Patchwork Chair


Two weeks ago I decided I wanted to fancy up the chair in my walk in robe. I had something very specific in mind – a chair with a fabric back and seat, that was upholstered in patchwork fabric.

One trip to the Green Shed and I found the perfect chair to re-upholster!

The before pictures

I got started straight away, pulling out staples to remove the fabric.

pulling out staples
pulling out staples!

I had already had some fabric, in the forms of a skirt, a dress and a pair of pants, and I had already started turning it into hexagons. I had initially thought of making a quilt with the fabric, but when this project came up, the fabric was perfect!

A skirt…
a dress
a dress… and the pants I have no before picture of. The pants started life as beige velvet and went through the dyeing process to become a lovely splotch of green and purple.
a stack of fabric hexagons
A stack of hexies ready to sew

I madly sewed sections of hexagons, each big enough to cover the areas of fabric which I had removed from the chair. I then “quilted” each section of fabric to a piece of old bedsheet. Because I used the english paper piecing technique to sew the hexagons together, I was a bit worried my hand sewn seams would not hold up to the wear and tear a chair experiences without some kind of reinforcement. I am confident sewing it to a backing will reinforce the patchwork well.

I madly sewed sections of hexagons
quilted hexagon fabric
I “quilted” the hexagon fabric to a piece of old bed sheet to support the patchwork

I employed Guys amazing skills for the actually upholstering. He has more experience with this and was super excited to help with this project. He has been wandering around the house for days now exclaiming “this is one of the best up-cycled pieces we have done!”

Guy re-upholstering chair
Guy did most of the actual re-upholstering. He did a splendid job <3

Once all the fabric was stapled down, we gave it a bit of a trim and glued gold cord over the edges.

hotglueing trim
Hot gluing the final feature – a gold braided trim to all the edges.

And tada! a beautiful chair for my cupboard! It almost feels a shame to keep it in the cupboard!

patchwork chair in cupboard
The chair in its final position. It’s going to be so much fun putting my shoes and socks on now!

Breakdown –

Chair – The Green Shed – $10
Fabric – Vinnies – $20 (three items)
Trim – Spotlight – $15 (5m)

Having an amazing piece of furniture – priceless!

Have a creative week!
<3 Cate

Dyeing Alpaca Fleece

dyed alpaca fibre

In the background of all my other goings on for the past week or so, I’ve had a dye pot full of alpaca fleece slowly bubbling away.

There’s a lot of hobby farms (especially around Canberra) who keep alpacas for the animals, and then aren’t sure about what to do with their fleece come shearing time. If you keep a look out on the buy-swap-sell pages (and lets be honest, have all your friends and family keeping an eye out too) you will occasionally find some one giving away bags of fleece. This is how I ended up with a box full of the stuff!

alpaca fleece
A big box of alpaca fleece waiting for me to start processing it. (it is a happy coincidence there is a picture of alpacas in the background, my brother gave it to me last week and I’m yet to hang it up!)

I have been working my way through this box of alpaca fleece. I even gave my mum a big bag full so she can use some.

I had already washed some of it. So I divided it up and started dyeing it. Each day I have been dyeing a little bit more.

firey orange alpaca fleece drying
Today I have a gorgeous fiery orange drying in the sunniest window

I dyed the last of the washed fleece yesterday. So this morning I have just dropped another bag full in to soak and clean. Even though dyeing it takes very little effort, it is quite rewarding to be achieving something little every day.

washing alpaca fleece
Washing more alpaca fleece

I have dyed pink, green, purple, blue, yellow and orange so far. After dyeing, it needs to be carded to make it super fluffy . In the photo below, the pink has been carded.

dyed alpaca fibre
My dye results so far
carded v non carded fibre
This shows the difference between carded fibre and non carded fibre. To the left is the carded fibre, it is super fluffy, and all the fibres have been aligned.

What am I going to do with it all once I’m finished? Well, I have already taken some of it to work, where the children were convinced there are pink alpacas wandering the world, that was until I explained how I processed it and dyed it. I might hold onto it for doing more fibre related workshops with the children because, well, free means I keep the expenses down, and there isn’t usually a lot to spend on resources. It also creates a super valuable intentional teaching moment.

drop spinning
The children at work practiced drop spinning. I’m about to go and ply this so they can use it french knitting this afternoon

I am sure you are all wondering how I’m going with my patchwork chair I wrote about last week. Well, I’ve been madly sewing hexagons together all week. I finally had enough pieces together yesterday to start the reupholstering! I employed Guy for this bit, He has more experience and skill in this area! We have the seat to go, and then the trim to attach.

patchwork chair
The chair in its current state! So close to the finish line!

I hope to have the chair finished in the next day or so. I look foward to showing you the process and results next week!

Have a creative week!

<3 Cate

New Bedroom Outfit!

staple removing

Since, like, January, Guy has been madly working on a new bedroom suit for our room. He searched buy-swap-sell pages for something suitable. Eventually a gorgeous bedroom suit popped up and we grabbed it. Alas, the tallboy didn’t fit, so we sold it off and found another one that kinda looked like the rest of the furniture. With a little bit of help from me (realistically I only helped with the bed) he sanded everything right back and did a white wash kind of painting technique before varnishing everything.

bedroom suit
Guy sanded back bedroom furniture and repainted it. In this photo you can see the bed and bedside tables. He also redid a tall boy, and is searching for a bookshelf to do in the same way.

All his effort really looks amazing and has bought our room together to look like something out of a magazine! Whilst Guy is still searching for a bookshelf to redo, I decided the chair in the walk in robe needed to be redone too! (I’ve also decided to make a bunch of felted flowers for my bedside table, but I’ll leave that for another post)

Because the walk in robe closes off to the rest of the room, and is basically completely white cabinetry and clothes, we decided the chair didn’t necessarily have to “match” the room. The only stipulations we decided on is that it needed to be arm-less, to make it easy to put shoes on etc.

And because I am completely in love with the idea of patchwork upholstered furniture, I went looking for a very specific type of chair, with fabric cushion and fabric back!

A very quick trip to the Green Shed (our local tip shop) and I had already fallen in love with a chair. It has carved flower features and fabric upholstery in all the right places!

Green Shed find! Exactly the chair I was looking for!

I got to work removing staples and all the old fabric. I still have a few more staples to remove, but my hands are a bit sore from coaxing staples out, so I’m concentrating on the patchwork element at the moment. Then I will need to evaluate the foam and consider how to replace it.

staple removing
Removing alllllllll the staples! phew! That’s a hard task!

The fabric I am using is up-cycled from clothes I found at the op-shop! I had initially chosen the fabrics to make a quilt, but thought this would be a perfect place to showcase them! And the leftovers will be used to make a quilt anyways.

Making hexagons to piece together to upholster the chair! Fabrics are from a skirt, a dress and a pair of pants, which I had collected from op-shops

I will be spending the rest of my week alternating between fixing up the chair, and piecing together the fabric to re-cover it with! I love continuing/adding to the story of pre-loved items!

hexagon prep
Sewing hexagons!

Happy Creating
<3 Cate

It’s not always easy…

I’ve spent all morning trying to think of something to share with you all today. I’ve even spent the last few days trying to come up with something.

You see, what I’m working on at the moment is a little bit experimental (for me at least). And I think it has potential. But I also think it just isn’t there yet either.

But I have decided to share it with you anyways. Because, I think it’s important to give yourself the space to experiment, to test ideas, to develop your skill set. And I think we are so used to seeing polished work, that we forget that to get there, there were many hours of experimentation, tears, frustration and things that didn’t work out so good.

So this is my process so far…

I had a pile of black denim. Much of it had bleach marks. In its past life it was worn to work in a night club, and apparently they used a lot of bleach to clean stuff (which makes sense, cos those places are filthy!)

I started with a pile of black jeans with bleach marks

I had a vision. I wanted to make a bomber jacket with some extra bleached detailing. I sourced a pattern – McCall’s M7637. Heck I would love LOVE to be able to draft my own patterns. But I haven’t made many clothes in the past, so working with patterns will hopefully enable me to understand how clothing goes together a bit better before I go down that path!

McCall’s M7637 was the pattern I settled on to experiment sewing a bomber jacket.

I cut up all the jeans. I cut each leg off just below the crutch, then i cut up the inner leg seam, this then opened out into a nice big flat piece of fabric. I stitched these together as required to make pieces of fabric big enough to cut each pattern piece out of.

Once I had cut a back piece out, I jumped right into the bleaching process. I did minimal experiments on a small piece first, the went straight for the jacket piece. I used a white pencil to draw out a design. I filled a small bottle with a pointy bit with bleach gel, and used that to draw on top of the outlines.

This is the entirety of my testing things out before I jumped straight in. This whole process in one big experiment
I used a white pencil to draw out a pattern on the jacket piece before I used the bleach
I used gel bleach which I put in a small bottle with a fine nozzle. I also used hydrogen peroxide to neutralize the bleach was I was happy enough with the results
After bleaching, use a solution of hydrogen peroxide to neutralize the bleach. Any leftover white pencil markings will wash off too.

It’s not that I don’t like how it worked or even the design I did. It’s just that I’m not feeling it. I can’t see it all coming together in a cohesive piece. This is the point I sit on it for a few weeks. Often I have an “AHA!” moment and figure out a way to finish it, others I just knuckle down and get it done to get it off my plate and move on to something else. And there is always the pieces I still have in the cupboard 10 (20?) years later that never came together but I can’t bare to start over with.

The first jacket in pieces
The second jacket pieces. This one the denim has more inherent bleached areas. I’m still brainstorming how to work with these and the best patterns to add. I’ve started cutting out the lining for this one too. I am using an old bed sheet which I will dye after I have semi constructed it.

Some thoughts I’m having at the moment –

Would embroidery add a needed element?

Would applique give it some depth?

Does it just need more bleached patterning?

Am I game to touch the second jacket I have cut out?

Would adding more bleached areas and then dyeing back into it with colours work?

What am I actually going to do with these pieces once I finish them?

Some discharge and re-dyeing experiments. Holds potential.

Anyways, I have a lot to think about. And I’m going to give myself a week to work through those questions before I start more experiments. For the rest of this week I think I will be dyeing. I have a lot of white jeans and fabric to work through. Although, I think that will be another task that will raise more questions than answers! Wish me luck!

Have a Creative week

<3 Cate


I decided I desperately needed a pair of overalls in my life again. Because – who doesn’t?

So I channeled my high school days. That was the last time I remember owning a pair of overalls (They were black and spacious, I loved them!) and it was also a time in my life I was obsessed with up-cycling denim.

Denim is a pretty versatile fabric. Back in the days I used to make bags, quilts, pants, jackets and skirts out of it. It is cheap to buy at the op shop and often people will give it to you for free. It meant I could experiment without worrying about messing up expensive fabric. It also continued the life of this amazing textile.

I have been collecting every piece of denim that has come into my life since then. My small collection has been growing lately with cupboard clear outs and trips to the Green Shed to scour the free clothes bins.

So I chopped into the denim collection. Piecing together sections of fabric big enough for each pattern piece. The pattern I used was McCall’s M7547.

I pieced sections of fabric big enough to fit the pattern pieces onto
front view of overalls
Back view
I used pieces of an old sheet that I had cut up and practiced tie dyeing on to line the bib front and back

I learnt a lot making these. Like actually measure yourself before starting. These do not fit me (no matter how much Guy tries to persuade me they do). They are too tight across the thighs and belly.

No doubt I will try again in the near future, because I still really want a pair of overalls to wear!

What are working on this week?

<3 Cate