Posted on 14 Comments

Fun with upholstery and curtain-making

Let’s file this under “slowest kitchen makeover ever,” shall we?

When we moved here, more than fourteen years ago now, our kitchen looked a lot like this:

(These photos were actually taken in 2007, but nothing much had really changed in the intervening nine years, aside from a few knickknacks.)

Back then, as a housewarming gift, my brother-in-law upholstered the seat cushions of our outdoor-furniture-turned-kitchen-set for us in a nice navy blue stripe. My mother-in-law sewed us a valence in the same fabric.  And I went shopping for all of the dark blue accessories I could lay my hands on.  It worked for me for a long time (as you probably guessed when I said it all looked the same after nine years).

A few summers ago, we decided the table and chairs should be dark blue, too, and so Neil took them outside and gave them a good coat of spray paint. In the meantime, I was starting to add little bits of red where I could: new crock pot, new rice cooker, a couple of towels.  I had started making my own napkins and aprons, too, and (just recently) towels.

Fourteen years have not been kind to the fabric on these poor chairs. Trust me, it’s much worse than it looks.

So yesterday, I finally decided to act on a thought I’ve been entertaining for, like,  ever, and I cut into some French General Panier de Fleurs (that I’d originally planned to make into an apron and a couple of napkins), and covered those worse-for-wear seat cushions right up:

Now, isn’t that better?  The thing is, I don’t really know the first thing about upholstery. I mean, I can guess, but as far as doing it right? Well, I’m sure that there are a million and one tricks of the trade that I am not wise to. But I was in the moment here, following-through on an urge, and I just couldn’t see myself taking the time to research at that point. Add to that the fact that I wasn’t entirely sure Neil would like the fabric I picked out, and you’ll understand why I did these the way that I did:

Yes, that’s masking tape.  I just stretched the fabric right over the existing cushions, and taped it in place.  As it turns out, Neil is ok with the fabric choice, so I may just wander over to see my brother-in-law, upholsterer extraodinaire, and see if I can sweet-talk him into slapping a few staples on these suckers.

Or, oh, I dunno, un-assembling the whole shebang and doing it right 😉

I love the new look, and I especially enjoy the fact that the seats are no longer filthy-looking. That’s a huge plus.

My only hesitation? The pattern on the chairs might be too busy to allow me to use a festive vintage tablecloth now and then. I might be better off if the chairs were striped. Or solid. I’ll mull that over before I make these covers permanent. For now, though, paired with just a simple vintage towel on the table? ♥ love ♥

But here’s the thing: once the seats had gotten their makeover, it seemed only right that I have a new curtain, too. Don’t you agree? I had half an hour before Neil got home, and a yard of another print from Panier de Fleurs (that I’d originally planned to make into a half-dozen napkins).

As it turns out, the space across my window is pretty close to the 45″ width of the fabric. And as luck would have it, I really didn’t want a bunched-up valence like I already had. I wanted a flat, smooth curtain. So I cut the piece I had in half to use 1/2 yard for a new curtain, and the remaining 1/2 yard for three napkins (eventually; someday).

I was in a rush, and I didn’t measure properly when I was hemming the darn thing, so it’s about 1/2-inch longer on the left than it is on the right. I’ll fix that later.  Aside from that, I really like it! The darker taupe color ties in with the tiles by the oven, and the dark blue ties in with the furniture and other accessories.

It was so simple to make.  Assuming you already have a piece of fabric that is the proper width, all you would need to do is:

  1. cut to 18 inches in length (or more, or less, to taste)
  2. fold over selvedges, press, and stich them down
  3. for the bottom hem, fold up 1/2-inch and press, fold another half-inch, press, and stitch down
  4. for the rod casing at the top, fold down 1/2-inch and press, fold an additional 1.5 inches and press
  5. stitch down the casing at the foldover edge, and stitch again about 1/2-inch from the top of the curtain
  6. thread curtain rod between the two rows of stitching and hang the curtain

Somewhere in there you might want to measure everything so that you don’t have to re-do half of it later. Ahem.

So there you have it, the world’s slowest kitchen makeover, still in progress.  It’s taken roughly three years to paint and recover the furniture, replace the towels, accessorize, and change the curtain: all things that could easily have been done in the space of a week. But then, that’s just how we roll.

Next, I’d like someone to light a fire under me to replace that floor. Dark tile might be nice.

Posted on 14 Comments

14 thoughts on “Fun with upholstery and curtain-making

  1. Hi Lisa,

    I enjoyed your post:) I especially enjoyed the masking tape. I so understand that approach! I liked your new fabric as well. I love toile fabrics as well.
    I think I have had a love affair with textiles most of my life making my first apron at age 9(with the bias tape stem waiting on my handwork:) Since I am now 61 I wonder if it is worth doing. Have a good weekend.

    Jemison, AL

    1. I only learned to sew 5 years ago, so the idea that I can make home decor items is still somewhat of a novelty for me 🙂

      I say, it’s definitely worth doing! I enjoy the items I made far more than the ones I bought.

      1. If I remember right you make napkins? Do you have an Etsy shop? I love old linens especially old cotton sheets. As a girl I stayed overnight with a German friend. It was a school night so that was big! I remember the crispness of the linens and I have loved them ever since. When I started going on ebay I was hooked! Have a good Saturday.


        1. Oh, yes, eBay has proven to be hard to resist for me lately! I started out browsing the vintage sheets, and ended up somehow in kitchen linens. And now I have a nice little selection of new-to-me old tea towels that I’m really loving to use.

          I do make napkins, and I do have an Etsy shop, but I don’t do those two things together. My Etsy shop is almost entirely filled with downloadable tutorials and ebooks. The napkins I make are mostly for personal use.

      2. Hi Lisa,

        I was at a Books-A-Million today. I browsed through their Country Sampler. There was a wooden shelf type piece for sitting on your stove(when not in use:) to help give you more room. It is on page 76 of the July 2012 issue. It is (A) under Circa Living. It might give someone in your houeshold a project:). Let me know what you think.


        1. Sounds interesting. I wonder, though, what you do with it (and everything on it) when you are using the stove? Might be more trouble than it’s worth.

  2. I love them! The table and chairs look almost different because of the blue color. And the seat covers are gorgeous. Nice job!

    1. Thanks! I love how little touches like that can make it seem like a whole new set of furniture. And it’s a heck of a lot more affordable!

  3. I love it!! I have to admit, I would have done the same thing with the masking tape! LOL Very nice! I have been inspired to make my own kitchen curtain out of a vintage sheet. It’s only one window and it’s a queen sheet=I have plenty of fabric for mistakes! LOL It’s my first time ever to make a window covering of any kind.

    1. Great idea, using a sheet for a kitchen curtain. I pinned a project from somewhere on my sheet swap pinterest board, and it shoed how she used sheets to make curtains for her laundry room cabinets. If you haven’t already seen that, you might want to take a peek for inspiration 🙂

      And I think I may have just been saved from the masking tape – I told my in-laws about it and they immediately invited me over to their upholstery shop for some staples, LOL!

  4. Hey Lisa….Love the piecemeal makeover in your kitchen. Just wanted to pipe in with my 2 cents worth…love the fabric on the chairs and definitely think you can use other vintage fabrics elsewhere! but that’s just me.



    1. Thanks, Isabel 🙂 Yes, the idea of mixing my florals isn’t bothering me so much anymore. I realized I mostly use tablecloths for parties anyway, and in a party setting, the more color and pattern the better, I think!

  5. I like the way you roll! My home rolls like that all the time. My favorite rules to live by being from the country and also a widow I developed these rules of life from my precious dad and hubby before they went to heaven…..if it moves and not suppose to use bailing wire. If it suppose to move and doesn’t use wd40. If it ripped and no way to fix get the duck tape. And if its a good fishing day GO all that other stuff will be there but the kids and grandkids will never be that age again. And nothing too important to miss something cute they do!!!!! Needless to say one of these days I will get the mauve wallpaper taken down in my kitchen and diningroom from the ’80s… grammi just takes care of my precious granddaughter and I figure since she only 3 the kitchen can wait til she turns 13 and grammi will be no fun then!!!!! For a couple yrs til she starts driving and then grammi will be popular again!!!!! Lol I enjoy your post that’s all I read when I laying there getting my chemotherapy every month sometimes I laugh outloud and my nurse ask me what so funny Patti I say polka dot cottage…….

    1. Aw, Patti, I am so glad that I can bring a smile to your face. Thanks for sharing your rules – the little ones are only little once, right? Good luck with your treatment!

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