Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easy Boppy Cover Tutorial

We've been really blessed to inherit a ton of gently-used baby stuff.

One thing I'm looking forward to using is a Boppy pillow.  The Boppy and cover that comes with it are both washable, but I wanted a fresh and cute new cover.  Mom offered to make one while she was in town visiting.

The Boppy cover is made of three pieces of fabric and a long zipper.  It looked like it could be simplified though, especially if we used knit instead of a non-stretchy fabric.

We bought 3/4 of a yard of knit fabric and a 20-inch zipper for the project.

Using the original cover as a pattern, she cut out C-shaped pieces from a cute polka-dot knit.  She glossed over that third piece in the original pattern.

She pinned the two sides together, sewed it around the edge, and installed the zipper.  She made sure to use a stretch needle to get a nice stitch.

She snipped the seam allowance inside the C so that it would allow for more give.

And then we had a brand new boppy cover!  This one is fresh and new, and much softer than the original. 

You might also be interested in these posts:

Tips and Tricks for Slipcovering a Recliner

Friday, April 18, 2014

Kids Bathroom: Painted

A few weeks ago I took the plunge and removed the wallpaper from the kids bathroom.  There is NO MORE WALLPAPER in our house!!!

But the white glue-covered walls weren't doing it for me either.

My Mom just spent a week with us, joining me at a few awesome baby showers, and helping us finish up projects around the house.  Painting this bathroom was on her list!

Nothing is ever easy at our house, and this was no exception.  The wallpaper had been installed before the baseboards, so Mom had to remove the caulk and cut away the wallpaper with a razor blade.  Then she had to re-caulk everything.  I hate these little projects that take up time and don't have awesome-looking results, but it had to be done!

Instead of wiping the wallpaper glue off the walls, we decided to seal it in with oil-based primer.  It's pretty stinky, but it did the job!  If we had skipped the primer, there was a good chance the glue would reactivate with latex paint, causing bubbles.

Finally came the paint!  We used Sherwin Williams Emerald line of paint in matte finish, in the color Quietude.  I liked this color because it was soothing and pretty, could be mixed with jazzy colors like yellow, and played well with the vanity.  I also felt like it was a safe choice since it was on the same card as Rainwashed, a color we've used in three rooms in our house.

Let's see some before and after's!

What a difference!

It looks much cleaner and brighter.  The vanity top doesn't read as tan as it did before, and now the tub looks white instead of a dull grey.  

Mom also spray painted the cabinet mirror.  She removed it, taped off the edges, and gave it two coats of silver spray paint we had hanging out in the basement.  It was a dull gold before, and an easy change, but made the mirror really blend with the new paint color.

So you might be asking, what's the deal with the vanity?  We're not in love with the countertop, but it's in good shape and not overly offensive.  I priced out replacing it with natural stone, like granite or marble, but even using a remnant for this tiny space came to a cost of over $700!  We decided the original counter was just fine, and chose a wall color that would go with it.

The next project in here is restaining the vanity!  Stay tuned!

You might also be interested in these posts:

Kids Bathroom: Wallpaper Free!
Half-Bath Remodel

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Tips & Tricks for Slipcovering a Recliner

I am five weeks from my due date, and trying my best to finish up projects before the baby arrives!

I wasn’t dead-set on anything particular for the nursery, but I did know that I wanted a comfortable upholstered recliner!  I shopped around last fall, and was shocked that 1) upholstered gliders are really expensive, and 2) they don’t usually come slipcovered.  I wasn’t prepared to spend upwards of $800 for a chair.  I also couldn’t believe that a piece of furniture used primarily for nursing didn’t come slipcovered!  Wouldn’t the fabric get gross over time?!?

I perused Craigslist for several weeks, and eventually came across a $50 glider/recliner.  When I went to check it out, I found it to be the perfect size for my petite frame, and super comfortable.  Sold!

Now came the hard part…making a slipcover.  I’m not going to walk you through making a slipcover here - there are very talented people out there with excellent instructions.  But I do want to share some tips and tricks I came up with along the way that took my slipcover from “gets the job done” to “pro-style”!

Don’t say I didn’t warn you: making a slipcover is not easy, or fast, or even cheap (8 yards of fabric adds up quickly!).  But if you have the skills and patience, it can be very rewarding!  This project cost $80 in fabric, another $20 in supplies like velcro and elastic, and about 15 hours of work.

1. Buy more fabric than you need

I googled the suggested yardage needed for a recliner slipcover, and ultimately ordered 8 yards.  I had a little over one yard left over, which I plan to use to make a matching dog bed.

If your fabric is directional (mine couldn’t be turned 90 degrees without losing the pattern), and especially if it can only be placed in one direction (up must be up), you should order more fabric than suggested.


2. Pre-shrink your fabric

The reason you’re making a slipcover is so that it can be washed.  Many upholstery fabrics recommend dry-cleaning only, even though they are 100% cotton.  This is because they shrink.  A lot. 

Cut a sample of your fabric and run it through a normal wash and dry cycle to see what happens.  If it comes out OK, wash and dry all of your fabric to pre-shrink it.  I cut my fabric into two 4-yard pieces to wash it.

My fabric shrunk 5%.  If I hadn’t pre-shrunk it, it probably wouldn’t fit on the chair again after its first washing!

3. Start with the largest pieces first

The smallest pieces can be made from scraps at the end of your project if you're running short on fabric, but you can never get those large yardages back once you cut them up!

Cut the pieces for the largest parts of your slipcover first.  You won’t regret it!


4. Decide on a centerline for your fabric

I had two options for my fabric - the shapes with the flowers inside, and those without.  I photographed the fabric with both ones on the centerline of the chair, and the shapes with the flowers just felt right.  I made sure to use those shapes as the centerline for all the largest pieces of the slipcover.

5. Pin your pieces together on the chair

Why take it off and on a billion times?  Just fit the pattern to the chair!

I wasn’t quite sure how to handle the odd-shaped back of the chair, so I pinned the flat back on first, then draped the front piece until everything looked right.  I never would have designed a pattern this way, but it just felt right when it was all pinned in place.

Also, start with huge seam allowances.  If you have 2-inch seam allowances to start with, you won’t be short on fabric if you have to make adjustments later.  You can trim these down once you’re happy with the entire slipcover.

6. Use any removable pieces as patterns

The seat of my recliner is removable, and even had a zip-off cover.  I removed this and used it as the pattern for the slipcover. 

On top of that, I salvaged the zipper from the original seat cushion and reused it in my slipcover.

Having a separately-covered seat cushion makes a slipcovered piece look much more professional.

For the front “legs” of the chair, you can make a paper pattern by holding up a piece of paper and lightly tracing the edges with a pencil or creasing with your fingernail.


7. Make a separate cover for the foot rest

The downfall of many recliner slipcovers is in the foot rest.  If you have a snug slipcover, the foot rest won’t want to function.  You can fix this by creating mini slipcovers for the foot rests.

Mine looked like hairnets, essentially long rectangular boxes with an elastic band around the edge.  They still didn’t want to fit nicely, so I also added straps that secured with velcro around the back, to hold them in place.



8. Use velcro instead of a hemmed skirt

My chair didn’t seem like a good candidate for a skirt around the bottom.  To give it a clean edge, I velcroed the fabric around the bottom of the chair.  One side of the velcro was attached to the slipcover, and the other side of the velcro was stapled to the inside of the chair.  This gave the finished product a beautiful and clean edge, but the slipcover is still 100% removable.


9. Secure all your seams by zigzagging or serging

All those raw-edge seams hiding inside your slipcover are going to ravel when you first wash the slipcover.  You can prevent this by going over all the raw edges with a zig zag stitch or with a serger.

10. Take care of problem areas

One reason the people listed this chair on Craigslist for so cheap was that the recliner lever had torn through the cushion seat.  This was because the rubber cover had torn, leaving raw metal exposed.  I fixed this by making the lever it’s own padded slipcover.  Look, it's camouflaged!

If you notice problems like this before you purchase the furniture, make sure you have an idea for how to fix them.  I knew I could fix this, so I wasn’t worried about it!


Look how well it turned out!  Snug-fitting, clean lines, the pattern matches up - you can't even tell it's slipcovered instead of reupholstered.  I can't wait to spend many hours in this chair with my baby girl!!!

Hopefully these tips will help you make an awesome slipcover for a chair in need of a little love!  I’m so pleased with how this one turned out - for a fraction of the price, I have a comfortable, custom recliner/glider for my nursery, and it’s washable!!!

You might also be interested in these posts:

Facelift for a sad sofa
Overdye a comforter for a new look

Monday, April 7, 2014

Basement Remodel: Almost Complete, Except Not

So today I was hoping to tell you that the contractors were done and gone and we were starting our DIY finishing projects.

But there have been a few delays, so here's another post on the progress that has been made!



  • The uncovered the recessed light and air vent that got covered up.  I'm glad we've been touring the basement daily, and noticed these before more work was done!
  • Everything has been primed, so it's ready for us to paint.  Painting the room ourselves will save over $1,000! 



  • We had been planning to install our own 5" baseboards after we put in the floors.
  • A message got lost somewhere, and 3.5" baseboards were installed by surprise.
  • But they look really nice, they're done, and we don't have to pay for them or do them ourselves, so this was a nice surprise! 
Most unique baby gift yet!



  • The siding guys were here for four days, and we now have new siding! 
  • We had to have a little conversation about how they used my landscaped flower beds as their workspace.  Come on guys, what's wrong with working in grass?  Are bushes and flowers really that much better of a place to set up your tools and work area?  Now I've added "fix back yard landscaping" to my never ending pre-baby to-do list.

The pretty new siding makes me want to paint the utility boxes white to match


What's left?

  • A little bit of touching up drywall
  • Installing the patio lights
  • Installing fresh outlets
  • Finishing the recessed lights
  • Installing gutters

After three days of rain, sleet, snow, and wind, we have some good news and bad news.  Good news: the leak that started this whole project is gone!  Bad news: The new French door isn't watertight, so there's a new leak.  Big sad face :(

You might also be interested in these posts:

Basement Remodel: Getting Started
Save money on your remodel by doing your own demo
Basement Remodel: Imperfect Progress
Basement Remodel: Light at the End of the Tunnel