Okay, to get started, I flipped the pants inside out and started taking them apart in the largest chunks possible. First, I cut the hem off the bottom, then up the sides of the pants along the seams to get 4 large panels of fabric from each pair of pants.

Pants to Tote_02  Pants to Tote_03

Pants to Tote_04  Pants to Tote_06

I didn’t specifically measure how large I was going to make this bag, I basically cut the largest strip I could out of one panel and cut the rest of the panels accordingly. I ended up cutting each piece 7.5″ wide and did not cut the length.

Pants to Tote_07

Next, I pulled out my serger. This is my newly acquired toy and I have been looking for anything and everything I can use this for. I LOVE IT. You could easily use a sewing machine for this, but I love the finished edge the serger creates, especially when sewing a bunch of panels together that won’t be covered up. Not ambitious enough to line the inside of the bag.

Pants to Tote_08

I have had my fair share of botched stitching, so I always, always, (almost) always do test stitching on scrap fabric. Whenever I don’t, that’s the exact moment my machine decides to freak out on me. Test stitch. So here’s proof that I did it…

Pants to Tote_09

Now that I know everything’s working fine, I’m ready to start stitching my strips of fabric together. I put the two right sides together, lined up the edges and fed the fabric through the machine. Look how pretty and clean it comes out! I’m so amused.

Pants to Tote_10  Pants to Tote_11  Pants to Tote_12

A, few panels later, I had one big piece of super cute yellow and white striped fabric.

Pants to Tote_13

Next, I folded last strip I sewed in half, then sewed along the edge. I did this to give the top edge of the bag a clean finished folded over edge which I repeated on the other side as well.

Pants to Tote_15  Pants to Tote_11

Pants to Tote_16

Next, I worked on sewing up the sides of the bag. I folded the fabric in half, and serged up one side. For the other side (with all the jagged edges from the pockets of the pants), I drew a line down the edge as far as I could before hitting the pockets and serged along that line. I couldn’t sew the pockets into the bag so that was the part I had to cut off.

Pants to Tote_17  Pants to Tote_18

Since this edge of the bag would be under “high stress” or high risk of tearing/thread breakage, I reinforced the serger stitching with my sewing machine. I back stitched 3 times at the edge to make extra sure this was going to hold. I put my bags through a lot of stress and I expect for this bag to hold a lot of stuff! Stitch forward, backward, forward, backward, forward, backward, forward.

Pants to Tote_19

Next up, I wanted to create a square bottom. Nothing is more annoying than a bag that can’t stand on its own. Leaving the bag inside out, I took a bottom corner of the bag that formed a triangle and folded it inward. To make sure I got an even fold, I measured the same distance inward on both edges. For this bag, I did 6″ and drew a sewing line with my pencil.

Pants to Tote_20  Pants to Tote_21

Pants to Tote_22  Pants to Tote_23

This is where I’d recommend you pin the fabric together, but I winged it. It worked, out but next time I do this, I’ll definitely use pins. Next, I cut approximately 1/2 from the sewing line to make it easier to feed through my serger. If you’re using sewing machine, don’t skip this step.

Pants to Tote_24

Next, I took the fabric to the serger and stitched along the pencil line. Then followed up with the sewing machine, back stitching 3 times at the start and end of the sewing line and reinforcing the serger stitches. Since will be the bottom of the bag, I wanted to be sure this would not fall apart later.

Pants to Tote_25  Pants to Tote_26

Now, that all the sewing is done, I trimmed all the extra thread hanging off the edges and flipped the bag right side out. Looking goo so far.

Pants to Tote_27

Now for my fancy leather straps. You can definitely do this by sewing straps with scrap fabric, but where’s the fun in that. I started by cutting off the buckle to the thrifted belt I got, then cut the strap in half. I used a medium sized belt because that’s all that was available at Goodwill. Apparently, nobody donates large sized belts.

Pants to Tote_28

Next, it was time to measure out the placement of the straps. I measured the midpoint of bag then moved outward an inch at a time until it looked about right. I stuck pins where I wanted the inside edge of the leather straps. I measured 0.5″ down from the edge of the bag and made a mark with my pencil. Next, i measured an inch outward and marked another dot. I repeated the same process on the other side of the bag.

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Next, I made corresponding dots on the leather belt, one inch apart and 3/8″ down from the edge of the belt and repeated on the other 2 edges of the belt. The last edge of the belt was pointed and I made the holes 1/2″ apart and made corresponding markings on the bag.

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Then I took my leather hole punch tool and punched a holes at all the markings on the bag and the leather belt using the 2.0 mm punch. This punch is amazing and has come in handy so many times.

Pants to Tote_36  Pants to Tote_37  Pants to Tote_34

Now to attach the straps to the bag. I bought a rivet kit which came with rivets in 2 colors (nickel and brass), a anvil (not that cartoon one you’re imagining), and setter. I used a rubber mallet to smash it all together. I thought a hammer might be too hard. You can probably use one, but I thought a mallet would work better so that’s what I used.

Pants to Tote_29  Pants to Tote_31

I poked the bottom of the rivet (the piece with the hole) and pushed it through the fabric from the inside of the bag outward. Then, I added the leather strap, right side (non rough side) up, and capped it off with the top of the rivet. It snaps shut to temporarily hold it together. I placed the bottom of the rivet down on the round anvil, and positioned the setter on top of the rivet and hammered/malleted down on it until the pieces came together.

Pants to Tote_38  Pants to Tote_39  Pants to Tote_40  Pants to Tote_41

I DIY, things go wrong and look here…things went wrong. My rivets went in all kinds of crooked. Its okay though. If you can put it together, you can pull it apart and try again. I used a pair of pliers and yanked the two pieces apart.

Pants to Tote_42  Pants to Tote_43

I reattached new (non-crooked) rivets and here’s the completed bag!

Pants to Tote_Cover

Restained and Reupholstered French Settee

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I got the reupholstery itch again and began searching Craigslist again for a bench to add more seating to my living room when I discovered something called a settee. While its supposed to seat two or more people and isn’t really defined by overall size, these seemed smaller than a traditional loveseat. Honestly, I don’t even know what the difference is and I’m no expert on furniture names. I liked the size options that came up in my search and ran with it.

I found a few pieces online posted by a local antiques dealer, but I have a hard time paying for some old beat up furniture at prices that are sometimes more expensive than new furniture. I kept searching for a few days and came across this beautiful ugly settee and got it delivered for $50 after a bit of haggling. The guy said it was an antique. It was definitely reupholstered more than once. The green seems like the second upholstery, and the pink stuff the third. Someone consciously picked this heinousness pink fabric. WHY!? (Excuse the photobombing dog. He thinks its ugly too.)

French Settee_02 French Settee_01

So I set out to refinish the wood and reupholster the fabric. Here’s what you’ll need in addition your thrifted/Craigslisted/found piece of furniture:


  1. 1 sheet of 120 grit sandpaper (or something around 120 grit)
  2. Sock or rag
  3. Paint Brush or Sponge Brush
  4. Wood stain (Sunbleached)
  5. Plastic covering/Plastic bag/Anything to cover the seat
  6. Optional: Brush cleaner


  1. Flat head screwdriver
  2. Pliers
  3. Staple gun (Manual Staple Gun or Pneumatic Staple Gun)
  4. Staples
  5. Fabric (grey/white stripes and grey/white dandelions)
  6. Scissors or Rotary Cutter and Rotary Cutting Mat
  7. Ruler (preferably long)
  8. Glue Gun and Glue Gun Sticks
  9. Pre-made cording/trim or ~20 yards of 6/32 welt cording
  10. Optional: Sewing machine and double cording foot
  11. Optional: Thread

To get started, I began by tearing the chair apart. Basically, removing all the ugly bits: the fabric. This process requires some muscle. I started on the back and used my pliers to start tearing away at the trim that was hot glued onto the chair. I made my way around all the upholstered parts of the chair. What I uncovered was horrible: nails. I’ve never come across this before, but

French Settee_03  French Settee_04

I found an unattached piece of fabric and started tearing it off the chair (also crossing my fingers that the nails would come off in the process). This is great if you’ve got some aggression to take out. Keep tearing at it until you get all the fabric off. I found that once the fabric was gone, it gave me some space to wedge a flat head screwdriver to pry the nails out. It was tedious…but I did it. Only to uncover another layer of fabric and…staples. This is the gamble you take when you decide to take apart an antique.

French Settee_05

So I kept tearing away and wedging my flat head screwdriver underneath the staples and wiggling them out until i finally unveiled the stuffing. FINALLY. I also did this for the back rest and the back side of the settee. For the back rest and back side, I set the stuffing to the side since it was just sliding off the back and I wanted it out of the way for the next step. There was nothing wrong with the stuffing/padding in the settee I didn’t buy any replacement stuffing/padding.

French Settee_06   French Settee_07   French Settee_08

Next up: STAIN! I took my newly stripped settee out to the garage and got to work. First, I started by taking a plastic bag and covering the seat. It probably isn’t all that important, but I wanted to keep the seat area dust/ paint stain free. I took my sand paper and did a rough sand on the whole thing to scratch up the surface, similar to spray painting in my Repainted Dining Chairs post. Next, I took my husband’s old sock to clean up the sanding dust. I dampen the sock, flip it inside out and use the padded side to grab all the sanded residue so it doesn’t fly off the chair and settle back onto the chair.

French Settee_09  French Settee_10

Now its time for some stain. I used some free stain I got from my contractor. Who doesn’t love free? I popped open the can and stirred (lesson learned from another project), dipped my brush in and started slathering it on. I used a regular bristled brush for this and in hindsight I wish I had used a sponge brush to show less brush strokes. Use whatever you’re comfortable with or what you have on hand. It probably doesn’t matter that much. A sponge brush for stain is just my personal preference. Voila. Stain all done. Yay for one coat stain! I let this sit in the garage for a few hours before moving it into the house to dry. It probably sat in the house a few more days while I waited for my fabric to arrive in the mail.

French Settee_11  French Settee_12

Selecting fabric took me longer than usual. I thought about going with a geometric print, a solid, and damask. I didn’t like any of them so I went with a simple wide stripe that I thought would be a good contrast for the more intricate wood work. I was pretty happy with my choice.

Once my fabric arrived, I realized I was faced with another choice. Which way do I make the stripes go!? I was reading Young House Love and saw that they used some rendering program to see what a design idea might look like. I have no such fancy tools. I have Paint (not the paint kind of paint, but that program that comes free with Windows). So…here’s my version. Don’t laugh. I make do with what’s free. Also, if I stand far enough away from my computer screen and squint a little (I promise I did this), it doesn’t look so bad.

French Settee_14  French Settee_13

I decided on vertical stripes for the back rest and horizontal for the seat. Now it was time to cut the fabric to fit the seat. Normally (and logically), you’d save the original seat fabric and use it as a template by tracing it with an extra 3-4″ around the edges. However, I was an idiot and threw it out. Don’t do that. Be smart. Save yours. I had to measure the seat and cut a rectangle to fit with an extra 4-5″ just in case. I’d deal with the corners later. I did the same thing for the back rest and seat back. Those were much easier because they’re just rectangles. Lesson: don’t throw out the old fabric!

Next up is the fun part. AIR TOOLS! You can use a regular staple gun for this, but I can’t even put in words how much fun a pneumatic staple gun is. SUPER fun. So, I set up my pneumatic air gun (follow instructions for the one you have or use a manual staple gun), and got to work.

I stapled one staple in the middle of each of the four sides of the seat, making sure the pattern is locked down and straight before I make way way around the edges. I made sure to pull the fabric tight as I stapled around. To make sure it didn’t turn out wonky and crooked, I used the lines in the pattern lined up to the seat edge as a guide. However, I did not make sure to leave 4-5″ from every corner, but you should. I ended up pulling those out to do the corners later. Learn from my mistakes.

French Settee_15  French Settee_16

Once I did all the sides, it was time to work on the corners. Because you left the right amount of space and didn’t staple right up to the edge like I did, you can pull back the corner and start cutting in a diagonal line. I had to remove a few staples to get enough space to work with. Womp, womp. It doesn’t matter a whole lot how straight you cut here, but it is important to make sure that where you stop cutting is the actual corner of the chair. If you don’t, your corner is going to be crooked and ugly. So don’t mess up! Adjust your cutting line as you go and aim for the corner.

French Settee_17

Next, I folded/tucked the excess fabric underneath until i got a straight edge against the side of the chair and the corner laid flat and neatly matched up to the corner of the wood leg. I also made sure that the fabric folded under was laying flat so there were no bumps or wrinkles. Then, I secured the corner down with staples. I did the same for the other side of the corner. Repeat on the other 3 corners.

Tip: For some of them, I had to cut deeper into the corner to make sure it laid flush against the corner of the wood. Better to cut too little to start than to cut too much!

French Settee_18  French Settee_18a

Repeat the process (minus the corners) for the back rest and seat back. Start by doing one staple on each of the four sides, then make your way around the edges.

Tip: I tipped my chair over to make it easier to work with. The fabric kept sliding down when I was trying to staple and then I thought: DUH. Stop working against gravity.

French Settee_19

After I finished this, I trimmed all the excess fabric beyond the staples. I trimmed close to the staples, but left as much fabric that would hide underneath the trim I’d glue on later. Its a balance between having hanging fabric shreds poking out the trim and not compromising the fabric near the staples.

French Settee_20

Next up, the trim to finish off the chair. You can either buy your own trim/cording from a fabric store or you can make it yourself. I decided to make it myself to ensure that it matched the fabric on the chairs. What YOU should do is save the original trim and measure how much you need. I threw mine out because I wasn’t thinking. Instead, I measured out how much I needed. and added an extra foot just in case.

I decided to do double welt cording to cover the staples and because I think it looks extra classy. I started with 2″ strips of fabric cut on the bias (cut on a 45 degree angle) with my rotary cutter, rotary cutting mat, and ruler. Once I got my first cut, I just measured 2″ out and followed the angle of the first cut. My ruler has grids on it so it was quick work to cut these strips.

French Settee_21  French Settee_22

Next, I sewed all the strips together on an angle. This is how everyone did it on YouTube, so I did it too. First, lay the strips together with the right sides facing together and at a 90 degree angle: one sideways, one vertical. Then sew at an angle, from one corner to the next, then trim the excess fabric, leaving 1/4 – 1/2″ and spread the fabric so it lays flat. I did  this for all the strips until I had one continuous strip as long as the trim for the seat. I did this again for the back rest and seat back as well.

French Settee_23  French Settee_24  French Settee_25

Next, I sewed the welt cording into the fabric. First. I folded one edge of the fabric over the welt cording until it was completely covered by the fabric, then placed the second cord next to it and rolled the whole thing over. Welt cording in a blanket.

French Settee_26  French Settee_27 French Settee_28  French Settee_29

Now, I was ready to sew. I got my double welt cording foot and attached it to my sewing machine. I have a Brother I bought a few years ago and I bought this AMAZING set of feet to go with it from Amazon. Best. Deal. Ever.

French Settee_30  French Settee_31

The foot attaches as a snap on foot and the two cords fit nicely into the grooves underneath the cording foot. All I did was adjust the needle so it sewed through the hole in the center of the foot and it was like sewing a straight line with a regular sewing foot! Actually, it was easier because the cord under the grooves automatically fed it through straight. AMAZING. As I sewed, I readjusted the fabric over the welt cording, making sure it was wrapped correctly. Minutes later (seriously…minutes), I had my own double welt cording! It was SO easy. If you have any excess fabric that wraps around, just trim it off. I didn’t have any for mine so I skipped this step.

French Settee_32

Time to glue this stuff on to finish up the chair. I plugged in my glue gun and let it heat up and had about 10-15 sticks of glue off to the side. You’ll need A LOT of glue to do this. That stuff runs through a glue gun like water out of a faucet!

I started at a less obvious corner and applied some glue and began applying the cording. I went all the way around the chair in 12-16″ sections applying glue, then placing the cording until I got all around the chair. I used the point of my scissors to hold down the cording in some places to make turns around the arms of the chair. Other than that, this was pretty straight forward.

When I got to the end, I detached 1-2″ of cording from the fabric and pulled back the fabric to expose the cording. I cut the exposed cording to match exactly to the edge of the start of my welt cording. I then took the excess fabric, folded the raw edge under, then wrapped it around the start of my cording to create a clean attachment. I secured this all with some glue.

French Settee_33  French Settee_34

I did the same thing for the back rest and seat back and I was FINALLY DONE.

French Settee_35French Settee_36

Oh. Surprise! I did the back in a dandelion fabric from my Reupholstered Thrifted Chairs post. The settee is in another room so it ties the fabrics together from one room to the next without being super obvious.