Simple Tea Towel Lumbar Pillow

Grain Sack Pillow from a Tea Towel

This is one of the easiest pillows you’ll ever make. There’s no hemming, seaming, measuring, or even cutting! And, if you use fusible tape, then there’s no sewing involved either!

The trick is using a cute tea towel. I know, I know, it’s not a revolutionary idea, though it’s one I reckon can often be overlooked. Conveniently hemmed, perfectly sized and usually affordable (especially when compared to comparable fabrics – hmmm, is it wrong to use a differentiation of the same word twice in one sentence?), tea towels are just right for creating quick and easy folded envelope lumbar cushions.

About a year ago I was lucky to stumble upon an imitation coffee sack tea towel for just five bucks in Bed, Bath n’ Table. I loved it so much I bought it with no intention of actually ever using it to dry a single dish – the rustic textured cotton and bold typographic print made it far too awesome for the kind of abuse I subject my kitchen towels to.

Coffee Sack Tea Towel

Suffice to say they no longer sell them though if you keep your eyes peeled you can find similar (or completely different though equally as cute!) tea towels in lots of places. Here are just a few I found via a quick online search…

Flour Sack Tea Towels

House 8810 | Target | Amazon

Of course there are loads of different methods to create pillow covers from tea towels. This is simply the lazy-girl way I decided to make mine…

1 Lay your tea towel right-side up on a flat surface.

2 Fold the top end down – around 12cm (3″) – then fold the bottom end up so it slightly overlaps the base of the top end – by around 3cm (1″) – then pin both sides in place (refer to photos).

Envelope Lumbar Cushion from a Tea Towel

In theory this step sounds a bit convoluted though as per the photos it is actually really straight forward. Essentially you are just creating an inside-out envelope with a concealed top flap. Of course depending on the appearance (graphic size and placement) of your particular tea towel and the depth you want for your envelope flap the dimensions you use may vary. You may even want your envelope closure to be at the rear of your pillow.

3 Sew (or fuse using iron bond hemming tape) your sides together.

Easy Sew Lumbar Pillow from a Kitchen Towel

I simply ran a straight stitch line inside the existing hem. If you find your tea towel’s existing hem is too bulky you can trim it off first. I didn’t have a problem with it.

4 Turn your pillow in the right way, stuff it with an insert and you’re done!

Easy Sew Grain Sack Cushion from a Kitchen Towel

I used a toddler pillow ($5 from Kmart) as my insert because I found it was the perfect size. I also added some rustic timber buttons ($1 each from Spotlight) as embellishments (they are simply hand-sewn on to the envelope flap and are not actually functional). I am loving this style of button at the mo’. If you’re interested in finding some though are having trouble there are lots available on Etsy.

Coffee Sack Tea Towel Pillow

If you find the bulkiness of your insert causes your envelope flap to gape open (I didn’t have this problem) you may want to use some kind of fastener to help keep it closed. Velcro dots/strips or press studs are great no-sew options though of course you can also always make proper button holes or use cute ties or loops.

I am loving the texture, interest and comfort my little lumbar pillow brings to our new Chippendale desk chair. And, given that the chair is usually tucked under our desk I am totally digging the fact that the faux bamboo fretwork means the pillow, along with its lickable grain sack graphics, peeks through the rear of the chair too!

Easy Envelope Top Grain Sack Tea Towel Pillow

Having a decorative envelope closure at the front of the pillow (rather than a plain envelope closure in the centre of the back) makes the pillow completely reversible.
Don’t ya love those happy ‘accidents’?


Bamboo Chippendale Chair Makeover

Faux Bamboo Chippendale Chair Makeover

Something slip-covered, something leather or something with loose cushions.

Something timeless, something with a little pop and something kinda statement-y.

This was my loose criteria when deciding on a new chair for our home office space.

You see, our home office space is just that; a space. It’s in a prominent and highly trafficked area just off our kitchen, which means any residing furniture is; 1) at extreme risk of grubby-fingered attacks, and 2) seen by pretty much everyone who visits. Hence my desire for a chair that was both practical (easy to clean and comfy to sit in) and pretty (not overly office-like and totally fabtabulous to gaze upon!).

I must admit, I sorta agonised over choosing just the right chair for waaaay too long before finally realising I was being more unnecessarily indecisive than usual and concluding that what I knew I always wanted was a bamboo Chippendale era armchair (with an easy to re-upholster drop-in seat). The problem with my conclusion however was the reality of actually finding one for less than one zillion dollars!

I knew from previous experience that simply stumbling upon an affordable second-hand Chippendale-style armchair was RARE (even on eBay they usually sell for over $500 each) so I set about hunting down the most affordable brand new option I could.
Enter…one of my slightly obsessive, ridiculously exhaustive, though sometimes surprisingly fruitful, internet quests!

After dismissing a few over-priced (to me) designer-y options I finally came across a manufacturer (amazingly based in my own home city!) who actually hand-produced the chairs from scratch out of solid mahogany and was willing to sell me a raw, un-upholstered frame at a discounted price – awesome! By buying the chair, not only was I able to help support locally made though it was of fab quality and the price was totally do-able (not overly cheap, though definitely justifiable).

Bamboo Chippendale Armchairs

1 | 2 | 345

For my Aussie-based readers: as stated and linked-to above, the chair I bought is from Mahogany By Hand and can be purchased and collected from their Moorabbin showroom (south-east of Melbourne). They also ship nationally though in my experience the cost of freight usually negates any initial monetary saving unfortunately.
Complete Pad also sell these chairs (in raw, un-upholstered form) for $325 each through their website here. My understanding is that their supplier is Sydney-based and free collection can be arranged directly from the manufacturer. They also offer nation-wide shipping, though again, freight charges may be cost prohibitive.

Deciding on a colour for the frame and type of fabric for the seat took me almost as long as settling on the style of chair to begin with! I know current reincarnations of Chippendale chairs are generally quite bold though I wanted something reasonably subtle with a gentle colour hit so eventually opted for a muted green for the frame and textured canvas (drop cloth) for the seat.

Faux Bamboo Chippendale Chair Makeover

Gotta love having a semi-obedient pet who’s willing to sit in the foreground of your photo to help balance the composition :-)
I just had to take my shots quickly whilst he wasn’t chasing flies, making his ‘extra-sad, extra-droopy’ face or barking at the school kids walking past!

Given the frame was already raw I simply sanded it lightly with some fine grit paper to smooth any roughness then applied two coats of paint by hand using a brush (the colour is ‘Field Maple’ by Dulux). The amount of detail in the frame meant hand painting was a little fiddly and time-consuming (spraying would have been easier and faster) though for whatever reason I had my patient hat on that day. To finish the frame I applied two coats of spray sealer (I used Cabots Cabothane Clear Oil Based in Gloss).

Green Bamboo Chippendale Armchair

If you missed my previous post about upholstering the seat from scratch you can check it out here.

Chippendale Chair with Drop Cloth Fabric Seat

It’s a pretty in-depth tutorial which clearly covers each stage of the process, including how to tackle those pesky corners…

How To Upholster Chair Corners

I contemplated painting grain sack stripes on my seat though decided instead to make a graphic grain sack style lumber pillow using some fabric I already had (the tutorial for that is coming up soon too – promise!).

Grain Sack Lumbar Pillow

All up my chair ended up costing around $260 total – not too bad, especially when considering the prices of the comparable chairs I found. I love that the drop-in seat can be easily re-covered when needed/wanted. And, having a removable seat also makes re-painting the frame heaps easier too!

Now we finally have a proper chair nestled beneath our computer desk the home office is pretty much complete (it’s only taken me ten months, give or take)!

Impending baby permitting, with any luck I’ll be able to share it in a week or so.

Chippendale Armchair Before and After



DIY Lifestyle Magazine Feature…and freebie!

I’m totally stoked to have had my IKEA Card File Drawers Hack project included in this months edition of DIY Lifestyle Magazine!

DIY Lifestyle Magazine Feature

Though, clearly there was some kind of editorial mix up, because not only is it featured within the pages, it’s actually on the front cover too! What the?

DIY Lifestyle Magazine Cover

If you have an iPad, as I sadly don’t :-(  and are looking for some fun inspiration, DIY Lifestyle Magazine (which is an Apple Newstand e-zine available exclusively on iPad from the iTunes store) are offering my readers a complimentary copy of the February issue!

To download your free edition simply head to the iTunes store here and use the promotional code “1monthdiy” (valid until February 28). If you have any trouble visit this page for step-by-step instructions on obtaining your complimentary issue.



Create a Faux ‘Authentic’ Antique Brass Effect

So, I know the post title is kinda an oxymoron though it actually does make some sense. You see, there are elements of both ‘actual’ and ‘artificial’ in my experimental process. Anyhoo, read on to see what the heck I’m on about…

With a new baby due in (gulp!) just four weeks time (when did that happen?) Charlotte will soon be vacating the nursery in favour of a ‘big girl’s’ room. For now the nursery will remain un-touched – at least until we discover if this new bundle is a boy or a girl – though over the past few months I’ve been slowly working on Charlotte’s new space. I conceded months ago that it would never be properly finished before the new addition arrived though figured as long as there was a bed and window dressing the rest could happily wait.

I’ll be sure to divulge all the room’s details when I actually get around to deciding on and implementing them (I’m kinda just letting this one evolve) though for now I wanted to share a metal dipped treatment I experimented with on the bed legs.

DIY Faux Antique Brass Effect

A while ago I picked up two colonial style single beds from eBay for just $25 each…

Colonial Single Beds Before

Photo from eBay listing.
I know, I know, you’re cringing right now, though never fear…I have a vision…kinda.

So, why two beds? Well, more on that in a future post (it might have something to do with the fact that I can’t leave well enough alone and may, or may not, get slightly crazy ideas).

Anyhoo, whilst I liked the timber tone of the beds they were badly coated with an obviously streaky stain so I decided a distressed painted finish was the best option, though I also wanted to add something a little different…I just wasn’t sure exactly what.

When I began preparing the frames for painting I noticed there were cute little brass caps on the tips of the upright posts (which were previously masked by the colour of the stain).

Brass Post Caps

Seeing them gave me some inspiration so I decided I’d try a faux brass ‘dipped’ effect on the feet!

I know brass is on trend right now though to me it has always been desirable. Done right, it’s classic and timeless and I’ve always loved it and used it in my home. I prefer the deep tones and dirty patination of antique brass over the yellow hues and perfect sheen of polished brass though I guess they both have their place.


The following tutorial merely outlines the experimental process I used to achieve the metallic look I wanted. Depending on the type of brassy finish you’re after, you can tweak the process, omitting or adding steps as needed. To create as realistic as possible an effect, I used a multi-layered approach though there are loads of single application products you can try (including spray paints, waxes and standard liquid paints) if you’re after a quick, easy metallic hit! Without layers I find the results are usually somewhat flatter, though, like I said, it’s all just a matter of personal preference :-) 

How To Create a Faux Brass Effect

STEP 1 My starting point; as per the rest of the bed the feet were hand painted and distressed.
Granted, I didn’t need to do this (seeing they would be ‘brassed’ anyway) though given that at painting stage I was still a little uncommitted to my ‘dip experiment’, I did it regardless (so just in case I backed out at least the bed frame would still be consistent).
I used a sample pot in Dulux ‘Irish Moor’ ($8 – which is from the green colour spectrum though presents more like a blue) from Mitre 10. I know sample pot paints are s’pose to be for colour testing only and are not really recommended for actual application purposes, though I find the Dulux ones fine for finishing furniture if you also use a sealer (and, when you only need a reasonably small amount, they are much cheaper than a whole 500ml tin).

Faux Antique Brass Effect Tutorial

STEP 2 I applied a layer of imitation gold leaf.
So, here’s where the post title comes into play…imitation gold leaf sheets are actually a composite of metals made-up predominately of brass. So, my dipped legs are technically ‘authentic’ brass, though the antiqued appearance is definitely ‘faux’. If left unsealed imitation gold leaf will tarnish naturally over time as per real brass (though we’re talking ages and I wanted the look NOW!).
I’d never ‘leafed’ before and at first found it a little challenging, probably because I was impatient and didn’t use the proper adhesive. Lesson learned; don’t use ordinary craft glue because you don’t have leafing size and can’t be bothered getting some, leafing size makes things easier (and better). To apply the leaf follow the manufacturers directions and try to be patient, and remember, if you’re going for an ‘antiqued’ finish it doesn’t need to be entirely perfect – in fact,  it’s probably better if it’s not!
Having never used gold leaf before I wasn’t sure how it would look. I was really impressed with the metallic sheen though thought it was a little too gaudy, which is why I decided to persist with some extra layers. If you’re after a bright golden finish (or are patient enough to wait for the leaf to tarnish naturally) you could ignore my additional layering steps and leave your piece as is.
I used Monte Marte Imitation Gold Leaf Sheets ($4 for 25 sheets) and Leafing Size ($3 for 60ml) which I found in the arts and crafts section at a local discount store. You can easily find them online or in most craft stores. I used around three sheets of leaf per bed foot. Don’t be put off by the dull appearance of the leaf through the packet (as I initially was) because there is a layer of semi-transparent paper over it (as I later discovered!).

Realistic Looking Antique Brass Effect Tutorial

STEP 3 I applied a sparing amount of metallic wax.
I’m not convinced how necessary this step was though it did seem to tone-down some of the stark straw-ey brightness to a more subtle champagne-bronze (due to some shadowing the colour looks a little deeper in the photo than in real life). To apply the metallic wax follow the manufacturers instructions. The key is to use only a small amount at first then build upon it as necessary to achieve the tone you’re after. Though don’t over do it. You don’t want to deplete the gilded sheen of the leaf. I found that buffing the wax harder in some areas wore away some of the leaf, though in a good, naturally aged kinda way which I think helped with the final patina. If you’re after a slightly muted golden finish you could skip my following step and leave your piece as is.
I used Amaco Rub ‘n Buff in ‘Gold Leaf’ (around $12 for a 15ml tube) which I already had. It is expensive though a small amount goes a super long way. You can find it at discounted prices on eBay or Amazon.

Faux Antique Brass Paint Effect

STEP 4 I finished by painting on a glaze.
Rather than using a traditional brown glaze I actually decided to try a predominately orange one. I know this sounds kinda crazy though I was looking at some of the actual aged brass I had lying around my home and noticed the pieces that appealed most to me had a subtle amber glow.
To make my glaze I mixed a small amount of acrylic sealer with a dash of orange craft paint and a tad of brown craft paint (just so you know, a tad is around a third of a dash – ‘course I just made that up :-) then applied it sparingly with a brush (you may also want to wipe off any excess as you go with a damp cloth). As per applying the wax, the key with glaze is to start with a small amount and build upon it as necessary – it’s kinda like making icing (frosting); you can always add more liquid if needed though taking it away is a little more tricky (and having to add extra sugar always results in waaaay too much mixture which you then have no choice but to lick off the spoon)! Mmmm, icing…did I just digress?
I used Cabots Cabothane Clear Water Based Satin Sealer ($20 for 500ml) cause I already had some, and simple cheap acrylic craft paints ($2 for a 75ml tube). You only need a small amount of glaze and can use any acrylic low-sheen sealer as the base (or, you can of course use proper glaze medium which has a retarded drying time and is probably easier to work with on larger projects).

Faux Rustic Brass Patina How To

I’m really, really, really happy with the results! When compared to some of my actual aged brass it’s a pretty close match. It’s not quite as smooth or reflective as real metal though it has a lovely lustre and authentically aged patination. I’m totally digging the grungy texture and warm amber glow. I realise the depth of colour is completely a matter of personal preference, which is cool, cause with a glaze you can adjust the level of tint and amount you apply to make it as subtle or intense as you like.

All up, I used under $10 worth of product to complete all four bed feet – bargain!

I found a few online examples of actual antique brass so made a little collage to compare…

How To Create a Realistic Faux Aged Brass Patina

Not bad, eh?

My dipped bed legs will eventually be partially concealed by a new bed skirt so will only end up being a subtle little detail in Charlotte’s new room though now I know how to achieve a realistic faux brass effect I’m looking forward to trying it on a larger, bolder scale!


PS I haven’t forgotten about my chippendale chair and lumber cushion posts…if I haven’t gone into labour they should be coming up next week :-)


How To Paint Ceramic…Drum Stool Redo

Some of you may ‘member that back in early December I shared a mini makeover of my living room and as part of that little re-do I included a new side table in the form of a ceramic drum stool. The stool was originally black (which is, of course, a perfectly fine colour) though it was always my intention to re-finish it in a lighter shade ’cause with brown leather sofas and lots of timber tones I felt the space didn’t really need any additional ‘darkness’.

Ceramic Drum Stool Makeover

So, why didn’t I just buy a light coloured stool to begin with then?

Well…I tend to get ants in my pants which for some strange reason makes me change out my accent pieces fairly often. This means I like to keep ’em reasonably cheap, though I found the going retail price for most ceramic drum stools here in Oz wasn’t really my idea of cheap (don’t get me wrong, they aren’t ridiculously expensive or anything, it’s just that I’m particularly tight :-). Anyhoo, so when I spotted some on eBay for in excess of half the price I’d seen them elsewhere I decided to snatch ’em up (two in total – one for me and one for Mum). Problem was, they were only available in red or black (sometimes, okay, most of the time, being particularly tight means forgoing the luxury of choice, though luckily I’m cool with that ’cause making decisions is hard)!

Ceramic Drum Stools

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9

My Aussie readers may also have seen these stools in The Reject Shop late last year for $40 each. Along with red and black they also had white though I bought my stools about two weeks prior to seeing them in the catalogue – go figure! The previous stools all sold out pretty quick smart though the good news is The Reject Shop are currently promoting them again! Sale starts today (Thursday 14 Feb)! Check out the online catalogue here.
Also, for my Melbourne-based readers, in case you miss-out on The Reject Shop’s stools, you can still purchase the red or black ones from eBay (pick up only, no shipping). You can check ’em out here.

I’m well aware there is nothing particularly clever, original or skilled about transforming a piece of furniture (ceramic or otherwise) with some simple spray paint though when I mentioned it in my living room post there was quite a bit of interest, particularly in the durability and glossiness of the finish, so here’s how I did it…

How To Paint Ceramic

STEP 1 First lightly sand the entire surface by hand using a sanding block and some fine-grit sandpaper.
My drum, as with most ceramics, was smooth and glossy. Giving it some ‘teeth’ by scuffing-up the surface helps the paint stick much more effectively. Don’t be tempted to use an overly abrasive sandpaper thinking the more grazed you make the surface, the better the paint will adhere. Heavy-grit paper can cause noticeable scratches. A light all-over scuff is really all that’s required.

STEP 2 Thoroughly clean the item to remove all sanding dust and other residue before applying one or two coats of spray primer.
I used Rust-Oleum Surface Primer (from Masters).
You don’t have to use a primer though it does provide the best base.

STEP 3 Apply three light coats of spray paint, allowing the paint to dry thoroughly between coats. If you’re particularly proper you can also lightly sand between coats though I didn’t bother so I guess I’m not particularly proper.
I used White Knight Squirts Enamel in Gloss Riverstone (from Mitre 10).
Try and use a decent quality paint. In some instances, where it doesn’t really effect the outcome, I’m more than happy to advocate the use of whatever, though in this case a good quality paint does seem to make a difference.
Here in Oz the colour range of off-the-shelf spray paints is pretty limited. Aside from speciality stores (which are scarce) I’ve found Masters to have an okay range though don’t discount graffiti artist and automotive aerosols too. If you’re still really struggling to find just the right shade you can always try a Preval spray can kit or have an automotive shop custom mix and can a colour for you (both kinda expensive options though do-able if you’re desperate). There is also the option of using a standard domestic spray gun though make sure you use a high quality paint and follow the recommended dilution ratio.

STEP 4 Finish by applying two coats of clear gloss spray sealer.
I used Cabots Cabothane Clear Oil Based Interior/Exterior in Gloss (from Mitre 10).
Not only does a clear top coat help create a lovely glossy sheen it also gives the piece a tough and hard-wearing exterior. Do keep in mind that over time most clear sealers will yellow slightly. This doesn’t bother me as my stool isn’t pure white and I’m not opposed to it gaining a bit more warmth though if you want to retain a crisp white finish try to track down and use a non-yellowing sealer.

Painted Ceramic Drum Stool Before and After

I’ve spray painted lots of small, ornamental ceramics before though never something large and functional. I mean, this thing was going to be sitting on the floor…in our living room. It would be at the mercy of Charlotte’s wayward glockenspiel mallets, Cooper’s clumsy paws, heavy-handed beer bottle set-downs and my not so un-aggressive vacuuming.

At first it seemed like blind optimism to think it’d hold up okay though now, three months on, I’m super pleased to say it still looks great and is completely scratch and chip free – yay!

How To Paint Ceramic...Drum Stool Transformation