Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Chairs for Goldilocks!

A few weeks ago, I found some very "old world" looking chairs at the thrift store.  Since we imagine our house as being sort of a Tudor house, I thought they might be perfect.  Really, they are a "Spanish Colonial" look made in Mexico--probably in the 1970's.  But accuracy in "old world-ness" is not that important to me.

This is what they looked like when I brought them home from the store.  Their seats were sagging considerably and they were upholstered in a faded and worn flower print.

Since I've upholstered chairs many times before, I knew this would be an easy fix!

I pulled off the old upholstery and re-stretched the webbing below.  It was hard work pulling and stretching and stapling.  When I got one chair done---I kept going.

I found some nice orange upholstery material in my sewing supplies and thought it would go well with my tile entry.  I cut it.  I carefully cut the corners in.  I put the padding back in.  I stretched it and stapled it all carefully.  One chair was completely done!

But when I stood back to look at all my hard work....all I could think was, "Meh."  A word my son taught me.  There was nothing exciting about it.  The chair was just boring.  Really, really boring.

What could I do?  I thought about finding some more interesting cloth and redoing the whole thing.  I thought perhaps I could upholster it in real leather!  Costly---but it would definitely give it a more "old world" feel.

I decided to take to the internet.  I searched "Old World Chairs."  I searched "Spanish Colonial Chairs."  I found lots of more beautiful chairs in many different styles.

And then I found THESE!!

Not exactly like my chairs---but close enough!  And the cane rush seats were just "Old World" enough for me!  But of course, I didn't even know the words "cane rush" at that point.  I just knew they had some sort of natural fiber wrapped on the seats.

A few more searches and a couple of YouTube videos and I was more educated!  It didn't seem too difficult!  I could learn how to "re-cane" a chair!  But where to get supplies?  No basket weaving stores nearby.  And JoAnn's fabric was unlikely to carry anything.

Then I remembered I live in THIS century and there is something called Amazon!  A couple of clicks later and I had 6 pounds of "fibre rush"on it's way to my house!

Two days later......

How EXCITING!  It's here!  It's here!  And I've watched the "how to" video several times!

First step---take all the old webbing off.  One. Staple. At. A. Time.

Finally done!

One beautifully naked chair!  Now to follow the video instructions...

Measure the back of the chair.  Measure the front of the chair.

Do some math.  With FRACTIONS.  Ugh!

 Measure in on the front of the chair 1/2 the difference on the right and left.

Make a mark.  You will have to "fill in" with pretend weaving to this mark.  So that the real weaving will be straight and parallel to the back edge.

The pretend weaving is tacked down with every strand.  Luckily, it was only a few strands needed before I had reached my mark.  Then I could begin weaving around all four corners!

The fiber must be kept taut as you weave.  So I used a clip to hold the fiber in place while I wove another turn around the chair.  "Over the front, down and up through the middle.  Over the left side, up through the middle.  Over the right side, up through the middle.  Over the back right, up through the middle."  Etc. etc. etc.  I had to say it out loud to keep myself weaving the right way.

It took much longer than I thought.  And each turn around the chair used up more length of fiber than I imagined.

Since you can't fit a whole spool of fiber around and through the chair--you measure off some and wrap it up in a bunch of round loops.  But you will need to add more in periodically.  You make a square knot and hide it on the bottom weaving so it won't show from the top.

You have to make sure your weaving is even.  Mine was sort of, kind of, even.  But good enough!  I kept going.

Round and round.  Back aching.  Round and round some more.  (You can see my bucket of water in this picture---the fiber must be dunked for 30 seconds before using.  This makes it more pliable.)

When you get to this point, you must fill the gaps between the top weaving and the bottom weaving with cardboard triangles.  This will help support the chair seat and keep the fibers from pulling too hard against the edges of the chair.  Making the seat last longer.  I cut cardboard pieces and stuffed them in.  On top.  And on the bottom.

Eventually, your hole in the middle gets very small and you can only pass the fiber through one strand wide.  No passing through a whole looped circle anymore.  Each side becomes one single step.

Here's what it looks like on the bottom.

And the sides get done before the front and back.  But you just keep looping from the front and back then.  You have to open up the center hole from time to time in order to pass your fiber through.  I used a needle-nose pliers to stretch the fibers out of the way.

And when you have squeezed in just the right amount of loops, you tie it off on the bottom of the chair!

Ta Dah!!!  DONE!  

I REALLY like how it looks!  And it's so fun to have learned a new "old world" skill!

Now to undo the first chair and make it more beautiful, too!

Or perhaps I should keep it as is.  The hard chair could be for Great Big Papa Bear.  And the soft one could be for Middle-sized Mamma Bear.  And I would only need to find a half-broken chair for Little Baby Bear.  ; )