Alina Sewing and Design

Shelbi’s Side Chair and Shara’s Wingback: Before & After (+ a Custom Roman Shade)

*PHEW* I’m finally back! A couple of weeks ago, I decided to go ahead and update my Mac OSX to Mountain Lion (I was still running Leopard!), which means I was three system updates behind! It had gotten to the point where I couldn’t play videos or music because my browsers weren’t supporting flash or java without updates that required an updated OS. So….I finally did. What.a.mess. It crashed my harddrive. Luckily I had backed up with Time Machine a few days before, but when I restored everything, it had somehow managed to NOT capture any of my photos from the last two months. Then, I couldn’t back up anything with Time Machine using my existing external harddrive without completely erasing it and reformatting it (so now I have nothing saved that I don’t already currently have on my computer…I hope there’s nothing I needed!). THEN, none of the programs in my Adobe CS4 Design Premium would run. No Illustrator. No Photoshop. Nada. I uninstalled everything and was going to reinstall with my original disks, but they wouldn’t run the setup.exe file. I contacted Adobe multiple times and they were maddeningly unhelpful (and this is coming from someone who is very calm and kind to customer service reps…I know it’s not their fault!)….long story short, it was a long and arduous battle, but I finally got CS4 reinstalled this morning, so I can finally edit/watermark photos for blog posts again! So, you may be happy (or maybe not) to know I have a lot of backlogged posts coming this week. 🙂

So, first, I bring you two more recent upholstery jobs done!

This side chair came to me in the below shape. it was fairly obvious that it had several layers of paint on it, including green below the cream. Structurally, it was in great shape, it just needed a cosmetic update!

Shelbi Chair Before

And here she is after fillings in some cracks with wood putty, a few coats of glossy black paint and some luxe gold & cream fabric!

Shelbi Chair After

Just goes to show you how far some vision can go!Shelbi Chair Before and After


When Shara’s husband dropped off this wingback chair, it had definitely seen better days. Turns out, she had seen it while driving through a local neighborhood having an estate sale. And it was $5! She convinced her husband to buy it and have it reupholstered and it would be more like a $1,000 chair! Shara Wingback before

It had definitely seen better days; something (cats, I think) had clawed the life out of it, and it must’ve sat in the same place for many years, because one side was severely faded compared to the other side (that’s not just the lighting in the last picture above! It was really that faded!).

After spending a couple of days with it, it was a brand new chair! It got a brand new cushion, the wood got a refreshing coat of oil and, obviously, new upholstery.

Shara Wingback AfterShara Wingback Before and After copy

Some seriously dramatic differences, huh? I love my job!

Oh, also, if you follow the MYU facebook page, you’ve already seen this, but I also finished and sent off this custom roman shade for a client last week! The wide white and red canvas stripes are going into a little boy’s pirate-themed bedroom. So fun!

Justin Roman Shade


P.S. Here’s a sneak peak at what’s coming tomorrow! My favorite natural moisturizing oil combo + recipe.


What have you guys been up to?! I, for one, am glad to be back!


Thrifted Coffee-Table-Turned-Ottoman Gets an Update!


Do you guys remember when I turned my $20 thrift store coffee table into an ottoman a couple of summers ago? If not, let’s refresh our memories.

When I finished college and moved to Kansas City to start my first “big girl” job at an ad agency, I didn’t have much in the way of furniture. OR much money. That’s where thrifting became a huge part of my life (and subsequently, the current content of this blog). When it comes to thrifting furniture, it MUST be solid wood. I can’t claim I’ve never bought a rickety chair, but it was ALL wood, goshdangit. 😀

So, I found this coffee table for $20 one day and brought it home (in my tiny little 2-door ’99 Honda Civic!). I lived with and used it for quite awhile (over a year) before attempting to change anything about it. I never really loved it, but I wasn’t going to change it until I thought of something I could do that I did love. If you remember the story (or just read through the old blog post, linked above), you’ll know that one day I DID figure out what to do and I was inspired out of my mind. I’ll quote my old post here…

When I moved to Kansas City (two years ago this past Monday!), I didn’t own a coffee table. In classic Alina fashion, I stalked Goodwill until a decent one showed up. It was solid wood and heavy as all get out (a requirement for me to buy a piece of furniture from Goodwill. It MUST be solid wood. Pressed wood and particle board make me shudder). It was in pretty good shape with only some minor wear and tear on the top, it was mostly modern/clean looking, it was simple and it was marked for $20. But I didn’t love it. I never have. It’s just kind of…blah. Nothing inspiring about it, you know? And I don’t like to be surrounded by things that stump my inspiration. ;) (Additionally, the lip around the edge makes it painful to rest your feet on since it cuts into the backs of your ankles. No bueno!) I’ve toyed with the idea of painting it, stripping and re-staining it (to take care of the damage on top), and I’ve even thought about tiling the top with some kind of glass tile. But none of it really struck my fancy.

Enter Pinterest. There I was, sinking deeper into the abyss, when I saw this: [enter picture from Pinterest of a DIY-ed tufted ottoman]

I stopped everything and immediately straightened up from my slumped position (I might have even stopped breathing for a second). I looked at the blog post behind the pin, looked at my coffee table, looked at the picture, looked at my coffee table. And the biggest light bulb to date arose above my head. I immediately pinned it, “DIY Tufted ottoman…yes, I will!!!”
And yes, I did. Within five days, I had started this project with no intention of stopping.

Ottoman Before 1

And LONG story short, that’s how that^ coffee table became the below ottoman.

Ottoman Before 2

Now…fast-forward a couple of years. Overall, the ottoman is still in good shape. It’s sustained many a dirty shoe, stinky sock, entire cups of spilled coffee (itwasntme), wet dogs, being used as a make-shift couch between weekend moves back and forth from KC to Wichita last year, holding pilesandpilesandpiles of stuff, and more. Really, I could not have asked for this ottoman to be in such great condition after all we’ve put it through.

Ottoman 1Ottoman 2

But, it was beginning to show some wear, in form of sagging, loose fabric. I had been noticing it for awhile, but didn’t think about updating it until Saturday morning.

I had just finished with Ginger’s chair the night before and was still swooning every time I looked at it. I wanted something fun, too! All of the sudden, those wrinkles and sagging fabric were a bigger issue than ever before.

And when that inspiration hit, it hit fast and hard. I mentioned it to Cowboy…”I’m thinking about reupholstering this ottoman…” I said into the morning quiet. “Mmhmm, OK,” he said, without looking up from his computer screen and coffee.

And, just like that, a sly smile crept onto my face. My mind started racing…”but what colors, what kind of fabric? Why did I choose this weird, gray microsuede? Oh, yes, it was on clearance. I need real upholstery-weight fabric this time. Maybe in black and white? Maybe a fun color and pattern like Ginger’s chair?”

And like a flash, I was out the door to go check out all of the local fabric shops to see what would strike my fancy.

Aaand, three fabric stores and two hours later, I was still empty-handed, unsure and uninspired.

One thing my mom taught me was to always have neutral furniture than can be updated with pillows and throws. I wanted to like a bold print & color combo, but I just couldn’t commit. Later that afternoon, I was back home and I remembered one of my favorite pieces of furniture. The Erin chair from World Market.

Erin Chair 2VIA

 So I took it to the mattresses went digging for fabric scraps in my studio and to see how much canvas dropcloth I had in stock (yes, the kind you buy at your local home improvement store…it’s what I make my grocery bags out of).

Ottoman 3.5

I had plenty of dropcloth (furniture looks great upholstered in it! It’s a durable and is a superdupercheap alternative to upholstery-weight linen). And within a few minutes, I had picked out enough scraps to recover the buttons and was pulling out all of the staples.

Ottoman 3
To recover the buttons (and this is totally and completely NOT professional, nor how I would do someone else’s piece of furniture…but it was for me and it was free and it worked, so it won out):

1) I cut out all of my circles (using the template that I still had from the first time I covered the buttons) from scraps.

2) Using the plastic button-covering kit that comes with the buttons, I placed the fabric wrong-side-up on top of the plastic piece, placed the button on top of that…

3) Pushed it all into the plastic piece, ran a line of hot glue around the back of the button…

4) …and pushed the fabric down.

5) Voilá…recovered buttons.

Ottoman 4

And then came the tufting and upholstering! I started working on this when Cowboy left to hang out with his brother for the evening. And it was back in the living room, finished, by the time he got home at 11.

Ottoman 6

Best part? It was F-R-E-E! I used dropcloth and fabric scraps and buttons I already had. And well, I do this for a living, so I obviously had plenty of button tufting twine and cotton to pad the sides with. If I had to count up the materials I would have bought though, it might add up to $10. Maybe.
Ottoman 7 Ottoman 8Ottoman 9

Amazing, right? I’m so glad I spent my Saturday night updating it. I realized while I was working on it that it was literally the only thing in my house that I had upholstered. Consequently, anytime someone was over and found out what I “do” and asked to see some of my work, it was the only thing I could point to. And, while it was just fine, it was my first-ever upholstery job. It did need to be brought up to current “standards,” just like a graphic designer would update their business card as they gained more experience.

So let’s see the lifetime of this coffee table all together now…

Ottoman 9.5
Worth the $80 I’ve now invested into this coffee table/ottoman, right?!

I try to not work-work on the weekends, but do projects for us instead. It keeps me inspired and fresh. Other times, I just need a rest and spend the weekend hanging out with awesome people. 🙂 What did you guys do this weekend?

Linda’s Cottage Cane Chairs

Good morning, friends!

If you’ve ever worked with me or gotten an upholstery quote from me, you know how I do things: you e-mail/message/text me a picture or two of your furniture, I ask my questions (i.e. do you want it re-tufted, do you want the cushion to have a zipper, etc.), and then I give you a quote.

A few months back, Linda, of Embellished Rabbit (she is a vendor inside of The Cottage Collective!), started a conversation with me about upholstery and redoing some pieces she wanted to sell. That conversation has grown to include multiple pieces of furniture and continues to be ongoing. She’s SO great to work with–she has a vision that she can communicate clearly and is so, so nice. She even warned me to protect my eyes when she sent me the below “before” pictures. 🙂

Let me stop here to tell you how talented this woman is…if you’re local to Wichita, you NEED to get to The Cottage ASAP to see her room. She never ceases to blow me away with how beautifully she styles her room. And she does it all–furniture, accent pieces, signs, antique and vintage knick-knacks, handmade items, then styling it in such a way that you feel you need to either take it all home or not buy anything so as not to disturb the beauty (but of course you buy whatever it is that caught your eye because you can’t possibly go home without it). Seriously…talent. And I don’t say that lightly. My mom and I LOVE her room.

OK, back to the matter at hand: her chairs. She sent me the below “before” pictures of two cane chairs she had picked up. Before she brought them to me, she actually stripped them back and painted/distressed the frames. (see? talent.)


I didn’t get a good picture of what they looked like when she brought them to me, but you can see them below in one of my Instagram photos!


And after a day with them, I had them back in clothes. 🙂 They’re upholstered in drop cloth, which gives you a beautiful linen look that will be very durable. The end result was completely a team effort between Linda and I and I LOVE how they turned out.

LindaChairsAfter1LindaChairsAfter3 LindaChairsAfter2LindaChairsAfter4

There are two available and she’s going to be selling them in The Cottage Collective–make sure to contact her!

How to: Paint a Herringbone Pattern

First of all, I’m sure there are hundred of tutorials on this very thing and many of you will scoff at the fact that I even took the time to write this out because OBVIOUSLY you already know how to do this. Wellll….I wrote it anyway. 🙂 While sorting through before-and-after pictures of furniture I have re-done (for the upholstery & sewing services page!), I realized I had taken photos of my herringbone dresser during the painting process, but never had time to share. So, since I already have the photos, I’m writing the tutorial. I hope it’s helpful!

Let’s back up…some of you may remember the red dresser with hand-painted herringbone drawers I did back in April for The Red Barn Outdoor Market. Some of you might be newer than that. So, here she is…seriously one of my favorite pieces! It sold to a lady who was putting it in her son’s nursery, which makes it that much easier to let go of!

And this is what she looked like when I picked her up…

Not pretty, but she had good bones! So, I sanded her down and painted her red (with a coat of mint green underneath to peek through!). Unfortunately (or so I thought at the time) there was some graffiti in the bottom of one of the drawers, all done in permanent marker, and even three coats of Kilz Stain Blocker wasn’t doing the trick. So, I decided to camouflage it and really go the extra mile on the drawers! I thought about doing a chevron, but wasn’t sure if customers would be completely tired and over it, so I decided to go slightly different and do herringbone.

I sort of made it up as I went, but it worked well, so here’s how I did it!

  1. Choose your two colors. In my case, I wanted white and gray, so I painted the bottoms and sides in white.
  2. Decide how big you want your pattern to be. In my case, I made wanted the colors to alternate every 2 inches from top to bottom and every 4 inches from side-to-side. So, I measured out my pattern, marking every four inches on the top and bottom. Because I wanted to paint on one side of the tape first, I didn’t center my tape on the lines every four inches, but rather placed my tape to one side. It will look uneven! The concept is the same as if you were painting stripes on a wall. Once those “vertical” pieces of tape were in place, I marked every two inches down the side of the tape where I would be painting the herringbone. I then took smaller pieces of tape and placed them on a diagonal from one mark on the left to the next 2-inch mark below on the right Once I had everything taped off, I painted! It took two coats to get enough coverage, but I removed the pieces of tape while the second coat was wet and set them aside to reuse. You now have half of your herringbone!
  3. Once the second coat is dry enough to place tape onto (I waited until the next day so I wouldn’t have to worry about pulling it up), repeat the process, filling in between the first round of diagonals. You’ll now want to make your diagonals go down from right to left, opposite of what you did the first time. And make sure you’re painting the “off” rows, otherwise you’ll end up with a chevron, which is fine, but definitely not a herringbone. Your tape should look like this before you paint:

And voilá! Does that make sense? It was a pretty “quick” process once I had done my math and figured out what I was doing, so you might just have to DO IT for it to make sense, but I hope this takes some of the guesswork out of it and provides some direction!
Are you guys still loving chevron? After spending HOURS familiarizing myself with the construction of the herringbone, I feel a certain attachment to it, but it’s definitely not caught on in the fabric world (which, obviously is the main medium I’ve been working with lately). Well, I should clarify that I haven’t found any modern takes on the herringbone. Always a classic, I suppose. 🙂

Becky’s Suzani Chair

Good morning, friends!

My latest upholstery job was picked up by the owners this morning. This chair was totally unique to me, both in how it was upholstered and how new it was (i.e. newer methods of upholstery, whereas I’m used to furniture that is 20+ years old!). This chair was just over 10 years old, so it wasn’t brand new, but it was in great shape–just needed some new clothes!

Becky had been eyeing this awesome fabric and then, after some time, found it on clearance (like less than $10/yard!) and bought all 5.5 yards. Seriously an awesome deal! I, too, had been eyeing this fabric for awhile, so I was more than excited to get to work with it!

I will say that this chair is MUCH bigger than it reads on-screen. When Becky was asking me for a quote, she texted me a picture of the chair (that’s pretty much how I do business ;)…then her husband brought it by. Here’s a picture of me (average-sized 5’4″ person) in it. I posted this picture on the MYU facebook page earlier this week (like us on facebook for constant behind-the-scenes stuff!), so you may be seeing this again, but isn’t that crazy?

See? Ginormous. I had to essentially crawl into the chair just to upholster the back.

Now for some detail shots…

Love me some zippered cushions…
Unless the corners are uber-specific…these had me up until 4 am. 🙁
Mmm…double welting! Fun fact: between the double welting on the chair frame and piping on the cushions, this chair took over 40 yards of welting cord. That’s 120 FEET…nearly half of a football field! It never ceases to amaze me how much piping I have to sew for upholstery projects. Needless to say…after all of the piping that’s been created for various pieces of furniture over the past year, my sewing machine and I are pretty much professional piping makers now. 😉
The back was upholstered, too!
I love how it turned out and Becky did too. And I’m happy when my clients are happy! 🙂
On another note…look what came in the mail this week…
I’m simultaneously thrilled to death and scared to death every time I use it. It’s AWESOME. There’s a whole new world of sewing to learn now. I ultimately decided that if people are paying me to sew slipcovers and upholster furniture for them (plus, buying items from my etsy shop, now!), then the seams need to be professionally finished, without spending twice the time on french seams. If anyone has any serging/overlocking tips, feel free to share them! I’m mostly hoping Raechel Myers decides to do a series on overlocking, since her “Sewing 101” series was seriously the most helpful thing I’ve found in my sewing lifetime! I first recommended it here, and I still completely back the fact that everyone should take it, either as a beginner or as someone who might need a refresher course!
I start another upholstery job this week (I’m actually booked through the end of the year–woohoo!) and then we have Thanksgiving! Enjoy and be safe during the holiday week, friends!

Hannah & Richard’s Leopard Side Chair

Hello, friends!
Today I wanted to share a quick before and after of my latest upholstery job. I’ve known Hannah since high school (her dad drove us and her sister to the Cornerstone festival one year!). Hannah & her fiancé, Richard, are tying the knot in late December–just days after mine and Cowboy’s first anniversary! I may be partial to December weddings, but I’m really very excited for them.
This sweet little side chair is a family heirloom and will be moving into their newlywed house, but, overall, they wanted it updated (and some kitties had left their marks on the top left corner!). Their wedding colors are leopard and green, so when Hannah saw the leopard print fabric I was using in another client’s slipcover, she knew just what to do with this chair and enlisted my help!

Pretty awesome, huh? I love the bold fabric.

I’m booked through mid-November with upholstery jobs, so if you’d like to get a piece done before family starts coming in for the holidays, contact me for a quote and I’ll get you worked into the schedule!


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