ALL POSTS IN Textiles & Fabric

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On this week’s episode of Ellen’s Design Challenge we watched as the four remaining contestants battled to create the reigning champ of sofas. And create, they did! Seeing the awesome finished products put me in the mood to build a couch of my own! But then I remembered I’m not a furniture designer and have no carpenter friends.

So I decided to do the next best thing: upholster. Below I’ve put together some easy DIY upholstering projects that any newbie (like me) could do with relative ease in a weekend or two. Yay! New furniture! (Sorta).

Design by Gaspar de Jesus | Ellen’s Furniture Design Challenge

See the other incredible designs from Episode 4 >>>

First, learn the basics.

Before starting your project, familiarize yourself with the language of upholstery. Batting? Welt chord? Huh? Learn the ins and outs of upholstery here >>>

The tools of the trade. 

Prepare like a Pro. 

Before tackling any DIY project, it is essential to prepare, prepare, prepare. To get your furniture ready for upholstery, strip away the old fabric and start over with a fresh, clean slate. Learn how strip your old furniture here >>>

How to Strip Furniture for Reupholstery - HGTV Design Happens

Upholster your little heart out! 

This arm chair upholstery project looks like fun! Next weekend’s project? I think yes. Learn how to reupholster your own arm chair here >>>

Blue and White Reupholstered Armchair

Reupholstering this bench looks pretty simple, too! Try it at home >>>

Reupholster a Run-Down Bench - HGTV Design Happens

Can’t sew? No problem! Learn how to make this gorgeous no-sew headboard >>> Quick tip: if you aren’t very good at working with wood, consider buying a pre-made wooden frame for this project.

Make Your Own Upholstered Headboard - HGTV Design Happens

I can’t wait to reupholster my old worn-out couch! Let me know what weekend upholstery projects you plan to tackle in the comments below.

Can’t get enough of Ellen’s Furniture Design Challenge? Don’t miss Episode 5 “From Trash to Treasure,” airing February 23rd at 9/8c.

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With less than a week left till Christmas, I’m betting that you —  like me – are spending a fair amount of time wrapping gifts. Which, to be honest, I don’t mind. Wrapping gifts is one of my favorite things about the holidays; I like to come up with new ways to package them each year.

Here are a few of my gift wrap ideas from 2012 with links to instructions below:
Wrapped Holiday Gift Ideas
* Left and bottom right: Easy doily gift wrap plus how to make a yarn pom-pom
and upper right: Menswear-inspired ribbon rose plus how to make a chalkboard gift tag

This year, I decided to shake things up a bit and use fabric trim instead of traditional ribbon for smaller gifts: Fabric Trim Instead of Ribbon as Christmas Gift Wrap

And cover reusible containers, like this mailing tube, in fabric for pretty packages that can be reused by the recipient as year-round decorative storage:
Easy Fabric Gift Wrap*The fabric is HGTV Home’s “Ring Around Peacock” in turquoise – available at your local JoAnn store.

Here’s another view, I just added a wired bow to one of the mailing tube’s plastic caps to finish off the wrap:
Easy Fabric Gift Wrap

Ready to make your own no-sew fabric gift wrap? It’s easy and your friends and family will thank you for the cute container they can use again and again. Get crafting with all my tips and complete step-by-step instructions>>

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Okay, first, I should come clean and confess that while I love all things crafty, sewing has never been my forte. My mom is a whiz and has tried to instruct me in the ways of the force many times (I even took Home Ec in high school and made an almost wearable drawstring-waist skirt) but all the math and measuring — ugh — too hard!

But, recently our friends at HGTV Home offered up their on-trend fabric from JoAnn if we wanted to do some holiday crafts and, of course, we jumped at the chance even though some of us, like me, are decidedly sewing challenged. 

So, now I had yards of beautiful fabric and no way to magic it into a viable project. Enter fusible web, which is seriously one of the greatest inventions of all time. All you need is a hot iron to permanently join 2 pieces of fabric — no sewing machine required. It’s fabric magic which helps you create easy ornaments as cute as this:

No-Sew Fabric Christmas Ornament as a Gift Topper *This fabric is HGTV Home’s “Ring Around Peacock” in turquoise — available at your local JoAnn store.

I’m in full-on handmade-gift-fabrication mode right now so I decided to use my ornaments as colorful gift toppers. The recipients can then hang them on their trees:Handmade Fabric Ornament on White Christmas Tree *This fabric is HGTV Home’s “Jigsaw” in turquoise — available at your local JoAnn store.

 Or use them to top another gift:No-Sew Fabric Christmas Ornament as a Gift Topper*This fabric is HGTV Home’s “Turtle Shell” in turquoise — available at your local JoAnn store.

Ready to make your own no-sew fabric ornaments? Our free printable templates make it a snap. Get crafting with all my tips and complete step-by-step instructions>>

Fabric Ornaments and Printable Templates

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I am a major clothes hoarder. When confronted about this illness, I tend to blame the fact that everything still fits. Plus, you never know what might come back in style. While both of these excuses may be true, neither covers the fact that some of my MANY pairs of jeans have irreparable damage. Deep down I know it doesn’t make sense to keep them, and I decided I would feel a lot better about permanently retiring them if I could make something crafty out of them. So, I found six projects that might just inspire me (and hopefully you, too!) to get those old jeans out of the closet and into the craft room.

denim wreath

Thanks to Designer MacGyver, I’ve found several cool homemade wreath options (remember the cute men’s tie wreath?), but I think this denim wreath may be my favorite. The end result looks a little intimidating, but the project instructions could not be easier.

denim headband

According to Kara at Creations by Kara, this headband only costs $1 to make. Count me in! I just love the look, especially because it’s so customizable. Not a fan of the denim rosettes? Leave it plain or put your own funky spin on it. The options are endless. Even Blair Waldorf herself would be proud of this headband masterpiece!

More Old Jean Crafts

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Every parent, babysitter and older sibling knows that one of the quickest ways to entertain a child for hours on end is by building a fort. It’s a cool place for imaginations to grow and adventures to ensue. I typically go with a fort of sheets or blankets, but this super sweet playhouse tablecloth is just too cute to pass up. In fact, you might want to make it a permanent addition to your kitchen!

playhouse tablecloth

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I used to think lace curtains were outdated, even matronly. I thought they were too froufrou for my taste and would never make an appearance in my home. I was wrong. These lovely lace curtains are anything but dated. They would add a romantic touch to any space, but I prefer them with worn windows or against a brick or stone background. I just love the contradiction between the masculine materials and delicate curtains. What do you think?

lace curtainsStone | Books | White Room | Wooden Window | Green Window | Tulips | Blue Door | Oar | Cream Lace | White Lace

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So, tomorrow’s Halloween and you’re still struggling to decide what ghostly (or adorable) character you’re going to transform into, amiright? Don’t let the pressure of creating a knock-out costume stress you out. You still have plenty of time to gather some materials and put your DIY skills to use to make a fun, homemade costume just in time for nightfall. And even if you aren’t handy with a needle and thread, many of these will look just as good with a hot glue gun substitute. So, I’ve picked my top 11 (I just couldn’t stop at 10) DIY costumes from around the blogosphere that you can make TONIGHT. Plus, there’s something for every person in your family, from babies to grown-ups. Go ahead and dive in.



DIY Halloween Costumes - Rag DollsRag Dolls :: A Beautiful Mess

This rag doll costume is too cute. It’s perfect on its own or as a mother-daughter set. Get the Tutorial at A Beautiful Mess >>

DIY Halloween Costumes - BumblebeeBumblebee :: Fiskars

Becoming a bumblebee is easy as can be(e). Sew strips of black tee onto a yellow shirt, and turn a regular headband into whimsical antennae. Get the Tutorial at Fiskars >>

More Last-Minute Halloween Costumes

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The HGTV Home Studio interns were hard at work during the first quarter here at HGTV Headquarters to create yet another eye-catching display, focusing on both current and iconic design trends. The Home Studio university co-op program allows Scripps Networks to work with up-and-coming designers who offer unique takes on interior design. Throughout the process, University of Cincinnati students Alison Donner and Diana Stercula worked closely with Vern Yip and other HGTV design experts to help expand their concepts and build a larger-than-life interactive vignette.

Discover more about the rising global textiles trend and the age-old Klismos chair, and see how they both come together in one surprising (and vibrant) display.

hgtv home studio internsLeft: Diana Stercula + global textiles; Right: Alison Donner + Klismos chair

Bring These Trends Into Your Home

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You know how much I love a sweet, sweet tiled floor, but lately I’ve found myself warming up to rugs. Possibly literally. We are having a cold snap here in NYC, and rugs are so much better at keeping my tootsies toasty! I spotted a Linus Dean rug on a friend’s holiday wish list and now I’m wishing for one, too. They remind me of cool roadside signs I’ve seen in the desert cities near Palm Springs.
linus dean rugs

Graphic vintage typography has never looked so appealing, and Linus Dean is considering a child-labor free certification thanks to GoodWeave. (Which warms my heart as much as the rug warms my feet.)

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One of the best things about being a blogger is hearing from those who read the AphroChic blog and my posts here on Design Happens. Every now and then a wonderful reader will send me a link to a site they think I’ll like. That happened earlier this week, when a reader sent me a link to KMP furniture in Miami (a city I still need to make a trip to).  He must have known how much I love suzani prints, and how much I would love this site filled with suzani-upholstered seating. Oh, it’s just fantastic!

Evita Chair

From deep and cozy side chairs to egg chairs, these pieces are truly one-of-a-kind, featuring 18th-century fabric designs on modern furniture silhouettes.

Ecko Chair

The variety of pattern and color makes these chairs remarkable statement pieces.

Apollo Chair

In classic styles like this wingback chair, these furnishings can also fit into the most traditional of spaces. I could see a set of these in a sitting room. Wouldn’t they look incredible?

Malia Chair

And for something a little unconventional, how about this embroidered swan-style chair? It’s the perfect mix of modern and traditional. It’s fantastic to see old-school design made new again.

For more suzani inspiration, check out my Oh Suzani post featuring some gorgeous textiles.

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I’m completely enamored with block-printed textiles for their ability to bring an artistic feel to modern interiors. Based on thousands of years of Indian tradition, block printing uses artisan-carved hardwood to apply color and pattern onto fabric. Block-printed pieces feel distinctive as a result of the crafting process; each piece really is an original work of art.

Designer John Robshaw studied traditional block printing in China then went on to India, where he discovered the beauty of Indian fabric-making techniques. He uses India’s four-thousand-year-old printing process to create his line of bedding, pillows, table linens and curtains.

This Marine Decorative Pillow uses detailed blocks that are dipped in a dye and then stamped onto the fabric. Each pattern and color represents the different blocks applied to create the layers seen in the pillow.

Philadelphia designers Liz Galbraith and Ephraim Paul, the founders of Galbraith & Paul, are known for their oversized block prints in unique colorways. Through block printing, they create everything from pillows to pendants to wallpaper.

Galbraith & Paul pillows and lighting are sold exclusively at Room & Board.

West Elm also has block-printed pieces in bright colors and fun patterns. Their hand-blocked quilts and shams are made by master artisans in Rajasthan, India.

Block-Printed Napkins from West Elm also have a similar feel. Striped, checked and floral patterns can be mixed and matched for an eclectic tabletop display.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can create your own block-print piece for your interior. Leah Moss of Apartment Therapy was inspired by all of the hand-blocked textiles out there, and decided to make her own affordable rug. Check out her tutorial for creating your very own block-printed masterpiece.

Stenciled Thanksgiving Napkins by Marion Parsons of Miss Mustard Seed

Or if you’d like a simpler process with similar results, why not try stenciling on fabric? Marion Parsons made these elegant stenciled napkins for Thanksgiving, but you could use the same technique on any fabric, for any purpose, throughout the year.

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Can you believe that the days are already getting shorter? Fall has arrived and with it all of the beautiful things about this season — cooler days, longer nights and more time spent cozying up at home. It’s blanket time again! My favorite home accessory to buy this time of year is a colorful new throw to brighten up my space. A few of my favorite stores have just the thing — unique throws that are great for snuggling and adding warm color and texture at home.

Stripes are still in, and Dwell Studio’s Draper Stripe Throws are a classic. They are made with alpaca and are sure to be super-soft.

West Elm’s Kantha Quilted Throw is absolutely gorgeous. Made from recycled saris, pieces are stitched together to create one-of-a-kind intricate designs. Each one would be a colorful addition to a bed or even a wall for some added warmth at home.


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Oh my stars! Is this curtain precious, or what? The Twinkle Curtain by GRAstudio is designed to create a peaceful environment for your baby or toddler’s nap time, thanks to its linen-colored blackout fabric that keeps things cool and dim.

twinkle curtain

I’m not a parent yet, but that dancing light streaming through the die-cut celestial cluster is heavenly. I’ll think I’ll buy a few curtains now, you know, for a future nursery. And uhh, I shouldn’t let them go to waste, so in the meantime, maybe I’ll just hang them on my windows. (Hey, can you blame me?)

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With the end of Fashion Week, I can only imagine the industry buzz surrounding the spring/summer 2012 clothing trends and styles we’ll see next year. So of course, I was super excited to see the recent release of Pantone’s Fashion Color Report for Spring 2012. The report features the top 10 colors for women’s fashion for spring 2012. And with enticing names like Margarita (Pantone 14-0116) and Tangerine Tango (Pantone 17-1463), I’m dying to skip over a few seasons (sorry Mother Nature) to fully engulf myself in these luscious hues. For spring, designers are especially inspired by diverse influences and lifestyles, creating contemporary classics, vivid brights and fun-loving pastels. We found some of Pantone’s new beauties in some of our favorite spaces. Take a look!

Haute Hotels: Try Pantone in Your Home

Pantone Spring 2012 Fashion Color Report Design Happens Design Blog HGTVHGTV Green Home 2009 :: Pantone 18-2140  Cabaret

Pantone Spring Fashion Color Report 2012 Design Happens Design Blog HGTVJane Ellison :: Pantone 18-3628  Bellflower

Pantone Spring 2012 Fashion Color Report Design Happens Design Blog HGTVPantone 14-5420  Cockatoo :: Andreea Avram Rusu

Pantone Spring 2012 Fashion Color Report Design Happens Design Blog HGTVShelly Riehl David :: Pantone 17-1463  Tangerine Tango


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What’s black and white and elegant all over? How about this English Floral rug by Carini Lang? I love that this needlepoint-inspired motif could have come off as prissy, but the colorway plays with that expectation and goes mod instead. Plus, the palette is so classic, you know it’ll never go out of style.

english floral rug

The rug has a retail value of $6,534, but it could be yours for the price of a $25 raffle ticket to benefit GoodWeave, an organization that’s committed to ending child exploitation in the rug industry. Supporting a good cause with good design? Talk about a double delight!

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As a designer, I find that I’m more inspired by the past than hot, new trends. I love exploring designs that have stood the test of time. My job is to make them new again. Toile has always been a favorite for me. Painted scenes that tell a story are the essence of this 16th-century French decorating pattern. I did a deep dive into the history of toile in preparation for AphroChic’s Brooklyn Renaissance Collection, studying how today’s designers are updating these traditional treatments with contemporary stories and colors. Here are a few of my favorites. Designs that are completely reshaping the way we see and use toile in interiors.

Manuel Canovas Fabric Wallpaper Collection Toile French Jeanine Hayes Design Blog HGTV

The Parisian company Manuel Canovas has the most beautiful Toiles Collection of fabric and wallpaper. The designers at Manuel Canovas demonstrate just how beautiful toile prints in mod colors like fuchsia and paprika can be. It’s French design in a whole new light.

When I came up with idea for the modern toile for our Brooklyn Renaissance collection, I knew I wanted something completely out of the box. My husband and I worked with Brooklyn-based artist Samantha Hahn to create the Brooklyn Life Indoor toile that tells the story of young women living in Brooklyn on a really fun and fantastic (if I do say so myself) pillow.

Sheila Bridges Harlem Toile French Wallpaper Jeanine Hayes Design Blog HGTV

A particular design by Sheila Bridges greatly influenced my Brooklyn Life toile. Her Harlem Toile de Jouy Wallpaper is so unique, presenting baroque scenes of “Afro-French” people. It comes in a range of hues like yellow, robin’s egg blue and cherry, and it is certain to brighten any interior.

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I have a love/hate relationship with the beginning of autumn, almost as if I’m Robert Redford and autumn is Barbra Streisand and we live on a planet in The Way We Were galaxy. Hate: My allergies act up and throw off my productivity. Love: I’m instantly brought back to the late 1990′s during my college days in Tallahassee, Florida. While lots of people have fond memories of funnels and blacked-out blurs, I think of open windows on breezy afternoons, piles of leaves on the sidewalks and the very angry lyrics of one Ms. Alanis Morissette playing in my black/tan 1993 Jeep Wrangler. But above all, I think of the iconic style that goes along with college: tartan, plaid, varsity letters and the overall preppy vibe that is early-twentysomething-ness.

While sourcing materials for my latest bachelor clients, I’ve been noticing how drawn I am to all things preppy. There’s something classic and graphic that goes along with the style; it also works well with different aesthetics, from uber-traditional to contemporary or mod. As I compiled ideas for clients, I came across some textile-ish items sporting that collegiate look. Whether you’re looking for that perfect comforter or plan to cover your adult office in Ralph Lauren tartan, here are some collegiately stylish items available online that evoke that studious feel. You know who wishes he could be studying shelter magazines right now but he can’t due to his sinuses killing him? Me. The love/hate relationship with autumn is in full effect.


The Beverly Hills Polo Club Argyle 3-Piece Comforter Set in navy from is a cost-effective way to add a studios look to any bedroom. Add a few accents of hot pink to give it a girly edge or pair it with fire engine red or lime green for a colorful, masculine look.

ethan tartan wallpaper

Ralph Lauren has been King of the Preppies since the 1970′s. His Ethan Tartan wallpaper is insanely affordable and a great way to add classic, preppy elegance to just about any room. At $60 per roll, it’s possible to cover a teency weency powder room for less than $250. There are two options: green/blue and red/green. Personally, I’m drawn to the red since it’s a bit more gender neutral.

Flor Plaid

How many people do you know with plaid floors? Exactly! FLOR’s Pop Tartan adds a graphic touch of preppy right underfoot. This is exceptionally wonderful for students looking to dress up their dorms or for families with kids since the product is totally reusable. Just stick the carpet tiles down in whatever configuration is needed now, then pull them down and lay ‘em in your next place. If you get a stain on a square, simply swap it out.


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When I was little, I loved to pick the magenta-hued poke berries from my parents’ yard and smash them up to dye rags, doll clothes and, usually, sections of whatever I happened to be wearing that day. But as a (mostly) grown-up girl, I haven’t experimented much with natural dyes. So in honor of September’s Color of the Month, I’m trying one of the world’s oldest, richest dyeing techniques: indigo. From growing the plant to making the dye, here’s how you can create your own vibrant indigo piece.

Indigo Dyed Prints Clockwise from top-left:  1. Indigo-Dyed Kaya ::  Sri Threads 2. DIY Shibori :: Honestly, WTF 3. Shibori-Dyed Japanese Cotton Scarves :: Sweet Georgian Yams 4. Shibori Print Close-Up :: nara blog

Indigo has a history as rich as its midnight hue: It’s mentioned in Indian manuscripts from as far back as the fourth century, and its vibrant hue was the impetus for the centuries-old textile trade in West Africa. And there’s a reason the natural version is still popular worldwide: It creates color that’s brighter than the synthetic stuff and doesn’t fade.

Growing and Harvesting Indigo
To really get to the, ahem, root of this tradition, do as the traditionalists do: plant and harvest your own indigo plants. The deep, dark hue actually starts as an unassuming green plant. There are nearly 300 varieties of indigo, but all are easy to grow and the nitrogen the plants release even makes it easier for edible crops like corn and wheat to grow nearby.

Growing IndigoClockwise from top-left:  1.  Indigo plants :: Britt Browne 2. New indigo seedlings :: Britt Browne 3. Indigo powder: Britt Browne  4. Kenichi Utsuki stirring up one of three dye vats :: Sweet Georgia Yams 5. Moroccan indigo :: Britt Browne 6.  Making indigo balls :: Henry Drewal

When the plants mature, the leaves can be dried or turned into long-lasting “indigo balls” — the harvested leaves are pounded into balls and left in the sun to dry. When you’re ready to make dye, draw the color out of the leaves by soaking them in alkaline water, draining and paddling to separate the indigo solids from the liquid. The sediment that’s left is pure indigo powder, which can be pressed into cakes for later use. Get the full indigo recipe and how-to at Hand/Eye Magazine.


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One freezing cold January, Vicky and Marinique Dabissiere visited an uninhabited house in Queens, New York, after receiving a call from a former client. Her parents had bought an older house, and the client wanted the sisters of LaVie Design to bring it into the 21st century for them. When Vicky and Marinique crossed the threshold, they discovered a house stuck in the 1970s. Mirrored walls loomed all around. Layers of dust covered the wood floors, parts of which needed serious repairs. The old cracked plaster walls were painted a shade of white that had obviously lost its umph over the decades. As you’ll see, this talented design duo turned the neglected 1,438 square-foot New York house into a traditional, but unexpected refuge that exceeded their clients’ wants and needs.

LaVie Designs

Vicky says: After touring the first floor, we asked the clients about their design style and tastes. The wife, who was at first hesitant, eventually voiced that she liked prints and that while she liked color, she tended to gravitate towards earth tones. She described her style as traditional, but not too traditional. The husband’s main wish was that the family room be “comfortable”. We had four weeks to work with their contractor before the family would need to move in. That is no time in the design world! As we sketched, photographed and measured the space, we could see that the rooms had great bones and underneath the layers of dust and years of neglect, there was indeed a hidden treasure.

LaVie Designs

The clients were originally from the Caribbean, so we chose to interpret the island feel through color, fabrics and accessories. We painted the living room walls in Benjamin Moore’s Leisure Green. The only moldings in the room were those that accented the walls, and they were caked with decades old paint. We all liked the visual interest they provided to the walls, so we had the contractor replace them and paint them in Benjamin Moore’s White Dove. The moldings certainly help the mother of pearl mirror and black/amber accent chest pop against the possibly overwhelming green walls. Since the clients decided to forego installing central heating and opted to keep the radiators original to the house, we painted those the same color as the walls so they would seamlessly disappear into the background. (On the right in the top photo.)

When it came to the lighting in the living room, in addition to the wall sconces, the space needed more central lighting. Rather than adding wiring to the ceiling for a chandelier, we had the electrician install an electrical socket in the floor in the center of the room for side table lighting. This gave the clients the option of turning on only the table lamps for a more intimate mood.

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