Please, Take A Seat.

Take a seatNo, really.  I mean it.

I am surrounded by beautiful, gorgeous chairs.  Look here’s the proof: OneOne  back

Of course, I understand that everyone needs extra chairs: for when company comes-a-callin’.  But the problem is that I’m quite anti-social.  If I surround myself with chairs, it will make me start to think that I NEED to start inviting people over to my house.  Just to fill a chair.  But, I’m no idiot (despite those unfounded rumors on the street) because I know that one thing leads to another: ‘they’ sit down in your chair, ‘they’ get comfortable, then ‘they’ expect a drink, perhaps some nibbles? Then before you know it ‘they’ want idle chit-chat and want to exchange pleasantries.  I don’t have time for pleasantries!!  Does anyone need that pressure?

I think not.

Ciao! io sono bello

So I’ve decided I’ll just refinish chairs and quickly sell them.  It’s for the best.  For everyone’s sake.  It would seem that I tired of painting one day.  And I took out my Italian gadget for comfort and solace.  My staple gun is awesome.  Really awesome!  I bought it from Perfect Fit, in Portland  (you will NEVER use a manual stapler again.  I guarantee it).  And, before I knew it, I had five newly recovered armchairs.  Such stamina, those Italians.

I love doing upholstery. I think, probably, because it’s something that I never thought I’d be able to do.  And, trust me,  I’m no way close to being good at it.  My instructor calls me ‘reckless’.  This is my fifth session at upholstery class (my instructor has been doing this for 30 years, he’s pretty good).  So – in my estimation – I will be 80 when I finally master the art of upholstery.  And trust me, I do not want to live in a nursing home that would even consider letting me (or the other old folk) use an air compressor.  My golden years should not include power tools. (And I shall be sure to add that to my Living Will).

So – if you get the chance to do upholstery.  Do it.  It’s frustrating.  It’s maddening.  It’s crazy good.  I go to Portland Community College, and I suspect that most community colleges offer these types of non-credit classes.  I was going to post a link for the next session, but it’s not advertised yet.  For some unknown reason, upholstery classes at PCC are listed under Home Improvement (yea, go figure).  I started at the intermediate level (they do offer beginners class).  Why? Why did I sign up for intermediate when I’d never done upholstery before?  Well, they didn’t have an Advanced class!   Because that’s just me: I’m a kinda  ‘Jump In’ kinda gal.  Be Fearless What’s the worse that could happen??  Although (secretly) I do believe that it shall be the death of me, or my instructor (but preferably him).  I DID NOT JUST SAY THAT OUT LOUD!

I go to class on Saturdays, usually from 9 to 3, and it’s not long enough.  I need more hours! I’m stuck in a small windowless room, with buzzing air compressors, and middle-aged women going crazy wild with their staple guns. It isn’t so bad, because I remind myself that my husband is home alone with our three children.  And – it’s a beautiful thing.

When I’m doing upholstery at home, I often rely on Youtube, to get ‘unstuck’.  These are the two contributors that I usually turn to in my hour of distress.   DIY upholstery.com is a great one and you can buy supplies from them directly.  The other is Kims upholstery.com  I’m sure there are a thousand other tutorials online that I haven’t seen.  These two I just particularly like.

While there are ‘basics’ of upholstery, each chair is different.  This, alone, drives me nuts.  I still quake at the thought of cutting fabric.  It is one of the most anxiety-provoking things you can do.  Fabric can be spendy, there’s no getting around that.  And supplies (especially foam) can also add up.  I’ve bought a lot of my fabric on-line.  Ebay is a great venue for inexpensive designer fabric.  I check out high end designers, see what fabrics they use. Then do a search on Ebay for that designer.  Chances are you can get some awesome deals. Most of my Ralph Lauren fabric has been bought from Ebay.  I know that if I go with a brand that I recognize, the quality will be good.  Another website that I just found today is www.loomshowroom.com.  Check out this fabric  morris inspired fabricI just found there.  Very Arts and Crafts, and only $19 a yard!  I have a feeling that I’m going to be doing a chair in this fabric! Doesn’t that red look like Annie Sloan Burgundy chalk paint?   Hmmmm.

If you’re doing custom pieces, whether it be for yourself or to sell – it’s perfectly acceptable to be a fabric snob.  I pride myself on it.  I don’t want to try and sell a chair with fabric that everyone knows I bought from JoAnn’s: because it’s very run-of-the-mill, everyone knows you bought it with a 50% off coupon, and basically what’s so unique about that?  (see, complete and utter total snob!).  Plus, you only want to upholster a chair ONCE.  You deserve to use the best quality fabric that you can afford.  I swear it would drive me to drink to think that I had to recover one of my chairs because the fabric couldn’t handle the stress of my husband sitting on it.

Now in the same breath, I’m going to say that I bought this trim from JoAnn’s by Sevenpure chance.  TwoI had gone in for some thread and noticed this.

Originally it had cotton tape attached to it, so it could be sewn into cushions etc as piping.  But the colors, the texture – I couldn’t have found a better match had I tried! I cut away the cotton taping and then spent about 20 mins smashing it with a hammer. The trim had a roundness to it, making it almost too narrow for a good edge.  So I smashed it into shape.  I told myself that with every smash of my hammer I was addressing all of those men that ‘gone done me wrong’ in the past  (I think I got to the letter ‘P’ – so all you men from Q-Z, you have been spared – for now).

Also, when it comes to the finishing details of the piece, think outside the box.  The ‘classic’ choice is usually doublt-welting.  The harder choice is nailhead trim (which I love the look of). Usually an upholsterer will charge $100 just for that detail.  It takes time and energy, but it’s worth it.  If neither of these options suit the chair, then do something different. With my Monet chairs I bought semi-transparent ribbon for the edge (it had a thin green line on either side, which covered the staples but still let the fabric show through), and then finished them off with nailhead.  I’ve also used burlap trim on chairs, for a more rustic finish.  It’s worth looking around.  There’s a gazillion options.   Except gimp. (seriously, who comes up with these names?)  gimpDon’t use gimp.   I only use it if I absolutely have to.   I would honestly rather use old frayed string or just draw a big black line over the edge with a Sharpie pen – than gimp.  I think you can have the most beautiful fabric, and as soon as you glue gimp to it – it suddenly becomes cheap looking. (total fabric, gimp-hating, snob).

So, yes, it is true that I have more chairs than I care to have.  I have two congregating in my hallway – no one can come in, no one can go out.  The others are just ‘hanging’ around, – as stray chairs tend to do.

But I’m not going to tell people about them, because you know what’s going to happen. They’ll come in.  They’ll want to sit in the chair.  They’ll get comfortable.  Want a drink. Maybe some nibbles….

{insert catchy ending phrase here}

Diane aka The Paint Factory

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