Black and white is a timeless color combination. And because it serves as a neutral base for other colors, it works almost anywhere.
Earlier in fall, I finished a couple of small sewing projects that involved black and white fabrics.
Project 1: An Easy DIY Dining Chair Upgrade
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Recently we bought a beautiful antique dining table and chairs from a friend who was moving. This craftsman-era set is in wonderful condition and had been in our friend’s family for generations.
The set has six chairs – all of which have the original leather seats. The leather is probably over 100 years old, so the seats all have a lovely vintage patina.
But they don’t have much padding, and it doesn’t take long for them to become uncomfortable.
There is a way to go in underneath each chair seat and add some padding to the middle, but it would hardly be worth the work – or the risk of damaging the leather.
Topping them with cushions was the best option, but I could not find pre-made cushions that would fit these chairs.
So I decided to make my own.
Choosing the Fabric
We don’t have any Western decor in our home, so cowhide is not a fabric that I would normally consider.
But by accident, I happened to notice how nice an animal print fabric would look with the old leather of these chair seats. So, rather than looking Western, I was hoping that the cowhide would enhance the rustic craftsman-era look of the chairs.
For several reasons, I wanted to use faux cowhide instead of the real thing. The local fabric store didn’t have what I had in mind, so I ended up buying this suede velvet cow print through a vendor on Amazon.
It looked authentic enough to me. It was soft and had a nice texture, and it was easy to work with.
Choosing And Cutting The Foam
I figured if I was going to upgrade these chairs, I might as well go for maximum comfort. So I used two-inch thick high-density foam cushion squares similar to these.
The chair seats are not a true square. They taper in gradually towards the back. So, I made a cardboard template and traced it onto the each foam square.
Then I cut the foam using an electric knife.
My electric knife is very old, but it’s similar to this one.
Sewing The Cushions
I sewed simple cushion covers with box corners. I did this so that the fabric pattern would continue down the sides of the cushions without being interrupted by a seam.
So, the only visible seams are in the corners. For the bottoms of the cushions, I used a felt fabric that I had on hand. (Whenever I can, I like to try to use up what I already have.)
So that the cushions don’t slide around on the chair seats, I sewed small faux-leather straps into the two back corners of each cushion. They wrap around the chair backs and adhere together with Velcro.
By hand, I baste stitched each cushion cover closed in the back where my stitching would not be visible. The stitching will be easy to remove if I ever want to replace the cushion covers.
The chairs are much more comfortable now.
And the original leather remains intact.
There is a slight bevel around the edge of each leather chair seat, and I wanted that bevel to remain visible to show the contrast between the leather and the cowhide.
The fabric has a large pattern repeat, so each cushion is a little different.
It’s fun to mix the rustic cowhide look with vintage linen and fine china.
And the cushions work with my new buffalo plaid tablecloth – a little gift I bought for our new table.
I became enamored with the black and white buffalo plaid tablecloths that I saw at a home decor shop. They were a fun look for fall and were reasonably priced – and the fabric was good quality.
None of them were the right size for the big square table, but it occurred to me that it would be less expensive to buy one anyway and alter it to fit the table than it would be to buy fabric of that quality at the fabric store. And this way I would be getting exactly what I wanted.
And since I would be firing up my sewing machine anyway, I bought a second tablecloth for another project.
Which leads me to:
Project 2: New Greenhouse Shades
Yes, I would be cutting up a large tablecloth and using the fabric to make shades for my greenhouse!
For several years, I’d had these cute DIY burlap shades in our greenhouse.
I loved them. But they were in the greenhouse year round, and they were starting to show some wear.
It did not occur to me when I made the shades that I might want to wash them from time to time. And machine washing burlap can be a tricky business.
But the tablecloth, on the other hand, was machine washable. It was made of good quality home decor fabric that hopefully will hold up nicely in the greenhouse.
So I removed the burlap shades (which, since they were natural burlap and therefore compostable, I could put in my yard waste bin).
Then I deep cleaned the interior of our greenhouse. I’m talking the entire interior, from the floor to the acrylic panels and everything in between. I try to do this every year in early fall.
Now the greenhouse was ready for the new buffalo plaid shades.
The shades were easy to make. I just cut the tablecloth into the rectangular panels that I needed and then hemmed them.
In the greenhouse, they are attached to a thin cable by clothespins – making it super easy for me to remove them when I want to wash them.
These photos were taken a couple of months ago – right after my greenhouse deep clean. Now the greenhouse is jam packed with plants that I am overwintering.
The buffalo plaid is a big change from the burlap, and in truth it took me a while to get used to the new shades. But now I love them. And of course the plants are enjoying the filtered light that they provide.
Christmas decor is the focus now, so the tablecloths I found aren’t in the shop anymore. But there are many options for black and white buffalo plaid tablecloths on Amazon.
To see more greenhouses like ours, check out the Sunglo Greenhouses website.
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