jenneral (haplochant) wrote in funkyfurniture,

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baby's first upholstery project

The most important things I learned at university were largely concerned with intellect, philosophy, and reasoning. I love academics and the blood-boiling excitement of all its theories and abstractions, but their intangible nature can often be incredibly unsatisfying. I discovered that I need to work with my hands sometimes, to give me something physical that I can point to and say, "I created that".

With that in mind, I enrolled in an upholstery class through the local community college in January. Despite the fact that there was at least a 300 thousand20 year age gap between me and the next youngest person in the class and all my classmates looked on my sense of style as completely misguided (the "craziest" thing anyone else did was recover a classic wingback chair in a contrasting black and cream print), it was really enjoyable! The 9:00am Saturday class time combined with my 4:00pm Friday - 1:00am Saturday work schedule had me missing enough classes that I only just finished my first project on the last day of class, but I'm really pleased with it!

Upholstery project #1: Stacking 1960s office chair

You can't tell from this picture, but the original fabric on this chair (which I scored for only $3!) was dirty, worn through, faded, crusty, and more than a little smelly. All that old fabric had to be removed and the chair stripped to its frame.

I saved the fabric as best I could, so I could make a pattern later. As you can see, the foam inside had rotted and was stuck to the wooden frame. Gross! It took forever to pull and scrape it all off, but eventually the frame was bare!

The stripping only took one class, but rebuilding stretched over several months!

Next, I cut new foam (check out the sweet electric knife!) and applied it to the seat and back with an upholstery adhesive spray...

... then covered the foam with a poly dacron batting. All of this was time-consuming but not terribly difficult. The hard part came next, and I was too busy tearing my hair out and screaming obscenities during this phase to get pictures. A pattern was made out of the chair's original fabric. I used this to make a new cover for both sections. This was made difficult by the fact that the original fabric was really freaking stretched out, the curvature of the back, and my complete lack of sewing experience. This part of the process took weeeeeeks.

After tweaking the new covers as much as possible, I fitted them and secured them using my slightly unreliable yet incredibly hardcore Staplegun of Doom, reattached the legs, and wound up with this totally sweet chair!

Close-up of the fabric, which is more green than most of these pictures let on:
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