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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12 thoughts on “Please, Take A Seat.

  • October 30, 2014 at 4:43 am
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    you really must want company, you haven’t listed them yet. do you keep them until that “new fabric” smell goes away or just when the $ shows up? soooo impressed.

    Reply
    • October 30, 2014 at 7:22 am
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      Remove that thought from your head, Allison!
      I’m listing the Morris Chair today!

      Reply
  • October 30, 2014 at 8:06 am
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    Where do you sell your items

    Reply
  • October 30, 2014 at 8:22 am
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    Have you decided on a name for the William Morris chair? Empire? Louis XVI?
    The world is waiting…LOL!

    xo

    Andie

    Reply
    • October 30, 2014 at 10:18 am
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      I think I tagged as many different styles as I could on my Etsy site!!

      Reply
    • October 30, 2014 at 10:18 am
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      I’m trying to organize my life, Leslie! I’m like a painter/upholstery on speed!

      Reply
  • December 12, 2014 at 6:22 am
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    A friend sent the link to this post because I’m taking my first upholstery class. Most of my friends think I’m crazy for trying to taking on this kind of project. Maybe I am! However, I completely agree with you in that it is maddening and harder than I thought it was going to be but it is so satisfying! I’m writing this as I’m staring at the chair that needs to be finished and smiling.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • December 12, 2014 at 8:42 am
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      Yea! Good for you Christie! It is so worthwhile, and rewarding. I’ll never get it right, my instructor will continue to call me reckless, and shout at me and make me remove all of the staples but – it’s fun!

      Reply
  • March 3, 2015 at 2:00 pm
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    Have to say I just love your blog….it’s the only one I’ve come across that I want to keep reading…and reading…! I too love chairs and collect them. Though I haven’t been able to part with any yet. Also have wanted to learn the techniques for proper upholstering. But with much hesitation due to my memory of a past simple footstool project. As I meander deeper and deeper into the blog archives’ I find all this and more. Nice to know I am not alone!
    You are not only creative with the brush, but with your style of writing and sense of humor. I’ll be investing in some proper upholstery tools next. For now, I’m forbidden to bring any more chairs home with me! ( I have some secretly stashed.)Impatiently waiting on your next post…Thank you.

    Reply
    • March 3, 2015 at 2:22 pm
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      Thank you Susan. Life without ‘stashed’ furniture is just…well, it’s just meaningless. Thank you for being willing to read my drivel. Diane

      Reply

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