Restoring old garden furniture using Annie Sloan’s chalk paint

I’m sure most people have seen, or even have owned, a set of cast-iron (or aluminium, depending on their age) garden furniture a bit like this.  It’s not in vogue at the moment, but I really like old-style furniture, and it suits my Queenslander home.

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My mum noticed a set of 4 of these chairs and a table (in terrible condition!) at a garage sale near her home not long ago.  She snapped them up ($40 for the lot! Bargain!) and I have been very slowly doing them up so that they can go either on my front porch or into my garden.

This weekend, I knocked over chair number 3.  The photo above shows the restored chair on the left, and the remaining one which is untouched on the right.  In fact, the photos don’t really show the full extent of the contrast.  The restored chair looks amazing compared with its former self.

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Before restoration

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After restoration

Annie Sloan’s chalk paint is not all that easy to get (Bunnings doesn’t keep it, for instance) and it is a bit more expensive than ordinary paint.  It is worth the trouble to find it and the extra money because:

– it doesn’t require the stripping of the old paint (all you need to do is ensure the surface is clean and remove any loose flakes of paint)

– It is pretty safe:  there aren’t nasty fumes to worry about, so I can paint despite being pregnant and having a little one running around me while I work

– It is really easy to use

– It washes up in warm water

When you factor in the money and time saved when you don’t have to strip the old paint, prime it or varnish, it’s a good deal, in my view.

Before restoration

Before restoration

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After restoration

I really like the white, but the paints come in a range of colours (most of which I think would look better diluted with white, but that might just be my preferences showing through).

If you are using the paint on indoor furniture, it also has a wax finish that seals it in (I’ll show you this in a future post).  However, the Queensland sun is just too strong for it, and you don’t need it in the outdoors, so it is better to just go without it.  I’m told the really high summer temperatures we get can melt the wax right off outdoor furniture!  It’s much better to keep the wax indoors.

The paint is the perfect surface if you want to try and distress the finish.  I don’t plan to do that with my outdoor setting.

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The original condition is on the left, the restored chair is on the right. The back of the chair wasn’t as bad as the front, so the contrast between the before and after isn’t quite as stark!

Anyway, if you are the kind of person who would prefer to fix something up than throw it away, consider restoring using Annie Sloan’s chalk paint.  It’s easy, hardy and gives a nice new lease on life for well-built classics like this outdoor setting.

I’m one chair and a table away from a brand-new setting for my home.  It has been such an enjoyable project so far.

If you are looking for the paints, you can get them from Paint Me White in Brisbane (Woolloongabba) or on the Gold Coast (Mudgeeraba).

Have a great day!


Paper dolls bakery 16″ softie doll

I’m not experienced with making toys.  I’ve made a number of EPP balls with a bell inside for babies, but that is about it.  Until last night!

In the space of about a half hour, I took the paper dolls bakery softie panel produced by Sibling Arts Studio for Penny Rose Fabrics from start to finish.  It was really easy, I could hand sew it closed while I watched telly with my husband, and importantly, my little girl loves it.

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It really was just a matter of cutting out the panels, putting the front and back sides together (pretty sides inwards) and straight stitching around the edge, leaving a hole for stuffing.  I also zig-zagged around the raw edges to prevent fraying – overlocking would be better but I don’t have an overlocker 🙂

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Some soft toy fill pressed in, and hand sewing of the hole to close it up, and voila!  I might have over-filled her a little but I figure that toys compress a little over time.

I’ll confess my husband doesn’t love it (he thinks dolly has a piggy nose), but I think it has a nice simplicity and a sweet vintage feel.  Plus, I want my little girl to love simple, home made toys rather than piles of plastic, disposable junk from stores.  The fact that she won’t stop cuddling it has to be a good sign!  She was very quickly named Abby by my little one.

Have a great day.


Scandinavian style baby quilt

On mother’s day in early May, I had a little more time than usual in the sewing room.  It was my request for the day – so much better than breakfast in bed!

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I took the chance to make a quilt top for a friend of mine who is a new mother.  Her daughter arrived 4 weeks early, and so I didn’t quite have the gift ready for little miss’ arrival.  Nevertheless, it is complete now, and I thought I would share with you some photos.

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I didn’t use a pattern for this quilt, but I gave a description of how to make it in this post.

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I decided to back the quilt in flannelette, because it is winter here and nothing is more snuggly.  That way, the quilt has a cool side and a warm side, so that it can be used year-round.

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I had picked up the fabric for the front at a quilter’s fair earlier in the year, and it is by Cloud 9.  The backing is a Moda fabric which, despite being from a fairy-tale styled range, coordinates well with the pinks and creams on the quilt top.  I used all of the scraps from the fabrics I used on the top to make a scrappy binding, and so there was less than one fat quarter’s worth of waste for the whole quilt.  That made me especially happy!

My Mum, who so often helps me with the hand-sewing part of binding, did it again on this quilt.  Thanks Mum 🙂  It means I was able to post the finished product to the recipient yesterday.  Now I have the anticipation of waiting for the recipient’s reaction… one of the parts of giving quilts I enjoy most.

Have a great day, all.