DIY couch cover

Everything in our house is second hand…or hand made. We literally have a few new appliances that we had the good fortune of acquiring through wedding presents- and that’s it!

We really love it that way. Everything in our house feels like we have made it our own.

The three-seat couch we were gifted from some good friends was no exception. The style and structure of the couch is perfect for us. Really supportive and a good size for stretching out. But the cover itself was a bit old-fashioned.

When we first moved in together we went to the Ikea store in Tempe to buy a few household essentials. Next door is the giant Salvos warehouse. Honestly- it was over two years ago and I still can’t believe how much we left with! One of the best steals was a whole bolt of cream linen for just $80. I always knew that I wanted to use it for upholstery projects- but it wasn’t until we got the couch later that I knew what it was meant for :)

I found it really encouraging to start off by just making the new cushion covers and then as each was done it spurred me on to take on the next step. It was nice to see more immediate results- but I also think the fact that I can’t stand things being uneven may have helped ;)

When you are buying your fabric make sure to measure out how many metres you think you will need, halve that, add that to the original figure and then you’ll have how much you are likely to need. Better to have scrap fabric than not enough!

starting couch fabric 

This was the original fabric. I think it may have been wool? It was probably very soft and colourful in its day !

old couch

Start off by carefully unpicking one original cushion cover. Roll out your new fabric on to a flat surface and smooth out the pieces. The fabric may not have been cut straight, so use the factory edge for a true straight guide. Trace around the pieces carefully and then cut in broad clean strokes making sure to allow for hem.

Use these pieces as a template for the rest of the cushions covers. Pin all of the various pieces together to make bunches. I like to drape the fabric over the cushions inside out and pin as I go along- making sure to allow overhang for hemming.

starting couch covers

I pin the whole way around except for the top where the zipper will go- then I gently shimmy the cushion out from the slip and pin the zipper in to place. I go around the whole thing once, folded over, with a zig-zag stitch to close off the frayed cut edges, then tight against the pins (removing as I go of course!) with a straight stitch for clean edges on the hems when it’s turned inside out.

I sew all the way to one side of the zip- by keeping the zipper open- then I close the zipper to be able to finish off the last zipper edge. Then just turn right way out and slip over the cushion! Voila!

sew couch cover

Once the cushions are done you should be feeling pretty good about what you have achieved :) Then you will want to progress on to the actual couch cover. This is achieved using various panels.

You want to roll out the fabric across the back of couch inside out and cut allowing a good size overhang for hem and refining the cut later to suit the couch a bit more closely. Then you will do the same for the back rest, seat and valance, arms and you will need two petal shaped pieces for the fronts of the arm rests.

pinned couch cover

I like to pin a piece to the couch itself, then as a new piece is added pin that to the first piece and continue. I trim the edges to fit the couch shape more closely as I go. You are going to need a new packet of pins!

When you are done you should have an inside out couch cover that you can gently slip off and start sewing. The same sew lines will be required as for the cushions- so zig zag hem the straight lines to cut closer in for neater lines,

It’s worth mentioning that fabric can shrink quite significantly upon machine wash or dry. If you can- get the manufacturers cleaning instructions relevant to your chosen fabric. You may want to wash all of the fabric before working with it- or allow extra breathing space knowing that it will shrink, say, 20% upon wash. Alternatively you could just hand wash as it is usually the friction that shortens the fabric fibres.

In my case there was absolutely no way I was hand washing or pre-shrinking, and I didn’t have manufacturers instructions, so I took a gamble and allowed an extra 5% or so all around. It did shrink upon machine wash- so lucky I allowed room!

I think the result is really striking and very comfortable. I got the crushed linen look that I love- without the $3000 price tag! It’s also just so uplifting to have items that you know are unique, and absolutely tailored to fit your life and your style in your home. That’s what it’s all about right?

Finished couch

Christmas Craft: Christmas Wreaths

I just love a beautiful wreath- I make one every year! There’s something about a lovely wreath hanging on the front door- heralding to all visitors ‘Merry Christmas!’ (or in our case- in an apartment- bringing joy to everyone who wanders by :)

The last time we had Christmas at my mum and dad’s house I made this Australian-themed succulent Christmas wreath and when my husband and I were in New York for Christmas I made this New York winter Christmas wreath.

This year I decided to make a geometric wreath with washed colour I’ve been seeing lots of geometric wood designs (like the beautiful geometric candle votives from The Design Farm) and I’ve been trying to think of a project combining light wood, washes of bright colour and geometric designs- a Christmas wreath was perfect!

I used a recycled bed panel with a divet line- lightly painted them all with a white base and then painted the rest in hand-mixed acrylic paint applied with a wet paintbrush for a washed-out look.

I allowed to dry between coats and used a fine brush to apply gold lines over the divets at the end for a bit of gilding. I marked and drilled holes halfway through both sides of the wood matching the wood dowel pieces I selected and used a mallet to gently drive them in to join together to form a square.

To finish I coated the whole thing in a gloss sealing spray, let it all dry, and then weaved eucalyptus branches through the gaps. Wreath done!

I had so much eucalyptus left that I figured I might as well make an outdoor wreath to adorn our balcony! To make a branch wreath like this- start with a thick, strong end bending in one direction and match with a softer, more pliable branch bending in the other direction. Bind at the top and in bunches at the softer, leaf end.

Find smaller branches bending in opposite directions so that the leaves are always moving in the same directions down towards the base. Secure as you go with twisting wire attempting to overlap so that only the very top bind is visible.

It can be nice to gather the leaves to flow down slightly off-centre mimicking a more natural shape- rather than a precise wreath. But either can be lovely- just don’t take it too seriously :) At the end- go back around and trim off any leaves that are sticking out or sickly looking. You can spray paint the whole thing at this stage- either with a subtle metallic glisten or a fantastic neon bright.

Bind the top, and cover the wire ties at the same time, with twine. Attach to the door or hang up and secure with a neat bow. You can move around the wreath and decorate afterwards if you wish. Either with decorations as I did (white porcelain stars) or with brightly coloured flora such as berries, succulents or flowers.

Have a very Merry Christmas! Try a wreath. Its a lovely welcome home in this hectic season.

signature

colour-wreath-door-closecolour-wood-wreath colour-wreath-paintedcolour-wreath-diycolour-wreath-door-fullleaf-wreath-closeleaf-wreath-far

Christmas Craft: Christmas Tree Branch

Merry Christmas! I don’t know about you- but everything seems to get just that little bit manic in the lead up to Christmas.

I don’t know if it is just because of the shut-downs that happen over Christmas- but you go to the shops at this time of year and people behave like they are preparing for the apocalypse!

At this mad time of year- I must admit- I do delight in a little bit of Christmas Craft! This year I decided to make a Christmas tree that would suit our little apartment. I also had this concept of it falling from the roof.

I found a lovely big branch, lightly sanded it back, spray painted it white and gilded the ends by brushing on gold metallic paint. I finished it off by winding battery-powered Christmas lights around the top and tying on hole-punched, cardboard Christmas bauble coasters (both from Ikea).

signature

finished-close white-christmas-tree-branch-closewhite-christmas-tree-branchpainted-christmas-tree-branchpainted-christmas-tree-branch hungfinished-with-lightsfinished-with-lights close

 

Looking for more Christmas ideas? You should try out these super-cute Christmas cupcakes! I’ve also got cute Christmas gift-wrapping ideas, Christmas decorating ideas (including and Australian-themed succulent wreath and Christmas star cookies!

I also made a few cute Christmas wreaths that I will be posting about very soon. Happy Christmas crafting!

Halloween Craft

Halloween is my absolute favourite celebration. My mother is of Irish heritage and we have always loved Trick or Treating. The first time I went without mum or dad was with my sister- she was in year 6 and I was in kindergarten.

I grew up on a street with an American family- we started doing Halloween properly when they came to settle in Australia- or perhaps the timing just coincided well with the time I started growing up and becoming more interested in cooking and making my own projects? Either way- I’ve made all manner of costumes, decorations and tasty treats since (green iced cupcakes anyone?!)

Over the years my Halloween fun has become a bit more sophisticated- highlights include trekking to the BOC centre in Sydenham to pick up dry ice pellets- to create fog in our kitchen and bathroom sinks of course!

This year I was inspired by a snake wreath concept in Martha Stewart Living Halloween edition. I recreated the look but put an Australian spin on it- deadly brown snakes and spiders and knotted, rough-weaved branches.

I also loved the super simple paper-bag gravestone lanterns- also from Martha Stewart Living Halloween edition. I didn’t have time to print and cut out stencils- so instead I hand wrote epitaphs and created spray-paint stencils out of layered masking tape!

I had so much fun making these decorations- and it only took an afternoon! If you didn’t want to go out and buy snakes and spiders or you wanted more craft for the kids to do- you could make your own creepy crawlies!

Get creative- but to start with you could make snakes out of filled stockings or toilet rolls linked with a string through the middle and spiders could be made from an egg carton cup and twigs or felt pipe cleaners legs! The trick is to put your spray paint to work making a uniform colour before hand painting the finer details.

Have a super spooky and wondrously wicked Halloween!

signature

I started off with these fantastic branches I found- this could be a great activity with the kids in itself! Get them out hunting for the perfect shapes. A wide-forked branch is a great starting point for a wreath- after that you’re looking for rounded corners and wiry accents.

halloween wreath craft branches

Next I laid out all the components to start visualizing the shape. I started with the forked branch and gently weaved from there- hooking in just one end and securing the tension as I went with wire ties. Once I had finished the base I weaved the snakes in and stuck the spiders over the wire joins with blu-tack.

halloween wreath spiders snakes

I also decided I needed to give the wreath a message- so while I was making the spray paint epitaphs for the gravestones (more below) I made a Happy Halloween sign! I simply wrote out the letters with masking tape, spray painted over the whole thing to create a blotchy black pattern and peeled the masking tape back.

halloween wreath craft sign

Voila! A Creepy, Crawly, Halloween Wreath!

halloween wreath craft left

halloween wreath craft front

I also made these fun and easy gravestones. I used different sized paper bags I had lying around the house. Some of them had brand names and logos on the front, so I deconstructed the bags, turned them inside-out and stuck them back together.

I then wrote out my epitaphs or blocked them out with masking tape before hard-spraying (for the words) or soft-spraying for adding texture to the bag.

gravestone halloween craft

 

I’ll be lighting these from inside with candles for a party on Saturday! They’ll be lining the walkway up to the front door :)

gravestone halloween craft graveyard

Thanks for reading The Nookbook!

Tool Rack

So we have a million and one tools, nails, screws, drills, bits and bobs, all crammed into this one, very unattractive tool box- which, coincidentally, also was squashed by my husband motorbike in it’s first week in our home :/

I was constantly rummaging through dangerous spikes to try to find the most-used tools- so I decided to make a tool rack! It was super easy and I must say- now that it;s up we’ve already used it many times and it is so bright, colourful and neat that it makes me smile every time I see it!

Take a look through the steps below to make your own.

signature

A quick video of my completed tool rack sitting pretty in the laundry:

First of ally evaluate your tools one by one and put aside anything you would like to have on hand. For me this was mainly different sorts of screws and hammers, but for others this might be an assortment of nails and screws, different paint brushes or pens and textas.

Next think about how you would like to arrange AND affix these different items to your board. For me this meant measuring out the space above the washing machine in the laundry where I was going to hang the board and laying down my tools in the order I thought I’d organise them in. Take a photo at this stage so that when you go ahead with drilling holes everything fits as it should.

At this stage I started thinking about how I was going to affix the tools. All of my tools would stay up from dowel pegs (either under the handle, or looped through the middle) but you might consider hooks to hold rubber bands, cups to hold smaller paint brushes or even mini drawers to hold screws etc.

tool-rack-1

I then took myself off the Bunnings to get a piece of MDMF cut to size, pick up a pot of salmon sample paint plus waterproofing vinyl spray, a packet of wooden dowel pegs, a bracket to affix to the wall and two door hinges to affix my board to the bracket (as well as screws and nuts).

tool-rack-2
I painted the whole thing in two thin coats of salmon paint with a sample pot rolling brush. I think a fun colour really pops in a boring space like a laundry and makes gritty tools look much more appealing. I then sprayed the whole front and back of the board in waterproofing vinyl as it is going to be in the laundry.

Once dry, I placed all of my tools out on the board, referencing my earlier photo, and marked the centre of the spots for the dowel pegs with pencil- use a ruler over the top of the tools where possible to make the corresponding spot level. I then drilled a shallow mark in each spot while the tools where still on the rack- just to make sure the dowel would sit snug enough to hold the tools, but not too snug so the tools couldn’t actually fit!

Then I removed all the tools, lifted the board up and drilled all the way through- I used a drill bit that was just a bit smaller than the dowel pegs. I then hammered each through with a rubber mallet, drilled the hinges on and popped it up on the wall! Couldn’t be happier with my new easy to access tools :)

tool-rack-3

Thanks for reading The Nookbook!