Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Lessons learned and project complete

This is the story of a chair. A chair I wanted to recover and renew...


... the original title of the post was going to be "You too can recover a chair!" I have very enthusiastic ideas most of the time. I chronicled the journey of the chair with pictures, so you could duplicate this process, but now I have better advice. 

The actual title of the post should be "Never try and recover a chair." Unless you want to sacrifice your sanity. Then I would totally recommend it.

I've had the chair for about 3 years and it is super comfortable. It rocks and swivels and is perfect for nursing babies. In the past I threw a sheet over it because peach isn't my favorite color. I decided to finally recover the chair by making a slip cover for it. The nursery room design is coming together and I thought that this would be the motivation I needed to finally do something with the chair. The room is going to be browns and greens with elephants, so I found some coordinating fabric and asked my wonderful seamstress grandma to come over and help me with the project.



When I say seamstress, I am not exaggerating or merely just describing. Grammy used to actually be a seamstress and she made crazy things like suit jackets and wedding dresses, not to mention reupholstering furniture and  sewing countless custom draperies for the homes she decorated. She is amazingly talented and she thinks that I am too. Bless her heart.

We began by fitting the chair with muslin to make pattern pieces. We marked each dart, yes I said dart, and used about 14,000 straight pens. It took us about 3 hours to just fit the top and one arm of the chair. Slowly I began to realize this wasn't a one-afternoon project and perhaps the sheet draping thing wasn't too bad of an idea after all.



Grammy left and gave me basic instructions on how to finish the chair: carefully take out the 14,000 pins, sew the darts where marked, then sew the pieces together and make adjustments to the fit, take apart the seams and use the muslin for the pattern pieces on the real fabric. Then sew the entire thing all over again with the real fabric. 

Sounds easy enough. I really want to go all "1994" on you and say, "NOT!"

I think it would have been a lot of hard work without real life rearing in at ever turn....



Laundry and children wanting attention were just a few of the distractions that presented themselves while the chair sat wearing muslin and 14,000 straight pins in the dining room. The baby above is also teething 4 eye teeth, 3 out and 1 to go. And the little child pictured above finally decided to give up her afternoon nap. Life is change, but next week would have been much better timing for these events in my opinion.



Back to sewing darts and fitting fabric. I found the soft, green upholstery fabric at Joann's on clearance and bought all they had for $20. What a deal, not figuring in any time or frustrations. The chair is actually now worth $15,480. Perhaps I should sell it on Craig's List now that it is finished.







I am not thrilled with the way I neglected my responsibilities while I tried to finish the project. I got angry easily when little hands began rapidly taking out the 14,000 straight pins. And things like a toddler wearing all 5 of her sister's swim suits didn't register as cute, only annoying (until the day was through I looked at this picture).

I live to learn and this is the kind of thing I will not be repeating until my children are grown and gone. Maybe one of them will go to reupholstery school and they'll do this kind of thing for me. In hind site, I would  give the chair away to a good home and say, "Happy rocking, I hope you like peach" and then I would borrow the glider-rocker that wouldn't match, but is free, at my parent's house.

In the future I will give myself more realistic goals for projects and take the time, before I am at the end of my sanity, to keep up with real life. Lesson learned. Chair finished. Tadah....



PS Even though I am happy with how the chair turned out, if anyone would like to give me $15,480 for the chair, it is certainly for sale.

11 comments:

Kelly said...

WOW! It looks great huge improvement over peach! Now when you spend 500 hours+ nursing sitting in it you can keep revisiting the feeling of great accomplishment!

Jenni said...

The chair looks beautiful Al! You and Grammy make a great team!

Anonymous said...

Yeah! You finished it. There is nothing like a baby coming to motivate us to do all those projects that we have put off because we know that we won't have time when the baby comes... I reupholstered the sofa in my living room. Hand nailed tacks by the hundreds. I do not recommend reupholstering either. Your nursery will look nice :) Jenni Birch

Cathy said...

Wow! I am too much of a weeny to try something like that. Good for you and grandma!

Melanie said...

Good job! That is a very hard kind of chair to reupholster. I've just done one item before, and it was very simple, but still hard. I think I would have stuck with the sheet for that project.

Kellie said...

I have to say that I'm super impressed, there is NO WAY that I could do anything like that. I totally would have thrown a blanket over it and called it good. I had to take a furniture design class in college and our big assignment was to make a chair and I purposefully made a wood/steel rocking chair in order to avoid the expensive/difficult upholstery!

Dan & Hillary and little Russell said...

Doesn't Target sell slip covers for $14.99??

The fact that you even attempted this project certifies you as 'One with Most Potential!' Thanks for the laugh! The chair really looks great.

Kelleigh said...

I am SO incredibly impressed! I need to recover a chair, too, and I'm sort of freaking out about it after reading this post. Wanna help? Hee, hee!

Lindsay said...

The chair looks fantastic, but I was laughing the whole way reading through this. At how many "grand" ideas I have and how often they never get accomplished (or they end up 1/2 done for years!) I too, have come to the realization that most of those things will not get accomplished while my children are young. Good for you for finishing! You have dedication!

Marcee said...

Wow, your grandma is brilliant!!!! Now you can teach a class at MOPS right?

Christine said...

Well done!!