Saturday, August 29, 2009

"Chair"ubim and Seraphim

The sewing machine has been humming in my little sweatshop, accompanied by the snap-snap-snap of the staple gun. It's taken three days of intensive work, two trips for supplies at Mill End, and one light-bulb moment. Also involved were six yards of tan chenille fabric chosen after myriad trips to $2 Fabrics looking for just the right neutral brown, two years (or is it three years?) of looking at the chair and dreading the moment when I would actually start the reupholstering process, and the unlikely blessing of an unwanted saggy queen-sized mattress which turned out to be a source of cotton batt and non-woven fabric when I tore it apart. The combination of that unexpected treasure trove, the end of summer vacation and the daily sight of my chair in all its half-removed rust-colored dishevelment finally pushed me over the edge and onto my sewing stool.

Originally my chair was covered in this horrid pinky-brown tweed. It had seen better days before it took up residence in our furnished apartment. Then we bought our first home and thought we'd seen the last of apartment furniture until our old landlord offered us the chair along with a seven-foot sofa and two walnut end tables. Fifteen dollars and an empty family room made the deal too good to resist.

I cut my upholstering teeth with this rust fabric--very Seventies. Recovering the back and sides of the chair went smoothly. Unfortunately, the "T"-style cushions stumped me--how in the world could anyone stuff that shape into a tight new cover? We solved that problem with a blue floral slipcover in the Eighties. Time passed, the shiny synthetic slipcover went out of style (thankfully) and a change was needed.

Change wasn't that simple though. I can't count how many years I spent searching for a simple brown upholstery fabric. $2 Fabrics was a regular stop on my hunting trips.
This tan chenille was as close as I could get. Turns out it was a great choice.

Why would anyone keep an old, ugly, half-covered chair around for DECADES? Comfort, pure simple it-fits-me-perfectly comfort. Turns out springs are the secret! Springs in the back cushion, springs in the seat cushion, springs under the seat cushion. Modern chairs just can't compete.
Several bits of twine had broken, so I grabbed some sturdy cording and retied all the springs. Ugly but utilitarian (and hidden).

It's been all chair, all the time, for three days. I quickly learned to wear jeans. Apparently it's not a good idea to wear shorts on a nylon carpet--kneeling and walking on my knees while I moved around the chair and reached for my tools resulted in rug burn on both legs. I've also had a better workout than anything devised by a fitness instructor. I was so sore from the bending, reaching, holding, and stapling that two Advil couldn't even get me to sleep on Night One. Every little toss or turn was painful enough to wake me up. But the tribulations were minor and the process went smoothly. The sweatshop coughed this up right before dinner time today:Her cushions are a bit plumper. Her curves are fuller. Her arms are softer. She lost some details and gained others. She's a delight to view, but best of all, she's still the most comfortable chair in the world.



  1. That looks like a great place to curl up with a good book. :)

  2. always humming8/30/2009 8:45 PM

    Whoo-hoo!!! Such an accomplishment and I wasn't even there to help! I like the fabric and the final product.

  3. It looks amazing! That's a job and half, very impressive!