I started searching for ideas for fabric and I cannot tell you how much I love the designs from Shawna Robinson at Happy Chair.
Seriously, this woman is my upholstery guru crush! I am not sure why her chairs elicit....well...happiness in me...Is it the colors, the mix of fabrics and textures? Either way, I find myself surfing her site often (cue the drool).
I noticed some chairs where she used swatches of burlap or jute and it got my brain spinning. So of course, in the jumbly, spastic way my mind sometimes works, I started searching for chairs made from burlap, jute and old coffee bags. After cleaning up more drool (there are some seriously amazing pieces out there), I started to feel confident that I would use coffee bags. Pluses here are the fact that I would be recycling (or upcycling) and that the fabric is durable and forgiving for the upholstering rookie.
Next up was getting my hands on some bags. An online search led me to believe that A.) these bags are seriously overpriced and B.) I couldn't select the ones I wanted. Lucky for me, there is a local coffee shop that has some hanging in the windows as a decoration. A quick phone call revealed that they had "tons" (exact words) and that they would be happy to sell some. I took a deep breath and asked what they charged per bag and after a pause......"Would $1-2 be OK with you?" Um, ding ding ding....yes, my dear that would be more than OK!
After picking up my bags, I felt a little surge of bravado and decided the only way to jump in was to literally just get after it. Step One: breakdown old chair. This is easily done with a little sweat and a sharp box cutter.
**If you have sensitive skin, the underlying batting and stuffing may make you a lil' itchy, so wear gloves!**
Once I had peeled it down to it's bare bones, I used about $6 worth of thin quilting batting to create a smooth and plush surface. This also helped me to expose exactly where I would be stapling the bags to.
I looked at a lot of sites and I found a few to be very helpful. The Creative Maven had a great tutorial as well as antiqueupholsterer.com. Although I did not follow these instructions to a T, it did help me understand how to start and where to attach the various pieces.
I decided to start with the arms as they looked the most difficult. By laying out my bags, I was able to drape the chair with the various bags to determine what would go where. After seeing it in this light, I decided on using the back sides of the bags for the arms.
|Exterior and Interior Strips of Arm Attached.|
|"Fan" folded by hand and stapled at the base. Leftover seam from bag twirled into a pinwheel and glued down to cover staples.|
Once both arms were pulled through and stapled. I decided to start on the on the front side of the back and the upper arm wings. These were a little more difficult than expected simply because it was a hard to pull the fabric taut and push it through to be stapled on the back. A little maneuvering (and maybe a swear) and it was stapled into place.
Since I did not want to pull out my sewing machine to do the wings, I draped the fabric and pulled it through to the back and under the arm. After stapling it to the wooden frame, I folded the top to create a seam and stapled it down. The burlap was then manipulated and pulled to cover the small bit of staple that was exposed.
|Wings attached like an envelope and then a seam created along the top.|
|Pulled through to the back of the chair and stapled down to the wooden frame.|
I could finally see it coming together and was starting to actually feel like I may have pulled it off. To attach the back piece, cut a bag in half and in an inside out fashion stapled the top following the curve of the chair.
|Stapled the fabric on the underside to hide the staples. Followed the curve of the chair.|
|Once it was stapled, flipped the fabric back down and was able to achieve a clean, taut seam.|
Then I pulled the fabric taut under the bottom side of the base and secured with staples. A few staples over the top of the fabric on the sides of the chair held the sides down. I hid these by angling the stapler and then pulling the burlap a bit to cover the staple.
For now, I am using the original cushion. I may recover this (which will surely require me to break out my sewing machine....big sigh). Love the finished product and feel way more confident in upholstery!
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