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Austen Gilliland is crafts editor and senior copy editor at Canadian Living Magazine.
Karen Kirk is senior editor, home and décor, at Canadian Living Magazine.
The Canadian Living Test Kitchen combines the talents and expertise of Canada’s top food specialists in the country’s largest media test kitchen. These specialists research, develop, test and retest recipes to make your cooking life easier and more pleasurable.
Reupholstered Dining Room Chair
Give your dining room a quick face-lift by reupholstering your chairs in a fresh new fabric.
• Dining room chair(s)
• 5 mm (¼-inch) upholstery piping*
• Felt padding*
• 2.5 cm (1-inch) thick foam*
• Upholstery fabric (we used Robert Allen Sensuede II in Waterfall)*
• Safety glasses, flat-head screwdriver and pliers
• Measuring tape, scissors, spray adhesive, staple gun and staples
*Quantities are determined based on size and number of seat cushions. Measure cushion before purchasing.
1. Remove all layers of fabric and old padding from seat cushion to expose wooden base. Wearing safety glasses, tap handle of flat-head screwdriver with pliers to drive flat end under each staple to loosen. Use pliers to remove each staple.
2. Place base right side up on table. Staple piping around edge with flange on inside.
3. Cut piece of felt padding to fit inside piped edge; turn edges under neatly as you staple padding to base.
4. Cut piece of foam 1 cm (½ inch) larger than wood base on all 4 sides. Place base on foam, padding side down. Use spray adhesive to secure all 4 edges of foam to base.
5. Place base on piece of batting, foam side down. Glue all 4 edges of batting to foam. Trim excess batting.
6. Cut square of fabric approx 10 cm (4 inches) larger than base on all 4 sides. Centre base on fabric, batting side down. Mark centre on each edge of base and fabric. Pull 1 edge of fabric over base, being careful to match centre marks; staple with temporary staple at centre. Repeat for all 4 edges, stapling opposite edges first.
7. Smooth fabric tightly over edges and corners.
8. Staple around edges, placing staples 1.3 cm (½ inch) from edges and 10 cm (4 inches) from each corner. Remove temporary centre staples as each edge is stapled.
9. Trim excess fabric from edges.
10. Pull fabric tightly over corners; smooth over each corner to remove folds or wrinkles in fabric, then staple fabric to base.
11. Cut piece of lining 8 cm (3 inches) larger than base on all 4 sides. Staple lining to base, folding edges under as you work and placing staples 6 mm (¼ inch) from edge, as close together as possible. Staple around edges first, then corners.
Recycled Paper Baskets
Fun to make – and nearly free – these containers put a whole new slant on the name wastepaper baskets.
• Even number of paper strips (see To Cut Strips, opposite, to determine dimensions)
• Flat ½- or ¾-inch artist’s paintbrush and acrylic varnish or decoupage medium, such as Mod Podge (all optional)
• Low-temperature glue gun
To cut strips:
For large basket (approx 19 cm/7½ inches square and high): Cut off and discard bottom of large paper bag(s), then slit down side along glue seam. Across width, cut twenty 95 x 9 cm (37⅜- x 3½-inch) strips.
For medium basket (approx 12 cm/4¾ inches square and high): Cut thirty-six 56 x 7.5 cm (22- x 3-inch) strips.
For large basket (approx 15 cm/6 inches square and 13 cm/5⅛ inches high): Cut thirty-six 56 x 9 cm (22- x 3½-inch) strips.
For small basket (approx 6 cm/2⅜ inches square and high): Tear out 12 pages.
For medium basket (approx 10 cm/4 inches square and high): Tear out 32 pages.
To fold strips:
Fold each strip in half so long cut edges are even; firmly press fold to crease. Open out, then fold each long edge to centre crease. Refold along centre crease, enclosing long cut edges; firmly press folds to crease, creating folded strip 4 layers thick.
For strength, stack 3 strips so edges are even, then treat as single strip and fold in same manner as for brown paper, above, creating folded strip 12 layers thick.
Fold each page in half so long edges are even. In same manner, fold in half again, then again; firmly press to crease. Open out last fold, then fold each long edge to centre crease. Refold along centre crease, creating folded strip 16 layers thick.
For medium basket only, join folded strips in pairs (see To Join Folded Strips, right).
To join folded strips:
Overlap 1 strip end approx 2 cm (¾ inch) over another and glue.
Use clothespins to temporarily secure weaving where noted.
1. Weave base: Divide even number of strips into 2 equal groups. Placing long open edges of strips to centre, and keeping strip ends even and 1 group perpendicular to the other, weave strips, alternating 1 over and 1 under, then slide strips tightly together into centred base. Secure at each corner.
2. Begin sides: Alternately weaving next right-hand strip, then next left-hand strip, weave 1 side at a time as follows: Fold strips straight up from base and divide into 2 equal groups.
At 45-degree angle to woven edge, cross 2 centre strips, then weave each strip out to nearest side edge and gently pull strips to tighten. Repeat, weaving in all remaining strips, to complete diamond-shaped side. Secure with clothespin at tip of diamond. Repeat, starting with 2 centre strips from each remaining side, to complete 4 sides (strip ends from adjacent sides will cross at corners).
3. Join sides: Alternately weaving next right-hand, then next left-hand strip, weave crossing strips from 1 side into strips from adjacent side edge, so each strip crosses from 1 basket side to nearest side. Secure.
4. Finish sides: Continue weaving as in Step 3, to complete all 4 corners.
5. Finish rim: Fold any 2 crossing strips, 1 over the other, down inside basket; trim even with second woven strip down and glue in place. Repeat around edge.
6. Varnish (optional): Invert basket. Brush varnish onto base and exterior; let dry. Turn basket upright. Brush varnish onto interior and rim; let dry.
• For your first basket, avoid using slippery, shiny magazine paper.
• Weave with the outside facing you.
• The trickiest step is making the bottom corners, which may take a few tries; once they’re done, the strips cross over in the direction you will weave them to finish the sides. The rest is easy.
• Before finishing the rim, gently pull strips to tighten all the weaving.
• Gluing down the strip ends in Step 5 is quick and easy. For a traditional finish, diagonally fold each end into a point (trim the end even with the side of the strip); fold it over the rim and weave it over and under 4 strips down the inside, and trim.
Plastic Spoon Crocuses
Celebrate the first flowers of spring with a craft that’s easy for little hands. These cheerful blooms are great on an Easter table or a sunny windowsill.
• Pipe cleaners
• Plastic spoons
• Green plastic twist ties (on spool)
• Low-temperature glue gun and glue sticks
• Decorative pot or urn
1. Fold over end of pipe cleaner 2.5 cm (1 inch) and twist together; repeat on other end. Repeat 3 more times, for total of 4 pipe cleaners. Gather pipe cleaners together and bend in half, twisting pipe centres loosely to form single unit.
2. Apply hot glue to top of handle of plastic spoon; adhere pipe cleaner bundle to handle, overlapping loose pipe cleaner ends with bowl of spoon.
3. Repeat with 3 more spoons to form flower (see photo, right).
4. Cut two 20.5 cm (8-inch) lengths of twist tie; twist around spoon handles and curl as desired.
5. Make more crocuses. Bundle together and arrange in pot. Fill in spaces around crocuses with moss.
Cement Stepping Stones
No need to buy and fit heavy stones into your landscape. Make the perfect size and shape “stones” from less-expensive concrete.
Note: Each stone is about 25.5 cm wide x 30.5 cm long x 5 cm thick (10 inches wide x 12 inches long x 2 inches thick).
1. Draw pattern on paper in shape of the stone you’d like to make (we used a leaf pattern). Using your hand-drawn pattern as a guide, bend 1 length garden edging into shape, and cut to fit. Tape ends together using duct tape and set aside.
2. With spade, cut out and remove a section of sod that is approximately the size of the mould.
3. Gently loosen soil inside cut-out section to a depth of about 5 cm (2 inches).
4. Insert the mould into loose earth about 1.3 cm (½ inch) deep, tamping earth inside mould so that it’s level but slightly lower on 1 edge for water runoff.
5. For extra support, push soil tightly up against outside wall of mould.
6. Pour in 1.3 cm (½-inch) layer of gravel for drainage. Tamp with garden hoe or trowel. Pour in 1.3 cm (½ inch) of sand to help level stone; tamp lightly.
7. Mix concrete with water according to package directions (mixture should have the consistency of runny oatmeal). Pour concrete into mould to about 1.3 cm (½ inch) below top. Spread carefully into crevices. Use a stick to remove air pockets.
8. Using trowel, smooth concrete evenly, embedding aggregate below surface. Tap sides of mould lightly to release any air bubbles.
9. While mix is still soft, add details and decorate as desired: score veins, make leaf impressions, or sink pebbles or glass marbles into surface of concrete.
10. Let cure for 24 hours. Cover with plastic or damp piece of burlap to keep concrete from curing too quickly and cracking.
11. When cured, remove moulds from stones. Fill space between stones with soil, sod, pebbles or creeping plants.