Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Upholstering a Bench the Quick and Easy Way

I've had this bench from my parents for a while... we've been using it as extra seating around our kitchen table.  I believe it's originally a piano bench, and the top opens up allowing you to store things (like cookbooks) inside.  It's quite convenient!

But notice how the top seems a bit rough?  I decided that it needed some bright fabric to cover that up!  I used fabric I had (and had already made a pillow with), and purchased some NU-foam from Jo-Ann Fabrics to give it a bit of cushioning.

I unrolled the NU-foam, and turned the bench upside-down on it.  I cut out a piece of NU-foam to fit nicely on top.  At this point I actually hot-glued the foam to the top just so it wouldn't move on me later.

Then I spread out my fabric on top, cutting it so the fabric easily reached around the edges of the bench and to the underside.

Now, if I had wanted to spend a lot of time doing this and doing it right, I probably would have taken off the top of the bench to work with it.  But as it was, I couldn't find a screwdriver to fit in the screw heads... so I just began stapling around the edges while it was still attached!

The general rule of thumb when stretching fabric is to do the sides first and work your way to the corners.  You also want to work on all four sides simultaneously... so start with one side, we'll say the bottom, and put a staple in the middle of that side.  Go across to the top, pull tight, and put in another staple.  Then head to right side, and put a staple in the middle, and again with the left side.  Now you have one staple in the middle of each side, and everything should be pulled tightly.

Now you just want to work your way around, putting in a staple on either side of the first one, doing this with each side until all four sides have three staples.  And so on - making sure you pull tightly and put a staple in about every inch or two inches.

I also found that stapling about 2-3 inches in from the edge probably works best.  I was only able to staple in about an inch on some edges of mine, and this caused you to be able to see the puckers where I stapled a bit in the final product.

Now, I have never ever taken a class on doing this, so perhaps my method is a bit crude or not exactly the way it should be done, but it's always worked just fine for me for doing simple rectangular projects.

Once you get to the corner, you want to pull the very corner in tight and staple.  Then pull either flap in, making sure that any folds look neat and tidy before stapling.  Again, this is how I do it, from a very untrained standpoint.

Here's the finished product:

Our cat sure has taken a liking to it now that it's soft and sits right by the window :-)

Have you tried any upholstering or re-upholstering projects?  I'd love to hear about them!


Saturday, July 24, 2010

An Exciting New Round of This Week's Garage Sale Finds!

I went to a few sales this weekend... one yesterday and a couple today.  I got a few exciting bargains, and once they're all in their rightful place I'll show them to you!  So far I have one in its place... this little metal basket that was once in a freezer and for $1 came home with me!

It now holds the African Violet from my mom and a few vintage books.  Perfect for our mantle!

And if you take a peak to the lower right corner of the above photo, you'll see another bargain I got... but more about that in the future, once it's ready to be revealed :-)


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Free Project

Don't you love the free boxes at garage sales?  Sure, most of the time it's junk, but occasionally you find some stuff with great possibilities.

Last Friday I found this frame for free, and I knew it had found a home :-)

I brought it home and took the glass, backing, and nails out (all of which took about 5 minutes).

And then I spray painted it the same color as my kitchen chairs.

I found some art that I had done in college that never got framed, but that I've always liked...
Put em on the wall, and ta-da!

New art for the entrance into the kitchen... for free!

Have you scored any free or near-free items lately? I'd love to hear about them!


Monday, July 19, 2010

RAW... an amateur explanation

A few weeks ago, I posted about taking some photos in RAW.  Since then, I have experimented more, and my resolution stands - I love shooting in RAW!  It just seems like I can make the images pop much easier than I could shooting in jpeg form.

So to explain to those who may not know about RAW, shooting in RAW format rather than jpeg means that all of the data the camera's sensor captures is transferred to your computer rather than just the data for the settings at the time of the shot.  This means that once the image is on your computer, you can change the white balance, exposure, and some other things AFTER you take the picture.  So no more worrying if your exposure or white balance are spot on... it can be adjusted after you have taken the picture!!  Amazing, if you ask me!

Not all camera's have the capability to shoot in RAW, but if you have a DSLR, chances are, it does.  I found my settings in my Canon Digital Rebel XTi by going to menu - quality - RAW.  You can also shoot in RAW+jpeg, which means it will record both.  This is useful if you will need the images quickly and don't have time to convert the RAW image to jpeg format but still want the capability to edit them in detail later.

Not only will you need a camera that can shoot in RAW, but you will also need software that can read it.  I use Photoshop Elements, which is a fairly reasonably priced but very powerful tool.  Someday I hope to upgrade to the full blown Photoshop, but not yet.

When you download your pictures from your camera to the computer, you can do this in the same method that you normally would, but windows will not be able to show you a "preview" icon of your image, because it will not recognize the file type.  For me, it's a .CR2, but this may be different depending on your camera.

Once I've downloaded my images, I head to Photoshop Elements Organizer.  It automatically notices that I've downloaded new pictures and retrieves them for me.  Now I can see what the pictures look like!  I go through and pick out my favorites and tag them.

Once I find a good picture, I click "Fix" - "Full Photo Edit" to open the image in Photoshop Elements Editor.  A special window opens which allows me to edit the settings of my picture.

Now I can use the sliders on the right to adjust the white balance, darks, lights, etc.  Here is another screenshot after I've made the adjustments I wanted.  This takes a bit of playing around with to get used to, but don't be afraid to adjust whatever you want - you won't lose the data or "mess" it up.  You can easily go back and change this later.  That's the beauty of RAW - all of the data is there, it's just a matter of telling it which data to show!

One of my favorite sliders is the "vibrance" slider.  It really makes your colors pop without making them seem incorrect or over-saturated.  I realize I'm not giving a lot of detail here on what each slider does, but that's truly because I don't understand all of it myself.  I'd encourage you to simply play around with it and see what each slider does to the image.  Another thing to note is that there is a second tab of sliders (see the tab with the triangles?) that controls sharpening and noise reduction.

Now to open my image in the normal Photoshop Elements Editor workspace, I simply click "Open Image" in the lower right corner.  Now your image is in the Editor like normal, and the changes you made to the RAW file are automatically saved.  But remember, if you open the RAW file again, you will see the sliders in the same position they are now - meaning you didn't lose any data, it's all still there for you to play with! 

Now that I have the image in Editor, I like to play around with it some more, crop it, do some Pioneer Woman Actions on it.

So here's the straight-out-of-the-camera image:

And here's the final result:

Which do you like better?  Have I convinced you to give it a try yet?

Later this week I will show you how to take a RAW file and convert it to black and white, here is a sneak peak:

If you'd like to read more, here is an excellent discussion on RAW vs. JPEG.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Little Rearranging

A functional and pretty tabletop...


Monday, July 5, 2010

Shooting in RAW

Before tonight, I shied away from "RAW".  Taking pictures in RAW was something unknown to me, and honestly, it still is.  Most DSLRs have the option to shoot in jpeg or raw, and usually it's just easier for me to shoot in jpeg.  But tonight (after my brother-in-law gave me the push I needed), I gave raw a shot.  And here's what I discovered...

Vibrant, rich, true colors, without the noise or graininess.  Exposure... spot on (even if it wasn't when I took the picture!).

For comparison, I have a converted jpeg image (shot in raw) of the straight out of the camera image, and then the adjusted image, using photoshop elements on the raw image.

What I normally do with the SOOC jpeg image is take it through the ringer in photoshop elements, applying all sorts of Pioneer Woman actions, adjusting the levels, saturation, etc. etc.  So I did my normal process to the SOOC jpeg version of the image, just to compare to see if raw really does turn out better than my normal final product... and I think I like the raw image much better!  What about you?

And... if I've totally lost you by now, don't worry, I really have no idea what I'm doing either, so we can just enjoy some pretty flowers from my sister-in-law's garden!!!!  :-)

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