Category: Tutorials

hassock re-upholstery: introduction

First of all, what is a hassock?

It’s a footstool, and quite possibly a vintage word – I had never heard the word “hassock” until I found mine at my favorite rummage sale. I enjoyed this post’s theory on the disappearance of the hassock: did La-Z-Boy recliners play a role in its demise?? In any case, footstools, ottomans, or hassocks are small, quaint items of furniture for resting your feet.

vintage hassock examples - yellow and orange

clockwise from top left. yellow pleather: VintageLooks; yellow pouf: fezart on etsy; yellow wool: PDX Picker; orange pleather: RetroMama65 on etsy

In my opinion, what may make a hassock a hassock, rather than an ottoman, is the legs. And I do have a fondness for furniture with tapered wooden legs. Those tapered legs, along with the end-of-the-sale $5 price tag, prompted me to scoop up this green pleather hassock a few years ago.

hassock before upholstery

Years? Yes, I’ve left my ripped, mediocre-green-pleather covered hassock untouched for years, all because of that one big scary word: re-upholstery. I’ve refinished furniture, I’ve upcycled clothing, but I’ve never dealt with upholstery… and it’s always sounded so difficult!

hassock upholstery fabric

I had some fabric planned for the project, but a trip to Toronto, Ontario’s King Textiles in February changed all that. It’s a beautiful, fully stocked fabric store, and this wool caught my eye. I love the multi-colored “blubs” and the fact that it’s multi-colored while retaining some sophistication. Perfect hassock material.

Armed with a ripped hassock cover and some gorgeous fabric, all I was lacking was a bit of gumption. Finally, I jumped right into the project, big-scary-words and all. I’m reupholstering this hassock, and over the next few posts I intend to share the process with you… because it’s not the least bit scary.

This post is the introduction to my mini Hassock Reupholstery series. More coming soon!

make a dorm feel like home: dorm room curtains

Dorm rooms are challenging. They’re temporary, and typically bland – sometimes actively ugly. Between dorm regulations, car space, and college-kid budget, it’s hard to make a dorm feel like a great place to live. But for me, especially since at school I need to be able to focus and get work done, I want to feel comfortable and “at home” in my room.

light shining through last year's dorm room curtains (made from a vintage sheet)

I recently posted about this year’s thrifted vintage curtains, and how cozy they make my room feel. I believe that curtains are one of the easiest, cheapest, and most effective ways to make a room feel like your room.

For me, a vintagey/grandmotherly fabric helps. But that’s optional.

light shining through last year's dorm room curtains (made from a vintage sheet)

This year, I was lucky enough to find perfectly-sized, pre-made curtains at the thrift store. But last year, I just chopped into a vintage sheet to make my own. Simple curtains like these are one of the easiest projects I can think of. So here’s how to make yours!


  • curtain fabric (I used a vintage sheet), $2.50
  • lining fabric* (white cotton is cheap, or you can buy curtain lining fabric), $5
  • tension rod (sized to your window), $10

*I did not line these curtains! I wanted to let some sunlight come through.

vintage sheets waiting to become curtains

To determine your measurements:
Measure the width of your window, and then decide on a length. The length is up to you.


  1. Number of panels
    For two panels, like mine in these photos, start by dividing the window width by 2.

  2. Gathered Look
    You always want your curtains to be sized slightly bigger than your window so they gather a bit at the top – I did not add enough fabric, which is why these curtains look so flat. So add at least 10% to your width to allow for gathers.

  3. Hems
    Finally, add 4″ to each panel (2″ per edge) to allow for hemming the sides of each panel.

Total Panel Width = 1/2(WindowWidth) + 1/10(WindowWidth) + 4″


  1. What length?
    It’s a dorm room, so any length of curtains will look better than no curtains. You can decide this based on your fabric or based on how much coverage you want – basically, it’s up to you.

  2. Tension Rod looping
    Allow enough extra fabric that you will be able to slide the curtain easily over the tension rod. Usually a 4″ fold will suffice.

  3. Bottom Hem*
    Curtains look much classier if you allow for a 4″ hem or so – that’s what I did, and see how nice they look?
    *If you’re lining your curtains, you don’t need to add this measurement.

Total Panel Length = Your Length + Rod Loop + Bottom Hem

Hopefully, your Panel Width will be less than the width of your fabric. Then, you just need to buy a length of fabric that is twice your calculated length.

From there, it’s super easy.

Making Unlined Curtains

  1. Cut panels of fabric to your determined length and width.
  2. Hem sides of panels: turn under 3/8″, turn under again 1″, and then stitch.
  3. Create tension rod loop by turning under a small hem (3/8″) and then folding over an amount that will allow your tension rod to clear. Stitch in place.
  4. Hem, making sure both panels line up straight.

That’s it!

Making Lined Curtains

  1. Cut panels of both fabric and lining to your determined length and width.
  2. Stitch panels right-to-right, leaving a gap on the top edge for turning right-side-out.
  3. Create tension rod loop by folding over an amount that will allow your tension rod to clear and stitch it in place. You should be able to incorporate your turning hole here, stitching it shut as you stitch down the line.
  4. Optional: Topstitch 4″ above bottom as a pseudo-hem line – it will look nicer. You may also want to topstitch along your other two edges, but don’t stitch the rod hole shut!

That’s it!

The best part, is that when it’s time to pack up and go home for the summer, curtains can just be folded up and thrown in a box. Try doing that with a poster! Tension rods aren’t hard to transport either.

Curtains help cover those awful dorm blinds, and they give the room a depth that only fabric can provide. They’re cheap and easy, and they make my room feel so much nicer!

I hope you have the chance to make your own, and I hope you love them as much as I do!

gift guide: the ultimate beginner’s sewing kit

sewing basket gift guide

I’ve noticed a trend in my holiday wish lists: I never want mere “things”, I want “things for making things”. Last year it was an orbital sander, the year before all I wanted were some high-quality Gingher shears. And really, what better gift is there than the gift of creativity? It’s a gift of unlimited possibilities.

When I worked at a certain large chain fabric store, the most common question I was asked at Christmastime was, “where are your sewing kits?” And, somehow, we didn’t have a good answer. We only had tiny mending kits with weak scissors, a few needles, and easily torn thread. I’m saving you from all that with this comprehensive list of sewing basket essentials: they’re all my favorites. And best yet? Most of them will ship in 2 days with Amazon Prime.

sewing basket gift guide

SNIP: Gingher 5″ Craft Scissors, $14; Cutter Bee Precision-Cut Scissors, $9

Good snips are crucial for all machine- and hand-sewing. Nothing is more frustrating than dull scissors that can’t snip a thread!

The Ginghers are super high quality – they’re the snips I use most often, and the sharp, sturdy end is perfect for installing safety eyes. The CutterBee snips are lightweight and wonderful for just about anything, and they come with a nice guard that makes them very portable.

MEASURE: Clover Retractable Tape Measure, $7; Dritz Extra-Long Tape Measure 120″, $5

From curtain hems to inseams, a flexible tape measure is essential for working with fabric. The retractable ones are tidiest (and this one is extra high quality), but for larger projects the full tape is key.

CUT: Gingher 8-Inch Dressmaker’s Shears, $27; Fiskars 8-Inch Razor-Edge Bent Scissors, $16; Fiskars 8-Inch Non-Stick Bent Scissors, $11

I’m obsessed with my Gingher shears. They are worth every penny. But you can never have enough scissors – especially if you’re like me and tend to set them down in the most ridiculous places.

Grabbit Magnetic Pin Cushion, $14; Wrights Glass Head Pins, $4; Dritz Quilting Pearlized Pins, $6

The Grabbit Pin Cushion changed the art of pinning for me. I used to have an older pin magnet, and an errant swipe of my arm would send pins flying around the room. This one falls on the floor and all the pins stay on it. If you drop pins on the floor, hover the Grabbit over them and it will pick them up. It’s life changing. Seriously.

RIP: Fons and Porter Ergonomic Seam Ripper, $5; Dritz 5-1/2″ Seam Ripper, $4

Sorry, but every beginner (and intermediate, and expert!) is going to need a seam ripper. I also recommend naming the seam ripper so you hate it less. Up there you see Marvin (blue) and Bessie (red). Bessie is comfy on the hands but less heavy-duty – I’ve snapped a few Bessies on the heavier projects. But I keep buying them because they sit nicely in my hand.

TURN: Turn It All, $10

This set of three tubes & rods is the most ingenious sewing tool I’ve ever encountered. It makes turning narwhal tusks, spaghetti straps, octopus legs – all those things that were painful to even think about – manageable and EASY. Plus, the dowel rods double as stuffing sticks. I can’t recommend this tool enough.

That’s a great start to a well-stocked sewing basket! Add in a pack of needles ($4), and the seamstress/seamster in your life will be ready to tackle just about any project that comes their way.

Did I miss anything? What are your favorite sewing tools, and what would you recommend for building up one’s sewing supplies?

(links are amazon referral links, but i put this list together as a helpful review of my favorite things. these are all my honest opinions and nobody paid me to put this here. i hope you find it helpful!)