Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A New Way to Look at Fabric

A couple of years ago my daughter ripped the barkcloth fabric on the vintage rocking chair my Mom got her. Not to worry, not something a little fabric and a staple gun can't fix. So I went to JoAnn's and could not find what I wanted. I wanted a shabby chic, old faded roses print. Not to be had, without spending an arm and a leg at a designer fabric store.

And then it caught my eye... the underside of a brightly colored rose print fabric. Could I use that to upholster her chair? Why not said my Mom. I decided it was a brilliant idea. It had that timeworn, faded, vintage quality I was after. I purchased enough for her chair and set to work.

Here's what the fabric looked like on it's right side. Not terrible, but not what I was going for.

Another shot of the difference between the front and back:
It really was just like a Rachel Ashwell fabric! And it was fairly inexpensive because it wasn't a Rachel Ashwell fabric. Last thing it needed was a little more definition in the flowers. I purchased a few scrapbook pens and lightly colored in some of the details of the roses at an angle, so it looks just like the fabric, only better. This way I got my cake and ate it too: a shabby fabric with just the right hint of color, the look I wanted, and very little cost.

Another fun fabric idea: tea stain it!
I found a remnant of this gorgeous linen damask Waverly fabric on super clearance, but it was bright turquoise and white and I wanted more of a muted robins egg blue and cream. Not to worry! Brew up about 20 black tea bags in very very hot water in your kitchen sink, dip, stir, and wha-la! Instant age and knocked down color. Now it is just the right shade next to my curtains, and I was able to get the look I wanted and the quality of fabric at just $4 to recover 2 chairs! That can't be beat.

If you've never tea-stained before, here are a couple of hints:
- Cut or rip a small section of your fabric to test first.
- I use black tea bags, the cheap kind that come in a big box.
- It's better to take out the fabric after a minute or two and check it then let it go too long and get too dark.
- If it does accidentally get too dark, run it under cold water immediately and then throw it in the washer with soap. That should lighten it a little.
I actually dyed this fabric too dark and washed it about 10 times in the machine and that significantly lightened it up. Now it's perfect!

Let me know if you use the back of fabric or tea-stain anything. I would love to see what you do!


Leigh said...

I have done the tea staining and love it because it is so easy.
Funny thing is, I used to have that fabric in my daughter's room. I think I still have some of it left. I would never had thought to use it on the opposite side. I have done it with rugs. LOL. but not the fabric. Why not....

Looks great!

southerninspiration said...

Not one, but TWO strokes of brilliance!!! Great job and I love your style!!!

Kasey said...

looks beautiful!

Wendy said...

Love both of your ideas...seriously brilliant!

Laurel MacD said...

I have never even thought of using the back - it's such a great idea! I'm a fabric nut, and will definitely be looking at fabric this way as well. Thanks

Jeanneoli said...

I don't think I would have ever thought of using the underside of the fabric....what an awesome idea!!!

Amber said...

Genius. I'm looking for fabric for my dining room chairs, and I'm going to start looking at the back!!

Jerri Lynn @ Southern Sassyness said...

Simply fabulous! Love this idea!

Kari said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kari said...

I can't believe nobody else has ever used the back of fabric! I didn't realize it was that unique of an idea. Thanks for the positive feedback. I have since recovered that chair again... will have to show that one next post.