… so that would explain where I’ve been! I re-covered this chair I have only had for about seven years (though it did have some holidays at my mum’s house). I went a little bit mental on the home front, mostly due to a severe bout of rental blues in this freezing cold house (turns out I am allergic to gas heaters). And when you have the rental blues it would seem the best thing for it is to have a stab at the things you CAN change. So, shabby little chair, you have scrubbed up very well. If I do say so myself. It all started with this:
Bertie and I spent a lively afternoon with a bottle of meths and some ‘Steelo’ pads at Louis’ mums’ house scrubbing the shellac off her mantlepiece. Her house is filled with beautiful native timbers stained to look like mahogany as per the fashion of the 1950s (my guess). When I came home I looked at this chair and thought, maybe all that ugly dark varnish will come off with a bit of meths and Steelo too…
The seat itself turned out to be very easy to extract from it’s frame – two screws at the back and two nails at the front. It was interesting to see how faded the fabric had become – I always liked the pattern of the green, which is probably why I had put up with its rattiness for so long.
It was never a particularly comfortable chair, and I have to admit here that I didn’t really know what I was doing and therefore have not improved on its levels of comfort. I simply tacked the new fabric over the top. But I did pause to reinforce these corners where the frame was poking out of the front of the seat.
There were a lot of pins involved, a lot of furniture tacks, and then some nice blanket stitches around the edge of the seat (and eventually on the back as I wasn’t so pleased with how the fabric was sitting between tacks).
Getting the varnish off the frame was beastly and it was not a pretty sight, hence the lack of photos. I used a combination of ‘goldilocks’ scouring pads (to get the worst off), the finer steelo scouring pads, lots of methylated spirits and BRUTE FORCE. (Music helped too). Then I sanded it down and used something from a tin that Louis said was ‘dutch oil’ but in fact I did not look at what it said on the tin. You apply it liberally with a cloth, rub it in and smooth any drips, wait for it to dry and do a few more coats like that. In some places the oil hasn’t really taken but on the whole it looks a lot nicer than it did before. All up it probably took about ten hours – I covered the seat in a morning with the usual interruptions of tea breaks and hanging out the washing (though Rata was out, I might add) and several attempts at getting off the varnish did add up a bit.
The fabric I used is some wool I found a few years ago at the opshop – it’s a lovely pattern and I wanted to make a dress with it but it is just too scratchy for a garment. I have enough left over to make a skirt with… usually I match Rata but could it be time to match the decor instead? Watch this space!
(Actually, don’t. You know me. I still haven’t finished that chips dress).