Jenny: Cottage Saturday: The Girlfriend Chair

While Krissie was here, we unloaded a sixteen-foot truck into this little cottage, which pretty much buried us alive.

Here’s the office after the Great Unload:

Office Unload

And the garage (which is supposed to be the place I store my books and tools for easy access, also, you know, my car):

Garage Unload

And the attic which is going to be my walk-up closet, sewing room, and sleeping loft if I have need of more than one guest bedroom:

Attic Unload

And of course the living room, where I’m supposed to live. Off to the left in that picture, you can see my ancient La-Z-Boy, brought to New Jersey because Krissie insists that all writers must have recliners (she’s right), and La-Z-Boy won’t deliver a new chair to this area (too remote) and I can’t afford a new chair anyway.

Living Room Unload

Below is a better picture of it with the back taken off (Thank you, Krissie).

Girlfriend Chair 1

But the colors, vivid and earthy and beautiful, are awful in the cottage living room, so something had to be done. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to recover chairs: I have to clean up the Great Unload, grade the McD papers and get the new course approved, deal with some unpleasant legal stuff, and write a book. However I have discovered recently that if I don’t make something on a regular basis, I get tense. So when I started getting tense this time, I decided I did have time to recover the damn chair since the colors made me unhappy every time I stepped over boxes to get into the room.

I bought fabric to recover it, but Krissie wasn’t a fan of it, and when I got it home I realized it wasn’t going to work. So the next time we were at Home Goods, I picked up a $30 quilt in white and blue-aqua that I thought would match The Chair. And then I put another one just like it in the cart in case the first one wasn’t enough. (It wasn’t, so good for me.) Then I took an evening off and recovered the chair while watching The Closer. It took me four seven episodes, but I got it done, so–TA DA!–here’s The Chair’s Girlfriend.


It took one and a half quilts with a little more left over, so I hemmed the remnants and made a small quilt that I can put over the seat (a plus in a house with dogs and besides, I love the stripe pattern), and a lap quilt, another chance to use the stripe that’s in the backing and the piping.

Girlfriend 3

I have to go over it again and strengthen all the stitching, but I’m very happy with it. It’s one corner of the living room that’s not complete chaos, the pattern and colors are just what I wanted, it has a beautiful relationship with The Chair, and Krissie gets her La-Z-Boy, now known as The Girlfriend. Everybody wins.

As long as I keep making things, I’ll be all right.

54 thoughts on “Jenny: Cottage Saturday: The Girlfriend Chair

  1. Office Wench Cherry says:

    Love the new colours on the chair. Love the floor. And I want to steal that white house wall decoration that’s beside the mirror. You’ll get the house organized and it will be relaxing and inspirational and gorgeous. Just give yourself time.

  2. It’s hard to believe that’s the same chair. Amazing makeover. Colours are exactly right and the texture of the quilt fabric makes it look so comfy and adds a richer feel (need to click photo for full effect here I think).

    I’ve made lots of chair covers, but never from a quilt. This makes me want to.

    Setting up a home can take awhile. Like writing a book, which when people ask me how I do it, I say brick by brick because it’s like building something that needs a strong foundation, lots of layers, and is accomplished bit by bit. So it may feel like chaos around the cottage now, but each piece you’re putting into place will build a strong foundation for the rest.

    Meanwhile, when you’re feeling like things are going too slow, remind yourself you just resuscitated a chair. Saving lives is time well spent:)

  3. nightsmusic says:

    I love the chair. It’s exactly right with the quilt on it. Be careful sitting down though because that one front leg isn’t on right and we don’t want you tipping out of it. At least not for that reason. A few glasses of wine…that’s a different story ;o)

    Things will come together over time, and I’m loving the chance to watch the transformation.

  4. toni says:

    Damn, this makes me wish I was handy with upholstery. I have two chairs here we got at a flea market ($20 for 2) and they are awesome, except they are worn out (wooden arm paint) and the seats are hideous. I am fine with painting the arms, but not so sure I can handle the upholstery.

    Brilliant idea to use the quilts. That chair looks terrific.

  5. Wow. That is a skillset I don’t have, and it is amazing! (I’ve recovered furniture, don’t get me wrong…just not well.)

    I love the chair. And I love that you’re figuring out what works for you and what doesn’t, and acting accordingly.

    Happy neatening…

  6. Rouan says:

    I’m impressed! You really have a knack for turning something plain or practical into something totally different. I can’t believe it’s the same chair, but I know it is.

  7. merrymac says:

    Four episodes? I’d start and four hours later, I’d still be scratching my head and girding myself for the first cut. You are so brave. And smart. Really, it just looks beautiful – what a difference.

  8. pamb says:

    You have such talent for creating a home!

    You’ll get it sorted out & it will be yet another unique and special Jenny-place.

    Thanks for sharing.

  9. So beautiful. I grew up in a house in New Jersey that had a great attic. It was completely unfinished, broiling in summer and freezing in winter. But it was full of old stuff and I always loved it. I’ve always thought the ideal writing spot was under the eaves — though I’ll admit something that probably sounds much better in dream world than it would be to live in reality.

    So, wonderful chair! And I really love the crocheted throw (is that right) in the basket next to it — the most beautiful wash of color. Love.

  10. Waaaait a second, American tv shows are 44 minutes to allow for ad breaks. 4*44= 176. Under 3 hours? Yeah, you *need* to make stuff to keep balanced.

    As Wil Wheaton said: “Get excited and make something.”

  11. OMG, honey. That is beautiful! I love it! So perfect, and so lovely. And it’s good to make things. Glad you did it.

  12. *speechless*


    I have a couch and a chair that are perfectly hideous. The cats like it of course; in their feline minds, they make perfect scratching posts. IF ONLY I had your skill. Unfortunately, my craft skills run more toward scrapbooking. Maybe you’re tired of writing. Maybe you’d like to become a professional furniture-re-cover-er-er. Maybe you can redo my harvest gold monstrosities.

    Lovely work!

  13. Max Xavier says:

    How sad is it that I want so badly to come and put all that away for you? I love unpacking. I really, really, do.

    The chair looks lovely, and I hope that Chair and Girlfriend are very happy together. 🙂

  14. Diane says:

    It’s so pretty and it makes the chair look so light and comfy. How clever to use quilts to cover it! I can’t even begin to understand how you knew how to make the cover.

  15. Kieran says:

    Great job on the chair! It’s gorgeous! Were any tacks or staples involved? You got a nice tight fit on the arms. When I used to upholster my furniture (which I want to get back to) I’d have given anything for a pneumatic staple gun.

  16. I love how that chair looks! I love the cover, but I doubt my Home Goods would have the same quilt (I would love it; it totally suits my taste). I can’t believe how quickly you can do something like that! I need to learn to sew, so I can learn to do similar things (tho’ probably a bit more slowly).

    It looks and sounds like you have a lot to do, but you will manage it all, one bite at a time.

  17. Lynda says:

    I love the chair! You are so talented. I wouldn’t have a clue how to begin recovering one. And that blue-and-green afghan in the basket beside the chair is gorgeous. Is that a work in progress?

  18. Oh, I think I’ve seen that quilt before and wanted it! Beautiful on the chair, and it goes perfectly with the white brick fireplace.

    I love brick inside a house. If we ever add onto this house, I’d love to have an exposed brick wall in the new family room, from the old outside wall of the house.

  19. nightsmusic says:

    Only because my daughter and her fiance just moved into a new place. They put the legs on wrong on the same side, front and back, of their love seat. When one of them sat on that side, the whole thing tipped up in the air and deposited her on the floor, then proceeded to come crashing back down onto the floor as well. Very funny! But not something you wanna do on a regular basis ;o)

  20. Barbara Cameron says:

    I love Cottage Saturdays and I love how things are coming together.

    Jenny, I enjoyed reading how you came to buy the cottage last week but was having some health issues and didn’t write to say thank you for telling the story!

  21. Kathleen G. S. says:

    How did it work to make the piping out of a quilt? How bulky was it? I assume you cut the strips on the bias. Did the stitching impact the bias’s pliability?

  22. It’s actually a lot lighter than it looks in the picture. It’s done, but I missed a stitch and it’s coming apart, so it’s back in the basket to be fixed.

  23. Nope. The chair seat was just a square cushion so that was easy. The back came off the chair, so I just wrapped it front to back, tucking in the edges and stitching the fabric down to the shape of the cushions and then hemming the sides together with blind stitch. Then I pinned a strip of scrap fabric to the front of the arm, draped a piped edge of the quilt over the arm, and sewed through all the layers. I basically sewed the fabric directly to the chair. It’s easy, and you can do it while you watch TV.

  24. The edge of the quilt was already piped, so all I had to was make the cuts so that the piping ended up on the bottom of the skirt and the front of the chair arms. Otherwise I wouldn’t have bothered. I loved the striped piping, though, so it seemed a shame not to use it.

  25. Clancy says:

    That chair is gorgeous, so clever to use the details of a pre-made quilt. I’ve seen, here or argh, don’t remember, recovering chairs being done during tv watching. It made me ambitious. I got as far as taking the bottom off one piece of a very old sectional, the smallest straightest bit. Then I went back to the old plan of haunting St Vincent’s furniture section. That may well have been cheaper and I am sure it was faster. I am really not good at cloth type crafts no matter how cool I think it would be. Not enough patience, mostly.

    Thank you for showing your moving pictures, Jenny. I’ve moved so many times. I still forget this stage. I would so like to live not here but I definitely don’t have time for this stage this year or probably the next two. Then I will hope to find a place that suits as well as this seems to suit you.

  26. The fresh colours and print suit the cottage and the fabric suits the chair. It’s gorgeous! And so will the rest of the house be. Gosh, there’s a lot of gorgeous wool.

  27. Rouan says:

    Jenny, I forgot to ask about this last week. The photo of your living room after the truck’s been unloaded looks like it faces into the kitchen(?), is that a stained glass window over the door? If not it looks like one. I’m falling in love with your cottage just through the pictures you’ve posted! I’ve always loved quirky houses over regular ones. Older homes (despite their problems) seem to me to have much more charm than newer ones.

  28. I’ll put up a floor plan sometime. The living room is at the front of the house and then you take a detour around the stairs to the back of the house where the dining room was on the left (center of the house) and the kitchen (5′ x 6′) was on the right. I didn’t need a dining room, so I made that the kitchen and the former kitchen a pantry area. And then since the place was gutted anyway, I had the contractor frame out an opening into the old dining room the width of a piece of art glass I’d had for years. I was going to use different glass, three pieces, but Krissie said, “No, use the panel,” and I did, and I love it. It picks up the color in The Chair and it moves the whole thing out of stereotyped cottage. Plus it looks fabulous with the light behind it.

  29. Kelly S. says:

    Beautiful job! Did you leave the batting in aka leave the quilt put together or did you separate it and use only the fabric? It looks like you left the quilt together as the surface looks “quilted.”

    BTW, Saturday was National Quilting Day. Friday – Sunday, has made all the episodes free to watch from series 1 – 11. I’ve been watching oodles and now I struggle between watching and wanting to sew. But since, I only watch for a few more hours, I am doing so.

  30. MCB says:

    You fed your good wolf with that chair, too. I think when things are in upheaval in our lives, we need to be able to accomplish something every so often, something that is visibly DONE. Your psyche need to be able to check something off the list on a regular basis.

    And if you have left over fabric, maybe some covers for the chair arms?

  31. pamb says:

    KAte, I don’t know if you’ll come back to read here, but I think the easiest way to see past posts is to click on the Month (on the right, there’s a list of past months, under Previously on ReFab), then scroll thru the list/sample.

    If it’s the panel I think it is, it’s on a post by Krissie on March 8.

    Hope that helps.

  32. I’ll take a picture when the view in from the living room isn’t such a disaster. I can’t get back far enough in the kitchen to get the picture. Also the living room is a disaster.

  33. Catherine Gessner says:

    You can upholster them – just choose a fabric that doesn’t to be matched. Then get a strong staple gun some upholstery tacks and a upholstery hammer. Forget about cording unless you can buy it ready-made. Only take off the original fabric if it really nasty, otherwise cover over it. This is easier than it looks – give it a shot.

  34. KAte says:

    Thanks, I wasn’t sure how far back to go. I went back a few posts and then gave up/was distracted by something shiny. I’ll go look at the 8th.

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