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Category Archives: Fabric

We started out this year’s festive season—as you do—with a day-long marathon of vintage chair re-upholstering.  Yes, I had bought a lovely specimen (read:  sagging, dusty number with potential) online to act as the final flourish in a multi-coloured spectacle of seats collected from assorted corners around the house.

Dusty, vintage wooden chair with upholstery (falling off)

Some of you are aware that I have a slight um… chair acquisition problem.  I love ‘em.  Each one has its own little personality, its own unique flair.  They are like perfect snowflakes:  unique and special in all the world.

Why are you rolling your eyes?

However, this is not one of those times when I succumbed to the power that is a snowflake/chair vortex.  My excuse for this one is that I GENUINELY NEEDED IT to go with the newly-acquired kitchen table (handed down via my uncle, aunt and with a small detour via my cousin, but which actually used to be my grandparents where we ate Roast Beef and Leathers for decades – yes, that really is a thing – just stay with me.)  But, when the vintage, internet, snowflake chair arrived home, I remembered that old saying that “objects on the internet are smaller than they first appear” (except, of course, for certain American politician-wannabe’s hair and evil-ness) and realized that the chair was, well, to phrase it in holiday terms:

Slightly elf-sized.

chair stripped of all its upholstery and sanded

I am approximately 11 feet tall in my red-and-white-striped Santa socks, but, seeing as how it was soon to be the season of all things merry and I am also a soft touch when it comes to underdogs and sad, forgotten objects that look unloved and are sure to be the last item on the auction table that no one wants, I immediately fell in love with the chair’s elf-sized proportions and proceeded to pull it up to the table with the rest of its rag-tag companions.

Gingerbread crumbs!  It was, indeed, a vertically-challenged chair but, not wanting to hold that against it just because I happen to have knee caps that start higher than most, I opted to move another um… necessary chair to the kitchen (requiring re-painting and a seat cover re-do) and use the new, toy-making-sized specimen with my also vertically-close-to-gravity dressing table, instead.

The sound of giggling elves would have filled my head were it not for the seat springs of torture and upholstery of doom.  There followed muttering, upholstery tack pulling, fabric ripping, straw removal, more muttering, sanding, priming, painting and other blah, blah, blah that all goes under the un-desirable category in my mind called “prep”.

primed hair

I am not a fan.  Thus, I justifiably consoled myself with holiday libations in the form of truffle hot chocolate, so there!

However, all of this blah, blah, blah was in the name of getting ready for the main event, my favourite part:  the festooning, the fancifying, which was, in this case, the upholstering of the elvish chair into a thing of petite beauty.

chair painted pale green, no upholstery yet

It’s a small chair, I thought.  Positively elvish in proportions.  Even though the swoopy, curly bits of the back looked a wee bit tricky to me, I figured it would take a couple of hours, tops.

Um…yeah.

Practical Man spent a Sunday wielding a staple gun for approximately six hours straight, when he had intended to be spending a Sunday wELding (not wIELding) something fun on to his currently derelict but FREE fishing boat.  I therefore tried to appear innocent and unconnected to the Elvish Chair of Evil and do my penance by untangling the outdoor Christmas lights.

Which, were, of course NOT tangled because Practical Man had put them away and so, yes, they were labelled and wound in very orderly fashions on some kind of thing-a-ma-bobs that probably started life as something else like a bedroom slipper or a supersonic carrot peeler but have lately been wrestled into submission into something that you wind Christmas lights on to keep them labelled and orderly and not only that but they were secured further with twist ties so as to not escape the labelling and orderliness into which they had been placed.

So much for my penance.

I attempted to atone by flinging Christmas lights with festive flair into the bushes in front of our front porch, so if you happen to be driving by, it’s my fault they look like that.  I re-fueled with more truffle hot chocolate and some flirting with the upholsterer to keep his spirits dashing and dancing while he did battle with fabric, fluff and staples.

The elf chair is nearly finished, but for the part that involves me heating up the not-so-innocent-sounding glue gun (my first clue that I shouldn’t be using a tool with this label) and burning myself repeatedly while attempting to adhere some kind of ribbon-y stuff–whose technical name is bric-a-brac. rick-rack, Cadillac or something–to hide the 6 hours of stapling that Practical Man worked so hard to perfect.

finished chair with pink flowered upholstery

Anyhoo, it’s a magical chair and I think Santa will help with the final touches.

The Mensa puzzle calendar on the desk (not mine–I know you are shocked to learn) says Wednesday, October 15 and now, fresh from a day of Christmas shopping in nearly 13 degree weather in the middle of December in southern Ontario, I am slightly confused about what season it is.

But, the arrival of the first batch of fast-tracked Syrian refugees yesterday to Canada has reminded me:  it’s the time when we invite those we love and also, those less fortunate, to come a little closer.  A time for the elf chairs and all the others to celebrate together at our grandparents’ precious table.

Whatever the language or constructs of each of our faiths or beliefs, it’s the season of hope, of giving, of kindness and peace.

(And lots and lots of cookies, hurray!)

From our house and hearts, we wish you Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2016.

 


I am currently reading the book, Wonder and in it, there are a number of precepts.

Am I the only one who had to pause to remember what “precepts” meant?

I hope not, but, just in case I am not the sole grade-3-spelling-bee-champ-with-an-adult-onset-short-term-memory-deficit-for-proper-nouns, here’s a refresher:   precepts are mottos;  wise sayings;  noble rules by which to conduct one’s life.

It is important to have precepts.  Especially ones like this one:

“Never admit that using your e-reader is a clever way to find out the meaning of a word in a book designed for middle-school children.”

Anyway.

I have another precept:  Fake It ‘Til You Make It.

(Precepts get taken more seriously when they are written with a few capital letters).

My precept is not to imply that I advocate fibbing or mis-representation or passing off that 7 layer cake you got from the artisan bakery as your own work (although having had my own layer cake trauma, I could almost understand if you felt compelled to do that).

No, what I mean is, be your authentic, flawed and wonderful self and then go ahead and FAKE IT ‘TIL YOU MAKE IT.

(Okay, so all caps is just too obnoxious, even for a precept).

Yep, instead of wallowing in your insecurities and all the things you just can’t do (although goodness knows, that’s fun on a cloudy afternoon with a box of ice cream), pretend you know how.  Just for a little while, make the little voice in your head say, “Ha!  This will be a breeze!  I am great at knitting daisies/folding kirigami trees/building swings/crafting papier mache chandeliers/drawing purple elephants using my elbows” and then, as the megalo-maniac athletics company says:  JUST DO IT.

(See, their precept, while lovely, is just a tad obnoxious with the all caps thing).

But, get on with it and maybe, just maybe, you will find that you actually can, after all.

I Fake It ‘Til I Make It all the time.  In fact, I have recently convinced myself that I can play guitar, even though I only learned three-and-a-half chords around age 12.

blue, acoustic guitar

Practical Man gave me this blue guitar for Christmas. I love it!

And now, a few short weeks later, I sort of CAN play guitar.

I’m constantly Just Doing Things I can’t do.  Faking It ‘Til I Make…something.

Like fabu-lizing my father’s old guitar case from 1964.

Dad's black guitar case from 1965

I had already festooned it with a few stickers after he gave it to me recently but, even though I adore festooning, that wasn’t Just Doing It for me, so, I came up with the idea to jazz it up with some vintage fabric I had lying around (jazzing up is like festooning on steroids).

1 metre/yard of vintage, colourful fabric

Vintage fabric – approx. 1 metre/yard

Practical Man suggested that first, we fix it.

guitar case with assorted clamps attached for first aid

After all, this case is from 1964.

And by “we”, I mean “he”:

I don’t have a lot of patience for the clamping and gluing, the molding and re-laminating.  But not Practical Man.  He is a big fan of clamps.  With a handful of clamps, he is one happy clamper.

Ha!

After all the first aid, I finally got to play with the fabric.

Well, actually, Practical Man suggested that it would be a good idea to iron the fabric, first.   The Faking It ‘Til I Make It project nearly ended right there because nobody told me that there was going to be ironing involved in this extravaganza.

Ironing was not part of my fabu-lizing plan.  It is the very definition of anti-fabu-lizing.

But, I took a deep breath and I Faked It Like I Was A Person Who Ironed.

iron on top of fabric

This was almost the end of my Faking It ‘Til I Make It. I don’t love ironing.

Then, it was back to the joy again as I got my nifty pinking shears (that’s just fun to say) and snip, snipped out the guitar shape from the very lovely, newly-ironed, vintage fabric:

guitar shape fabric cut out

I contemplated just varnishing this on to the floor because wouldn’t it be fun to have a flowery guitar inlaid into the floor?

Please ignore that whisper of fold near the top.  No amount of Faking It or steam could help me flatten that.  Also, I didn’t have quite enough full pieces of fabric so the bottom of the case is in two pieces, sewn together.  I Fake It While I Say Bad Words and Sew quite frequently so this was not too traumatic.

two fabric pieces, pinned together at the neck of the guitar

Luckily, straight line sewing on linen, non-wiggly fabric. Not too many bad words.

Because of the scarcity of this vintage fabric, we decided to fabu-lize the sides of the guitar in other ways:  using paint and tape.  I was eager to get on with the Faking It While I Painted It but Practical Man reminded me that we should tape the inside of the case so it wouldn’t get red paint all over it.

Very thorough taping/papering ensued.

I may have rolled my eyes and sighed loudly, a couple of times.

guitar case taped with newspaper

So important. So not fun.

Then, came the painting.  Practical Man doesn’t have to Fake It ‘Til He Makes It while painting so he took the reigns and the spray can and got down to business.  This being red, it took a few coats.

guitar case being painted

 

Then, there was waiting.

Between coats.

And after the final coat, for curing.

Waiting, waiting.

Finally, it was time for the fun fabric-izing!  We covered the lid of the guitar case with white glue, using cheap paint brushes.  Then, quickly, quickly, carefully, carefully, we laid down the fabric on top.  We smushed it all down so that it all made contact with the glue, then we quickly, quickly, before it could dry, painted a thick layer of glue on top and worked out any bubbles we found to seal the fabric in.

guitar case with glued fabric (whitened while drying)

We used white glue (dries clear). You could also use Mod-Podge (basically thinned, more expensive white glue)

Then, we had brandy to recover from the stress.

Just kidding.

It was chocolate milk in a fun glass.

More waiting while the magic happened:  the glue turned clear when it dried!

Once it was fully dry, we turned the case over and applied the second piece of fabric to the bottom.

More quickly, quickly.

More stress.

More brandy (not really).

More waiting.

I do a lot of Faking It ‘Til I Make Like I Enjoy Waiting.

One day or a hundred years later, it was time to tape!

rainbow coloured duct tape

Oooh, quite stressful as well.

Using an exacto-knife, the tape, and nerves of steel, Practical Man and I carefully applied the tape to the edges of the lid, making “relief” cuts using the exacto knife on the tape when needed, to go around the underside of the curves.

Not only does the tape look fun, but it also strengthened the 51 year-old rim.

the edge of the case, taped

we cut around the hinges and buckles.

YAY, I thought.

We’re done!

No, no, not so fast there, Speedy Gonzales.

Practical Man reminded me that spraying the whole thing to protect it, was a good plan.  I agreed but, honestly, that was before I realized that spraying meant scraping off all the excess, dried, clear glue that was on the edges (so that it wouldn’t crack and turn white every time we set the case down on the floor) and also:

Taping.  The.  Whole.  Case.  Again.

Guitar Case, nearly finished with tape and paper all over it again

I am Faking It While We Tape It

 

I wish I drank brandy.

guitar case propped open on table

But, it is starting to look beautiful, don’t you think?

 

So, there you have it.   Approximately two weeks later, presto-bongo, we have a sturdy, repaired, carefully fabu-lized work of guitar case art and I love it:

flowery fabric on top and bottom, rainbow duct tape edges, red sides on finished guitar case

 

But wait!

There are apparently only two tasks left:

  • rubbing 4-0 steel wool over the whole fabric surface to smooth off the fibres that have risen during gluing and then
  • applying a coat of wax

The demonstration sample Practical Man made me has shown me that these two steps will, indeed, result in a superior end product.  And, it’s also made me realize something:

Practical Man’s doesn’t live by the precept:  Fake It ‘Til You Make It.

He lives by the precept:

Do It Right Or Don’t Do It At All.

I  think we make a great team.

 

Copyright Christine Fader, 2015.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet

 

 

 

 


The Camptown Ladies sing this song,
doo da, doo da,
The Camptown racetrack’s five miles long,
Oh, de doo dah day.
– Stephen Foster (1826-1864)

I have been humming this very vintage song lately.  Not because I’ve ever been to the camptown races (or even know what they are, if I’m honest).

I have a rather frilly and can-can-esque vision of the “camptown ladies” from the song in my head (probably wrong and sexist to boot but I’m a little afraid to google “camptown ladies”) and I had no idea that the song’s writer was walking around (and probably humming some annoying song from his village mistral), well before Canada’s confederation.

I can’t help but be impressed.  200 years is some serious longevity for a song that isn’t, y’know, required singing like the national anthem or 99 Bottles of Beer On the Wall.

I wonder if, in 200 years, people will be walking around humming one of Taylor Swift’s extremely catchy/annoying songs.

Ack!  Just a second while I (groan) shake it off, shake it off.

Or as we’ll sing it in the year 2214:  Shake It Off 99 Bottles of Beer On The Wall while We Stand on Guard For Thee.

Anyway, back to the camptown races because yep, that song is annoying me almost as much as Taylor’s is these days,  and I believe it all started with the doo da-s.

Yep, it’s all their fault.

On account of the fact that I have recently become the proud owner of four of them.

Doo dahs, that is.

Two amber ones:

amber depression glass curtain tiebacks

And two purple ones:

purple depression glass curtain tiebacks

I can’t decide which colour is my favourite.  The purple ones remind me of the beautiful glass we have found while beachcombing in St. Andrews, New Brunswick.  Apparently the process used to make glass back in the day meant the clearness (insert technical glass-making term here) wasn’t stable and over time, glass would turn a lovely purple hue.

I love beautiful mistakes, don’t you?

So yes, the purple ones are wonderful.  On the other hand, the amber doo da-s are like owning a piece of tree sap that has turned into something mystical and fairy-like and gorgeous.  As a result, both pairs have been given pride of place in our living and dining area.

amber curtain tieback holding beige curtains

Note to self: get curtains befitting amber gorgeousness

I looked these flowery beauties up online and they were frequently described as “antique, Victorian depression glass”.

I’m not quite sure how something can be of the Victorian and depression eras simultaneously.

Sounds a bit like time travel to me.

But, despite their muddled pedigree and annoying accompanying campfire races ditty, I really do love the doo da-s.  They used to sit on my friend, Mother Nature’s window sill, catching the light and sparkling it around on the beamed ceiling at her house.  Before that, they were at Mother Nature’s oldest sister’s house, having been rescued from a yard sale, auction or some other upcycling venue.

One lovely day, Mother Nature asked me if I wanted the doo da-s for my very own.

She said she wanted to give them to me because I would “do something with the doo da-s”.

Do something with the doo da-s.  Haha.

See how I almost wrote an annoying song there?

Anyhoo, we brought the doo da-s home and Practical Man got out the measuring tape so they would end up equal distances from the floor, once installed.

Boring measuring and blah blah blah but, with happy results.

purple curtain tiebacks holding back red, toile curtains

Yep, this is more like it. Love the purple and red combination.

They make me smile (and hum an annoying little tune).

Yes ma’am, I think to myself, those are some mighty fine doo da-s.

Doo da, doo da!

Sorry.

Shake it off.   Shake it off.

 

Copyright Christine Fader, 2014.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet         You might also like my book.

 


When I was 5 or 6, I decided to run away.

I can’t recall what unspeakable childhood injustice led to the moment when I flounced into my room and started packing my suitcase, but I do remember the dilemma:

how to fit everything in?

The little blue suitcase that I kept my doll’s clothes in wasn’t nearly big enough to hold the non-negotiable running away necessities such as:

  • a flashlight to guard against bogey man,
  • books and books and books to read while “on the road”,
  • clean underpants (in case I was in an accident),
  • penny bank (a plaster, brown-and-white pig approximately the size of my entire torso),
  • and red-and-white checkered umbrella and raincoat ensemble (one can never be too stylish while running away),

let alone my TREASURES.

Red cowboy hat:

red cowboy hat and rubber boots on swing

There’s me in my red cowboy hat (and rubber boots, of course).

Thumbelina doll:

Thumbelina doll

Really quite small but somehow, trying to squish it in the suitcase, it seemed so very, very big.

Mickey mouse record player:

Mickey mouse record player

This played REAL records!

and my Elizabeth doll:

Elizabeth doll by Fisher Price

Elizabeth (and her companion, Audrey) were much-loved Christmas presents to my sister and me from Santa

 

I should have known right then and there, that I was never going to be a footloose and fancy-free kind of gal.

Too.  Much.  Stuff.

My new vintage suitcase evokes a 1974, running away kind of vibe too.

briefcase_fabric

As in, Practical Man wants to run away when he sees the loud pattern.

I think he might have some kind of rare retinal disorder.

I love him anyway.

This suitcase is approximately the same size as my old running away version.

vintage suitcase with wild flowers all over it

LOVE the vintage fabric!

The inside is pristine, as if someone 5 or 6 years old couldn’t quite fit all her treasures in there either.  As a result, it probably rested, only occasionally disturbed by a fleeting fancy of running away, until it was returned to under the bed.

I think it wants to be my new briefcase.  It is not only (obviously) fabulous looking but eminently useful with both interior and exterior pockets and a handy umbrella slot.  I can’t wait to take it out into the world and around the university, full of fun stationery supplies, snacks, a sunhat, music, assorted Sharpie markers, and life’s essentials:  books and books and more books.

top of suitcase with umbrella slot

Who wouldn’t want a briefcase like this?

Some things never change.


It’s December in Canada, so of course I am dreaming about a vintage summer cottage.

Oh yes.

Just to be clear, there are no sisters in these dreams, thank you very much.

my grandparents cottage

My grandparents’ cottage.

When I was growing up, Summer wasn’t Summer unless it included a week at my grandparents’ cottage.

Sans sibling. 

That is to say, my little sister had her week and I had mine.  No sharing of the grandparents, no siree.   Just full on, 24-7 attention and affection a la Celine Dion and Brigitte Jones:

All.  By.  Myself.

vintage clock

Time seemed to fly on this cottage clock, during “MY” week at the cottage

Needless to say, it was glorious.  My Grandma Helen would open the cereal boxes upside down so I could get the prize at the “bottom” right away and we would watch Woody Woodpecker while we drank Freshie and ate “schnibbles” of summer sausage and old cheese and “crinkly” carrots at lunch.

crinkly carrot cutter

We still make crinkly carrots (and think of Grandma Helen), using this nifty gadget.

My Grandpa Lou, resplendent in his Coca-Cola hat, would drive down the cottage lane on his lawn tractor, pulling a wagon behind, with me and half the neighbour’s kids piled in. In the mornings, he’d wake early and smoke at the kitchen table with a large, hardcover book in front of him.  I remember him using an ashtray that had a metal top and sort of a plaid beanbag pillow for the bottom.  I don’t think he ever used these jazzy ashtrays.

They seemed to be for company and Frank Sinatra music.

vintage ash trays

Vintage club, spade, diamond, heart ashtrays from the cottage

My Grandpa built a gigantic swing and teeter totter in the yard and I loved to swing, overlooking the lake.  My Grandma baked Great Aunt Batche’s coffee cake recipe on special mornings and rice krispie squares with chocolate “ants” (you had to be there).  My Grandpa loved to re-design his food and taught me to eat tomato soup with Kraft dinner in it.

Maybe my grandparents did these wonderful, comforting things when my sister was around too.

But, I doubt it.

My grandparents’ cottage was built in the late 60s and when I was spending time there in the late 70s, 80s and 90s, it had a lovely vintage vibe to it.   A certain musty, home-y smell and barkcloth curtains in the bedrooms:

Barkcloth curtains

I snagged this piece of the barkcloth from the cottage curtains.

There was a room with a double bunk bed (on top AND bottom!) and witty signs dotted around the walls and especially, in the bathroom.

That is, treasures collected by my grandpa and I think, permitted with grace by my Grandma:

sign

What’s a cottage without some signs?

There was always candy in Grandma’s candy jar on the hutch and I liked to play with the cast iron Mennonite figurines.

That is, treasures collected by my Grandma and I think, permitted with grace by my Grandpa:

mennonite figurines

I love the toboggan!

In the evenings, we played games, like Flea, Parcheesi, Sorry, Yatzee, Crazy Eights and later, Upwords.  My Grandma Helen was a great adult, because she never let you win.  You had to earn it.   Sometimes, we bet with pennies or potato chips and while Grandpa was the risk taker, Grandma was often the winner.

Upwords

In later years, this was one of Grandma’s favourite games

Of course, every game needs a snack.  Often, it was cheesies.  Day-glow orange and crispy, dissolve-in-your-mouth artificiality.  So delicious.  Especially when served in vintage melamine bowls like these beauties, found at the cottage:

melamine bowls

These aren’t cheesies. They’re clementine oranges. The blue bowl is longing for some cheesies.

Today would have been my Grandma’s 90th birthday.  We remember her each year on her birthday with Chinese food (one of her favourites) and games, of course.

My grandparents have both been gone for a few years and their cottage is now for sale.   But, I can still go there any old cold, Canadian December I want because of my memories and the treasures I’ve shared in these pictures.

That is, treasures collected by my aunt for me and I think, permitted with grace by Practical Man.

Copyright Christine Fader, 2013.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet         You might also like my latest book.


Hands up if you think office chairs don’t have a lot of vintage style.

At least, not the ones you can find in your average medium-sized town for a medium-sized price.   But, I needed to find one because Practical Man has been fretting lately about my posterior.

I love a man who frets about my posterior and mine is apparently at risk.

I’m in posterior peril, if you will.

This is due to the fact that I am an old-school girl who types at lightning speed.   I need to do it in a chair, at a desk.  None of this lolly-gagging about on the floor with my keyboard in the air.  No sireee.   I am all about respect for the home row and that requires a chair.

This is the desk chair I have been using:

desk chair

Not glamorous but I liked its vintage nod and white colour

You’d think we’d have lots of chairs to choose from since I have what some might call an addiction to chairs.  They are one of the first things I gravitate to at an auction or flea market.  I have a rocking chair with no seat or rockers.  I have a tiny little child’s chair (even though we have no children).   I once made a flying leap from the car as we passed a yogurt shop that had incredible vintage-looking outdoor chairs.

Now, I try to avert my eyes as soon as they land on a fetching seatable specimen.  With their winning personalities and come-hither nature, you can see how an innocent person might end up with a herd of chairs.

Not me, of course.  Mine is more of a flock.

But to get back on point, desk chairs aren’t really chairs.  At least, not in a good way.

They usually contain way too much plastic (at least in the stores I can afford) and they look, to me, like giant orthotics sitting in a room.   Thus, I have been waiting for a beautiful vintage specimen to reveal itself to me somewhere.

You get it, don’t you?

My desire for something affordable, with chrome-y legs and a 1950-1970s industrial vibe?

Something straight out of a Mary Tyler Moore episode that could turn my world on with its smile?

Where-oh-where are you, my gorgeous retro lovely?

Silence.

In the meantime (over the past several years), we have been using the aforementioned chair that I spied, abandoned and forlorn, at the side of the road on the way to work one morning.

Some people have rescue dogs and cats.  I have rescue chairs.

Practical Man oiled its bits for me and I made it marginally more posterior-friendly by sewing up a quick cushion with a vintage pillowcase.

desk chair with cushion

Slightly modified hard-as-a-rock chair

I can’t imagine why but, Practical Man is still not a fan.

Even I have to admit that after a few short minutes of writing, it is not a very comfy on the posterior, nor does it have anything resembling an ergonomically-supported back.

But, back-schmack.   I didn’t care until recently, when I was dragged, kicking and screaming to the dark side.

I was encouraged to give desk chairs a chance.

Harumph.  Not a vintage lovely among them.  They were all new.   As I trialed and tested, I asked the sales clerk why desk chairs were so universally ugly and never any fun colours or patterns.  Was it so hard to design something reasonbly-priced, comfortable AND fun?

Eventually, I stopped punishing the people making minimum wage and lined up with the other people at the cash.

new seat

This is the seat for my new chair. Are you weeping?

Was it my imagination or did we all have a sort of resigned, sorrowful look about us at our failed quest for a delightful desk chair?   I’m sure I’m not exaggerating to say that there was a general air of gloom as we all meandered to our cars with our ugly, ugly but very comfy chairs.

new desk chair back

New back. Ergonomic and blah, blah. Weeping, weeping.

Not for the first time, Practical Man and I set about re-inventing something as soon as it came out of its over packaging.

We got some vintage fabric out of my stash.

Stapling - getting ready

Getting ready to alter a brand new item from the store

With only a staple gun, some scissors and a dream, we set about re-upholstering the seat with it.

By “we”, I actually mean, “Practical Man did it while I supervised”.

I make a great tool nurse.

Stapling, stapling, stapling

It was stapled within an inch of its life

Then, we actually put the brand new and already much improved, chair together.

Underneath the chair

Assorted knobs and do-dahs to help with the ergonomic blah, blah, blah

It has more knobs and levers than the space shuttle.   I bet there were no attractive desk chairs in space, either.

Here’s the so-far result:

new chair

I want to dislike it, but…my posterior is a traitor.

The chair is oh-so-comfy and ergonomic and blah, blah, blah.

I’d still like to make a slipcover for the back.  But, I have a problem.

A looming sense of posterior peril, if you will, because:

  • Sewing a slipcover will require some time at the sewing machine.
  • The chair at my sewing table is a cute little something we found at the side of the road.

But, sewing while seated on a lovely-looking, albeit slightly uncomfortable vintage chair?

Priceless.


If you’ve ever found yourself struggling to fit a giant vat of olives into your fridge or an 84-roll mega pack of toilet paper under your bathroom sink while wondering why on earth they had seemed like such a bargain at the membership-only warehouse store:

You might understand our house.

Our house

Photo: our house (the weeding fairies have obviously been there, whew!)

Oh sure, there was no photo ID required or free samples like at the membership-only warehouse.   But, as we strolled around looking at the house and property the first time, we could see that it had good bones and underneath all the neglect and grime, it had potential.  In short:  it was a deal.

My husband, Practical Man, loves a deal.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s why he married me.

Almost positive.

Or, maybe it was for my membership-only warehouse card.

Anyway, the property was great but the house was a mess and it was much bigger than we needed.    3+2 bedrooms.   In Canadian real estate vernacular that means 3 bedrooms on the main or upper floor of the house and two in the basement (often desirable in case you have teenagers or trolls you would rather keep partly underground.)

Just a reminder:  there are two of us.

No growing, space-hogging children.

No gigantic, space-hogging pets.

Just space-hogging vintage vehicles (my idea) and assorted practical things (definitely not my idea) that need yard space.  But, we really just wanted a small-ish house.  Yet somehow, we ended up with five bedrooms (albeit two for trolls).

I know, I know.

But, try to remember:  it’s like the 84-roll mega pack of toilet paper.  It was a deal.

So, the upshot of all this is to confess that I commandeered a room (or two), one of which we call, “the dressing room”, because naturally, every room needs a name since we have so many darn rooms to keep track of.  I think “dressing room” sounds very shi-shi or possibly Mariah Carey-ish or Jennifer Hudson-ish but my room is less personal shopping mall and more grown-woman-reverting-to-some-girly-persona-she-had-never-actually-had-as-a-child.

Cecily Barker flower fairy

Beautiful Cecily Barker lithograph from her flower fairy series (gift from my sister)

This room is entirely comprised of objects found, purchased at auction or in a thrift store except for a few items given to me as gifts by thoughtful people who played right into my designer-ific master vision.  The 10×11 feet of space seemed to give me just enough room for all my girly infatuations to come bubbling up from I don’t know where.

Actually, I know from where.

I blame it on the 1980’s movie, Top Gun.

Dressing table

Dressing table with original, squinty/streaky glass

Kelly McGillis’s character had a gorgeous Porsche Speedster (drool!) and lived in a cute ocean-view cottage that was decorated in a sort of beach-cottage/shabby-chic look that I remember noticing.   And, since the sweet little cottage from Top Gun inspired the room, I’ve decided that it shouldn’t be called the “dressing room” anymore. (even though that does appeal as it makes me sound a bit like an upstairs character in Downton Abbey.)

Instead, we’ll call it the Top Gun Room.

Couch view

Folded quilt made for me as a child by my great-grandmother; quilt on couch back made by someone else’s grandmother (purchased from thrift store)

As you can see, it’s mostly pink.  I’m sure that’s the first thing you thought of when you conjured up your image of a place called the Top Gun Room, right?

And yes, I’m aware that it’s completely self-indulgent.

Also, I’m not even sure I like pink, yet, I have a pink room and I also wrote a very, very pink book.   I feel like it’s becoming a theme, but it’s not my fault.

vintage barkcloth curtains

Vintage barkcloth curtains (Value Village)

I had planned just a few touches, but you see, the giant can of pink paint costs barely more than the teensy can of pink paint.  So, Practical Man was quite right to suggest that it made no sense to buy the amount I actually needed when it actually cost so much more per brush stroke.  Except, I really only needed about 400 brush strokes and now I have around 50,000 brush strokes of “bridal rose” still available.  That’s a lot of pink paint to go around.  As a result, it sometimes tries to splash into other places outside the dressing room.

Y’know, just the odd chair, bookshelf, or picture frame.

Room view - window

Photo: waterfall dresser, vintage barkcloth curtains, armoire, watercolours of our garden roses painted by my mom

When this happens, Practical man mutters pointedly, “the pink is travelling” which I think is code for, “Good grief, isn’t that paint can empty yet?”

If you’ve ever bought the giant vat of olives, I know you understand.

Copyright Christine Fader, 2013.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet         You might also like my latest book.