Sewing, Refashioning, Repurposing & Thrifting Through Life

Projects I’m Working On

I hope everyone is enjoying a fantastic summer. I was able to escape on a camping trip “up north” as we say here in Ontario and enjoyed a few days of much needed R &R. Completely unplugged nevertheless! No choice! There was no cell signal where we were. It was a welcome break.

Mr. Restyle is working on building our basement bathroom. So far he’s tiled the shower. He even built in a little soap and shampoo niche with lights I might add and started the ceiling and painted the walls. Doesn’t look like much yet but it’s getting there. It’s been so incredibly hot that most nights we don’t feel like doing anything.


The mister insists on dropped ceilings in the basement. I don’t blame him as he has this house wired to the max and wants easy access. For this bathroom, he’s not using pre-fabricated ceiling panels but making them himself out of drywall. We’ve already purchased the shower doors and the toilet and sink. For the vanity, we will be installing this vintage dresser that I’ve painted white. The top will remain the original wood tone. It will be home to a cute little vessel sink. I cannot wait to show the finished room.


We decided not to build a closet but use a charming antique bookcase to house towels and toiletries.


Here it is after the first coat of white.


There are a ton of projects going on. Once the bathroom is complete, we will begin replacing all the bedroom carpeting with laminate, restaining the staircase, building a tray ceiling in our bedroom, redmodelling the master ensuite and building a system for our walk-in closet, all DIY/reclaim/repurpose style! So exciting.

We saw an antique bedroom set we liked so we scooped that up and I’ve already painted it and it’s been moved to our room. Yes, we do things backward. Not intentionally of course but that is the reality when you are reusing and redoing the way we do. There is no rhyme or reason.

Here’s a sneak peak. Excuse the mess but hopefully you can envision that ugly brown colour replaced with a soft blue-grey with a greyish wood toned floor.

20160803_225745 - Copy

Oh, and I’ll be adding a diamond tufted headboard and creating a bench out of an old coffee table. I think I have enough on the go for now don’t I? Kinda explains why I never do any sewing or clothing related posts!




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Another Cane Chair Makeover

Hello friends. Here’s another quick cane chair makeover. This one was done for my mom. Scored this velvet number a few months back and finally got around to reupholstery. While there was nothing wrong with it, the colour needed an update. Here she is before.


And here’s the after. Sorry for not having more pictures and closeups. I’ve been so busy with work that it’s left me with very little time in the evenings to do this properly but I thought you might like to see the transformation. The only thing I changed was the use of double-piping instead of single. I changed up the way the piping went around the base of the cushion as well. Sometimes these chairs are a pain to remove staples from as the groove is so tiny. It also makes it more difficult to put your staple gun in the right place. A good way to hide the imperfections is by doubling up the piping.


Before and After:



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Mad Men Inspired Chalk Painted Sofa

I am a huge fan of the Mad Men series. I loved everything about that show-the fashion, the furniture, the whole 1960s attitude. Watching the series brought back so many memories from my childhood. I started having a love affair with all things 60s/70s. The colours, the clean lines, the structure. I love them all and I knew that I would be incorporating some furniture pieces in our family room.


Roger Stirling’s Office – Mad Men

I posted a picture of this sofa a while back and finally got around to transforming it into something I absolutely love. I’m not completely sure which year it was manufactured, but have been told it’s probably from the 1960s or 70s.

Well structured, strong, heavy, and also a hideous olive green that just wasn’t going to work in my space.


I really wanted to reupholster, but being the impatient person that I am and wanting to rid my family room of the sofa and loveseat we’ve had for years, I just couldn’t wait anymore, nor could I commit to such a time-consuming task such as recovering at this time.

I hesitated and hemmed and hawed about my options and finally decided to just go ahead and chalk paint the thing. If it didn’t work out, I’d just set it aside until I had mounds of time to recover it properly.

The thing about vintage 70s furniture like this is that the fabric is very heavy. I wasn’t sure how it would take to the paint even though I’ve done several pieces with Annie Sloan. The other thing about vintage 70s furniture is that it has a certain…odour. Not stinky but not fresh either. I read that many of the vintage outfits used on the Mad Men show were deodorized with vodka. Yes, vodka! I had nothing to lose, so filling a spray bottle with straight vodka, I spritzed the whole thing down. You want to wet it down fairly well but do not soak it too much. Just use a light hand and spray everything. The next day I spritzed it again and voila! Stinky vintage smells were gone! Does it smell like vodka now? No. It smells like…nothing. That’s the beauty of this method. It gets the stink out and as it dries, the alcohol evaporates.

Vintage sofas are not cheap. I’ve seen many of them listed for amazingly high asking prices. I think I lucked out. I got mine through a private sale. The owner had fallen in love with it in the hopes of having it recovered until he found out how much it was going to cost him. People don’t realize how much reupholstery costs. You can easily expect to spend upwards of $2000-$3000 to have a piece done. This seems like a LOT of money. On the other hand, if you were to buy an equivalent quality piece brand new, the cost would likely be the same. If you want to spend less money, you can buy from a big box store and have a piece that was likely manufactured in China, will last you a couple of years and then it will be good for the dump. They just don’t make ’em like this anymore…at least not in my price range! If you’re a bit handy and have lots of time and patience you CAN reupholster yourself, just as I’ve done and documented on this blog.

The colour I chose is called Aubusson Blue. I love, love, love colours in the bluish-green family.


Using the same method of chalk painting fabric I’ve used in other projects, I got to work. The differences I found in painting such heavy fabric was that I only sprayed the piece with water before painting for the first coat. I still sanded between coats but it did not feel crunchy after drying like some other projects I’ve done and I found it best to dilute the paint with water and stir the can several times while painting. It was almost as if I was dyeing the fabric, not chalk painting it.

Some pictures of the process…



I covered the bottom while I painted but I did paint it when I was done everything else.


You can really see the difference in colour here.



You can’t tell from most of the pictures but one side of the cushions (both the back cushions and the seat cushions) is leather. The same olive green leather as the fabric. You can chalk paint leather but not sure if you’re supposed to spritz it with water first. I didn’t.


It covered quite nicely I think. Here’s what it started to look like as I was finishing it. In total, I probably did 4 coats. It took a LOT of paint.


So far, so good right? When I finished, I sanded everything down and started applying soft clear wax to the arms. This is when I ran into a problem. The wax did not have the same properties on this fabric as it did on other projects I’ve worked on. It created fuzz balls of the material and made the fabric look “muddy.” Oh no! I was so disappointed as the beauty of the wax is that it seals everything and gives the surface a leather-like feel. Ugh! I felt like I did all that work for nothing and was going to have to recover anyway!

Well, I figured I could live with it. It’s a little stiff but actually not bad at all. I plan on replacing the foam as soon as I can. I think the painting process did stiffen the foam a bit and even though I’ve sanitized with the vodka method, I still would like fresh foam.

Eventually I do plan on recovering this. Part of the reason I chose to paint rather than recover has also been because I have not been able to find a fabric I absolutely love and since this is our everyday couch, I really, really want something I am going to be happy with for years to come.

Here’s how it turned out.





And a final look at the before and after.




DIY Ottoman From an Electrical Cable Reel

Remember that tub chair I made over? You can find the original post here.


We wanted an ottoman to go with it so Mr. Restyle got an old electrical cable reel and we got to work.

All you need is one of these. He got one from a coworker whose dad works in the electrical industry.


It ended up being way too tall and wide so he cut it down to size and ended up with this. He added the pieces of 2×4 for support.


Next step was to cover off the openings so that while lifting or moving it there would be something to hold onto. I used some old blackout curtain lining fabric because that is what I had. I figured it would be sturdy enough for the job. I stapled it to the 2x4s at top and bottom.


Next, I added some foam that I had from something else.


Cut off the excess so that it was even top and bottom with the reel.


Made a template of the top out of paper and took that to the foam store so they could cut a piece for us that would be the exact size we needed. I don’t have a picture of this as I just finished this project and forgot to take one.

I used the same fabric that is on the chair and sewed together 2 rectangular pieces of fabric for the circumference and then sewed the top circle piece.

Laying the newly sewn cover on the floor right side down, I inserted the foam circle top and made sure it was snug and as straight as possible. Then flipped the reel on top of the foam circle and carefully pulled the fabric up (fabric will be fairly tight as you don’t want the cover to be loose).

I then stapled the new cover to the bottom of the ottoman and used the same curtain lining cut into a circle shape a little smaller than the circumference and stapled that to the bottom to cover all the yuckiness.

Mr. Restyle had some upholstery legs that we painted in the same colour as the chair’s frame. Attached the legs and voila!

Here is the finished ottoman. You can see the tub chair in the background and in this photo, the ottoman looks proportionally larger due to the angle the photo was taken.


He’s  happy because we are slowly replacing the furniture in this room which means the loveseat he always lies down on will be gone, replaced with the 2 tub chairs and ottoman and my Mad Men inspired sofa which is almost done.

What the sofa looked like when we got it.


Finished product coming very soon.






Early 1900s Sideboard Turned Kitchen Island

Happy National Thrift Store Day! Heading out later to see if there’s anything good left. For now, here’s this.

If you read my last post, you may have gotten the hint that we are in the middle of a complete kitchen transformation, DIY-style. One of the things we knew we wanted was to replace our oak island with something old. Found this quarter-sawn tiger oak sideboard from the early 1900s.


Man, was it in pretty rough shape. You can see a lot of the tiger oak veneer is peeling and there’s a big chunk taken out of the top.



But look at those claw feet! Gorgeous!


Here’s a picture of our kitchen taken a few years ago but this is pretty much what it’s been looking like.

kitchen before

You can see the island here and the oak cabinets. As for the yellow paint, I did this a few years ago. Not sure what possessed me as I am not a fan of yellow. Suffice it to say, I was reading about feng shui and got caught up in the whole (what I deem as ridiculous now-sorry if I offend) notion that colour affects what happens in your life and in your home. I am so anti-new age anything now. If you’re wondering what happened to the old island, we posted an ad and had several responses to this free giveaway. It went to a good new home!

We had a plan to find something old and paint it but when we saw this piece and Mr. Restyle sanded it and removed the veneer that absolutely had to be removed, we both felt bad about the idea of painting it. So what did we do? We stained it. And then we both hated it. Back to our original idea. I’ve done this before where I’ve had doubts. Don’t do this. Go with your gut!

We painted it with ASCP in Old Ochre but stained the top with General Finishes Java Gel Stain. Mr. Restyle used a router saw to fix the top piece where a good chunk was missing. So clever! You can barely tell now. Sealed the whole thing with the satin top coat also from General Finishes.

New knobs were added still in keeping with the original look.

keyhole drawer

I love our new island and I am sure it will serve us well for years to come. Here’s another look at the before and after.




Drab to Fab Swivel Patio Chairs

I don’t know if you’re like me but even when I’m not feeling 100% myself, I still feel like I want to make something. Picked up a pair of these patio chairs back in the fall. Mr. Restyle thought they’d be easy to redo. I wasn’t so convinced but decided to tackle them this weekend anyway. Here’s the before.



Lovely daughter took on the task of spray painting these worn out, faded chairs. Since I love green and we have an existing green patio set, we decided to stick with that colour. Husband and daughter headed out to the store and picked up some Tremclad rust paint in Flat Green.

flat green

This was the result.


Yikes! Not exactly the same green as the can’s lid! You can’t tell from the picture but it’s really, really bright green! Not exactly what I envisioned but when life gives you lemons…

The fabric on the chairs is that tough meshy lawn chair fabric. I don’t even know what it’s called but we couldn’t find replacement fabric anywhere. Probably a special order type deal, which was not in the plan so we opted for outdoor fabric to cover the front. The back I just spray painted the same green.


The chairs have really heavy duty wire-like piping along the edges which slides into the grooves of the chair to hold it in place. My plan was to remove the wire piping, cut over the original piping enclosure and create a new one from the new fabric. Sounds easy right? Wrong! Not so easy to do. Bulky, sewing machine tension problems, etc. so onto Plan B. Incidentally, you need to use thread made especially for outdoor fabrics and man, is it ever durable. I found out just how durable when I had to remove the entire casing that I created on both sides for 2 chairs when Plan A failed.

I decided the easiest way to deal with all of this was just to cut off the bulky edges and I’d figure it out as I went along.



As I stripped away the edge, I had another problem-the edges weren’t painted and I had no more paint. Now this wouldn’t have been a problem but I had already folded over the edges of my outdoor fabric and sewed them in place. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to cover the unpainted edge. I decided to chance it.

I ended up cutting away a bit more than is seen in the picture above to reduce the bulk further, making sure that the finished width would be the same as the original chair. This part worried me because I am completely awful at measuring in inches and I’ve been known to measure twice, cut once and still end up with miscalculated, too small or too big pieces when I sew. How the heck does that happen?

Anyway, after some trial and error. This is how they turned out. The outdoor fabric holds the piping along the edges, the original mesh was placed on the back, the fabric edges were folded over and sewn right onto the mesh. I wanted to do a tutorial but was battling a queasy tummy all weekend, so sorry about that.

Had I been at the fabric store by myself I would’ve chosen something a little louder to play with the bright green but I really like how they turned out.


And here’s dear daughter who I coaxed into posing.


patio chairs


Tub Chair Makeover

When I buy pieces, I don’t buy for any one particular room. Rather, I found what I think I will need eventually. That’s kind of the problem (or the benefit depending on how you look at it) of DIY home projects. Most of you will know that I’m in the process of changing out almost every room of my house with thrifted, vintage or antique pieces so when I spotted a pair of tub chairs for $8 a piece, I knew I had to have them for my family room.

This room is nowhere near being the way I want it yet, but with these 2 pieces now acquired, it’ll get there someday! I only photographed one of them but they are identical. I’ve got one done so far and I”m in the process of painting the second one now. Hubby was fabulous while I was away on business last week and stripped all the upholstery off chair #2. What a welcome surprise for me!

Here’s what it looked like when I got it.

???????????????????????????????It reminds me of something you’d find in a hotel room but I thought these would do to replace a loveseat. We plan on making our own ottomans for both chairs. They are not the best wood and one of them was already partially covered in paint so I used Annie Sloan chalk paint in Coco.

Got some fabulous chenille that was regular $40/metre for $15 on clearance and there was JUST enough. What luck! I forgot to calculate for pattern repeat. I knew I wouldn’t be able to match the pattern perfectly due to the chair’s curves but I’m happy with it like this. The cushion looks a little wonky right now. I wanted it to be snug. I learned my lesson from the sofa project I just finished a couple of weeks ago. I haven’t posted about that yet because it was a nightmare to do the box cushions and they’re not fitted enough. My solution will be to add my batting to really make them snug. On this chair, however, I had the opposite problem! I’ve got to take some batting out on this one but I’m so happy with it because I find box cushions incredibly challenging. Either that or I just don’t have the patience.

Here’s the sofa with the cushion problem. This sofa originally had bull nose cushions, not box. I had no pattern to work with and I’m terrible at measuring in inches. Absolutely terrible. I am a perfectionist though and I know I can completely make this work when I get around to it. This sofa is another story all together. Coming soon (hopefully).


Here’s the chair all done.




tub chair


Queen Anne Style Chairs Redone

Hello friends. I have been away too long. About a month ago I travelled to Atlanta on business and the day I got back I woke up with THE worst migraine I’ve ever had. For 3 weeks I battled some pretty terrible headaches. I have missed all of you!

I posted a picture of these chairs a while back. Here’s what they looked like when I got them off someone on Kijiji.

"Lovely" salmon coloured velvent Queen Anne chairs.

“Lovely” salmon coloured velvent Queen Anne chairs.

For the button tufting, I just recovered the existing fabric buttons. This was surprisingly easy to do! Here’s one finished:


When I had all the original fabric off, I taped off parts of the chair and restained the wood.


The back covering is handsewn just as it was originally.

The back covering is handsewn just as it was originally.

I made some pillows from left over fabric. These will go on the sofa once I’ve recovered it. For the buttons, I had some fabric buttons from a dress I wore to my college graduation! I simply spray painted them gold.


Mr. Restyle and I are working on a lot of things so there are a lot of posts coming. I’ve also done a lot of shopping and will have plenty of thrifted fall and winter looks along with some sewing projects.


Cane Chair Reupholstery

A quick before and after of a cane chair I just finished. Purchase price $25, ugly stained velvet fabric included.


???????????????????????????????As I started to dismantle it, I found the original tag – Morganton Chair Inc, North Carolina.



And even better – this:


Oh, how I love cherrywood! After everything was taken off, I gave it a good scrub with my trusted Briwax and some steel wool, which by the way, got rid of all of the scuff/scratch marks on the wood and then buffed it out completely with a soft rag.

I chose a rather classic fabric to recover with. I try to get all my fabric off the clearance bins at the fabric stores. This often works well for chairs since they don’t need much. A couple of metres or so. Here is the result.



Just to give you a better idea how scuffed up it was. Here are some close ups.



I’m quite pleased with it. It’s so comfortable and now has a new home in our entry way for guests to sit and tie shoes.

cane chair

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2 Old Chairs, New Looks (With Tutorial)

My girl and my older son both needed chairs for their bedrooms. Just a chair to hang clothes on. Like most teenagers, they spend most of their time propped up on their beds with all their various devices spread out around them. I picked up 2 identical chairs from Mr. Used in Hamilton. For those familiar with the city, you may have heard of this humungous warehouse of all things weird and wonderful. Mr. Used was clearing out his 70,000 square foot collection back in March in order to downsize and move to a new, smaller space. Check out a past article here if you live in the area. I don’t know if he’s moved yet or how much he’s downsized.

This is a long post which includes a detailed tutorial, so if you want to skip that part, just scroll on down to the end to see the transformation!

These grimy chairs I got at Mr. Used came from Wentworth Lodge, a nursing home in the city.

Old Chair about to get a new look.

Old Chair about to get a new look.

You may not be able to see the dirt but trust me it’s there. Yuck!





I would be painting these with the leftover chalk paint I had from the Not So Pretty in Pink fabric painted chair. There is no need to sand or prime when using chalk paint. All I did was wipe these bad boys down with water and vinegar. You could use soap and water. I use white vinegar on a lot of my thrifted pieces (even clothing) to get rid of stinkies. It is a good idea to take pictures as you go, so you can put things back in the proper way. Trust me, you will NOT remember later. As you remove the fabric pieces, try not to rip them as you will need them to make a pattern for your new fabric.

Step 1. Remove all the screws holding the chair pad in place.

Remove screws from bottom and put them away in a jar for later.

Remove screws from bottom and put them away in a jar for later.

Step 2. Remove staples holding fabric and foam in place. I strongly advise you to get one of these tools. Do not even try to use the staple removers that are designed for removing paper staples and don’t, I mean, DON’T try to use a screwdriver! You will bang, scrape, cut your way to a pair of miserable hands!

Invest in one of these tools for staple removal.

Invest in one of these tools for staple removal.

Step 3. If there is any piping, it is most likely glued on, remove it but try to keep the piping intact so it doesn’t rip. I reused the piping for my chairs. Otherwise, you can purchase some and just recover with your fabric of choice. My piping was in good condition.

Carefully remove the piping.

Carefully remove the piping.

Step 4. This is the most time consuming, frustrating part-removing all the staples. There will be a lot of them, and I do mean a lot! they will be tucked way in there. The trick is to try not to damage the wood of the chair frame.

Oh the joys of removing a gazillion staples!

Oh the joys of removing a gazillion staples!

Step 5. Once you’ve taken the front cover off, there will be a piece of foam which may or may not be stapled to the frame. Mine wasn’t. Remove it.

Remove the foam back from the chair.

Remove the foam back from the chair.

After the back rest cover is removed.

After the back rest cover is removed.

Outside back fabric to be removed.

Outside back fabric to be removed.

Step 6. Remove the fabric cover from the seat, again being careful not to damage it so you can reuse it. If you prefer, go ahead and use new fabric but what I do (if it’s in good shape) is I reuse it BUT I wash it first by hand using plain old laundry detergent and I hang it outside to dry. Sunlight is a great disinfectant.

Remove dust cover from seat pad.

Remove dust cover from seat pad.

Step 7. Surprise! More staples! Guess what, remove those too. I forgot to mention when using that tool thingy up above that looks like a modified screwdriver-sometimes it won’t get under the staple. Use a hammer and give it a couple of whacks. That should get the tool under there to lift the staple. You can always use a pair of pliers to pull the staples out if they don’t come out in one go.

A staple-removing journey that never ends.

A staple-removing journey that never ends.

Step 8. Get someone else to finish the job. Just kidding! You can do this! But go ahead, take a break. You need it after all that!

Looking so much better already!

Looking so much better already!

Step 9. Paint. I used 3 coats of Annie Sloan chalk paint and then used the Annie Sloan soft wax (2 coats). You can read about both these products in my other post (above-the Not So Pretty in Pink Chair). I totally forgot to take pics of the painting process. You can use whatever paint/primer you want. Chalk paint is just so much easier and I had leftovers so that’s what I did.

Step 10. Next, you’ll want to lay the fabric pieces you just removed on top of your new fabric as a pattern and cut out the new sections. A word of advice here. I found as I started to put the chairs together that I wished the original pieces I had removed were just a little bit bigger. I don’t know if they trim the excess after they staple onto the chair but I found I had to pull quite a bit. The next time I do this I will definitely leave an extra inch or two all around.

Another cautionary note if you are using a fabric that has a definite repeat (like the grey/purple chair I did here down below). I wanted the flowers to be in the middle. Make sure you buy enough fabric to allow for fabric repeat/placement of pattern, etc. You’ll see what I mean as you see the chair.

If you plan on doing many projects like this you might think about investing in an air compressor with a stapler. Heavy duty staplers are just okay in my opinion. They still require a lot of muscle and force. I found that I was just not strong enough to drive the staples down far enough. Mr. Restyle bought the air compressor to do some baseboards (or so he says-he hasn’t used it yet). I know he bought it for moi!

This is the one I have.

Air compressor with stapler attachment.

Air compressor with stapler attachment.

Don’t be alarmed by how noisy this thing is when it first starts filling with air. The noise lasts for a few minutes and then you can just staple away!

Step 11. Begin with the outside back. Remember that this fabric will be stapled right side facing out.

Staple outside back fabric to chair frame.

Staple outside back fabric to chair frame.

Step 12. For this next step, I had already washed all of the foam (it was in great shape just needed some cleaning) in laundry detergent and air dried it all outside (remember the sun as a disinfectant). Just because something is thrifted does not mean it has to be dirty. I am a clean freak so this is important to me. Lay the chair back piece over the foam. You can see here what I mean by fabric repeats. This fabric has a definite big print (the big floral). I wanted this to be in the middle of the chair back and the chair seat. I did not care about it being matchy poo on the outside back.

Lay inside back fabric over foam.

Lay inside back fabric over foam.

Step 13. Staple to frame. I didn’t staple the foam. It would be held in place by the cover.


Step 14. Centre the seat fabric over the seat and staple. I start by placing a staple in the middle of all 4 sides and then work out. I don’t know if this is the proper method but it’s what I do. Again here I wish the piece was a bit bigger so I didn’t have to pull so tight. I ended up with some bumps which could’ve been avoided.

Stapling fabric to the seat.

Stapling fabric to the seat.

Step 15. Staple the dust cover on.

Staple dust cover back on.

Staple dust cover back on.

Step 16. Attach seat to frame using screws you set aside earlier.

Screwing the seat onto the frame.

Screwing the seat onto the frame.

Step 17. I forgot to photograph this part but you will need to make new piping. I used the piping that was on the chairs. All I did was remove the old fabric from the existing piping. I then cut a new piece of fabric to match the length of the piping. I cut the new piece quite a bit wider. I find it easier to sew piping when the machine has some fabric to grab onto as it sews. You can always trim it later. I folded the new fabric over the piping and used a zipper foot to sew as close as possible to the piping. I then trimmed the excess fabric off being careful not to snip too close to the stitching.

Step 18. Use a hot glue gun to attach the piping to the chair back.

Here is my daughter’s chair all done.

What a beauty now!

What a beauty now!



And here’s my son’s chair. I actually did this one first but did not plan on a tutorial. I had a lot of excess fabric sticking out even after I attached the piping. I needed to cover it up so I just hot glued some trim I had. Not the best solution but I kind of like it for now.



This is not that difficult to do. You can do it yourself!


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