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I have had an interest in keeping my furnishings either custom built or at least custom to my personal taste. I have a hard time finding things that fit my (according to Amazon Style test) "eclectic world boho" preference. Because of my desire to have unique things in my home I started learning how to reupholster furniture and have been trying my hand at making some smaller pieces (tables and book shelves). I am very in love with antique pieces especially Victorian, Medieval, and Arte Nouveau. I also am a fan of mid century modern. So what does this mean? That my home is a mish mash of all of these items. It also means that I will look at a piece and say to my very tolerant husband (who is a certified cabinet maker) "you know ...."
So I have also been accused of having an obsession with chairs. I admit that yes, I do like chairs. I think it stems to the desire to make certain anyone who comes to my house has a comfortable place to sit. I also love poufs and floor cushions. For me chairs have replaced my shoe/boot obsession. I can only wear one pair of shoes at a time but everyone can use a chair I have worked on.
So a few months ago my husband and I were checking out an auction. I saw a Victorian chair that needed a TON of upholstery and padding work. The frame was in excellent condition. I was certain that because it was an antique it would sell for a lot and so sighed and walked away.
My husband went to the auction and surprised me by bringing it home. I was a bit upset as I was certain that it cost WAY more than he should have spent.
"Honey you're never gunna believe what I spent on this." drawled my husband (he's from the South).
Sighing, "Ok how much?" I asked.
"Would you believe $7?" he beamed at me. "Seriously??!?!?"
"yep no one wanted the work to restore it."
So it is shown above in my limited sewing room space. I looked at it, tried some different fabrics that were already in my stash, pondered how I was going to do this, and started watching some YouTube videos.
My challenge is that I wanted to keep as much of the original stuffing as possible and perhaps the original trim. I would have kept some of the original fabric but mice had made a complete disaster of it. I also wanted to keep the original horsehair stuffing and the original springs in the cushion. I debated about refinishing the wood but changed my mind and left it as is.
This particular project showed me that I was in need of more tools. There were more furniture tacks in this piece than I anticipated. After spending hours pulling all of the tacks to remove the old fabrics I finally was down to the original springs and the frame.
The webbing was in really bad condition since this chair spent a large amount of time in a barn and a basement. This was not a problem for me as I had webbing from another project. I also needed to learn how to attach the springs to the webbing and so jumped on YouTube again to watch some videos. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTNsQ3bDxFA https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCkGN-SNlrU
So thinking I was ready I started my webbing. I don't have a webbing stretcher and so did everything by hand. Although it is completely legitimate to do the stretching by hand it means the webbing isn't as tight as it could be. This is important as with time webbing will stretch more and start to sag. Once this was done I got out my string and started to attach the springs.
On to the padding. I was able to save the original horse hair. Yes horse hair. Mostly tail and mane fibers. The original cotton was a lost cause as I couldn't get the urine smell out. Horse hair can be sent through a washing machine in a lingerie bag. It is hair and so doesn't clump to itself or felt. I used regular polyfil and part of a cotton quilt batting as it was what I had on hand. It is important to note that once the springs are in place you do need to put something over the springs before starting the soft stuffing. Failure to add this piece of fabric means the soft stuffing will end up in the springs.
Again I used materials I already had including muslin. I also reinforced the back and arms with webbing to help keep the frame from shifting too much. Foam padding was added to the back and sides and then on to the actual fabric.
I choose a fabric from Etsy made in Turkey. It had the colors I was looking for and the "feel" I wanted. I tried various fabric I already had and just didn't like any of the options. My choice ended up being decided by a table runner I already owned and absolutely loved once laid across the frame. You can find the fabric and other wonderful colors and patterns at https://www.etsy.com/shop/Bezistan?ref=simple-shop-header-name&listing_id=728381004 .
After literally days of working on this project I finally had it finished. Since finishing I did end up adding a black braiding to the edges of the upholstery and two small bolster pillows in the arm rests. I use this chair every day and have to discuss who gets to sit in the chair with my cats.