Jenny: Popeye’s Little Buddy, Swee’ Pea

So when I first got Popeye (the chair I’m reupholstering slooooowly that only has one button on the back so Krissie called it Popeye) many years ago, he needed a footstool and I found a butt-ugly one at Goodwill for not much.  (Twenty bucks maybe?  Not more.  I’m cheap.)  It was this hideous gray-green ribbed fabric, so I covered it with three different kinds of red upholstery and shoved it up next to Popeye who was also wearing red at the time.  Then the dogs destroyed the top, and rather than reupholster it, I spray-painted it blue with plastic paint.  (You can get spray fabric dye, too.)  But now Popeye is getting a makeover, so Swee’Pea must change, too.  Besides, it was looking really bad:







So the first thing to do is cover up the bottom layer which called for one long piece of tough blue fabric because it was going to get kicked a lot.  I love this rich blue fabric, but for Swee’ Pea, the wrong side was lighter and better.  (Ottoman is on its side in this picture.)







So I wrapped it around the bottom and sewed it under the top cushion.  Nobody’s ever going to see the stitches there, so they’re sloppy.









Then I turned Swee’Pea on his back so I could see the bottom, turned under a half inch of fabric, and stapled the edge to the underside.  (See feet picture below for staples.)  Again, nobody should be looking down there, so I’m leaving the staples bare, but if you’re fussy, you can cut a rectangle of fabric, hem all the edges and sew it over the staples.

Bottom done, now the top.  Because Swee’Pea has a fat round edge, I didn’t baste the corner on, I just draped the fabric over the top right side up, pulled it under the cushion, and stitched it down underneath, the same way I’d done the bottom.  Then I folded the corners in and stitching the corner edges together, the same way I did on Blutto.

Now came a decision.  I could cut a wide strip of fabric and sew it over the space between the top and bottom cushion, or I could just sew the top cushion to the bottom and leave it plain.  Lani voted for plain, and if I decide I want fancy I can always add something later, so plain it is: I sewed the edge of the top cushion to the bottom all the way around, hiding the original sloppy stitching between the cushions.  And now that I look at it, Lani’s right: simple is better, especially since Swee’ Pea is going to be next to Popeye who is the antithesis of simple.   Here’s Swee’Pea in progress, next to Bluto (with a DVD controller for scale):

Last change: Better feet.  Alastair pried the old ones off for me, and I screwed the new plates in and then screwed ball feet into the plates and topped them with plastic sliders.  If I had it to do again, I’d have gotten BIG bun feet, but for right now, these will do.









Then I sprayed about four coats of Scotchguard over the top, and here’s Swee’Pea.  My version has feet.












50 thoughts on “Jenny: Popeye’s Little Buddy, Swee’ Pea

  1. German Chocolate Betty says:

    Wow! Swee’Pea from the first pic is hardly recognizable in the last. Greeeeaaaat job. Makes my fingers itch, wishing I had a similar project (no time, no place for new furniture and the stuff we’ve got is in pretty good to excellent shape…).

    RE: footstool naming. My mother has a large tufted ottoman, which she calls Gladys. If I remember correctly, she ended up with that name, because the original fabric which she selected was called “Gladys”. Gladys is now on her third “wardrobe”, and the centerpiece of my mom’s living room (doubling as a coffee table…) She’ll be glad to know that one of her favorite authors also has a penchant for naming furniture! ;>

  2. I can’t believe I never thought to name my furniture. I named my beautiful, blue Subaru Annabelle, and I adore her. She’s such a fun girl. But never named furniture.

    This could open up a whole new world for me.

  3. Great job!

    I have a couple of pieces that need re-upholstering but no time at present to work on them. I’m living vicariously through you (and learning a lot in the process)!

  4. stephanie says:

    just amazing. i bet the sense of fun and accomplishment is astounding, too. i need to find me some of that.

  5. JulieB says:

    This is really inspiring. I don’t think I ever would have seen Sweet Pea’s potential. I love getting a new perspective.

  6. JulieB says:

    Oh, and in the picture where you’re adding on the fabric at the bottom, there is something that looks like it might be shears, but not really. What is that?

  7. Evelyn says:

    lol, you’re are so doing this life thing right – your personal life is more whimsical than that of characters in books. Love love love it!

  8. Excellent!!!! So, with all the exciting creative projects you have going, doing any writing lately? Just asking because it’s not like I’ve read everything you’ve published oh, say 7 or 8 times ….. okay maybe more.

  9. Marcia in OK says:

    Beautiful! Don’t you just love when a bargain turns out to be so wonderful.

    You are making such forward progress. Congratulations on not being stuck any longer.

    Upholestry on!

  10. Sweet Pea is fantastic! Quite beautiful. Will you come to the lake and help me figure out what to do with the chest in the guest room? It’s very ordinary.

    Also, I need advice about the walls. I had a fantastic idea for the living room–a collage of old black-and-white photos from Husband’s childhood days at the same lake all put in different-sized, unmatching frames. Cool, right? But the guest room walls are blank and white and I’m at a loss as to where to go…

  11. Kay says:

    It’s beautiful! Your house is going to look amazing. The descriptions of the house redesign in The Cinderella Deal always intrigued me. I’m loving the step by step instructions. I don’t know if I could do it but it makes me really want to try….

  12. Gorgeous! They both look great, and you are one heck of a talented lady.
    I’ve never named furniture but always named cars. Mabel was my favorite, but Big Red, the current one is very protective, and well…solid. : )

  13. They’re clippers or snippers or whatever the company that makes them wants to call them. They’re small and they snip thread quickly. I’d never have bought a pair but they came in a cheap package deal with three other kinds of scissors, and they’re great for cutting thread, but only for cutting thread. And small scissors work just as well.

  14. Robin S. says:

    They look great! I think I need to ‘re-learn’ how to sew. You’re making me itch to re-do things!

  15. I am in total awe of what you are doing with your house -painting I can manage, but re-upholstering furniture? You make it look so easy and the end product is gorgeous.

    can hardly wait for more updates.

  16. oneoftheotherjennifers says:

    These are so pretty!!

    Thank you so much for the step-by-step instructions. I am definitely going to do a footstool this summer.

    I would dearly love to cover the hideous moss-green furniture in our living room, but my husband loves it. He gets to pick the furniture since I rarely sit in the living room while he lives in front of the Playstation. I get to pick the rugs, curtains, pillows, accent furniture, etc. So, I’ll do a fun footstool. Then I’ll have to do coordinating pillows and curtains, too. Yay!

  17. Sweet Pea, come home with me:-)

    You’ve got to have really strong and nimble hands, Jenny. Were they on your What-I-Like-About-Me list?

  18. I can’t hear about ottoman balls without hearing Goldie Hawn’s voice in my head saying: “But I wanted upholstered balls.”

    Now I want to watch Private Benjamin again. Thanks muchly.

    Ottoman looks great. Hope it fits well in the new place:)

  19. Hmmm. I want to make a headboard for my bed. The frame I had went upstairs to the DH’s room as I loved it but it was just too big for my room.

    Now I’m thinking putting a quilt over a head board and stapling it on might be nice.

  20. And how come I’m having trouble finding reasonably priced blue and white fabrics? I want to do another quilt and the fabric is either hideous or astronomically priced.

  21. Gorgeous! Love the colours. The floral with the blue base on Swee’Pea looks great!

    A lot of artistic productivity happening at the cottage. 🙂

  22. Try the internet. I just found the blue and white stripe I wanted on sale for $1.99 a yard. Even with shipping that was a deal. Do an image search.

  23. Nope. On the what I don’t like about me: they’ve got short fat fingers and rings look awful on them.
    As far as strong: I type about twelve hours a day, so they get a workout.

  24. Micki says:

    Arrange ’em on a white sheet on the floor, first? If you don’t have a natural (or trained) eye for this sort of thing, you’ll probably want to find some real advice for grouping. The one thing I took from my journalism classes is to pay attention to which way the picture is “facing” — usually, people will be looking off to the left or right, and the recommended way is to make sure people are all facing inward — your eye will follow to see “what they are looking at” and then will keep bouncing around the grouping, if you’ve done it right. (-: Or at least, that’s the theory. Another journalism trick is to make sure the “gutters” (white space between photos) are all the same width. Whether you break up the gutters, or go for something with a semblance of a grid is up to your taste, I think. (And since it’s family pics, you might like to frame up some captions . . . would be interesting for guests to know who these people are that they are sleeping with.)

  25. Micki says:

    So adorable. Suddenly, I want to call my sofa Catherine and re-fab her. It’ll be an ongoing project, because with three cats, I’ll probably have to re-do her every two years . . . .

    Your last post, you mentioned the names of some other furniture, but they weren’t from the Popeye spectrum . . . I’m having trouble seeing Crowley and Olive Oyl in the same room (19th century magician Crowley? Or is it another Crowley? Because I think I’ve finally traced Agnes Nutter to Neil Gaiman . . .).

  26. Jenny, I swear your footstool is exactly as butt ugly as the one I bought at a consignment shop for $19 a lot of years ago, from which I removed TWO layers of ugly, and recovered, and re-recovered just last year, with, you’ll never guess, virtually identical floral print, but in rose and creamy yellow.

    Hmmm, 4 coats of scotchguard. That might help keep the cat hair at bay.

  27. Diane (TT) says:

    Micki – I’m jumping in before Jenny can answer, because I love this book with what is either a holy or unholy passion. Neil Gaiman and the awesome Terry Pratchett wrote a book called Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch. Two of the main characters are Aziraphale and Crowley – who first met outside the Garden of Eden and are still treading a fine line between cooperation and mutual thwarting.

  28. Courtney says:

    This is absolutely amazing. I bet it will look charming in the cottage. It reminds me of Mary Engelbreit illustrations. Can’t wait to see the rest of the furniture.

  29. Reb says:

    That is absolutely gorgeous.

    Tell me, if I take our solid mahogany lounge suite and paint it 1/4 spanish white, am I a criminal? I’d (try to) seal the wood first, honest. It’s lovely wood but it’s so dark.

  30. Briana says:

    Micki’s already helped, but I’ve also always used paper – the same size as the photo frames and painter’s tape to tape up the paper on the wall and see if the spacing, etc, looks right. Doesn’t matter what’s IN the pictures for that, but it gives you a feel for the layout.

    Plus, you can mark on the paper where the frame hook part is and just nail through the paper when the time comes, so there is no guessing about that. (then take the paper down before putting up the photos)

  31. Diane (TT) says:

    I love dark wood, so I’m not able to take an unbiased position on the matter. Is it heirloom quality? If not, it’s yours to live with, so you should do what you like. Especially if you can render “what you like” reversible. Good luck!

    I can’t believe I didn’t say anything sooner about how much I like Swee’ Pea! I am so impressed with your re-upholstery efforts – I have never had the nerve to try any such thing. Gorgeous happy colors. And I think the feet are an excellent addition.

  32. Melanie says:

    No. It’s just furniture. There’s no such thing as criminal when it comes to furniture. Do what will make you happy.

  33. German Chocolate Betty says:

    Yes, seriously, unless it is really a valuable heirloom (which I presume a lounge suite is not? and even then, only if you plan on selling it someday), then Melanie is right. Do what you need to do to make yourself happy. Go for it.

    (I like dark wood too, but sometimes, too much of a good thing, which a whole suite may be, is no longer a good thing…)

  34. JulieB says:

    Nan, you asked the perfect question, because this is the project I’m starting! I just got a workspace ready so I can sort and frame photos. Micki and Briana, thanks for the insights!

  35. Micki says:

    I just saw this pic of a red-haired bear of a man in a turquoise fleece, sleeping on a moss-covered something-or-other after I read this. It looked amazingly good! Calming, and that red hair was an amazing accent.

  36. Micki says:

    (-: Yay! I thought it might be it . . . definitely recognized Agnes Nutter, but it’s been a long time since I’ve read Good Omens, so I couldn’t remember who was in it. Azzie in one form or another has been showing up so much in my reading lately! First there was Krissie’s “Demon”, then he showed up again in The Master and Margarita (under a slightly different name, I think), and isn’t Aziraphale another alias? So weird . . . Thanks!

  37. Kelly S says:

    There have been droughts the past few years and cotton crops have failed. Fabric,thread and all things cotton having been going up I price this past year. Quilter’s have actually been using their fabric stashes as it costs too much not to.

  38. I also have short, wide hands, but! I can wear kid’s gloves, which come in much better colors, and it takes less yarn to make mittens for me. Which is why I have two pairs of dinosaur mittens from a friend.

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