Dining Table Upcycle / Restoration

So, you’ll probably remember that I bought a table and chairs for £30:


As you can see, the varnish was badly marked and the insert was a completely different colour.

There were a lot of stains on the table, pen marks, glue, scuffs and places where it looked like the varnish had gotten too hot – someone had used the table as an ironing board at some point.

However, it was a good table, solid pine, and very heavy, even when it was in bits!

I wanted to restore this and update it to match my envisioned decor in my new flat.


The insert colour and legs were a strange red-pine colour, far too light to be mahogany, but in that wheelhouse. All of my woodwork is pine, so I knew that if I was going to get this to fit in with the room I’d need to strip it down to the base.

My first step was to paint the legs of the table. I love the look of chalk paint, and rather than mix my own (as this is my first time trying to restore/upcycle) I used a brand called Rust-Oleum.

I have two small pots in Anthracite (a light grey) and Graphite (a dark grey) and I’ll talk a bit more about coverage later.


I painted the main spool of the leg in the lighter grey, and the bottom in the darker. They need two coats, but as you can see, after the first coat, everything looks pretty awesome.

I also added felt feet to the table, to avoid damaging the floors, and that was a great time saving thing, as now I can just pull the table around without trying to lift it – and it weighs a TONNE when it’s built up.

I still need to wax the legs of the table, and I’m a little worried about that as I’ve heard it can be rather hard to get it looking good. I’m choosing wax over a poly finish because the table and chairs will not be high use items, and I think it gives a better feel to the items. If I mess it up though, I know it’s a pain and a half to fix, so fingers crossed.


As for the table top – I needed to sand it down to get a uniform base, and MAN – trying to get a nice day in Scotland for that was HARD.

However, today (A Saturday too! SCORE!) the sun was out in the morning and I was able to haul this badboy out and assemble it.

I chose to put it together while sanding to help me get an even colour and also to help smooth it out evenly.


As you can see, the colour after sanding was much whiter. In fact, it was a bit too white – my woodwork is pine and this was just too light! In the sunlight it seemed quite rich, but once inside and my eyes had adjusted, it was very washed out.


Lucky, I had bought a varnish to protect the wood. I picked a matt varnish as I was hoping to carry on the look from the legs and chairs, and the colour I picked was antique pine. It’s a golden brown, rather than the red-brown that was on the table in the first place, and should fade well through the years.

The final look…


I still need to put a second coat on, and wax those legs, but I’m thrilled with the look. This is the first time I’ve ever tried to do something like this, and it’s been so rewarding.

I’m hoping that I’ll be able to finish the chairs tomorrow and post about those soon!

(and give you my honest opinion on the paints and varnishes I used!)

Jumping past June and Just making July…

So, in my last post I mentioned that I was going to be buying a house.
It’s now official – by the time you read this I’ll have the keys.
My flat (or apartment, depending on where you live) is ready for me to move in.
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Of course, this is me, so I’m actually not ready to move.
This is because Mum has also just moved house this month and OMG, two moves in one month means that I am pretty much screwed for getting my life in order.
I’m not complaining, I’ve had a really great time painting and decorating mums new house (a three bedroom that is fully wheelchair accessible) and it’s so great to see mum happy.
In order for mum to live her life in her new place though, I have to finish decorating it. So far I’ve done the living room completely, which included things like, stripping the walls, re-papering, painting the walls, painting wooden doors, hanging new light fixtures and lots and lots of cleaning. She’s had new flooring put in, and new blinds through the house. It looks great and modern, and she’s very happy.
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I’ve also started the hall, it’s had one coat of paint and needs another, and I need to get new light fittings and the woodwork painted. However, it’s hard to get a move on with that when I’m limited with time, because mostly I’ve been doing this at night, after work.
It’s hard when you don’t have a lot of help, mum’s obviously not able to do anything when she’s in the chair, and my family are all very busy with their own lives… so it’s fallen to me and my friends to do our best. Kriss helped me with wallpapering, and I’m pretty sure I’m okay at it now, and Jenni helped me with the second coat of paint in the living room.
But, if I can, I’d like to talk about my projects.
I bought a couch. It was from DFS and it’s the first thing I bought for me new house. It’s an ex-display model so I actually saved a fortune (Like I saved £1945, which is just… wow) and it’s a light grey fabric 4 seater and a black check snuggle chair.
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Once I saw it, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with the rest of the house.
I’m going to take the grey and check through the whole place, with perhaps a couple of accent colours thrown in. I’m going to have my dining table in the living room at first (I may move it to the 2nd bedroom later, but that’s going to be storage RN) and I was looking for a specific TYPE of table and chairs to fit with the look I have in mind.
There is a Facebook thing that is really popular here, and I’m not sure if it’s a worldwide thing, but it’s called Facebay, and people sell items on it. It’s either cheap or free, and it’s sort of a free-for-all – it’s free to sell goods and mostly you need to pick them up when you buy them. It’s been interesting to see the things that people sell; it’s anything from kids old toys, buggies, bikes, cars, couches… anything. Even spare wood for projects, or felt for roofing. Anything that you don’t need, ends up there, like a car boot sale on the net, with the added bonus that you normally don’t even have to leave the house – people will come to you to pick things up.
Anyway, I put of post up saying I was looking for a dining room table and chairs, for super cheap as I’ve just got a flat and have nothing to put in it.
A very nice guy called Ben told me he had a set, and sent me an image.
/hold the phone
It’s EXACTLY what I wanted. I was expecting to get an interim piece that I would later replace with my dream set. Nope. I ended up with my DREAM SET first try!
And even better, it was only £30!
It’s a solid pine extending table with old fashioned, country look spindle legs. My aunt has something very similar in a darker wood. The two halves of the table pull out and the middle section is unfolded to make a 4 seater into a 6.
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Not only that, but the 4 chairs match the table (not perfectly, but close enough that you can’t tell unless you are REALLY LOOKING) and they are ALSO solid pine with old fashioned spindle legs and backs.
They aren’t in the best of shape though. In a house with 4 kids, one on the way, a dog and three cats… you can imagine that the table was used for pretty much everything from ironing clothes to arts and crafts. Once I picked it up (with help from Ross, thanks!) it was pretty clear that the first stage was going to be a really good scrub down.
I spent the night out in the garden with a scrubbing brush and sugar soap to get the slightly tacky layer off, and to let me see the state of the wood under the crayon and general grime. The middle section, hidden away from view, has never been used. It’s about 5 shades darker than the main table top.
I was already planning on sanding it down, and I’m really glad to report that I won’t have to replace any part of the spindles or wood. One of the chairs feels a little wobbly on its legs, but as I plan on putting felt stoppers on the bottom to protect my floors, that’ll even things out nicely.
So the plan:
Sand down the table and chairs, getting the worn, uneven (and scubby!) varnish off.
Re-varnish the table top and hidden centre piece, which should even out the colour and protect it from any crap I throw at it.
Re-varnish the seats of the chairs.
Using chalk paint in light grey and dark graphite (which match the sofa and cuddle chair) paint the legs and the underside of the table.
Paint (chalk again) the chair legs and backs.
I think I might paint two of the chair backs with the paint and varnish the other two, to keep things looking a little more mixy/matchy rather than matchy/matchy but I’ll see when I’m going. I might change my mind on that later.
Add the felt stoppers to the bottom of all the legs.
My other, smaller but no less daunting project is my computer desk.
I’ve been using a pine dining table as a desk as I like the space. It’s got the same spindle legs (yay!) as the dining table I’ve just bought, but rather than having a pine top, it’s been set in with white glossy bathroom tiles.
It’s past its best (it was past its best when I got it about 8 years ago!) and the tiles have peeled away from the edge, getting dust and crap in the gaps. The varnish is also scuffed on the legs and practically non-existent on the top.
So the plan is:
Remove the ugly existing tiles.
Sand down the table.
Replace the tiles with new soft cream, matt, stone tiles that match the flooring of the flat (kinda, if you aren’t paying too much attention) which I picked up in a sale – reduced from £20 to £5 per box, three boxes needed.
Varnish the table top the same colour as the dining room set.
Paint the legs in the two grey chalk paints as the dining room set.
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I hope that this will tie in the study with the rest of the house. Of course, I know that my computer chair won’t match at all (its yellow leather) but I’m going to get a throw or something for that, so… /shrug
At this point, it’s all just theory. I’ve never restored or upcycled anything before and I’m really excited and nervous. The best thing about it though, is that the table and chairs were really cheap, in fact, less than a pizza and a bottle of wine, so if I mess it up, I can just start again, and if I mess it up AGAIN and it’s utterly unsalvageable… I can chuck it!
But how great was it that I managed to get my EXACT wish list first time? It’s a sign, it must be.
(And mum bought me a small electric sander in the Amazon Prime Sale, which comes with a little attachment for sanding down spindles, reduced to £18!!!)
Good things are coming my way!

April… A Bit Of A Challenge

April started off pretty well – I made that lovely top that’s actually been worn a couple of times in public where people can point and laugh (and so far, no one has) so I kinda thought I was on a bit of a roll.

Not only that, but my goal of being a real live adult at 30 years old was starting to come together – I got myself a pension through my work, and I’m already starting to pay towards that, meaning when I’m old and grey I won’t have to depend on the State to look after me.

It gets even better – I made a decision to buy a house.

This is actually the single biggest decision I ever made, and to be honest, I was expecting a lot of stress and trouble – being a single person with no interest in becoming a non-single person, I assumed that getting a mortgage would be a nightmare: More risk, less money – the kind of things Banks must hate.

I wanted to keep my costs low, so I had a limit for buying: £50,000. I figured that a 35 year mortgage would be a lot easier to deal with and low and behold, the bank agreed.

However – the properties in that price range are that price for a reason. I wanted 2 bedrooms. My goal was to get a flat / apartment / house and have the ‘guest room’ be a sewing room. The properties in my price range were….

Not ideal.

Some were lovely, but in the WORST areas you could think of. The kind of areas where a single woman living alone would be… a bad idea. The kind of area that leaving the car parked on the street pretty much means you won’t have a car for long.

I saw a couple of places that looked good on paper and were horrible when I went to see them (mirrored ceilings. I kid you not.)

Then, my friend Kriss asked if I would take a look at a flat her besties mum was trying to sell. I knew the property was out of my price range, but the lady living there (Jenette) wanted someone to take a look and tell her if they thought it would do okay on the market – and as I was spending a lot of time looking at places, I had developed a bit of an eye for things that are terrible and would make me not want to buy a place.

Jenette has a three bedroom top floor flat in a relatively okay area. The flats were originally council homes, but through the years they’ve been bought – as tends to happen in these areas. A few years back it had a bit of a reputation, but has quietened down enough that they could bill it as a ‘family friendly’ area, and it is only a few blocks away from a large primary school, and a little further than that, a large popular retail park.

I knew the flat would be nice (out of my price range pretty much meant it would be nicer than anything I’d seen before) but it was REALLY nice.

Like, I wanna buy it and live in it nice.

She figured it would be on the market for between $58-60K – which is over what I could afford, but I told her the truth, she would have it sold very quickly, for more than that, I was sure. Her main worry is that she loves her home so much that the idea of a stranger living in it was giving her stress – and the idea that someone might rent it out rather than live in it…

She told me that if I wanted the flat, she wouldn’t put it on the market, and would sell it to me for $58k, which is £8k more than I can afford, but not…. too far out of my price range that I was willing to say not right away.

A call to the bank confirmed it – I can take out a 35 year mortgage.

The official offer is made, I am moving in on the 17th of July.

I’ve started packing, and throwing things out. This is a waaaay bigger job than I was expecting, because I apparently keep a lot of crap I don’t need.

On Thursday, I took a half day to take things to the local tip, I’ve got three black bags of crap that will not fit in the bin for love nor money.

I came home to find my mum passed out in her wheelchair.

Unable to wake her, I called 999 and ended up giving her CPR while the (very lovely) woman on the phone helped to me to stay calm and keep mum alive until the ambulance came.

She was taken to the Medical High Dependency ward for a few nights, but is now on a regular ward.

I don’t know when she’ll be getting out.

To be honest, the stress of the last month has been fucking terrible – buying a house was hard, but working full time and being the ONLY person who bothers to visit mum in the hospital means that I’m working from 9am, finishing at 5, going directly to the hospital and staying till they kick me out, then getting home about 9, trying to eat something, and then going to bed.

Today I woke up with a headache so bad I couldn’t actually drive to see mum, which means now I feel so guilty that I wanna die.

Yeah – a good month, and a really bad month.

I just want May to be better.

Sorbetto – Wearable!

I can’t actually believe this – but it fit!


Yup – the fit was actually pretty good, and I’m really pleased. This is the first time I’ve made an item of clothing for someone else and they’ve liked it!

Jenni (the lovely model!) is so happy with it that she is going to wear it tomorrow to work.

All day.

In public!


Although she did think that it was a little short (I thought the same thing too) she said it felt great on and was definitely wearable.



Go me!

Springing Into April

I have an admission, this project was started in March and I’ve only just finished it. I’ve got no excuses, it literally stood in the middle of the room covered in pins for over a month.

Well, today I figured that if I didn’t finish it, I was never going to start a new project for this month at ALL – and now it’s finally done.

The pattern for this was FREE (which is a lovely word) and you can find it here so you can make it too. It’s a really basic, easy pattern and there is SO REASON ASIDE FROM LAZINESS that I couldn’t have made this in a weekend. Or a day.

Moving on from my tragic lack of motivation…


This is obviously NOT the one I made

Once again, this is a 1 meter marvel. I’m gonna call it that because I’m pretty sure that was all I used, and I made my own bias tape too – so take that into consideration.

(Oh, BTW: I’ve been making my bias tape all wrong. This is highly mortifying, so take it into consideration when looking at the project)


I used a remnant of fabric that I picked up for £3 at my local fabric shop about a million and 5 years ago. It wasn’t pre-washed.

(I’m adding lots of notes in today, sorry: I have now pre-washed ALL of my fabric stash. It’s all laundered and pressed and looking lovely, and OMG a few items needed to be done twice because of the starch that came off em…)


I didn’t bother to trace this pattern out with my own paper because it was printed at home on regular office paper so I can re-download it at any time.

The sizes are American, take that into consideration too!

I cut this as a UK 16, although I’m not sure if it’s right – I made it for a friend rather than for myself, so I can’t tell if it fits. Probably not. I have no confidence in my ability to sew to sizes.


I’m not hugely in love with this. Once again, it’s a great pattern that will use up any of your stashed remnants, but it’s really not my STYLE.

I’m a t-shirt and shirt person, blouses and ‘girly’ clothes aren’t really my cup of tea – however, trying to make a shirt out of a meter of fabric isn’t going to happen so I’m working on improving my base skills and using up my stash before buying more.


Oh, and bias tape needs to be cut diagonally. Who knew?

Well, everyone apparently, no wonder it never looks right.

Oh well, I’m learning at least, right?

Making it in March!

I’m going to try to make more clothes from less. I use SO MUCH fabric when I sew that it’s unreal the wastage. Also, I was given a gift of fabric for my 30th and I only got a meter of each. I want to make something I can (and WILL) wear out of it – not just something that’ll get made and then sit in the wardrobe forever.

So today I got up early, did my household chores and when I was done I made this: Simplicity K1620 (aa) – a trial run at using less fabric. I was thinking this could be the ‘test’ run to see if I should use my nice gifted fabric.


I got this FREE with Sew magazine, which I am subscribed to. I get it every month and I’ve got a lot of really amazing patterns free and I’ve never used a single one.

I went for option B, which is a blouse top that uses a titchy meter of fabric (the estimated fabric use on the packet was very generous)


I had a skirt I was trying to make about a million years ago, and the fabric had been cut up and sewn, I just cut off the seams and used the fabric from that, so I had MUCH less fabric to work with – especially as it was patterned and ‘grew’ upwards, meaning I had to cut with that in mind.

I made my own bias tape from leftover fabric. It’s the first time I’ve ever used or made bias tape and I think it really makes the top look professional. In the past everything I’ve sewn has had front facings that hid the raw edges.

I will need to work with it more though – I think I could have gone a lot closer to the edge and have it look better. Practice! Practice! Practice!


I was a bit nervous about the whole thing, to be honest, but I like the end result. To make my bias tape I used one of these:

11024904_1011690708860231_880989451_oI used the red one, which is 18mm I think. The pattern called for single fold, but I think this makes double fold. I also used the ‘one pass’ method to attach. I’m not sure if that was the best way, but it seemed to be the least time consuming. I’ve never done it before so I just went with what looked easier from youtube tutorials!

11002965_1011670908862211_385586701_oI even remembered to iron on the little transfer I made. You can see here that my stay stitching is a little visible, but not too obvious (I hope!) and that there is some slight gathering. I tried to get the bias to lay flat, but I think this is another thing I need to practice. It did pull the fabric a little, but nothing too serious. The stay stitching did it’s job for the most part.

11015313_1011684568860845_788404955_nI think once it’s been washed a few times it’ll hang better. I’m terrible and I don’t pre-wash my fabric. I know it’s something I really should be doing, but I normally make up my mind to start sewing RIGHT NOW and if I had to pre-wash I’d never get anything done. I might just pre-wash my entire stash in one day and put it away, that way I wont have to worry about it anymore.

Anyway… back to the top.

11026352_1011684288860873_1923007578_n The drape is a little weird because of the stiffness of the unwashed fabric. I have pressed all my seams within an inch of their lives, but I’m getting a little pulling under the arms. This might be due to some extra seam allowance that I can trim away.

The pattern only asked for bias tape at the neck. I added it to the hem and the sleeves. This was because of two reasons.

1: I didn’t read the pattern properly

2: I made far too much bias binding and it seemed like a waste to throw it out – especially as I have so little of this fabric left.


I don’t have anyone to take pictures of the top on me, so I put it on the dressform.

^ thats the front.


and thats ^ the back.

There are two darts and the front and one on the back.

It’s pretty comfortable on, there are no fastenings – you just pull it over your head – and I was worried as this fabric has no stretch, but it works just fine. It’s not ‘fitted’ so it comes on and off easily enough, but the darts at the top do make it feel more structured than a t-shirt. 11039695_1011686388860663_43469677_n 11025472_1011686715527297_1986085395_o

You can see here a little better that the bias isn’t that close to the body. I’m just going to assume that I’ll get better with that the more I use it in projects.


This was the best part though. Because I had so little fabric, this was ALL the waste fabric. It’s about a handful of scraps. I didn’t need to unpick anything (read above, I always misread the bloody pattern instructions and end up unpicking everything every time) so I was even good about wasting THREAD.

I’m going to wear this to work tomorrow. I think it’s old fashioned a little for me – but I know that there are a lot of women in my office who will love it and who probably own a lot of store bought tops JUST like this.

I love the fabric too – I had to google what it was called:

Grace Floral in Duck Egg – 100% cotton poplin

I have a couple of meters in the same fabric with a white background and blue flowers. I think it also comes in a pink background and white flowers.

Online it looks to be about £7.50 a meter, but I did NOT pay that amount for this. I paid about £4 a meter from a local store called Rejects. They sell lots of fabrics and some may have flaws, or are end of lines, but there isn’t any flaw in the fabric I have.

I don’t think I’ll use this pattern for the fabric I was gifted. Although I like it, I don’t think it’s a top I need more than one of, and it’s a little too old fashioned for me!

I will wear it tomorrow though, and may post some updated pictures that aren’t terrible selfies!

February Recap!

February went like this:

1: 10960629_996231320406170_1300909598_o

I got some awesome original art from an up-and-coming artist. 😉

2: I went to see Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat in Edinburgh


3: My hair was bleached again:


4: And became Violet – which is the best colour ever!


5: I made a LBD (it looked better IRL, I promise, these are taken at midnight!)

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6: I tried to make the same dress in a different fabric and it was an utter disaster (The weave was sooooo loose that it just constantly frayed) and I was so disappointed!

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But was really thrilled with the pattern matching!

7: I turned 30!

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8: I’m still taking a butt load of selfies. Confidence is at an all time high – no idea why, but fuck it! I feel awesome most days now!

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9: I bought loads of stuff on Ebay from China and have been giving my friends little random gifts and it’s been highly rewarding. Just little crappy things like post-it notes in the shape of kittens and crap like that, but it’s been dead nice to see them happy.

10: I’ve been writing LOADS more and have really got a lot of feedback and followers, which is awesome and a real boost to my self confidence.

11: I got my yearly bonus and it was WAAAAAY more than I was expecting, which was freaking AMAZING, even though I forgot it was taxed and got like… £600 taken off 😦

12: Because I thought I was going to be off sick with my operation, I had planned so far ahead at work that I’ve pretty much had NOTHING to do all month. I responded by being the most organised person in the office, and I am completely caught up on everything. I actually have a clear desk for the first time ever and people are really noticing just how on the ball I am. It’s been a nice boost to my work ethic and has given me ANOTHER boost to my confidence too.