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Before and After: High Chair Seat Cushion & Cover

Hauck Alpha Chair with New Seat Cover

Ah, the plethora of kid stuff. I don’t know about you, but I thought we’d get by with a lot less gear than we actually have. I’d done my homework, read reviews and comparison shopped. I’d wanted to make the right choices the first time around. But the truth is, you don’t really know what will work until you try it in your own home with your own kid. Our first high chair, for example, had great reviews, two trays, folded for storage and could convert to a small chair for later. It sounded great in theory, but despite all those things we never liked it. The footprint was too wide, it was heavy, the trays were too big too clean in the sink, and we never folded and put it away between meals. What’s the point if it was going to be used 3+ times a day? We used it for both kids for the least amount of time possible.

As soon as Leo was old enough we switched him to a booster and tray set that sat on top of one of our dining chairs. It worked fine for a while, but I could see that Leo couldn’t rest his legs comfortably, plus it was too high to push under the table. We would all occasionally trip on the back legs. I began to look for other options.

Thanks to craigslist I found a like-new Hauck Alpha Chair for a bargain. It was and is the perfect chair for Leo. I could go on and on about it, but I’ll limit myself to saying that it is super sturdy, adjustable, comfortable, promotes good posture and he can climb into it easily by himself. It also matches the rest of our dining chairs (unlike Chloe’s Ikea Urban Junior Chair). Winner!

We’ve had the Alpha chair since January and just recently took the seat and the foot plate down a notch to accommodate Leo’s growth (my little boy is growing up!). Actually, the only thing I didn’t love about the chair was the seat pad. It was thin and lumpy. If food spilled on it, it would immediately stain. More like a bib than a seat cover. Yuck. Here is the “Before” photo:

Time for a new seat cushion! Here is what I sewed up to take its place:

Much improved wouldn’t you say?

My cushion cover skills were limited to the one I made for our storage bench years ago. This time I had to buy the foam padding and add a strap down system, too. Luckily it was easy to find a sheet of foam at Mill End and it easily cut down to size (the sheet was so large, that I also ended up making a cushion for under Barkley’s dog bed). I used the same strap/velcro system as on the original pad (see above photo), but I chose PUL (or polyurethane laminated fabric) for the covering. It is water resistant and popular for cloth diaper covers. It is easily also easily wiped clean or washed, and came in prints suitable for a young boy.

Leo sitting in his Hauck Alpha Chair

Much better!

So far the seat cushion has held up nicely during the past couple months. Makes me glad I took the time to do it right. Do you have a chair that could benefit from a new seat or cushion cover?


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Before & After: Spray painted rocking chair DIY

I am often amazed at the spray painted transformations that you find among DIYers on the internet. So many inspiring projects! I wanted to give it a try, and this was my first painting effort – a wooden rocking chair that Chloe’s grandparents found for her. It looked to be well-used by the time we got it, with stains and pencil marks and a replaced dowel on the back. But Chloe loved it and so did I. It just needed a little freshening up.

Since there are plenty of “how-tos” on spray painting, here are a few things I learned from this project:

1. Keep a large cardboard box for a ground cover. It doesn’t blow around like plastic.

2. Don’t use primer unless you have to. I wanted to do this project “right,” including primer for best adhesion and coverage. However, the primer was rough and somewhat gritty, which required more sanding. I realized too late that the original chair would have been fine un-primed, and would have saved a lot of work.

3. One can of spray paint was not enough. This meant that I had to make a second trip to the store, and with a new baby and toddler, it took a while until I could get back there. Also, the first can of paint didn’t spray very well. I thought it was my technique, but it turned out there was just something off about that particular can.

4. In the case of this chair, it was better to start with it turned upside down, giving it a good coat(s), letting it dry, and then finishing it right side up.

5. Try not to let weeks (or months) go by from start to finish. Because I left it with a coat of rough primer for a long stretch of time, Chloe kind of got out of the habit of sitting in it (that or because the cold set in, she now prefers her little upholstered rocking chair instead). However, we have another kid who will love it once he gets a little older (and a big reason we didn’t choose the color pink!).

 


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Burke Chairs

If we have time on the weekends, we sometimes stop at an occasional yard sale in search of toys for Chloe. Recently we hit an estate sale. In the garage was a set of four mid-century Burke chairs. I think they might be called tulip chairs, except the similar ones I found online swivel and have propeller-type feet. These are stationary, with round bases. Burke Tulip chairs are actually 1960’s knock-offs of Eero Saarinen Tulip Chairs. Anyway, I thought they were awesome (and still in usable shape after almost 50 years!). David and I got in a little argument since we have no room in our shoebox house for more furniture, but he eventually walked off in a huff to go buy them for me anyway (thanks honey!).

The other thing about buying them so cheap, is that I won’t be afraid to paint them. More research says my best bet, should I decide to re-finish, is to use acrylic epoxy to fill scratches in the fiberglass and then apply architectural paint (1) or automotive paint, or have them professionally painted at an auto-body shop that has experience with painting fiberglass auto parts (here is another good article on shell chair refinishing).

Considering a single new reproduction Saarinen Tulip Chair by Knoll currently begins at $1,285, I’m happy with our estate-sale “original” knock-offs!


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Make your own bean bag chair

Check out this cool bean bag chair by Joanna at Stardust Shoes. I never thought I’d say this about a bean bag chair, but I think this one is so fun. I wish I had one like it for Chloe’s room. She would totally dig it. Not only does she love to climb on chairs in general, but also to get in and out of boxes, bounce on cushions, and land in piles of dirty clothes on the floor. Wouldn’t playing with an oversize bean bag be like all those things?

Joanna offers both an adult-sized (shown above) and child-sized pdf tutorial, so technically I could make one myself. Maybe I will someday. Right now I’m stuck with a halfway finished spring top. I can’t seem to figure out the next step, and I’m not sure how best to move forward (Sandy, maybe I can ichat you and hold the instructions up to the camera?). Also strange is that I can’t find a single reference of anyone sewing this top, or any photos on Flickr or anywhere else. Maybe because it was written for teenagers and there aren’t any teenager-sewing-bloggers? Oh well. I might just try and wing it.


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Sewing Machine Cover + Smallest Sewing Table Ever

My sewing machine has a new dress! The ugly plastic one it came with finally got the heave-ho. Looks nice, doesn’t it? I got all ambitious and added a back pocket and a hole on top for the carrying handle, except I couldn’t figure out how to properly fold inside corners with bias-tape. It ended up oval, except I had already cut a rectangle in the fabric and the bias-tape didn’t “catch” the corners. I fixed that with a little fabric glue. Just don’t look too close.

Before Chloe, the “spare” room (that is now her nursery) used to be where we kept the TV, the sewing table, and the futon. With Chloe’s arrival, we had no choice but to move the TV into the living room and the sewing table into our bedroom, wedged between the dresser and the hamper, because there was literally nowhere else in our little house to put it. Luckily, it folds down really small, as you can see. I also took a photo of the table fully opened.

I was this close to using Alexander Henry’s Mocca for the sewing machine cover, but after walking it and the Joel Dewberry Ginseng into the bedroom, I realized right away the Mocca wouldn’t jive with the serenity of the bedroom. Much the same way that I wouldn’t have been able to stand the TV in the bedroom. The walls are white, the curtains white, and my favorite duvet cover is white with only a few oversize, very abstract, pale blue, taupe and brick-colored butterflies. It was meant to be.

Good tutorials and inspiration for making sewing machine covers can be found at Chez Larsson, Spool, and Creative Reveries.

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