Friday, October 12, 2012

Chair Reupholstery Project: Part 2

Continuing to part 2 of the story...(click here to read part I)

Step one were the cushions. First, I took out the foam cushions and boy were they nasty. One was stinky, which I could never detect through the upholstery, and the other had disintegrated into small popcorn-like pieces. The foam was non-reusable and went right to the dumpster. Then came the fabric which never looked dirty on the surface, but when I started tearing into them with the seam ripper there was 50 years of dust and general grodie-ness coming out with each seam. Now, I don't mind getting my hands dirty while working in the garden or in the yard, but dust and grodie-ness are a whole other thing to me!

At this point I needed to purchase foam and figured I would move on to removing the fabric from the chair itself and get the foam the next day. So I dug in with my fancy schmancy tack pull and started working away. Let me tell you, there were a bagillion staples and they weren't coming out easily! In some places I felt like there were staples on top of staples and there was more of that 50 years of whatever coming out of the fabric with every tug. I started thinking, oh crap, what did I get myself into?

The next day I ran to the fabric store for the foam only to find that it was going to cost $85 for a slab of the stuff. OMG... Then I would still need to purchase more batting and muslin for the chair as well as piping and zippers for the cushions. Ok, this was starting to get overwhelming price-wise and I was starting to think about how much time it was going to take me to rip the rest of this darn chair a part. My pregnancy nesting phase was also just starting to kick in and I was already freaking about how full our house was and how badly I needed to purge before the baby came. When would I have time outside of class to work on this chair? BAAAAAAA!

I bought all of the supplies and went home only to find myself way too stressed out about the whole project over the next few days. The hubster, bless his heart, offered to strip the fabric off the rest of the chair for me but he has enough going on already and I don't think quite realized the time commitment.

Then it hit me that a $4.99 chair had already cost me with class registration, tools, fabric, foam, etc. over $200!

I decided to return the foam and some of my unused supplies and stop the project, and that I would donate the chair and the fabric to the upholstery studio where I took the class so that another student could take on the project where I left off. At the next class I went in and told my instructor and classmates who were all so sweet about the whole thing. I felt a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders and it felt good.

What I learned from the class was not only the basics of removing and re-covering small pieces but the key thing I will take away is knowing what DIY reupholstery projects NOT to take on.

Any other DIY'ers out there have an upholstery project gone awry? Share below in the comments!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Chair Reupholstery Project: Part I

Remember this green retro looking chair I bought awhile back?

Yep, that's the one. I picked it up at the Goodwill for $4.99. I figured I would just reupholster it. Now, I have never done reupholstery so I signed up for a class via the local community college. The class description suggested to bring a foot stool to recover as the project for the class. I found a cute little cream vinyl covered vintage foot stool at an estate sale for a buck, so that was to be my 'learning' piece and then I would move onto the chair.

I found some upholstery fabric on sale for $1.95 a yard and bought 10 yards just to be safe and account for any mistakes along the way. I also purchased a few upholstery tool essentials (tack pull, staple gun, etc.). I was set and totally gung-ho for this project!

The footstool took me 2 class sessions plus a Saturday evening at home to complete. It turned out so cute! I think I am going to use it in the baby's room for storage.

We had 4 classes left so at the next session I drug the chair in. All of my classmates and the instructor were excited to see the shape of the chair and I couldn't wait to get started!

Come back tomorrow for part 2 where I will tell you the key to DIY reupholstery projects...

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Danish? Chair ID...Help!

Isn't this a cool rocker?

A woman in an upholstery class I took brought this lovely chair to class to rework the top cushion which had disintegrated into a Cheeto's type consistency.

I was immediately attracted to the lines of the chair and asked if she was selling. Nope, the chair had been passed down through her family and her intentions were to keep it. I wanted to know more about the manufacturer name, date, etc., but she wasn't quite sure of these details.

I told her I would like to photograph the chair and blog about it to see if anyone would know more info on this chair. She agreed and here are more pics:

So, this is where my furniture peeps come in! Does anyone out there in the blog-o-sphere know the maker or any other information on this beautiful chair?

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Controversial Thrift Tip

WARNING: This thrift tip is a bit controversial amongst the thrifting set (I am only kind of joking):

TIP: Shop from the rolling racks of merchandise that have just come out of the back.

On my most recent thrift haul, half of my purchases were scored fresh off of the new merchandise rolling racks. In my opinion, there is a right way and a wrong way to go about this.

The wrong way: And where I think the controversy comes in, is that some of us get a bit too excited and are like packs of hyenas ready to pounce when the unsuspecting thrift worker wheels the rack through the swinging doors.

The right way: Wait for the rack to stop rolling, ha! Work on the opposite end of where the worker is trying to do their thing. The workers have usually sized or organized the clothing in a certain way before bringing the rack out, so if you take something off to inspect it and decide not to try it on, put it back in the same spot you found it.

If you follow this simple tip, you will score the freshest merch from your thrift!

Does your thrift store have rules about not shopping from the rolling racks? Do you have an opinion about this practice? Any funny stories? Share it below, I would love to hear from you!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Snag It Saturday: Designer Ellen Tracy!

There will be a new feature here at The Thrifty Picker, Snag It Saturday, where I will offer some of my best finds at bargain prices!

Today's bargain is this gorgeous burgundy ELLEN TRACY blazer in size 8. This jacket still has the tags attached and the retail price is a whopping 498 bucks. How much is it here via the blog? A bargain at $49.95 with free US shipping!

Here it is:

 So why is this sumptuous jacket so budget friendly? Well, on the inside back of the blazer the lining is torn. This in no way compromises the outer shell of the jacket, see...

Here are some more views of this lovely jacket:

Here are the deets: Ellen Tracy color is Pomegranate. This jacket is a unique silk and wool blend and is fully lined. The outside of the garment is textured in a tiny rectangle/square pattern. The exterior is flawless! Single button and two exterior pockets. Dry clean only. Extra buttons included. This garment is STUNNING and you will get compliments. Measurements are approximate and taken while garment is laying flat, unstretched, and across the front of the garment: 19" pit to pit, 24.5" long, 16" shoulder seam to shoulder seam measured directly across front of garment, 25" sleeve from shoulder seam to cuff.

Better scoop these up ASAP, because at $49.95, someone is going to snag this fast!

To purchase, just email me at or message me over at the Facebook page. All transactions will go through PayPal.

Stay Saturday I will be offering up another great bargain!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Don't Do It!!

I am so loving the thrifts right now! I have completed my maternity wardrobe with only a few trips and not that much time, or money of course, spent. I am telling you ladies, if you are preggo or planning to be, DO NOT SHOP RETAIL, you will be in and out of these clothes so fast that it is a waste of money. I have survived on a thrifted $5 Bella Band up till now which is the 5 month mark, but am pretty sure I will want true maternity pants here within the next 30 days.

Here's what I found the other day that rounds out (no pun intended) my preggo lady wardrobe:

One of my fave finds was this pretty deep turquoise tunic from Old Navy, tags still on, for $5.49.

Two Wally World brand long length t-shirts for $3.59 each.

A pretty Missoni-style Motherhood maternity top that was on weekly special for 99 cents!

A Gap Maternity cardigan for $3.59.

And a pair of Old Navy maternity jeans for $3.59.

Add in the gray tunic, black dress, and Pea In The Pod shirt I blogged about and another tunic, t-shirt, and 2 pairs of maternity jeans that were given to me, and I have completed my wardrobe. All second hand!

I am at about $35 spent on the whole sha-bang (to be fair, I added in $10 just in case I forgot anything).

If you are not liking the shirts you are seeing in the maternity section, no worries, just go on over to the size Large shirt section and shop there. Don't forget to shop your own closet too. With some of today's styles being more blousey and tunic like, it is easy to convert them over to your pregnancy wardrobe.

A disclaimer in all of this, I wear medical scrubs for my part time gig, so I don't need a true work wardrobe. But I am telling y'all, I see plenty of maternity dress pants and shirts when shopping the g-dub!

Any mothers to be or now mommy's that want to share their thrifted maternity wardrobe success stories? Do it right here in the comments or c'mon over to the Facebook page and show off a picture of your supreme preggo lady thriftiness!

Friday, September 14, 2012

I Won! I Won! Thanks Apt 528

Oh yes, I was super excited the other day. You see friends, I never win any of those fun blog and Facebook give-a-ways. Until now!! And, it was something I actually needed.

The lovely folks over at Apartment 528 were giving a way a little prize pack from Sweet Nature designs, that included a yellow throw pillow cover and a gray/yellow bird kitchen towel. I entered the contest, and the lovely India (yes, that's her name, how cool) contacted me a few days later to let me know I had won!

This worked out perfectly, as I have been in need of a little throw pillow make over. I bought these pillows from the clearance bin of Pier 1 ages ago. They have served their purpose nicely but now that we have our dog, things get stained and tattered. That started happening to my lovely P1 pillows.

A few short days later, this sweet package arrived...

I opened it...

Promptly put the new throw pillow cover to use...

Looks fun and fresh! And the towel, which will add an especially nice touch once I get off my butt and paint my kitchen yellow!

Have you ever won a blog or Facebook give-a-way? What did you win?

Be sure to stop over to Apartment 528 to see all of their cool vintage and vintage inspired wares!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

New Preggo Lady Ensemble

In my quest to find cute preggo clothes, I returned to the Goodwill today. I did my usual quick scour of the racks. That yielded a long t-shirt, which I am in need of since my regular length tees are starting to ride up on my ever expanding belly, and this:

An ECI tunic top for $3.59. It is fairly blousy, and if not belted, could be mistaken for maternity. The difference between this top and most maternity tops I have tried is that the neck line sits higher so the 'girls' won't freeze during the Fall and Winter. Here is a detail of the neck:

It kind of reminds me of those cool felted wool rock rugs that you see on Pinterest. I added a yard sale Old Navy jean jacket ($2) and a chunky red necklace to complete the top half of the ensemble.

Black leggings with either Mary Jane wedges or ballet flats will complete my new outfit!

What new thrifty outfit combos have you put together? Share in the comments, or better yet, come on over to the Facebook page and show off a picture!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Eames Upholstery Rescue

I scored 2 Herman Miller Eames chairs at a yard sale last fall and they have been sitting in the catch all room ever since. I know, shame on me. It's only a matter of time until we find a cool little kitchen table so I figured it was time to clean up the Eames' upholstery.

A little back story on the chairs...I have a thing for mid-century furniture, but so do many others who are willing to pay a lot more for the stuff than I am. It is hard to find this type of furniture in good condition and on the cheap. I was driving from yard sale to yard sale on sunny late-Autumn day and spotted these chairs perched at the front of a driveway that belonged to a young hippie-ish looking couple. I hit the brakes and hopped out. We chatted about the cool vintage chairs and he came down on the price for me considering the dirty state of the upholstery. I was looking at the rest of their wares when the neighbor came by and started going on about some awesome Perogies he just made and a new variety of weed he scored that he couldn't wait to try. They may have had a little side business going for all I know because I also bought a grow lamp for my veggies from the guy. Thrifting is sooooo entertaining.

Back to the chairs.

Considering these girls have seen probably 30 to 50 years of wear and tear, they don't look all that bad. But, the upholstery was definitely stained, probably with bong water, Perogies, and Lord knows what else, and needed a good cleaning before they are to be displayed in my lovely kitchen. Here they are before the cleaning:

Pretty grodie, huh? I have zero experience cleaning upholstery and really had no idea what I was doing. Soap and water sounded like the right place to start and I threw in a soft bristled toothbrush as my scrubbing tool.

I dabbed the toothbrush in the soap and water solution (I used a drop of Gain for the soap) and worked the stains individually in small circles. Here we are part of the way through. The Dobie loves to help...

At this point I started to get nervous because as the spots dried they left water marks on the material. Oh crap, this one might go down as a fail!

I put the girls under the dryer and let them process...

The next morning they looked like they had chicken pox...

I figured I was in this far, so I might as well try to salvage the project by washing down the entire chair. Heck, then the whole chair would be one big water mark!

I scrounged up a handled brush used for dishes that had fairly soft bristles and did my same soap and water mixture. Here goes nothin'! This is half way through the first chair:

Back under the dryer again:

And here is the finished project...Ta-Da!

They turned out beautifully! I am so glad I put the time and elbow grease into these iconic chairs. Now I just need to find the perfect little table to go with them!

Share a time when you saved an upholstery project from certain doom. You are welcome to share your before and after pics over at the Facebook page.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Snag It Saturday: Retro Mod Frankoma Mugs

There will be a new feature here at The Thrifty Picker, Snag It Saturday, where I will offer some of my best finds at bargain prices!

Today's bargain are these vintage Frankoma coffee cups. They are so retro mod with their orange-brown color and would go perfect in any vintage kitchen. For all you Frankoma collectors, they are marked 6C on the bottom.

Here they are:

Here are the deets: All mugs are in excellent vintage condition, approximately 3" tall x 3.5" at the widest part towards the base.

Better scoop these up ASAP, because at 16.00 plus shipping, someone is going to snag these fast!

To purchase, just email me at or message me over at the Facebook page with your zip code so that I may give you a shipping quote. All transactions will go through PayPal.

Stay Saturday I will be offering up a gorgeous designer piece for the ladies!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Surfing The Bay

When was the last time you surfed the Bay? It's a great way to kill time and sometimes you can find some really great deals too. What did you say? You can't shop in your bay while surfing? Well, come on over to mine where you don't need to get into a swimsuit OR shave your legs! I'm talkin' about eBay!

Do you shop on eBay? I would say I purchase something about once per quarter, but I search regularly. A reader recently posed a question, "What do you search for on eBay"? Well reader-friend, I search in 2 ways, the first being stuff I would buy on eBay and the second being stuff I probably won't buy on eBay but love to hunt for.

Stuff I would buy:

Source: via Vintage on Pinterest

vintage Pyrex refrigerator dishes

Source: via Vintage on Pinterest

Juicy couture charm necklace starter

Source: via Vintage on Pinterest

 Donald J Pliner shoes

Stuff I probably won't buy, but love the hunt:

Source: via Vintage on Pinterest

vintage Herman Miller and Knoll furniture

Source: via Vintage on Pinterest

mid-century home decor

What do you search for on eBay? Have you ever found a great steal? Share below!

Don't forget to stop over to the Facebook page and sign up for the give-a-way pinned to the top of the fan page.