Gail's Nest · Refashion

Painting an Upholstered Chair


So I had this old chair that my husband picked up (he actually picked up two of them) for only a few dollars each. They had been chairs that sat in a waiting room of a doctor’s office or something, and as you can see, are of the most drab gold colored fabric. When I was painting the ceiling of the room this chair was in, I stood on it and managed to dribble paint. Well, that was that. Something needed to be done or I was going to have to throw it out.

In researching online what I could possibly do to rescue this chair, I came across instructions on painting upholstery. Could I do it? Does it not rub off on your pants when you sit down? Does it not get crackly? The consensus out there was: YES I could do it. NO it does not rub off, and NO it doesn’t get crackly. So off I went to the paint store.

I bought a chalk paint in a pale mint color that I thought would be a more updated look. And began to work.

First, I “painted” a section with just water, getting the fabric damp. Then I watered down my paint so it was pretty dribbly. ThisJpeg felt like it could be messy, but I reminded myself I was “dyeing” the fabric, not really painting it. Then only painting the sections I had wetted, I began to apply the color. When I was done with that section, I repeated the process of wetting the fabric, and applying the color, making sure I got into the chair’s crevices.


As you can see, I taped the chair frame to avoid getting paint on the woodwork. But since the paint is watered down, it sometimes dribbled down the legs. I just kept a wet rag nearby to wipe up my dribbles quickly. But good ol’ Goof Off does a good job getting any residual dried paint off woodwork.

After the first coat dried, I used a #220 sandpaper to sand the paint. Then I put a second coat on, proceeding exactly like the first: wetting sections, painting with watered down paint, etc. Then again, after it dried, I sanded, and put on a third coat.

Lastly, I applied a coat of wax. I used a wax that I got at Walmart. It dried beautifully and sealed in the paint. I am so happy with the results!

So… in summary, here are the steps:

  1. Prep: tape up your woodwork, and pour a little paint into a pan with a little water.
  2. Use a brush to wet down a section.
  3. Paint with the watered down paint.
  4. Wet down another section, and paint that section.
  5. Allow 24 hours to dry.
  6. Sand. Do a second and maybe a third coat.
  7. After the last coat is dry, apply a wax to the fabric.
  8. Take off your tape. Use Goof-Off to take off any residual paint




Gail's Nest · Pattern Review · Refashion · Sewing Project

Refashioners Challenge 2018 – Inspired By

This year’s Refashioners Challenge put out there by sewist and blogger, Portia Lawrie of the UK, is to take a popular designer or fashion icon out there and mimic his/her masterpiece with an old, tired, thrifted piece.

Sooooooooooo…here’s what I did:

Really this project came at the right time because I’ve been planning on making a winter coat for myself for 10 months now. I have quite the pinterest board on coats and patterns. I knew I wanted a 1960s style coat. Jackie Kennedy’s style has appealed to me for awhile and her famous/ infamous Oleg Cassini leopard coat was probably the most amazing thing she ever wore:


I say “famous” because when she wore it she stunned everyone everywhere. I say “infamous” because it was so crazy popular that everyone wanted one and the leopard population nearly became extinct. Oleg Cassini was quoted as saying he regretted making it. I think he underestimated how much of a fashion icon Jackie Kennedy was.


When I walked into my local “Sally Ann’s Boutique” (aka Salvation Army) I saw this fleece bathrobe. BINGO!!


Yeah. Hmm. I know. My husband just laughed at me when I put it on. This was a definite rescue operation.

So my first step was to “unpick” it apart. (BTW – why do sewist say “unpick”? I don’t get it. Aren’t we “picking” it? We’re picking apart the seams, right? Un-pick would mean to undo picking which would mean to put it together. Where do we get “unpick”? Anyway… that’s what I was thinking about while I did this tedious task.


I decided on The Ellsworth Coat pattern by Christine Haynes.


It required a lining fabric and while fleece is warm I knew I wanted a REALLY warm coat to get through the weeks of below zero (fahrenheit) Ithaca, NY weather. I pulled out a thick black soft fleece from my stash (really it was from a failed attempt to make a coat back in March).


Look at that pile of pattern pieces! I was going to make a few adjustments on the pattern because the fabric from the robe wasn’t going to be quite enough.

I decided on using the lining fabric for the yoke and collar. Also, I chose to eliminate the pockets on the front. Jackie’s coat had side pockets and I would rather have them too so I planned to insert the pockets from the robe right into my coat.


Here’s the coat in process:


Jackie’s coat had 3/4 sleeves so I saved precious leopard print by adding my lining fabric at the bottom, giving the sleeves a 3/4 look but giving me the full length I wanted.

Now it was going to need awesome buttons so I searched my stash, Joann’s, and ebay and settled on these black paisleys.Jackiecoat3-1

So here’s the finished project:

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No leopards harmed in the making!!




Gail's Nest · Pattern Review · Refashion

Refashioner’s Challenge 2017 #Suits You My Second Entry – A Jumper!

Presenting… my second entry:


If you read my previous post you know I’ve entered the Refashioner’s Challenge 2017. This is the third year I’ve participated. Each year Portia Lowrie of the UK challenges the global refashioning community to make something out of a used garment. The first year I participated the challenge was to make something out of a men’s shirt. I made a mini-jacket.  The second year the challenge was to make something out of jeans. I did a patchwork jacket.

So I guess I like jackets because I submitted my remake of a man’s suit:


You can read about the process here. 

Anyway… all that as way of introduction to my second entry of this year’s contest. And this one IS NOT a jacket!

So here is how I got to this place…

First it started with a trip to the thrift store. I went to the Goodwill in Ashland, OH where I found four suits for $12! I chose 2 suits out of the 4 I bought for my jumper:


My inspiration for the project came from a bit of history. French designer, Yves St. Laurent, back in the 60s designed a dress called the Modarian. His inspiration was from a painting by Piet Modarian:


Next, I chose a pattern:


My next step was to dye the suits. I used a dark blue that more or less matched the color of the wool suit but gave the yellow one a bluish hue. Then came the big step of deconstructing:

It was tricky to lay out the pattern. I wanted to keep a chest pocket in the skirt. At times I had to fold the pattern piece in half and plan to put in an extra seam so I could cut out everything I needed:

I picked out a cotton lining fabric that would contrast nicely with the blue. It was a cherry red with polka dots. I decided to also use it to accent with my color blocking:


I ended up using it to line the whole dress because the back of a deconstructed suit is really a sight to behold. It’s full of seams, interfacings, pockets, etc. In addition, the wool would be scratchy otherwise, so it made sense to just line the whole thing:


I found these amazing buttons at an antique store in Hammondsport, NY.  They are made from black glass and I thought they would look nice on my Modarian dress:


In the end, the overall look was fun. This was an easy pattern for intermediate sewers. Here are more finished pics:




Gail's Nest · Pattern Review · Refashion

“Suits You” Refashioner’s Challenge 2017

For the third year now, I’ve participated in the Refashioner’s Challenge put on by Portia Lowrie of the UK. This year she declared the challenge to be men’s suits. So the goal is to make a refashion out of an old suit. All last month she posted featured bloggers who used their creative geniuses to give the rest of us some inspiration. My favorites included this women’s jacket made from a suit and the cami made from its lining.   Another awesome make was this gorgeous coral linen dress made from a thrift store find. I also really liked this loose fitting vest that could go over just about anything.

So… off to the thrift store for me. I was visiting my daughter, Lydia, in OH, and went to the Goodwill there. It just so happened that there was a sale! You really feel like you find pirate’s treasure when you find a sale at a thrift store! So I picked out four suits that suited me and it cost a whopping $12 for all four!


So there was plenty to work with. Now… what do I choose to make? On to pinterest for ideas! I’ve always admired a nice Coco Chanel jacket:


My other favorite sewing blogger is Lisa Comfort from Sew Over It.   She recently release her own version of the Coco Jacket:


It would be a double challenge for me to do this pattern, which of course starts with a pdf print out, and harvest the material from an old suit. But I love a good challenge. So onward!

The first thing I did, after choosing which of the four I’d use, was wash and then dye the suit. I actually dyed it a similar color to even out the coloring and cover up a couple of stains.



The next step was to unpick the suit apart, which meant to separate the lining. I decided to cut out the sleeves and just adjust them and resew them back in.


Then it was all about preparing the pattern and figuring out how to lay out the pieces. I soon realized the pattern pieces weren’t all going to fit. So I used the lining material I purchased to create a back panel.


I liked the chest pocket so I left that intact.


The finished garment looks like this:



The pattern instructions were clear and overall I was pleased with the result. Next time I do this I will unpick the sleeves and re-cut them according to the pattern as I wasn’t super happy about how they ended up looking in spite of my adjustments.

I plan to give this a second go with another suit. So stay tuned!

What will YOU do? Go to Refashioner’s Challenge to find out how to enter.



Gail's Nest · Refashion

Refashioning a Too-Small Skirt

One of my favorite Ithaca, NY stores on the Commons is Petrune. It’s a vintage clothing store. You never know what you’ll find. My latest visit turned up a 70s skirt whose pattern I loved but whose size was too small!


I immediately noticed the length and the large hem. The light bulbs went off! I could take out the hem, thereby lengthening the skirt further, and then cut the whole skirt off below the zipper in the back! So I spent the $8 and bought it.


As I enjoyed a favorite television show I unpicked the hem.


I discovered that the hem had been doubled up so when I unpicked there was another hem already in place. When I lowered the hem I saw the “rest of the picture” of the print. So pretty! Now it just needs a good ironing.


I carefully measured the length of the dress from the bottom of the zipper to the end of the hem. I marked the measurement (happened to be 18 inches). I did this all around the skirt so I would cut the top off evenly.


I know – it’s scary, isn’t it? Once you cut into a garment there’s no turning back.


Now I have a skirt that is long enough and wide enough to fit me. All I need to do now is make a waist casing for elastic.

skirt 3

I simple folded over the top of the skirt a layer that would be wide enough to insert the elastic. When you sew it in place, be sure to not sew it entirely closed! Leave an inch or so opening for the elastic. When the elastic is through then you can sew it closed.


And that’s it!

Well – I also indulged in another purchase at Petrune. I found a top that happened to have a similar pattern and color and I thought would look so cute with the skirt. But I was aghast that it cost $24! But these places sometimes will negotiate so I was so pleased that the gal working there that day accepted my offer of $18.




Gail's Nest · Refashion

A Refashion of Wrap-Around Pants

My mother-in-law gave me an outfit she had bought years ago from a trip to the Caribbean island of Antigua. It is silky and cool, but odd. She wore it a few times and then gave it to me suggesting I refashion it.


When I laid out the pants they looked like this:


It’s certainly a clever design! You have straddle the opening and then it wraps around the waist. Anyway, I knew I wouldn’t wear them as is, so I found a skirt pattern in my stash that I thought would work well with the fabric:


And so, it was an easy thing to lay out the pattern pieces on the pants – there was plenty of fabric. I simply pinned and cut!


This is an extremely easy pattern and so I just followed the sewing directions and it came together rather quickly.



The matching top was a little big on me so I took it in on the sides. It’s a nice cool, updated outfit for our upstate New York summer!



Gail's Nest · Refashion

Refashion Challenge Reveal

Our mother/ daughter refashion challenge is partly finished! Here is my big reveal…

First, you may recall that Lydia sent me very large burnt orange pants and a cute sundress:



I made the pants into a skirt. It’s tricky laying pattern pieces on the limited fabric of pants because you have to avoid the pockets and seams. So I added fabric from the dress to compensate.


Then from the dress I made a top with an overlay to make the dress more practical and comfortable for work.


Here’s some pics of the process:


This pattern was my inspiration for the top.



The full effect:







I wore a black tank top underneath since it was a little chilly that day.

And now… it’s back to you, Lyd!! What will you do with those 2 maxies?

Gail's Nest · Refashion

Refashion Challenge – The Before (Gail)

Two Nests One Tree

Lydia and I are doing a mother/ daughter refashion challenge. If you have been following us you know that I sent her 2 thrifted items (total cost: $10), that she received in the mail and it’s up to her to create something new for herself out of them.

Then Lyddie gave me 2 thrifted items and I was to do the same. Here are the items she sent me:


Yeah. Thanks, Lyd! The burnt orange pants are huge, the sun dress is not my style and shows a little too much skin for my comfort zone. But the colors match and I think my creative juices are flowing!  Stay tuned for the reveal! Coming up later this week!

Lydia's Nest · Refashion

Refashion Challenge: The Before (Lydia)

It’s here! I got the package from my mom containing the thrift store items she picked out for me to refashion/ (Confused? Check out this post for an overview of what’s happening!) wanna see?

So these are the items i get to change. I haven’t done anything yet besides try them on.

There are two maxi dresses. They are both strapless. The animal print one is a light peachy nude color, made with chiffon fabric and an elastic waistband. The blue one is cotton and has a stretchy, smocked top. Here’s what they look like on (I kept a comisole on underneath so thats what the straps are).

I like that this dress has a nice drape.  The fabric is light and flowy, whic will be fun to work with! The top part is unlined, so that will need to change. 

This dress has a nice feel- the cotton fabric is very soft. Also, I love the print! You cant see in the pictures, but its a little short. 

I haven’t totally decided what I want to do with these yet. If you have any ideas, let me know!



Lydia's Nest · Refashion

Quick Fix: Too-Tight Blouse

Hey guys!

Can you believe it’s March already? I feel like we barely had a winter!

I’ve been working on a few quick and easy projects that I’m excited to show you. Sometimes its hard to actually sew a big project when you have a wee one in the house, so these easy, hour-long (if that!) projects help me get my sewing fix in.

I’ve had this flannel for a while, and I love it. Its super cute, with the fun trim along the front. The problem is, its too tight for me across the chest – when it is buttoned, I can’t lift my arms and I get a bad “button gap”. The dressform is adjusted to my measurements, to give you an idea:

See how it pulls across the shoulders in the back? Not comfortable!

So I decided that I needed to fix this, by adding a panel of lace to the back. Here’s how:

First I measured how long the shirt was, from the bottom of the collar to the hem. Then, I cut up the center back, leaving the collar intact.

Then, I took an old lace curtain I had laying around, and cut out a triangle with the bottom edge along the finished hem of the curtain, and the other two sides the length of the back measurement I took. (sorry I forgot to take pics of that!). I used the finished hem of the curtain in order to save a step, and because it was pretty, haha. If you don’t use pre-finished fabric, then add 1″ to the length measurement and hem the insert piece before the next step.

Also, you’ll notice that the hem of the lace curves slightly. That’s because the center back is now shorter than the sides of the piece I added (#geometry). This doesn’t bother me, but if you want it to hang straight, you will need to draft a curve into the bottom edge, and then hem it.

Then, I sewed it in, first right sides together and then topstiched so the raw edges would stay under the flannel portion and not show under the lace.

And that was all! Easy peasy, and now I have a cute flannel I can actually button!

Have a wonderful day!

Love, Lydia