As part of our continuing series on reducing, reusing, and recycling, I wanted to explain how easy it is to utilize items that you find at Goodwill to make a bold statement in your home. Perhaps you’ve gone by an item at the Goodwill store and thought, “I really like that fabric, too bad it’s not my size (style, or other term for “not quite right for me”). Don’t walk by. Take another look at the fabric and try to imagine what else could be made from it. That’s the story I have with this olive and tangerine patterned caftan I found at the Goodwill store for $4.99. For some reason I was just drawn to the bright, cheerful colors, and also liked the white contrast piping on the sleeves. I almost kept walking, but then I realized there was a lot of great cotton fabric there. So I took it home and pondered just what to do with it.
About a week later while shopping at the Goodwill store in my neighborhood, I spied this simple dining room side chair and had an immediate “a-ha” moment. The IKEA brand chair had a slipcover that was ill fitting and not very attractive. On closer inspection I noted that the cover was attached with Velcro and could be easily removed. I purchased the chair for $6.99 and couldn’t wait to get home to see what shape it was in underneath the awful “Golden Girls” floral-print cover. Pleasantly, I discovered that it was in absolutely brand new condition and the previous cover had done its job protecting the chair. Now I knew that my caftan would be used for creating a new look for this sturdy seating.
Once the chair was naked, I looked at the previous slipcover that was on it to see if I could use it as a pattern. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to use it, so I set about taking apart the caftan. I conducted a web search for slipcover patterns, but then decided I was smart enough to figure it out for myself. Basically the caftan had four major parts - front, back, and two capped sleeves with the white embellishment. In addition there were two covered buttons. After taking it all apart I started draping them onto the chair to see what I could make. There seemed to be plenty of fabric so I moved on to the pattern.
Using newspaper, I made a pattern that would cover the chair back and seat. One would be a long rectangle that went from the back of the chair over the top to where the seat is attached. I added a few inches to the sides and the ends to make sure it wouldn’t be too tight. This would be similar to a pillowcase that just popped over the back of the chair. Next, I made another pattern for the seat itself, a basic square, also leaving a few inches on the perimeter to allow me to fit it to one side of the “pillowcase” making it like an “L” shape. Lastly, I measured the circumference of the chair all the way around the seat and back where I would attach a skirt.
I cut out the patterns for the back and seat, and realized that I would have to make some adjustments on the skirting, as I didn’t have enough of the front and back fabric. Then another idea hit me, I simply took the sleeves with the piping that I had previously removed and measured them. Luckily, they were just the perfect size, as is, to go around the entire chair.
I zigzag stitched the long rectangle pillowcase-like cover after pinning it on the chair inside out. Next, I sewed the seat cover to the bottom of that section where it would meet the chair seat. Placing it on the chair inside out once again, I pinned the “sleeves” around the circumference as a skirt. Using a large zigzag stitch, I basted the whole thing together and turned it right side out. The sleeves were finished at the edges and bottom and just happened to be the right length for my chair. The white piping decoration created an added embellishment and I didn’t have to do anything to it. I used a safety pin to attach the buttons from behind the fabric to the front and back of the skirt for added impact and decorative flair. Even if you don’t sew, you could just pin this together, or even use a fabric bond. The sky’s the limit!
As you can see, my chair turned out amazing, just like some of the items you find at the Goodwill Store every time you shop. Just remember that with a little imagination and some creative energy, you can re-fashion anything into a beautiful and useful object for your home or wardrobe. Good luck!