An Upholstery Project: Part Two

The title of this post ought to be "Where I remove all the upholstery from a chair and humbly face my overconfidence". That, my friends, has been what has transpired here these past two weeks.

One thing though, before this reality set it, there was the excitement of the nice looking legs under all that sprayed on toner. I love a nice un-lacquered  pale wooden leg -I'm pretty sure this frame is built out of Birch.

I used my usual, Citristrip, to get rid of that finish. After neutralizing with the After Wash (worth buying as a companion to the stripper), I sanded with 180 grit and then finished with 2 coats of Briwax. 

I began by putting some weaving on the back. That looked pretty good in a deconstructed sort of way, which was a relief because I quickly realized I was in way over my head. Instead of hemming and hawing on the back, I thought I'd proceed with the base layers of the seat. 
I made edge roll from super fat cotton piping wrapped in muslin. Edge roll helps define the edge of the upholstery and prevents the sitter from feeling the wooden edge of the chair. 

Because the edge roll that I made wasn't as thick as the original, I decided to double up.

I used cotton batting to stuff my seat. A professional would also use horse hair at this stage. There was a thin layer of horse hair on the original which hypothetically I should have saved. It was just. so. nasty. I was worried the smell would never go away.

To remedy the lack of horsehair, I used two layers of batting. At this point in my process, I came to the firm conclusion that I would not be entirely re-upholstering this frame in its original state. I just don't think I can pull it off without it looking like a bad DIY project. 

Instead, I am going to cover the seat and the main back section and possibly part of the arms and I'm going to add a pillow top that has a removable and washable cover.  

This leads me to briefly touch on that whole deconstructed/distressed thing. Personally, I like a torn up chair. That being said, I really do not go for fake deconstructed or fake distressed. That thing that Restoration Hardware is doing, is, like, bleck. That's because that "look" feels prop-like in its inauthenticity. Personally I think anyone will do better -style and moneywise, to buy a chair on Craigslist and rip it apart themselves.

Ok, back to my chair. Originally I tacked the muslin halfway down the rail. I wasn't entirely sure about that and was worried about committing myself to that with the linen.

To preserve my options, I went back and tacked it at the top of the rail and trimmed the excess.  

Covering the rail or not has implications on navigating the arms, and the manner in which the material gets tacked. The original upholstery used a skirt in addressing this -a method I've determined I don't want to use. It's pretty much trial and error for me at this point and youtube. Thank goodness I'm using a pretty inexpensive, readily available linen as my upholstery material.

Onward! The Cushion. I traced a template on muslin for the pillow insert.

I used a basic box construction method to sew this. In my excitement to stuff this, I forgot to turn the insert right side out before stuffing it and hand sewing it closed! No matter. 

I do, however, think this might be too pouffy -the box section that connects the top and bottom is 2". I think it needs to come down to 1" or I need to sew the outer cover a bit smaller to contain this somewhat. 

I usually stuff handmade inserts with feathers. Recently I discovered wooly bolus, which I used here. This material is new to me and I have used it on a couple new, not yet documented projects recently. I just love this material -it's all natural and gives great loft and spring to a pillow. 

Some of the pressing issues evident here are:

*Does the rail just above the legs need to be sanded a bit to dull that orange? There is still a bit of toner overspray there. I didn't dare go near the original burlap of the seat with the stripper. Or, should I just go with it.

*Should the linen cover part or all of the rail. How much is too much -as soon as this upholstery job starts to look fussy, my lack of skills will make the job look janky. Same goes with how I handle the backrest.

*Is that seat pillow too pouffy.


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