Upcycled Cable Knit Jumper Cushion Cover Tutorial

The clocks recently went back here in the UK, and now the nights seem darker and colder, it’s time to amp up the cozy in your home. If candles alone aren’t adding that snuggly feeling, it’s time to bring out the blankets, and double up on cushions and pillows.

I love the look of cable knit cushions come Autumn/Winter. I saw this Ralph Lauren one online, with it’s simple cable design, and minus the cashmere blend, knew I could create something very similar for a fraction of it’s £89 price tag.

I decided to look for a cream cable knit jumper I could upcycle, and scored the jackpot, when in the first charity shop I looked in, I found this cricket style jumper for a mere £1. Although the collar looked a little worn, the body of the garment is in excellent condition, and although it’s acrylic rather than cashmere, at least I have the added bonus of being able to chuck it in the washing machine, which is the very first step.

You will ideally need an overlocker for this tutorial. It is possible you could make it work with a couple of rows of zig zag stitches instead, but as that isn’t a method I’ve tried, I’ll let you make your own mind up on that one.

If you have a sweater without such a large V, you could make two simply rectangles or squares, insert a zip and have a nice straightforward cushion cover, not unlike the basic design of the Ralph Lauren one.

As my jumper had the deep V neck, I didn’t have the length I wanted in the front, and the back wasn’t large enough to create two squares from, so I knew I’d be doing a fold over design.

You want to overlock your pieces straight from the jumper. With a knitted piece like this, the chances are if you cut it first, it will be part way unravelled before you get it through your machine. I carefully serged up the sides, and across the top. Be careful to pay attention to the direction of your sewing, and that you are serging/overlocking your centre pieces, and not the edges around them.

imag3455imag3457Once you have your two rectangular pieces, you can play around with where you want to fold them, and work out if and how much excess you’ll need to overlock and cut off to give you your desired shape.

The next step is to sew the two wide, overlocked edges together (right sides facing). I recommend using pins to keep the two pieces in place, and try and line up the cables as best you can for the most professional finish.

Next, fold down the top, and then fold up the bottom section, and pin together. Where they overlap, in the middle, you will have a section that is three layers deep. Be careful with your machine, pin everything, and sew slowly.

imag3461Because of the deep folded over section, there is no need to add a closure, however if you want to, you could always add buttons and button holes, a zipper, velcro, whatever you fancy. I left mine as is because it worked fine, and kept the final cushion nice and soft with no harsh bits in the centre back.

Et voila! Your very own cable knit jumper cushion. I’m really pleased with how it turned it. If you decide to try it out, please let me know in the comments below!

For now, with love,
Ellen

Kitchen Tile Paint – Stage 2

If you read my previous post, Kitchen Tile Paint – Stage 1, you’ll know my first job was to scrub scrub scrub. I scoured and scraped, washed, bleached and rinsed. And finally the tiles were squeaky clean. Next job, grouting.

I’m not sure why the original tiles weren’t originally grouted, perhaps it was the fashion then, perhaps the homeowners just decided not to do it (the tiling was very much a DIY job, if the unevenness is anything to go by!). But for a good smooth paint finish with no nasty dark lines in between, I had to grout. And this was a little more difficult than it would have been with professionally laid tiles.

Because the tiles were only roughly straight, and at varying thicknesses next to each other, across the whole wall, no two grouting gaps were alike. They varied hugely in width and depth. With a bit of trial and not too much error, either a damp cloth or finger was enough to smooth some grout into the gaps. I just ran my finger between it, wiped off any excess with another damp cloth and called it satisfactory. It looked perfectly fine.

What was impressive, was how much of a difference it made to the wall! When you look at the photos side by side I certainly think the tiles look better grouted. I also filled in a couple of holes from where the old extractor fan had been, and was nearly done. I just had to let the grout dry overnight, and give the tiles one last thorough clean and rinse and I was ready to paint.

Coming up will be Stage 3, the painting, so stay tuned for that one, and some almost final pictures. (I still have the ceiling and non-tiled wall to paint).

For now, with love,
Ellen

Kitchen Tile Paint – Stage 1

When we purchased our house last year, we always knew how much potential it has. And how beautiful it will be once we’ve worked on and updated it. Because at present, it is very, very outdated.

The upstairs rooms will just need some basic decorating, while the living area and extension are getting some more in-depth treatment. We’re focussing on this area first as it’s very labour intensive, and being the room we use the most, the most important to us.

Obviously, we use the kitchen every single day too (I always cook at home, every evening) however, it needs to be completely ripped out and replaced. This is expense we simply cannot afford at present, whilst we’re also saving for our wedding next year.

We made some basic adjustments. My darling fiance removed most of the kitchen units and rearranged them to make space for a tall fridge freezer, our washing machine etc. It’s functional, and usable, and the idea was that we would keep it as is until after the wedding when we can start to think about replacing it.

However, we’ve lived here about eight months now, and I’m just not sure I can bear the gaudy seventies coloured brown and patterned tiles any longer. In fact, I know I can’t.

Red is a fairly popular colour in modern kitchens, and some would probably even like the eccentric and vintage styling of our kitchen, but it’s really not to my personal tastes. I much prefer cool tones, white and blue especially. And my least favourite decorating colours happen to be red, brown, orange and yellow. Which are in abundance in this kitchen. I just can’t do it anymore! I have no option with the tomato-red worktop, that will have to stay, and painting it does not seem an option when it needs to be wiped clean on a several-times-a-day basis, so the plan is to neutralise everything else as much as possible. Yes, that may make the red work surface stand out, but it will still be better than it’s current state. And of course, also feel cleaner and fresher.

So with a quick Google, I read a few reviews and blog posts about ceramic tile paint, and my mind was made up. I’m going to paint the tiles white, re-paint the ceiling and the painted wall white again with regular emulsion, and possibly even paint the cupboard doors too, depending on how I’m feeling at that stage.

I don’t have a great base to work with – the tiles are authentically 1970s, and with them came along a lot of dirt, a lack of grouting, and a couple are damaged here and there. The first step is to thoroughly clean them. Really thoroughly. (I did, and have done so between buying the house and now, but I need to be even more thorough this time!) Then, I’ll attempt to re-grout. Because they’re not nice and level, this won’t be an easy or straightforward job, but it will still make the finished look more presentable than if I don’t grout.

So at the moment I’m just going to have a really good clean, and then I’ll get on with the grouting process and update you. I’m really excited to start painting them, but know how important the first steps are to ensure a good, long lasting finish.

I chose the Wilko brand tile paint based on the reviews, and the past experiences I’ve had with other Wilko’s paint and decorating products. It is reasonably priced at £13.95 for 750ml, which with 6m² coverage will be enough if only a single coat is required. If not, a second can will be necessary, but I’ll purchase that if and when I need it. I can’t wait to tone down the look of this room!

I’ll keep you updated with the project. In the meantime, if you have any experience with tile paint, or are planning on using it, please share in the comments below.

For now, with love,
Ellen

Easy DIY Abstract Canvas

Artwork doesn’t have to cost the earth. I don’t have a tutorial for you at the moment, as these are canvases I made a couple of years ago, but they were super simple, and my recommendation for this type of art is always just ‘have a go and try some stuff out!’ anyway.

So, back story. When we moved into our last rented house, it had black and grey feature wallpaper in the master bedroom which wasn’t very appealing to me. I don’t like dark colours, especially not in bedrooms, and I don’t particularly like wallpaper (as a general rule, I’ll admit, on occasion it can look quite nice).

Luckily, however, we had a fantastic landlord and landlady who didn’t mind me doing a little decorating.

OFF CAME THE WALLPAPER! Yippee! Amazingly, it peeled straight off, and with a little sugarsoaping they were ready to paint. I went with a zingy, fresh green, it’s my Fiancé’s favourite colour and I just wanted something lighter than the black. One afternoon later and we had new feature walls. But they were a little bland.

Amazingly, I have a rubbishy photo of them in the old house, with the green walls!
Amazingly, I have a rubbishy photo of them in the old house, with the green walls!

Luckily I had some blank canvases in, and I always have my paint box full of acrylics, emulsion tester pots and random bits and bobs, so one more afternoon and I had something pretty for my walls.

I used the same green emulsion I had used on the walls as the base colour for the canvases, and stippled lots of white and yellow, and other shades of lime and mint green in to give a textured look, and added some contrasting pinks and purples to the top. I wasn’t a huge fan of how that turned out, and went back over with more blues and white until I was happy, and had created the three pictures you see in the photographs.

They were a great, cheap and cheerful way to add some colour to the walls, to tie in the green paint considering we had nothing else that matched in the room, and when we moved to our new home, were easy to chuck back up on the walls and add a bit of interest until we get around to redecorating the bedroom.

I definitely recommend making your own canvas designs before buying off the highstreet. It’s the best way to add a really personal, perfectly matched (or perfectly contrasting) touch to your décor. And it doesn’t break the bank.

For now, with love,
Ellen

Designers Guild Franchini Fabric Bargain

Hi,

IMAG1474
When I first found this fabric on eBay, I had no idea what it was. I even quibbled about the price of the postage (two thirds of the starting bid), especially when I won the item, and noticed how cheap the postage actually was on the parcel. I paid £12.50 in total for 1.5 metres of the stuff.

A few weeks later, I was browsing the web, looking for inspiration for our new house, and came across this beautiful cushion by Designers Guild. I was simply searching through Google, and found this on amara.com, a website I hadn’t visited or used before. It’s no longer available there, but you can still find the images online.

1franchini-cobalt-cushion
I was struck by how similar the fabric was, and on further investigation, I discovered it’s not just similar, but the identical fabric. I managed to score a metre and half of this fabric for £12.50. The stuff retails for around £100 a metre!

It’s 100% pure silk taffeta, in the cobalt and white colourway and I love it. My plan when I bought it (simply labeled as ‘upholstery fabric’) was to cover the seats of two of our dining chairs, and make a matching cushion if there was enough left over.

The colour really is gorgeous. I love how saturated the deep cobalt blue is, and the slight sheen the fabric has gives a fabulous mix of tones when the light catches it just right.

1franchini-cobalt-cushion-40x40cm
If I can find the perfect shade, I’d like to paint the chairs in the matching blue first, re-cover the seats, and have them as the two feature dining chairs to the table and it’s four matching chairs (which I’d like to paint white). This project would be quite far off – we will finish the living room first and then, possibly over Summer, I might tackle stripping and painting the table and chairs, but that gives me plenty of time to figure out how best to use the fabric anyway.

If you have any experience of a similar project, feel free to share your ideas and tips!

For now, with love,

Ellen