Upcycling tutorial: make a tote, basket or rug with plastic bag yarn

The plastic problem is still huge and creating big problems in oceans, in landfill and just generally making the earth look very ugly. Still, I am an optimist, and I believe change is coming, not tomorrow maybe, but we are heading in the right direction. People are generally becoming more aware of the ecological impact of especially single use plastic and social media is full of posts showing ideas of how to reduce the use of it in your own household. I am still guilty myself of doing unplanned, spontaneous grocery shopping, subsequently accepting single use carrier bags. I buy coffees on the go in takeaway cups. It is hard to be consistent and strict about these things while they are still constantly offered to us.

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Last year India banned all forms of disposable plastic in Delhi. Europe is proposing a ban on single-use plastic items such as cutlery, straws and cotton buds in a bid to clean up the oceans. The legislation is not just about banning plastic products. It also wants to make plastic producers bear the cost of waste management and cleanup efforts, and it proposes that EU states must collect 90% of single-use plastic bottles by 2025 through new recycling programs.

upcycling tutorial

So that’s a bit about where we are at with single use plastic…but what about turning single use carrier bags into something that is usable for much longer, while they are still in existence? I am always in awe of how creative and resourceful humans are around the world. Who knew you could knit and crochet with the stuff?


How to make plarn?

 


1. Make a Crocheted tote bag our of plarn

 

plarn tote bag upcycling tutorial
Image and tutorial (in Spanish): La ventana azul

Image: MontClairMade


Plastic bags can be incredibly versatile and turned into very strong yarn for crocheting. When choosing bags for your project, consider color and texture. Select bags that are similar in thickness to create an overall good effect. Combine different coloured bags to create a pattern of colour, colour changes and patterns.

Supplies you’ll need:

20-25 clean grocery bags
Plastic crochet hook, size 6.50mm K
Scissors

Ready to give it a go?

Take me to the tutorial


plarn basket upcycling tutorial
Image: Jessyratfink

 

2. Make a basket out of plarn

A waste basket…out of waste! I love baskets for all sorts of uses, including toys, craft supplies, hats and gloves at the front door or yes, for paper waste.  How cute is this one made out of plastic carrier bags? And even better, no crocheting required.

Want to learn how?

Take me to the tutorial


3. Make a rag rug out of plarn

Great for outdoors, at the front door or in the bathroom, rag rugs made out of plastic carrier bags make surprisingly great mats. Here is an upcycling tutorial on how to make them. No crocheting needed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Velvet inspiration: soften up your decor

Velvet is the one fabric I can’t walk past without touching it. Can you? It is very much on trend just now and many home interior stores are selling cushions, upholstered furniture and soft furnishings in this luxurious material. Here is some velvet inspiration to soften up your decor. A roundup of some gorgeous products for the next season. Enjoy!


Velvet fabrics for soft furnishings

velvet in home decor
Image: Dekoria

Rich velvet-like texture gives a luxurious look with irresistible soft to touch feel. Go for a decadent interior or bejewel a room with a few velvety touches for a must have look of 2018. Embrace the velvety look and give your living room or bedroom an on-trend plush update.

Where to buy velvet fabric?

Dekoria has a fabulous collection of fabrics that are – very useful – washable at 30 degrees. Affordable too at £17.00 / metre.


Luxurious velvet sofas

velvet sofa chesterfield in home decor
The Wellingtone sofa from Graham and Green

If you are looking for a beautiful luxurious sofa to make that grand statement in your interior, Graham and Green have a good selection. The one pictures shows the ‘Wellington 3-seater, a timeless sofa inspired by the classic chesterfield, in a royal blue velvet material. Luxury meets comfort here. It has beautiful scrolled arms and a plush button back finish creating a decadent focal point for your living room. Request a free swatch of your favourite colours to see and feel the material up close.

grey velvet sofa midcentury modern homelia
Image: Homelia

 

I really love this one, looking very midcentury modern and sleek. A long, rectangular 3-seater sofa from Homelia, online destination for luxury & designer homeware and furniture. The silhouette adds structure and style to a room whilst its plump back and seat cushions offer sink-in comfort as you completely stretch your legs out along its length. The small, angled legs in varnished chestnut add design-led flair.


Make a statement with a velvet armchair

If a 3-seater sofa is bit too much for you, why not go for a single armchair to add a smaller sophisticated statement to your interior? There are many shapes and sizes and with just the one chair you could go for something a bit more daring and different.

Knoll velvet dining chairs
Image: Knoll

A true vintage classic, these gold Platner armchairs by Knoll. No boring interior for you if you invest in one of those. Place them around the dining table or add a single one to your sitting corner for a wow factor.


velvet armchair in home decor
Image: Made.com


MADE
has a great selection of velvet armchairs, in both minimalist and bolder styles. I like this one with the elegant copper metal frame.

 


Snuggle up under a velvet blanket

velvet quilts
Image: Graham and Green

Because the evenings are getting chillier, little feels more luxurious and comforting than to snuggle up under a super soft blanket. These  Quilts With Printed Reverse (240 x 220cm) by Graham and Green are double sided and welcoming in every way. Besides that, the two colourways, Coral Red and Slate Blue are perfect colours for the winter months, treating your bedroom to warm tones while while the nights are getting colder. The quilt is soft to touch and showcases a neutral cotton reverse that has been embellished with hand block print work in a pale blue, inspired by floral Indian patterns. I’m sure I’d be loving these for a very long time, possibly forever.


 

Bohemian interior design ideas with folklore fabrics

I am sharing some bohemian interior design ideas today, featuring fabrics and textiles. If you have ever visited markets abroad, especially with a strong folklore tradition, you know you’re likely to find some gorgeous woven or embroidered textiles. Rugs, blankets, stacks of fabric.

market finds and souvenirs from exotic trips

I have come back with suitcases full, from the souks in Marrakesh and the markets in Ecuador. You can often get carried away, blinded by the bold colours and beautiful patterns. Once home, you end up wondering what to do with all that fabric. Mine ended up neatly folded away in the wardrobe for years waiting patiently to be put to use. Sounds familiar?

I thought I’d gather some ideas today for things to do with textiles from exotic markets, so they will hopefully take pride of place in your home from now on. Because they are ideal to give any room the Wow factor and a good splash of personality. And more importantly, they will take you back to the wonderful places where you found them… Show them off!

bohemian interior design

1. Frame them

Bohemian interior design needs plenty of art on the wall. Got a small bit of beautiful fabric? It is a great idea for any smaller bit of fabric (or even wallpaper!) you love and want to show off. Hang them in a group and create a gallery of your favourite textiles.

bohemian interior designbohemian interior design
bohemian interior design

2. Throw them on your bed

Layer, layer, layer. Those large rugs and blankets look fabulous spread over your bed, and keep your warm too. Don’t be afraid to use different patterns and colours. It is what makes great bohemian interior design. Combine them to create the perfect boho feel.

bohemian interior design
bohemian interior design
bohemian interior design

3. Make cushions. And then make some more.

A pretty obvious one, but cushions are a great way of using your souvenir – or any found or vintage – textiles. It is also great to use outdoors on the patio or veranda in summer to bring back that holiday feeling.

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4. Hang ’em up

Larger pieces of fabric or rugs can be put up as wall hangings behind your bed, above the sofa or in hallways. They make a great statement and are essential aspects in bohemian interior design. Add a rod to the top to prevent sagging.

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5. Upholstery

Last but not least, there are some amazing examples of oriental kilims and other folklore fabrics used as upholstery on chairs and ottomans. It seems a shame to cut up your nice fabrics, but at least this way they will get used and admired for many years.

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bohemian interior design

Like what you see? All image sources and more ideas can be found in my Textiles Pinterest board.

Oriental rug roundup. Over-dyed, kilims and faded vintage rugs.

Choosing a rug can be quite tricky. There are so many nice ones in a million different colours and styles. Plus, when they are large they have a big influence on the style and feel of your room, so it is important to think about the look you ultimately want to achieve. I am currently very much in love with the vintage oriental, or Persian, ones and I was lucky enough to find a giant red one for little pennies on Gumtree last year, including the worn patches for added ‘character’! I have gathered some great images for you below of fabulous oriental rugs and how to use them in your interior. Enjoy!

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image: www.smittenstudioonline.com

A beautiful rich oriental rug is looking great in a bright bedroom. Wonderful blue ombre curtains too.

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image: www.turbulences-deco.fr

The nice thing about traditional rugs is that they go quite well in a contemporary setting, combined with other vintage pieces but also in front of a modern sofa on your living room floor. Very versatile and timeless, making it a good investment.

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image: my Domaine

Don’t forget your hallway! A colourful runner can make a great statement. This should also be not too expensive as they are a lot smaller. A good place to find vintage rugs is your local auction house. Just browse their online catalogue and see what is coming up.

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image: joannagoddard.blogspot.com

A way to add a pop of colour to a bright room with lots of whites is to add a vintage red rug. Goes very well with the Eames chairs too.

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Image: light and dwell

A vintage rug and a velvet sofa. You don’t need much more to create a beautiful, cosy room.

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image: domainehome.com

I also love faded blues and indigo patterns right now. If you are not really into the traditional reds, try and find an ‘overdyed’ rug in a blue or green shade. Great if you combine it with natural wood, greys and whites for a calmer look.

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image: London House rugs

Kilim rugs are another traditional type of wool rug from the middle east, usually with geometrical patterns or stripes, but instead of the Persian rugs shown above kilims are flat woven. They come in fabulous colours and can really give your room a stylish boost if your looking to brighten up the space. A lot of high street shops now sell kilims in both traditional patterns and contemporary styles, including John Lewis, West elm and Ikea.
You can also try sourcing gorgeous vintage kilims on Etsy or other online stores such as kilim.com

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Image: Red Magazine
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A modern style kilim by John Lewis

Five easy ways to create a Bohemian decor

Five easy ways to create a bohemian decor with vintage and house plants


Bohemian decor is all about indulgence, decoration, oversized drapes, large house plants, and plentiful soft furnishings. Add the exotic furniture and souvenirs from travels far away and you get the picture.

Romantic escapism, day dreaming, artistic flair and heaps of personality and soul. Few things are new, most are found, inherited or collected, lots reused and re-purposed. I am probably too much of a mid-century modern fan to go all floral and decorative in my own house, but I do have a weakness for the more exotic interiors and love taking ideas and inspiration from them.But did you know bohemian and mid-century styles go surprisingly well together? I wrote all about this in another blog post here.

If you’re a monochrome kind of person, look away now, because here are my top five tips for getting the bohemian vibe going in your own home!


Create a bohemian decor #1: The Peacock chair

Decorative, feminine, exotic…love it or hate it, the peacock chair is a true essential in a bohemian home. Surround it by lush plants in your sun room, drape your scarves on it next to your dressing table in the bedroom or create a cosy little corner with plenty of books, cushions and textiles. They also look amazing outdoors in summer on your terrace in the garden.

peacock chair in bohemian interior
The Peacock chair, here combined with a shaggy rug, floor cushions, cactus plants, rattan accessories and a vintage swivel chair. Img: Moon to Moon

Vintage peacock chair

Could you recreate this private little jungle in your sun room? Image Sarah Kaye


Create a bohemian decor #2: layer your textiles

Do you love traveling to exotic places? Ever been to Marrakesh or Ecuador? I bet you came back with some pretty throws in your suitcase. Use them! Drape them over the sofa, hang them on the wall. Other essential textile items are rugs, shaggy or oriental ones, ideally slightly worn. Check Etsy for some amazing Floor cushions, great for adding some bohemian style to your room.

Moroccan floor cushion for bohemian decor
Beautiful Morroccan floor cushion from Etsy

 

 

 

Bohemian bedroom

A rug draped over the bed? Why not. And hang those guitars up in case you feel like serenading your loved one in the morning. Image Magic Dream Life

Layered rugs in bohemian home
Totally my style, mid century minimalist furniture combined with oriental kilim rugs. Love it. Image Sfgirlbybay

Bohemian textiles on a corner sofa with fig leave plant
Who needs matching cushions anyway? Great mix of textures and patterns going on here. Image The Jungalow


create a bohemian decor #3: house plants

House plants are great to add a bit of bohemian style to your room, the larger the better! Hang them suspended from the ceiling in macrame hangers or just place them on the floor in a big ceramic planter or old tin or brass pot. Did you know plants clean the air in your house, making your living space extra healthy? Better than any artificial air purifier. Here’s some more useful info I shared on the blog earlier.


House plant in bohemian interior

Great combination of a large houseplant in an old brass pot, a vintage chest, natural wooden flooring, colourful art and layered textiles on the sofa. Image Pinterest


create a bohemian decor #4: add vintage finds

Love going to flea markets? Collecting weird and wonderful items? Show them off! Vintage finds are ideal items for creating that bohemian vibe in your interior. Group your vintage finds to create little collections and displays, on a shelf on the wall, a table or in the window. Lanterns are great to collect and display together, both inside and outside – because why stop indoors? Create a magical bohemian corner in your garden, on your balcony or decking. Oh and get that peacock chair out when it’s sunny!

moroccan lanterns on a veranda at the seaside
Oooh…this makes me long for summer. Gorgeous lanterns. Image Residence Style

 
ceramic collection in black vintage dresser

Ceramics and crockery! Mix and match, collect beautiful ‘orphan teacups’, bring back decorative bowls and dishes from your holidays abroad, find fabulous plates in the charity shop. They will look fab all together in your vintage kitchen dresser. Image via Life is in Everyhting Beautiful / Tumblr




bohemian interior glass bottles
Group fresh green leaves and a single pink rose in vintage bottles together against a dark painted wall. Image via Bloglovin


get a bohemian decor #5. Art. Lots of it. And books. Lots of books.

I have a weakness for art, whether it is big oil paintings, graphic design, prints, black and white photography or sculpture. I LOVE art and when I see something that catches my eye and ‘speaks’ to me, and is within budget  – I have to buy it. You’d be surprised how often you may find original art that isn’t expensive. A little bronze sculpture at a yard sale, a vintage oil painting in a charity shop or a cool film poster at an auction. You really don’t need to fork out thousands to buy original art by famous names to get a great collection going. Just do it.

Try also going around exhibitions in your local area to discover artists in your own community whose work may be more affordable than you think. Or how about framing some of your children’s drawings to add to the mix? Or an illustrated page from an old book? To get the bohemian vibe going, group your framed art on a wall to create a colourful eye catching gallery. Lean them against a wall, overlapping even, or arrange them on a shelf if you like changing them around every now and then.

Bohemian art collection with mid century chair and books
Old paintings, framed prints, stacks of books, vintage furniture and oriental rugs. Oh…and that mid century chair…what a gorgeous mix. Image Lonny


Floral paintings gallery wall

These are the type of paintings you could easily come across at flea markets or charity shops. Group similar ones to create a colourful ‘themed’ wall. Image Happy Loves Rosie

Framed plants and curiosities

Not into paintings? Frame your plants and dried flowers! Collections are all about reflecting your own personality, so be creative and think outside the box. Image Our Southern Home



Inspired? Have fun giving your own interior the bohemian touch. And remember:

Bohemian quote

How to reupholster a vintage chair. Costs, fabrics and tips

How do you reupholster a vintage chair? What are the costs, is it worth the effort? What are the best fabrics to use and can you do it yourself? Today I am sharing some tips on what to do when you find a gorgeous vintage chair in need of new upholstery.

So you walk into a charity shop or second hand store and spot a beautiful old chair. Or you inherit an old armchair from your grandmother and have grand visions of it looking totally cool again. It can be a bit daunting, the prospect of doing it yourself.  Even if you have the skills. And what does it cost if you find someone to do it for you? What fabric is suitable and what will look nice?

how to reupholster a chair
A vintage Lloyd Loom chair I transformed for a customer, using Farrow and Ball paint and a gorgeous piece of purple and grey patterned fabric.

DIY it or hire someone? The pros and cons

I have revamped a number of chairs for customers and to sell in my shop. In some cases I did it totally myself, when it was the more straight forward type of seat. In other cases I would come up with the design and hand the actual job over to a professional upholsterer. It is amazing to see a smelly and tatty old chair being transformed into a fabulously stylish piece. My advice? Go for it. There are just a few things to keep in mind.

what to keep in mind

There are pros and cons to tackling a project like this yourself or getting someone else to do it. If you have no money but lots of time, it might be worth-wile learning how to do it yourself. There are plenty of books and Youtube videos out there. It will be a fantastic achievement and something to be really proud of.

On the other hand, especially when you have little patience, some things are better left to people who make a great job of it. It is worth every penny to spend that little bit extra to get the result you are after. After all, ask yourself how much you would spend on a new chair in a high street store. Probably not even of the solid quality of your old vintage find.

how to reupholster a chair
For a more complicated vintage wing back chair I selected the fabric and designed the new look and asked a professional to reupholster it for me. I painted the feet in a graphite chalk paint to match the fabric.


what does it cost to reupholster a chair

People are sometimes surprised by the cost of getting a chair reupholstered. It is however a mistake to think that just by buying a second-hand chair that needs new covers, you are going to save lots of money. Apart from the amount of time and material it takes to bring a chair back to life, it’s not about saving money really. It should be regarded as an alternative option. A different, far more interesting and exciting option. Plus you are saving something from being thrown away by giving it a new lease of life. That is worth something as well.

Here’s a quick comparison of doing it yourself versus handing the job over to someone else:

Doing it yourself:

  • Pros: you will be learning/practicing new skills, potentially saving some money, get a feeling of great achievement and have a fab creative project to work on.
  • Cons: it will probably take you a long time to do, it is quite technical when trying to tackle a big chair such as a wing back. You may not get the professional looking result you were aiming for.

Paying a professional:

  • Pros: they know what they are doing, using the right materials (fire retardant etc) and make your chair look amazing. They have the knowledge and expertise to advice on fabrics. They work a lot faster than you!
  • Cons: it is more costly than doing it yourself.

How to find an upholsterer

You can of course google upholstery firms in your area. But great upholsterers often work for themselves, running their own little businesses. It is worth around in your networks for recommendations or post the question on your local Facebook pages. There’s bound to come some names out of the woodwork!

how to reupholster a chair
An old rocking chair I revamped using Ikea fabric, which is now living in the Dell of Abernethy holiday accommodation in the Cairngorms!


practical Reupholstery tips


1. reupholster a chair: Choosing fabric

When choosing fabric for an a chair or sofa, make sure it is suitable for upholstery. For smaller seats such as kitchen chairs it is OK to use curtain material or fabric you would use for making cushions, but for the bigger chairs it needs to be suitable for upholstery and fire retardant. If in doubt, ask a specialist fabric retailer.

There are of course millions of fabrics to choose from and it is totally up to you whether you want to go wild and patterned or choose a more classic and timeless fabric such as plain wool. I love the furnishing fabrics at Ikea. They are fun and inexpensive and most are suitable for (light) upholstery. Ideal for a quick makeover of kitchen chairs or box cushion seats. John Lewis also has some great fabrics, ranging from around £11 per meter for some of their printed cottons to well over £50 per meter for a quality wool. Keep in mind that for a wing back chair you will probably need around six meters of fabric, so the fancier your material, the more costly your project.

upholstery fabric for chairs
I love the fabrics by Scion (Harlequin), which come in fabulous graphic patterns. This is Scion Axis Tangerine.

 


Other sources for finding fabric I have used are good old eBay (you can often find some good value remnants of wool, linen and other quality materials) and Fabric Rehab, a great website with beautiful patterned fabrics, which you will love if you like the Scandi look like me. Always try and get a sample if you can when buying online, to prevent getting a roll of fabric that is not what you were after.


2. reupholster a chair: Webbing and foam

Mid century armchairs, including those made by Ercol, often have rubber Pirelli webbing rather than traditional webbing, which is fairly easy to replace, using the metal clips that come with it. The rubber straps are quite costly, so make sure you measure up how much you need before ordering. Pirelli webbing can be found on eBay or online shops specialised in upholstery.

Furniture from the 1950s and 60s also often has foam blocks inside the seats (as supposed to horsehair filling used in traditional, antique furniture), so this is another thing that is pretty straight forward to replace. You can get foam in various thicknesses and density. For an armchair seat I usually buy a 4″ thick block, for a kitchen chair 1″ or 1.5″ is often enough. A useful website to buy foam from I find is Easyfoam.

reupholstering midcentury furniture
Two Pirelli webbing projects I tackled myself: a small sofa and an armchair
Greaves and Thomas armchair
A gorgeous mid century armchair by Greaves and Thomas I replaced the Pirelli webbing and box cushion for.
reupholstering midcentury furniture
The small vintage mid century teak sofa, with new webbing and grey linen box cushions

3. reupholster a chair: Paint or strip?

Then there is the question of what to do with the woodwork. Strip it, paint it, leave it the way it is? I stripped a chair once (see picture below) and it was a LOT of work. I was super pleased with the result, yes, but it is not something I would want to tackle every week. Still, much better than the horrible shiny mahogany stain it had before. Painting is an option if you really don’t like the look of the wooden frame, but if it is a nice oak or teak then it is best to just give it a good oil or wax and polish and it will look just fine. (Please don’t ever ‘Annie Sloan‘ a mid century piece!)

how to reupholster a chair
A £12 vintage find at an auction, stripped bare to a beautiful light wood, oiled and reupholstered in a black Marimekko fabric.

 


a unique chair with a story to tell

Conclusion? A revamped vintage chair is money and time well spent. A chair with a story to tell beats any mass produced seat any day. Whether you do it yourself or ask a professional to do it for you, the choice is yours. You will have a unique statement chair for years to come, that’s for sure.

Have you tackled an upholstery project yourself? What were your challenges?