If you’d like to skip straight to the creative project and learn how to revamp a set of dining chairs then scroll down until you see Blue’s paw print below.
This episode is subtitled: ‘Will my garden be good enough…?’
‘Ooh, I’d love to see your garden, Jenny,’ said Mrs Lucas. She was delighted that I’d volunteered to be included in our local Open Gardens event next month.
Why do customers naturally assume that florists are good gardeners? We work with cut flowers that have been grown by someone else – an expert!
‘It’s a very small garden,’ I responded, suddenly unsure that I wanted a stream of locals judging my mediocre efforts. I’d signed up to the event to get into the community spirit and help raise some money for charity.
‘You can do a lot with a small space,’ she said, oblivious to my nervousness. Oh dear, I thought, I’m going to have to up my game somehow. So I wandered down to the hardware shop to see whether Old George had anything to inspire me.
He had bags of compost, plastic pots and a few ornaments that just didn’t do it for me but while I was there I took the opportunity of asking him whether he’d be happy to stock the leaflets detailing the trail of local gardens and collecting the £5 from people for each leaflet.
‘Happy? No.’ he said. Clearly I’d asked the wrong question.
‘It might be good for your business, George,’ I said, trying to retrieve the situation. ‘The whole Open Gardens thing sits well with some of your product ranges.’ I was desperately trying to think of a marketing term that Kim might use.
‘If they see the leaflet then they must already in the shop so it wouldn’t benefit me at all,’ he said. I’d failed so I retreated back to Teacups & Tulips but on the way I came up with another idea.
‘Kim, could you make a few extra batches of cakes so I can sell them to the visitors? That would take the focus off my garden!’
And it would make a bit extra for the charities we’re supporting, I thought.
Kim looked thoughtful for a couple of seconds before saying, ‘I’ll open up our garden.’
‘But you don’t have any flowers,’ piped up Beryl. She was right, Kim’s garden is very sculptured and modern (kept beautifully manicured by their gardener) but it’s distinctly lacking in any colour other than green.
Unperturbed, Kim carried on, ‘We could have a Teacups & Tulips banner, lots of cakes, tables and chairs…’
‘It’s sounding like you want to recreate the tea room in your garden!’ I said. And wondered how she’d cope having her raw silk covered dining chairs outside for all the unvetted locals to sit on.
I didn’t want to dampen her sudden altruism but I did think she was leaving it a bit late to be added into the programme. ‘I’ll ask the organisers if they can squeeze you in,’ I said.
They were reluctant when I phoned them but Kim rang them back and persuaded them to alter the leaflet and add her in. So now both of our gardens will feature in the event. You can’t help but be impressed by the architectural elements of Kim’s garden – the sunken section with the fire pit, the water feature, the summerhouse. I have no chance of achieving that so I’m going to focus my efforts on filling it with as much colour as possible. Wish me luck.
While I contemplated the task ahead of me in the garden, I turned to something creative and more immediate – Jaz’s mum had asked me to recover their dining chairs. It was good practice for when I need to re-do Kim’s after the Open Gardens event! ◊
How to Revamp a Set of Dining Chairs
I took the screws out to separate the seat from the frame. The seats had obviously been re-covered before so I removed this additional layer first. This just left the original thin layer that I decided to leave on.
(Not sure why I’m showing you the screws in that photo!)
I made a newspaper pattern, ensuring the new piece of fabric would extent over the sides, well underneath the seat.
Do you remember the curtain samples I used for recovering the lampshade for Beryl and making the cushion cover and buttons? Here are pieces from another sample that cost me just £1. I decided to use them in addition to some fairly neutral upholstery fabric that I already had in my stash.
The samples weren’t big so I decided to incorporate a small piece in each seat, each one a different colour. It frayed quite badly so no wonder the manufacturer had added some thick tape to the edges. This was too difficult to pull off and if I’d cut it away I’d have been left with tiny pieces. So I used the taped sections as rather large seam allowances.
I played around with the newspaper pattern and the sample until I was happy that I’d got the design I wanted (a block of colour in the back/middle of the seat).
The following images show you how I cut, pinned and sewed the pieces to achieve one piece of fabric that would be big enough to extend over the sides to the underneath. The tape on the samples makes it look a bit odd but I hope you get the picture.
This is what the back of each completed piece looked like.
You can staple it into place using the same principle we used when we covered the office chair. Start with a staple in the middle of one side, pull the fabric taut and staple the middle of the opposite side. Turn it over to check your design is straight. Then do the same to the other two sides. Work from the centre outwards until you reach the corners. Pleat and staple those into place.
You might need to trim back some of the fabric to reveal the screw holes before you screw the seat back onto the frame.
Having each of them a different colour was a way to use up the old sample fabric and looks quite cool, I think.
And I think they would look great outside at an Open Gardens event!
- Better to start with too much fabric than not enough, especially if you are going to cut your pattern and piece your fabric together, like I did, because this requires additional seam allowances. You can always trim the excess off later.
- Get creative with your samples. Yours may not suit the design I ended up with.
- Obsolete curtain samples
Hope Jaz’s mum likes the chairs. Thanks for joining me this week and hope you tune in again next week to see what I’ve managed to salvage.
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