Saturday, November 15, 2014

How to Make a Chair Slip Cover Out of ScotchBlue Painter's Tape

Have you ever done something for a really long time, like 20 years, and then suddenly woke up one day and you were just done? I have been feeling that way about decorating my house for about 6 months now. It is not what I want it to be, but I am tired of fighting with it. I want to make one huge push and just get the whole thing done so I can ignore it for the next ten years. 

My problem here has been a shortage of both time and money. I do almost everything myself because I have had much more time, than money for the last 20 years. And fortunately, I am crafty and have a knack for design. It has been fun to paint and reuse and sew and tinker. It was an awesome creative outlet for years. But now I want to put that energy in other directions. I have less time and many important things competing for that time. But still no extra money for decorating. 

So I have had to think out of the box. For a while I did the barn sale. I have given up a few luxuries and asked for house related things for Christmas and birthday presents. But my mother actually gave me the best "outside the box" idea ever.

She suggested I make a slip cover out of painter's tape and try to win the Scotch Blue Painter's tape Contest. The Grand Prize is $5000. That would make a major dent in finishing stuff around here. And by "finishing stuff" I mean paying other people to do the work so it actually gets done this decade. 

And I did it. 

I spent 30 hours over the last two weeks and figured out how to build a self supporting, structurally independent slip cover out of painter's tape. In theory, I could take it off and put it right back on, as it's not reliant on the chair for its form. I finished this morning.

I promise that's not chintz. Here's a closer look:

All those little bits of color are the brand markers for the two types of ScotchBlue painter's tape I used. The green one is the ScotchBlue Multi-Surface with Edge-Lock TM  Paint Line Protector Painter's Tape. The orange one is ScotchBlue Delicate Surface with Edge Lock TM Paint Line Protection Painter's Tape. The good people at ScotchBlue were generous enough to send me 3 rolls of orange and 2 rolls of the green (I already had another roll of the green that they sent me earlier.) when I asked for it, without even knowing what I was going to do with it. Super generous. Thanks so much guys!

So, are you curious how I did it? 

Here's what I started with:

I made the mistake or starting with the arms. I had this great plan to run a chevron down them, and it was awesome until I tried to reinforce the back. Crash and burn city. I had to throw away 3 hours worth of work. But I did learn the right way to do it from that mistake.

You build and underlying skeleton of the shape you want with tape facing you sticky side out. Then you tape to that. This gives the structure you need, but allows for re-positioning without too much headache.

I used straight pins to keep the tape in place while I was building the design for the back. I removed them as the top layer got closer to the edge. The piece running up the middle was just tomark center so I could make a shot at having the "V" in the right place, as it had to line up with it's mirror image on the seat top.

This picture gives you a better feel for how the chevron pattern builds itself layer after layer.

I used the same technique on the seat, and lined up the stripes. Then I trimmed the seat cover to fill in just the space between the outer piping. I added tape sticky side up to the underside to use as a bridge between the top and the sides.

The tape running horizontally is sticky side up. I lined it up with the piping and then ran the tape from the side over the top and attached it, cutting off the extra after each side was all adhered. Yay for invisible seams!

Here you can really see how nicely the chevron pattern came together. What? Did you think I was just going to do something easy when I had two different colors to work with? Come on. It's a CONTEST. You gotta take it over the top with money like that on the line. 

I started on the arms...again. This time I built the structure first.

In interest of time and my sanity, I decided to just go with stripes from the inside to the seam and then from the seam to the floor. Good choice. It took WAY less time and looked better than the original design had.

Here's the top half finished.

This is about when I stopped least about the design coming together.

The fronts of the arms are panels I built flat and reinforced flat. The orange piece of tape right on the edge is one of my cheats. That is directly stuck to the chair fabric. I couldn't figure out any other way to bend it the right way and keep the line. But everything else is structurally independent.

I used the same seaming technique on the outer arms as I did on the seat. Cut to length. Add tape sticky side up. Bring bottom over top and then cut back to correct size while leaving the rest adhered sticky side to sticky side.

Here's the outside arm structure:

Here you can really see how the pins hold things in place until the tape covers that spot. You can also see the sticky side up waiting to meet the other half of the seam. 

Here's the side all finished:

And just for good measure, I did the back as well:

The back also uses the sticky sides together seaming technique along the top and sides.

So there you have it. 
Tons of my life spent recovering a chair with tape the hard way. 

Here's a few more beauty shots. 

I was pretty psyched with how it turned out. Good thing my living room just happens to be orange.

And you can't forget the staging pieces, carefully chosen to coordinate, but not "match" the chair. They set such a happy mood, don't you think?

OK so here's the round up on this project:


I really like this tape. In both flavors. I will definitely be using it again, probably in a more normal fashion. I am starting to prefer it over Frog Tape. 

1. It releases from itself without too much trouble and without peeling adhesive off either side, a major plus when working with long strips.

2. You have about 1-3 chances to reposition it without losing tackiness (less with the Delicate, more so with the Multi-Surface). 

3. It holds its shape really well, even when being stretched and bent around corners. 


It does not adhere to the slick side of itself very well, so be careful to just have a tiny overlap if you are layering tape to add width. The more surface area you have connected to the actual surface, the better your chances of things going well and not having any drips or bleed through. 


As far as the project itself goes, I just wanted to see if I could do it, both for my own glory and to win the contest. I would not recommend anyone else trying this with the medium I used. It was insanely hard, time consuming, and frustrating.

If you wanted to use tape to build a slip cover, the most functional option would be to use duct tape over an old velvet chair that you hated the fabric of. You could do some really cool designs and the duct tape would probably wear and feel like vinyl. I think that combo could take a lot of abuse. Great for college students short on cash and long on tacky inherited furniture.

Have you guys done anything weird with tape? Built the Leaning Tower of Pisa or something? Tell me about it.

Talk to you soon,

CM Shaw

Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween...Playing Pretend in Costa Rica...and More Tape


Since today's Halloween, I thought we'd have a little fun. I know Halloween is about pretending to be someone else, but for today, how about we pretend to be SOMEWHERE else?

Oh...but quick, before I forget, I wanted to tell you guys about another 
ScotchBlue TM Painter's Tape Contest.

Their new tape (pictured above) is ScotchBlue TM Painter's Tape Multi-Surface
and Delicate Surface with Advanced Edge-Lock TM Paint Line Protection.

You create a project that uses a ScotchBlue TM product somehow and you can win $5,000 if htey like yours best. THe contest is open now and runs until Nov. 15, 2014. I don't think you even have to have a blog.  You can just upload your photos. Here's the contest website for more info. I entered the contest they had over the summer in this post. I didn't win, but it was pretty fun to play.

So start feverishly thinking about your entry 
(I'll post about mine right before the deadline. It's kinda involved), 

...Now let's get back to Halloween. 

We were pretending to be somewhere else...

More specifically, we were in Costa Rica. Or at least DK and I were, all last week.

I thought I'd give you guys the highlights. So you can escape your life for just a sec.

Black sand beaches (Well, they called them "blue", as in Playa Azul
but I still thought they looked pretty much black)

Sunrises and sunsets.

This one was taken from my shower. I am totally not kidding. It was a "tree house" with a screened in shower open to the jungle behind it. I think I took 4 showers in 2.5 days, just because it was so cool to bathe with a view.

And check out this volcano. 

I promise Disney was not involved in this shot. It really looks like that.

Costa Rica has all kinds of cool things to do while you are banging around in the gorgeous scenery.

We went Zip lining in the cloud forest of Monteverde.

 DK looked way sexier in his pics than I did, so he gets first billing. 

But as proof that I am absolutely NOT a pansy, here I am jumping off a 3 story tall structure doing a Tarzan Swing. I screamed until I laughed. DK said even the guides were laughing about how loud my laugh was.

You can walk along the hanging bridges in the canopy and paths through the jungle.

That's me waving from the bridge. Hi! They are really up there in the trees.

This is the kind of jungle you image when you are 5 and 6 while watching "Jungle Book" and "RikiTiki Tavi." It's the kind of jungle where there is mist and tigers must live...even though they don't.

If trekking through the jungle isn't your thing, then you wouldn't want to go waterfall rappelling. But you should anyway, because it's super stinking fun!

Here I am, rappelling my way down a 165 ft cliff, nice and dry, minding my own business...

Here I am being chucked in the waterfall by the guide bole-ing me. 
I was so happy it wasn't cold.

There are lots of animals everywhere, if you know where to look. 

We became friends with a koatamundi at our B&B in Monteverde.

And Leo, the wood carver just outside La Fortuna, had the most wonderful tamed birds.

I am still geeking out at this shot DK got of the hummingbirds at Monteverde. 

He is a much more technically inclined photographer than I am. 
He shot most of the best pictures in this post.

All in all it was a glorious trip.

And I am desperately trying to get back to my regularly scheduled life....

But today, I still have Costa Rica on my mind. 

Talk to you soon,
CM Shaw

Thursday, October 2, 2014

A gift from Craigslist...and a little more stripping

So I did a bit of shopping since last we talked. 

Project Basement De-junk is in full swing. (If you're just joining us, here's the start to this story) After about two seconds of deep soul searching, I decided to boot the kid's Little Tykes Jungle Gym to the back yard. They have used it as a fort almost daily for years, so I wanted a table that could double as a fort with a blanket thrown over it. Suddenly all pedestal tables were out. Hard to fit a bunch of kids under a table with a pedestal taking up all the under table space. And because this is truly a playroom, with people running around and throwing things and shooting Nerf bullets everywhere, round edges are a must, just to reduce the bruise and head bonk factor a bit. Do you have any idea how rare a four legged round table is on Craigslist? 

Fortunately, the Craigslist Gods smiled on me, as they do from time to time,  and I found the perfect table for my basement craft area. There are even two leaves that I can add to make it perfect for the occasional Girl Scout troop activity I found myself volunteering for the other day.

Isn't it amazingly perfect!? I am IN LOVE with the legs. You remember from this post (I think that was the last time I posted about stripping) that I have a thing for sexy legs.

And get this...the table cost $15!! I am totally not making that up. It felt like a gift from On High and probably was. Don't you love it when the Universe decides to show it's support for your home decorating/organizing adventures? And the cute lady I bought it from was super psyched to hear her table was getting a makeover and a new job as a kid's craft table. Win-win!

As you can see, the top is pretty banged up. And it's a little dark for a space full of white and natural wood furniture. So I got my Citristrip on and had at it.

Don't you love a good action photo? DK took this one for me. I am the thing in the back that looks like a clear garbage bag full of rubbish. Well rather, that's my prize winning nasty paint apron. In any case, look how pretty the underlying wood is! Could. You. Die? 

Nothing like a little naked wood grain to get me all worked up. Whew!

OK, Moving on. The naked part is over.

(Funny how you can actually hear the collective Awwww...Man!)

So when we last saw the basement, it looked something like this:

Yesterday it looked like this:

Here's a better shot of the table in it's place.

You can see the debris is way down and I actually vacuumed! Doesn't the table fit the space so nicely? This is with one leaf in. And just for the record, I love playing Rock'em Sock'em Robots with DK.

The table looks kinda weird at this point, but the top still needs to be sealed and have the base painted. Enter Miss Mustard Seed.

I've had my Miss Mustard Seed Hemp Oil since January, I think, and I've been dying to try it. So I pulled it out and rubbed some right on the raw wood. Wow! What a result. It brings out all the depth in the wood and eliminates all the unevenness in the finish. We'll see how it holds up to kids and paint and glue sticks, but if something gets on it, I can always just sand it down and oil it again. No biggie.

Funny story. Harper, my dog,  walked down into the basement between coats and started sniffing the air. I thought it was the residual smell off the stripper that interested her, so I put her on the table. She walked over and started sniffing at the bottle of hemp oil sitting there and wagging her stump of a tail. As I put on the second coat, she watched intently, waiting for me to drop the rag so she could eat it. So funny! I know it's food grade and all, but probably not a great snack for doggies.

I added a total of two coats of hemp oil and let them dry overnight, then I flipped the table upside down and wiped it down pretty well with a few Clorox wipes. It had been in someone's storage area for a long time. 

With all the white furniture down here, I decided to go with a finish similar to my armoire. (I have so much more to post about this armoire, but that's for another day. Sigh.) Due to my time constraints -I need this done preferably by tomorrow- I opted to go with chalk paint, rather than the sleeker look of an Alkyd. Have I posted about the Alkyd paint yet? Sheesh. Too much life and not so much time to blog. Long story short, I opted for Annie Sloan Pure White, mostly because I just bought a can. 

I think chalk paint looks it's best when it's distressed, so I will do just a slight distress, like the corners of the armoire here. 

So table upside down, paint out, nasty painting apron on, and I realize I still need to mask the top of the table. Well lucky me, a few weeks ago the kind people at Scotch Blue sent me another roll of tape to try. I do so love free product to play with.

This is a newer product from their painter's tape line. It's called 2093 EL with Edge Lock. It is a lot tackier going on than the regular scotch blue tape. Here's their page on it for everything you'll ever want to know about it. So far, I like it, but I haven't taken the tape off yet.

Usually I would unscrew the legs to paint a table like this, but the screw body of this particular leg kept unscrewing with the nut, so I decided to be lazy and just paint everything together. I may regret that decision later, but for now, I'm fine. You can see how I taped right up to the frame. I'll let you all know how it turns out. 

BTW, this pic is after one coat of ASCP. I did two more.

This is what my basement currently looks like, just imagine the paint a little denser, as this is after the second coat and I did three:

And I hate to do this to you all, but I 'm gonna leave you hanging until I get it all done for the big reveal. Mean, I know, but it's not done yet. Plus it will give us both something to look forward to.

What have you all been working on lately? I love hearing about your projects.

Talk to you soon,

CM Shaw