Have you read the Magnolia Pearl book? Beth gave it to me for Christmas and I have been obsessed with the photos. Now, not all are to my taste exactly (I think old rugs on the walls in the kitchen is just gross and dusty and musty)but I love the idea of it all. But in MY colors. Still, just look at this sofa. I was inspired by the opulence of it all, and have always loved the crazy quilt layering of fabrics when I make slipcovers.
My sofa could use a bit of the embellishments I spied in the book. I have a good start with the mixed fabrics already. If I added a few velvets and trims, I'd be close. Well, close enough for my house. I have to consider that it is climbed on by two year olds and dorkies, plus we use the sofa for real life, not for display!!! All of my fabrics need to be washable.
One element I really enjoyed from the book was the use of old textiles. So, I cut up a tapestry I'd found at an antique mall years ago and added a section to the center pillow of the couch.
Another one, got cut up for ruffles on the chair that I decided to recover in a Magnolia Pearl-ISH way. This tapestry's design wasn't as pretty as the Grecian ladies on the other runner, this one was elephants and guys in turbans. But I loved the over all look of the fabric itself, it really shows its age.
The next step was to gather up piles of remnants and trims and doilies and whatever else I had lurking in the linen cabinet in my studio. I wasn't exactly sure how and where I'd use it all, and actually didn't end up usingmost of the bits and pieces. But it was good to have a pile to look through, hold up to the chair and pick from. Nothing was planned out, this chair just came together from the inspiration of what I'd seen in the Magnolia Pearl book and what was left over from other projects or laying around the studio.
If a furniture store ever sells you an insurance package for light colored fabrics, please read the fine print. I liked this oyster white velvet, but was worried about dirt showing. So, for an extra $35, I got a guarantee. Any stain or dirt that got on the chair would be cleaned off by the company or else I'd get the chair recovered free.
Sounded good. But it wasn't. The fine print says it covers everything in the world but normal dirt. So, the chair got a bit funky and no matter how I cleaned it, it always looked smudgy. The oyster white slowly became mucky gray. I daydreamed about recovering it.
A local seamstress was going to make a slipcover for me, but she decided not to, she said recliners are too hard to do.
So, of course, I figured I could do it myself. Even though, if you sat near me in the sewing segment of Silver Bella, you would know from the constant complaints I spouted, I HATE to sew. Hate it. And am a novice.
Since I was house bound, while babysitting new puppies and their poor little, over worked mommy, I thought a project that I could do in the newborn's nursery (my dining room) would keep me busy. I'd strained my back at the gym and was on muscle relaxers so wasn't quite in my right mind either.
You know, I kind of thought when I started working on the chair, that it would make a good How-To for the blog. Until I got going on it, then realized, it was just too hard to explain, since I was making it up as I went along.
But here are some helpful tips if you feel like making yourself bonkers by trying to make slipcovers for a recliner from a hodge podge of fabrics:
- gather up lots of materials to play with. What you think you are going to use, might not work, you need plenty of odds and ends to choose from
- lay out your fabrics right side up to judge where you want them, then flip them over inside out to pin. I pinned mine where I wanted it, then trimmed the fabric around the pins
- have all your pin heads face the same direction!
- don't sew over any pins, unless you really enjoy changing needles on the machine
- keep the sewing machine manual handy in case you need to change needles
- those pearl pins are easier than regular straight pins. Especially the bright colored ones, they show up better and you hit less of them with the sewing machine needle
- eye balling is easier than measuring. No one will be using a tape measure on your chair when they come to visit, so if you think it looks pretty good, you should trust yourself enough to go with that.
- it doesn't have to be perfect. A slouchy look has a lot of room for errors.
- throw in some unexpected textiles for fun
- fringes and trims can cover up crooked seams pretty good
- if you don't have any muscle relaxers, try a glass of wine before starting the project
The "sleeves" of my chair were terribly twisty. But the fringe saved them.
The back side should be interesting too! This is the side that faces the newborn's nursery (my dining room). I gathered up the ruffle with some old taupe velvet ribbon and roses that I pulled off an old hat (I have a few of those around).
If you decide to cover a recliner, you need to remember that it MOVES. The cover has to be done in pieces, not all one throw like a regular chair. I made the "'sleeves" first, then attached them with upholstery screws, to the inside of the arms. Then, the seat is simply a hemmed and trimmed piece of fabric that is tucked in around the sides, not attached to anything. The piece over the back, is made like a pillow case, that slips over it. And the foot rest cover is screwed down too. Buy extra upholstery screws, you will need more than you think!
Well, not exactly Magnolia Pearl, but it is at least Pearl-ish. Of course, the chair itself is the wrong style, not antique and not ornate. But it is comfy and I like a soft recliner for reading in. I call this my Grammy Gypsy Chair.
Hopefully, the busy fabrics won't show dirt the way the original one did. And, I can always take it apart and wash any section that gets dirty, if needed.
While cleaning up the room, I was ready for some more changes, and added this iron piece to the wall. (I'd had it up in the guest room, but now that Sugarwing's Daddy lives up there, he prefers his Hippy Tie Dye to my antique decor, so I took it down). Notice that I still have Christmas lights in the urn in the corner? I am calling it a winter decoration, instead of a Christmas one and keeping them there for a while. I enjoy the glow. And the vintage photo of the WhiteWitch that I had up for Halloween is back as a pretty lady dressed for Mardi Gras instead. That sounds better than "the Clash of the Holidays"!
January always makes me want to redo a bit. I guess it is being cooped up indoors, and staring at the same stuff over and over and getting tired of it. Also, taking down all the glitz of the Christmas decorations, makes the home seem dull with out them.
Or maybe it is just the muscle relaxers.