One More Detail?

When I recovered the dining room chair seats I decided to use fabric I already had on hand.

The shades are made from linen I inherited on a roll from Mother.
The shades are made from linen I inherited on a roll from Mother.

The fabric I used to cover the chair seats I had previously used to make the window shades in the dining room and living room.

Before and After
Before and After

However now that the chairs are finished I think they’re a little plain.

I mocked a blue line detail.
I mocked a blue line detail.

I’m thinking of adding threes line to the chair seat so it will look like a grain sack.

Any thoughts?

Fixing the Dining Room Chair Seats – Part Two

I described the beginning of the recushioning of the vintage dining room chairs here.

Three pieces each direction was a little too much so I opted for two.
Three pieces each direction was a little too much so I opted for two.

After finishing the webbing on the first frame I decided that I had used too much webbing and so reduced the remaining chairs to 2 vertical pieces and 2 horizontal pieces.

Turn under the raw edges of the muslin and staple over the webbing.
Turn under the raw edges of the muslin and staple over the webbing.

Next step is to cut and attach a fabric layer over the webbing.

The applied muslin can be seen through the woven webbing.
From the underside the applied muslin can be seen through the woven webbing.

Some sites call for burlap; I used unbleached cotton muslin.

The foam is marked with a Sharpie. (I moved the frame out of position so the marking could be seen.)
The foam is marked with a Sharpie. (I moved the frame out of position so the marking could be seen.)

Trace with a marker the outline of the seat frame onto 1-inch high density foam. I used foam that was already approximately the size of the seats. I laid the front edge of the seat frame against the edge of the foam so only three sides would need to be cut.

Since this foam is only an inch thick it was easy to trim with scissors being careful to cut a perpendicular edge.
Since this foam is only an inch thick it was easy to trim with scissors being careful to cut a perpendicular edge.

I carefully trimmed the excess with scissors. (My preferred method of cutting foam is an electric knife but I couldn’t find ours.)

The layers: wood seat frame, woven jute webbing (not seen), muslin, foam,
The layers from bottom to top: wood seat frame, woven jute webbing (not seen), muslin, foam, batting.

On top of the foam a layer of batting is applied that is just a bit larger than the foam.

My linen upholstery fabric was cut to approximately 22" by 23".
My linen upholstery fabric was cut to approximately 22″ by 23″.

Finally a layer of the upholstery fabric is cut with enough excess to totally cover the top and sides of the cushion and be pulled to the underside for stapling.  After the fabric is cut but before it’s applied is a good time to iron it.

The front of the seat cushion should line up with the straight edge of the fabric.
The front of the seat cushion should line up with the straight edge of the fabric.

Starting with the front put a staple in the middle of the upholstery fabric.  Pull it taut to the back of the cushion and staple again near the center. Then do the same on both side making sure the fabric stays on the straight of grain.

The staples must go through extra thickness at the corners.
The staples must go through extra thickness at the corners.
Take time to make the corners as neat as possible. My corners are on the front and back of the cushion.
Take time to make the corners as neat as possible. My corners are on the front and back of the cushion.

Adjust the corners so they lie flat in a neat pleat.

When the cushion is fully stapled I'll trim some of the excess fabric.
When the cushion is fully stapled I’ll trim some of the excess fabric.

Staple all around the perimeter of the fabric pulling taut to remove bubbles but not so tight as to pull on the bias.

Before and After
Before and After

Place the newly upholstered cushion into the chair.

What project took you a lot longer than expected?

How I Blue My Eggs

I showed you here how I blew my eggs.

The year of the Blue egg.
The year of the Blue egg.

Now I have another egg project that doesn’t involve blowing, instead bluing.

I hard-boil eggs by the steam method: set eggs in 1/2 inch of water, simmer for 6 minutes, then off the heat (without opening the lid) for another 6 minutes.
I hard-boil eggs by the steam method: set eggs in 1/2 inch of water, simmer for 6 minutes, then off the heat (without opening the lid) for another 6 minutes.

These eggs start by being hard-boiled with the steam method.

The goal is blue eggs from red/purple cabbage.
The goal is blue eggs from red/purple cabbage.

At the same time I cut up a head of red/purple cabbage and covered it with water.

The cabbage water turns a brilliant magenta almost immediately.
The cabbage water turns a brilliant magenta almost immediately.

Let this simmer for at least half an hour.  When the all the color has been extracted from the cabbage, strain it.

White vinegar and salt help to set the dye (I think).
White vinegar and salt help to set the dye (I think).

Add 1/4 cup white vinegar and 1/4 cup salt to the dye.

Lower the eggs gently into the dye.
Lower the eggs gently into the dye.

Carefully submerge the hard-boiled eggs.

After a few minutes in the dye bath the eggs did not seem to be taking on any color.
After a few minutes in the dye bath the eggs did not seem to be taking on any color.

The eggs didn’t seem to be coloring at all so I took each one out and rubbed it with a clean make-up sponge soaked in white vinegar.

Rubbing the eggs with white vinegar produced dirty debris which I washed off the eggs.
Rubbing the eggs with white vinegar produced dirty debris which I washed off the eggs.

This step seemed to remove a layer of gunk that may not have allowed the dye to soak in properly.

The dying solution was a deep magenta when the eggs were dropped in.
The dying solution was a deep magenta when the eggs were dropped in.
Twelve hours later the solution had turned almost black.
Twelve hours later the solution had turned almost black.

I reimmersed them and let sit overnight for the deepest color.

The white eggs which hadn't colored at all the night before turned magically blue.
The white eggs which hadn’t colored at all the night before turned magically blue.

I was delighted in the morning to find the eggs had been dyed a deep and variegated denim blue.

Cabbage dyed eggs.
Cabbage dyed eggs.

I set the wet eggs in an egg carton to dry.

Denim colored eggs.
Denim colored eggs.

We won’t eat these although they were made in a totally natural way. I’ll keep them refrigerated until next week when they go on display.

Update:  When I took the eggs out of the refrigerator 4 days later they had turned turquoise.

Do you have special plans for Saint Patrick’s Day?

How I Blew My Eggs

In order to do this project I needed hollow eggshells.

I started with 7 fresh eggs some of which I cracked trying to poke holes in the end.
I started with 7 fresh, room temperature eggs.

The best how-to explanation I could find was at Martha Stewart.

My Exacto kit has many blade choices.
My Exacto kit has many blade choices.

The necessary tools are something with which to poke a hole (I used an Exacto knife), something to break up the egg yolk (I used a paper clip), and something to blow out the egg (I used an ear syringe).

Poking the hole takes patience and finesse or the egg will crack.
Poking the hole takes patience and finesse or the egg will crack.

First poke holes in each end of an egg with a pointy object. If you use a blade, after the hole is started continue gently or the egg will crack.

The shell and membrane inside the egg both need to be punctured.
The shell and membrane inside the egg both need to be punctured.

One hole should be larger than the other.

Use a paper clip or skinny skewer to break up the egg yolk before blowing.
Use a paper clip or skinny skewer to break up the egg yolk before blowing.

Using an unbent paper clip inserted in one of the holes, I broke up the yolk.

Squeeze the syringe at the large hole end and the egg will run out the other side.
Squeeze the syringe at the large hole end and the egg will run out the other side.

Place the syringe on the large hole (it need not be inserted in the hole) and gently squeeze. (You can also blow on the hole with your mouth if you don’t have a syringe.)

Charlie used the blown-egg insides to make French toast.
Charlie used the blown-egg insides to make French toast.

The white and then the yolk will run out the smaller hole. At the beginning the liquid might come out both holes.

Blown egg shells.
Blown egg shells.

Wash off the egg and let it dry. Now it’s ready for your project.

Who’s your DIY guru?

Two Pillows and the Next Project

As I told you here I would be making two 20-inch square pillows for the living room.

Two 20-inch Ikea feather pillow inserts.
Two 20-inch Ikea feather pillow inserts.

These were super easy because they didn’t require any trim and the measurement was a square.

I've laid the project out on the table to remind me to "GET STARTED"!
The fabric is heavy and bulky but not difficult to work with.

After measuring accurately in one direction a square is easy to make by laying the fabric diagonally and cutting along the straight of grain.

I cut along one of the wales to make a square pillow top.
Cut along one of the wales to make a square pillow top.

In one stitching line I sewed (wrong sides together) 3 long sides and 2 inches or so on the fourth side begging on the fourth side and also ending there.

Imagine rights sides are matched together -- then sew in a continuous line backstitching at the beginning and end and turning at the corners.
Imagine right sides are matched together — then sew in a continuous line backstitching at the beginning and end and turning at the corners while the needle is inserted in the fabric.

The seams were 1 inch wide which I marked with tape on the sewing machine.

One inch from the machine needle to the inside edge of the blue tape.
One inch from the machine needle to the inside edge of the blue tape.

I trimmed the corners on the inside of the pillow close to the corner so the corners would be nice and pointy.

The pillow covers have nice corners achieves by making 3 angled cut close to the stitching line.
The pillow covers have nice corners achieves by making 3 angled cut close to the stitching line.

After turning the covers right-side-out and inserting the pillow I blind-stitched the opening by hand .

These will be perfect for the living room.
These will be perfect for the living room. (The open edge of the far pillow was still pinned in this picture.)

And the next project: kitchen curtains.

The bump-out in the kitchen.
The bump-out in the kitchen while we were still under construction.

I forgot how rewarding sewing is.

Do you sew?

Indigo Vintage Pillow Slips

I have a lot of vintage linens that are “precious” and I don’t mean that in a nice way.  They’re not my style; just too cute for me.

These are heavy cotton hand-embroidered pillow cases.
These are heavy cotton hand-embroidered pillow cases.

I decided to dye some of them.  The rage now seems to be grey and indigo so I started with indigo.

I would prefer a less lively color palette.
I would prefer a less lively color palette.

The choices of dye are vast and it’s difficult to know exactly what color you’re going to end up with.

Rit dye comes in liquid and powder.
Rit dye comes in liquid and powder.

I stopped by JoAnn and picked up 2 bottles of liquid Rit dye: one in Navy and the other in Evening Blue.  Going to The Rit Studio Guide was helpful to understand the undertones of each color. Navy has a violet (red) undertone while the evening blue has an aqua (green) undertone so I mixed the two to try and tone down (ha!) the undertones.

I used one bottle of Evening blue and a half bottle of navy.
I used one bottle of Evening blue and a half bottle of navy.

My recipe for indigo dye is 1 part navy to 2 parts evening blue.  Mix the dye as recommended on the package.

The dye color, even diluted, looks black.
The dye color, even diluted, looks black.

I used my kitchen sink for dying and left the clean, pre-wetted articles in the hot dye bath for about 45 minutes stirring and swishing them around from time to time.

I found moving the items around by hand easier than swishing with a stick so I wore rubber gloves.
I found moving the items around by hand easier than swishing with a stick so I wore rubber gloves.

.After everything was well-colored I ran each item under cold water until the water ran clear.

I carefully rinsed each item.
I carefully rinsed each item.

After rinsing I wrapped the items in an old towel to absorb much of the water then threw them in the clothes dryer.

The color came ourt as a true indigo without any purplish tinge which I found difficult to photograph.
The color came ourt as a true indigo without any purplish tinge which I found difficult to photograph.

The thing I really like is that the colors of the embroidery have also been muted.

I must have learned something from the last time I tried to dye something.
I must have learned something from the last time I tried to dye something.

I can picture these sturdy embroidered cases in the décor now.

I'm not planning to use them on the sofa but I could.
I’m not planning to use them on the sofa but I could.

What old item are you repurposing?

Jo’s Soup Swap Soup

On January 28th we’re having a Soup Swap. I call my soup “Healthy Winter Warm-Up”,  It’s not fancy; it’s not from a recipe; it just plain old soup.  So here’s a tutorial. 

Ingredient list for "Healthy Winter Warm-up"

 There are some steps that can be shortcutted when there’s not enough time or energy for making a swappable version. I’ll note the steps that can be omitted with the caveat that the best soup is made from following all the directions.

Start with a chicken that has been roasted.  Even a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store which has already provided a meal or two is a great candidate for making stock. (You can skip the roasting and use a raw chicken.)

Basic chicken stock in an 8-quart stock pot.

 To make basic chicken stock, in a large pot cover a chicken with water, bring to a boil and simmer for at least 2 hours.  I also add large chunks of carrots, onion and celery. ( I generally discard the onions and celery and eat the carrots.) These vegetables should cook until all the taste has been transferred to the broth. Taste the broth for seasoning and richness at this point.  The vegetables will add flavor but the stock should be delicious in its own right.

Large hunks of boiled (previously roasted) chicken.

While the broth is cooking prepare the aromatic vegetables — onion, carrots, celery — to put into the soup.

Traditional aromatic vegetables for the soup

 When chopped these vegetables are called mirepoix (probably named in honour of C. P. G. F. de Lévis, Duke of Mirepoix, 18th-century French general) a most traditional flavor enhancer to all sorts of dishes, especially soups. (Mirepoix is pronounced meer-eh-pwah.)

Mirepoix ready for the soup pot.

 Strain the broth from the chicken and vegetables.  In the original pot cover the bottom with a thin layer of olive oil and add the mirepoix. (You may omit sauteing and add the vegetables directly to the broth.)

Mirepoix sauteing in the stock pot.

 Since I had roasted the chicken before boiling it, in addition to the stock, I also had some liquid made by deglazing the roasting pan with chicken broth.  In the following photo you can see the difference in color and richness of plain chicken stock and pan drippings.

Chicken broth on the left, deglazed liquid in the right.

 Return all the stock — both light and dark — to the sweated mirepoix.

Large stock pot with stock and mirepoix.

 Add the remaining ingredients including the coarsely chopped chicken and simmer until the vegetables are tender.

Canned tomatoes, canned corn, frozen peas and fresh green beans.

 When the other ingredients (fresh is best but in winter use what is available) have cooked transfer to individual quart containers to cool then freeze for the Soup Swap.

Six 1-quart containers filled with frozen soup.

 Are you swapping anything this year?