DIY Lined Back Tab Curtains

September 8, 2014
Recently, had a sale on Premier Prints fabric in advance of Premier Prints’ permanent retail price increase.  I couldn’t resist and bought 5 1/2 yards of Zippy (big zig zags) Slub (looks like linen) in Navy to make new living room curtains.  zippy slub navy
There wasn’t anything seriously wrong with my living room curtains, but I couldn’t resist the easy room refresh, so I decided to make new curtains and fix a few things that did irk me about my old curtains.  Here was my list of “complaints”:
  1. They didn’t have back tabs, so they didn’t drape exactly how I like (I didn’t know what back tabs were when I made them).
  2. You could see the lining from the sides because the fabric and lining were the same width.
  3. The rod was too close to the window.
  4. The rod was too narrow.
  5. The rods had no finials.

Useful measurements

  • Curtain fabric: 55″ wide, including selvedge) x 100″ (2.75 yards plus an extra inch)
  • Lining fabric: Cut to 53″ x 100″
  • Each finished curtain: 53″ x 93″.

Step 1: Sew sides

Line up the right sides of the fabric and sew a seam down one side.  Then line up the other side and do the same.  Since the lining fabric is 2″ narrower, you need to move the fabric over to line up the 2nd side.

Flip your “tube” right sideout and iron both sides so that the side borders are the same width.  (Sorry, I am having trouble embedding this photo, but it’s pretty straightfoward.)

Step 2: Sew top, including tabs

Since my fabric is patterned, I needed to make sure the pattern started at the same place on both curtains so they’d look exactly the same.  To do this, I folded the top over about 4″ and then matched where that same pattern fold was on the 2nd curtain (about 6″).  Iron seams.

Iron a seam on the unfinished edge.

Cut 11 pieces of ribbon (about every 5″ apart).  The length depends on how wide your panels are.  Sew the wrong side of the ribbon ribbon to the right side of the fabric along the unfinished edge – both right sides are facing you.

curtain tab bottom

Fold the other end of the ribbon under and sew just below the 4″ seam.  Make sure you don’t sew it too close to the ironed seam because you don’t want the ribbon to show at all from the front.

curtain tab top

Fold 4″ seam over and unfinished edge seam under.  Flip to front of curtain and stitch across bottom seam.  This is the only seam that shows from the front.
Do the same thing with your second curtain making sure everything is the same because when they’re side by side, you’ll be able to tell if your two panels don’t match!

Step 3:

Hang your curtains up and mark where they’ll just hit the ground.  you can measure 93″ from the top, but I found actually hanging the curtains on the rod more accurate because the curtain may hang differently depending on where you put the tabs.

Iron bottom seam and raw edge.  Fold raw edge over and hem bottom with a straight stitch or if you want to be fancy, use a blind hem stitch at the bottom and fold in each end to make a small triangle.  (If you don’t know how to do this, google it.  It’s really not that hard and a good stitch to learn.)

Ta da!


(I know, I know.  Now that the curtains look really nice, our couch looks even worse.  It’s like when I painted the front door and then we had to paint our entire house!)

Budget for Curtains

  • Premier Prints Zippy Slub Navy, 5.5 yards – $40
  • Ikea Bomull, 5.5 yards – $11
  • 1 1/2″ wide ribbon – $1.50
  • Needles, thread – had these – $0
  • I purchased a new sheer curtain because my kids ripped the old one and buying one was the same price as making my own.  Ikea Vivan – $9.99
  • Total: about $63

Budget for Hardware

  • Curtain Rod for curtain – Ikea Hugad $5.99
  • Curtain Rod for lining (I could have spraypainted my gray one, but since they’re so cheap at Ikea, I just bought a new one) – Ikea Racka – $4.99
  • Curtain Brackets (The Hugad was too big for my old bracket, so I had to get new ones) – Ikea Betydlig- $1.98 x 3 = $5.94
  • Total: about $17

So overall not the cheapest makeover, but one that I hope will last a long time and way cheaper than buying such long curtains retail or from Etsy.

DIY Upholstering Armchairs

July 10, 2014

I’ll admit that I’ve been wanting to tackle a chair upholstery project for a while, but didn’t really want to spend money on a chair when I wasn’t sure if it would turn out well.  (That is pretty much my MO when it comes to upholstery!)  I actually almost bought a wingback recliner for $40, but got cold feet.  So, imagine how excited I was to get two armchairs for free from someone on Craigslist.  It looks like they gave up on the same upholstering project I was about to undertake.


It doesn’t actually look too bad in this photo, but the fabric wasn’t securely attached anywhere and the upholstery tacks were also loose.

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Under that was this gorgeous fabric that I think a professional “installed”.

And under that was the original fabulous floral fabric.  Who knows how long that’s been there?!





There are lots of great how to’s online, including this one and  this one, but I couldn’t find any that really explained how to do the seat deck (the part under the cushion) that attaches to the lip (material in front on the bottom), so I found this posting to be helpful in understanding and visualizing what I was working with.

The general consensus on the internet is that upholstery isn’t particularly hard, but takes a ton of time and patience.  The general attack plan, taking pictures all the while, is take the chair apart, keep and label all the pieces, use them as patterns, reassemble in the reverse order.  Many people say an electric staple gun is really helpful, but I didn’t mind using my manual one.

My chairs had 3 layers of fabric and I think that a professional upholstered the chair before the person I got it from because it seemed like that material was attached between wood, indicating the whole chair had been taken apart, not just the fabric being removed.  I decided that I would just remove 2 layers and leave the original floral fabric.

Materials (for each chair)

  • 3 1/2 to 4 yards of fabric – I think I would have made it with 3 1/2, but I got 4 to be safe.
  • Tack remover
  • Staple gun
  • Upholstery staples – size dependent on your chair
  • 1 1/2 yards of Pli-Grip (I didn’t use all 1 1/2 yards.  You don’t need this if your existing pieces are reusable.)
  • Hot glue gun and glue

Step 1: Deconstruction

I took a million pictures while deconstructing the chair to increase the chance I’d be able to put it back together.  Here are some to give you an idea of how tedious it was.  I think it took 6-8 hours.


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I labeled the fabric pieces as I went so that I could use them as pattern pieces and also kept a running list of what I took off in order so that I could reverse it when it came time to reassemble.  Here’s the list for reassembly:

  1. Seat Deck (requires sewing)
  2. Inside Arms
  3. Front Back
  4. Outside Arms
  5. Back Back
  6. Front of arms (4 pieces)
  7. Underchair fabric
  8. Cushion cover (requires sewing)

I purchased this tack remover, which is optional, but for $2.40 ($3.99 with 40% off), it’s not really optional at all.  I was surprised that very few sites I looked at re DIY upholstery mentioned this tool or anything like it.  This saved me hours and hours and a lot of emotional stress.


These were some areas that made me nervous about reconstructing:

  • The arm parts had this weird metal thing sticking out and I wasn’t sure how it worked.  (I ended up hammering it down and not using it.)
  • The parts with tacks looked like medieval torture devices and some of the metal tines got stuck in the chair, so I thought I might have to replace them.  (I was able to reuse some and replace some with pli-grip.)
  • The layered cardboard that attaches to the arm areas was cracked and I didn’t know where to get a replacement. (I got chipboard from an art store.  It worked great.)

The lesson here is don’t be scared.  You’ll figure it out.  Also, if you get stuck, there is this amazingly generous guy in Cape Cod who is a profession upholsterer who answers questions!

Step 2: Reconstruction

I wanted to reassemble the chair as soon as I could so I wouldn’t forget how it all went together.  Also, it seemed that after taking it apart, putting it together would be much faster, more fun, and more satisfying.  It’s kind of like moving.  Packing all your stuff up sucks, but it’s pretty fun to unpack and find new places for everything in your new house.  Though I had the best of intentions, this project dragged on for a while.  I did the first chair and wasn’t that thrilled with the navy blue fabric I picked.  So then it took me a while to pick a new fabric and get started on the 2nd chair.  The good news is that the 2nd chair was way faster because I knew what I was doing.  I feel really to tackle that wingback recliner now!  (Sorry T :P)

Make sure you move the batting so you can pull the fabric through and staple it to the wood frame.  Use new batting if necessary to provide a smooth base under the fabric.  It was easy enough to get the main pieces down, but the front arm areas were challenging because I wasn’t planning on using nailhead trim to cover up my staples, so I had to be very careful about staple placement.

When it came to the original metal tines, I tried it and it seemed tight enough even with a couple missing pieces.  There were some that didn’t have enough tines left, so I used Pli-Grip (google it for instructions).  I didn’t love it because it was hard to staple properly, but it did the trick.

I ended up using chipboard instead of the original front arm cardboard.  I cut two pieces of the same shape in a thinner and thicker piece of chipboard.  I put nails through the thin piece, then glued the thicker piece on top with hot glue.  Then I glue the fabric over that.  You can also use staples if your use shorter staples, but I didn’t want to buy a whole package of staples just for this.  The hot glue worked great.  Then I carefully hammered the nails into the chair.  The thicker chipboard kept the nails from poking through the fabric.  You can also use some hot glue to help hold the edges in place.

Here are some pictures of the navy chair (1st one) and then one of the gray polka dot chair (2nd one), which is way cuter.  I might redo the navy one so that they match because apparently I like to makeover my furniture twice (evidence)!

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 Step 3: Seat Cushion

The seat cushions are filled with down, which I was super stoked about.  I washed them in my washing machine before sewing the cover them because who doesn’t love clean, fluffy down?  The cushions are soooooooooooooooooooo luxuriously comfortable.  I love them!

Whoever tackled this project before me gave up before finishing the cushion cover, so I didn’t have a perfect guide, but I improvised by looking at the general shape of the inside cover holding the down in.  There were 3 pieces: top, bottom, 1 side piece.  I traced half of the top piece to made a paper pattern so that both sides would be symmetrical as I flipped it over.  I also added a long zipper to make the cover removable for cleaning, which turned out to be a great idea as one of my kids smashed raspberries in it the day after I finished!

(The cushion looks a little too big in this picture, but that’s just because it was a bit smooshed from being sat on.  When fluffed, it fits perfectly.)

Budget (per chair)

  • Fabric (Premier Prints Polka Dots Twill Storm) – $24
  • Tack remover – $2.40 (40% off $3.99)
  • Upholstery staples – $3.50
  • Pli-Grip – $3.70
  • Zipper – $3
  • Staple gun, thread, hot glue gun, glue – I had these already.

TOTAL: less than $40!

DIY Big Square Pouf

April 3, 2014

I was looking for something to cozy up C&R’s reading nook.  There’s a lovely plush, shag carpet, but we moved the couch that separated this area from the “active zone” (slide, basketball hoop, general mayhem) and I felt like it needed some type of barrier.

play room

I decided to make a few large throw pillow type things to create a “border”.  (Also, I have a teepee in the works and that will need some cozying up inside too.)pouf

Decisions, Decisions

Poufs are all the rage lately.  Round ones, rectangular ones, hexagonal ones.  Ones for kids, ones for adults.  They stack easily, which seems useful when you need to have more open space.  Very importantly, they seemed pretty easy to make, especially now that I am less intimidated by my sewing machine and buoyed by my glider makeover makeover success.

BeanSack Polka Dot Green Bean Bag ChairI ruled out beanbag chair fairly quickly because even though I love the classic, big beanbag chair for lounging, it seemed like too much for my purpose.  Also, because it’s round, you have to sew multiple non-rectangular panels together and I was kind of over that post-glider makeover makeover.

TurquoiseI thought about just making really big pillows like this one from Fatboy.  They seem kind of like beanbag chairs, but easier to make.  I decided they looked too sloppy and had the potential to become weapons (humongous pillow + out of control pillow fight = sad momma).

Poufs It Is

So, it’s pretty obvious that I decided to make poufs.  Most of the ones I saw online were pretty small, like just for sitting on, but I decided to make bigger ones so they could be for sitting, laying, and climbing between the tranquil reading nook and the mayhem filled “active zone”.  (Ha ha ha.  I crack myself up sometimes pretending like C&R actually distinguish between these zones!)

I decided to make 2 poufs that are 26″ x 26″ x 10″.

I originally was going to make the tops/bottoms a solid color because I didn’t like how the patterns would be mismatched if I didn’t, but it would have required extra fabric, so I decided to get over the mismatching and embrace a little chaos 😛

I used Premier Prints fabric.  The zig zag pouf is called Zoom Zoom and is in the color Summerland/Natural.  The geometric pattern is Magna in Lemon/Natural.  I purposely picked two fabrics that would go well with each other.  I like Premier Prints 7 oz cotton duck.  It’s thick enough for something like a pouf, but not hard to sew.

Materials (per pouf)

  • 1 1/2 yards fabric (54″ wide), washed/dried to avoid shrinking later
  • 22″ zipper
  • Thread (I like Coats Outdoor, but you could probably use other thread as long as it could sew threw thicker cotton.)
  • Stuffing (I used extra pillows and blankets we had.  You could also cut up old tshirts, sheets, etc into strips or buy foam.  It took a LOT to fill these large poufs, so if you’re buying stuffing, you might not want to make them this big.)

Step 1: Cut fabric pieces

For each pouf, cut (measurements including a 1/2″ seam allowance)

  • 2 – 53″x11″ – rectangular sides (52″x10″ without seam allowance)
  • 2 – 27″x27″ – top and bottom (26″x26″ without seam allowance)

If you are going to pattern match, when you are cutting, you need to pay attention to the pieces that will be lined up.  An alternative is to cut larger pieces and then trim later once you’ve matched.  Another alternative is to try to embrace random chaos in your patterns – I know, easier said than done.

A, B = top/bottom

C, D = sides

Step 2: Sew sides of sides (C, D)

Iron your seams so that your side is 26″ plus the seams.  Where you iron your seam should depend on how your pattern looks.  When you sew C and D together, they should look continuous.  Pin and sew the two sides of your sides together.DSC_0797_22014-04-03 14.50.09



I like to always iron and pin my seams.  Well, more accurately, when I iron and pin my seams, things turn out much better.  Sometimes I pretend I don’t need to do this and it doesn’t always turn out well.  I also like to use a sewing marker (ink disappears) to mark where the seam will end so I don’t oversew it and know when to turn my fabric.

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As you sew, remove the pins when you get close to them.


Step 3: Sew sides (C, D) to top (A)

Next, you’re going to sew the sides to the top.  This is slightly confusing to explain because each of your side pieces (C, D) is actually two sides, so I will refer to them as half sides and C and D as sides.  Start with the half of your long side that you want to pattern match and continue to do all 4 sides.  When you get to the end of each side, just leave your needle in, turn your fabric and keep sewing.  There’s no need to do each side separately.


Step 4: Sew sides (C, D) to bottom (B) and sew zipper in

Repeat step 3 except leave the last half side open for the zipper.  Pin the zipper in place.  I keep it closed so I make sure that each side is lined up.  Then I unzip it to sew each side of the zipper to the fabric.

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Since each side is 26″ and the zipper is 22″, you’ll need to sew 2″ on each end.  So sew 2″, then sew one side of the zipper.



Then, sew the other 2″ and sew the other side of the zipper.

Flip that pouf right side out and admire your work!



Step 5: Stuff

Stuff your pouf!  If I wasn’t using easily removable stuffing (like bean bag pellets or anything very small), I would have sewn an inner pouf with cheap material so the cover would be easy to take off and wash.

Since I was using blankets and pillows to stuff my poufs, they aren’t perfectly rectangular, but I’m okay with that.  If you’re not, you just need to be less haphazard about how you stuff whatever you’re stuffing.

All done!  Now grab a book, lay on your pouf, and relax.  Oh, I mean, show your kids what you made for them 😛




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  • $10-$12 – Material
  • $1.50 – Zipper
  • $2 – Thread

Total: About $15/pouf.