I found this chair on the curb in front of a barber shop. I thought of all the people who must have sat in it and all the stories they had to tell. Maybe I was being romantic, but I felt that under its shabby exterior, there was an old soul.
I freshened the chair with a bright coral I created by mixing two parts Annie Sloan English Yellow and one part Emperor’s Silk. You really get to know a piece with the first coat of paint. Sometimes I’ll start with a coat of Pure White just to get a better idea of my “canvas.”
This time the paint highlighted an area where the rattan had begun to separate.
I removed the damaged back with a utility knife and was surprised to find yellowed batting underneath. It left me with with an area that had to be filled in and covered.
I cut out paper templates for the back and the seat.
What followed was a series of “failures” that I prefer to think of as “learning experiences.” First of all, don’t upholster with carpet padding. Hey, I was trying to be thrifty. The foam rubber was too thin but at least it helped me make a sturdier template. (I used duct tape around the edges and used the utility knife to trim away the excess.)
The one and only winner, of course, was batting. And to cover the batting? Hmm, those are very nice curtains, aren’t they?
Confident that I could succeed with the upholstery, I added clear and then dark wax to the wood. There was the depth I knew was hiding in that chair!
I was careful not to wax the area to be covered because I knew from experience that wax resisted glue. (Wake Up Little Dresser!)
Time for the fabric.
“The moss-green velvet curtains felt prickly and soft beneath her cheek and she rubbed her face against them gratefully, like a cat. And then suddenly she looked at them.” – Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind
Sorry about the book reference but it gives me a chuckle: Scarlet O’Hara made a dress from her curtains. I used mine to cover a chair.
I used spray adhesive to attach the fabric to the batting and the batting to the chair.
What followed was another “learning experience.” I learned that my talents do not include sewing chair cushions. I did, however, come upon a rattan-ish seat cushion at Bed Bath & Beyond.
By then I was spray-adhesive-happy. I traced the cushion outline onto my curtain panel fabric and cut around it with a good three inches to spare. Because I only wanted to cover one side of the cushion, I used painter’s tape to keep the spray adhesive off of the bottom half of the cushion.
Once the fabric was stuck in place, I trimmed the excess to the edge of the painter’s tape.
I rolled a bead of Unique Stitch (Time to Play Dress-up) under the fabric where it was a little loose on the edges.
All it needed was a bit of trim to pull it all together. I had some twine and used Unique Stitch to glue it along the curves on the back and also around the edge of the seat cushion.
I’m glad I was able to see beyond the surface of this time-worn chair. It already had a long and interesting life before I came along. That’s the beauty of it.
Bones, depth, character, soul…
What I learned:
- When upholstering, use upholstering materials.
- Curtain panels are a terrific source for fabric.
- Art rejuvenates the soul.