Thursday, 28 July 2011

Bargain Bed

As anyone reading this who has stayed at the Briggs house knows, our guest bed is a very uncomfortable pull out sofa bed. Not any more. We managed to get ourselves an ex-display bargain whilst buying dinner last week in our local Tesco! The kind man who helped us even proudly threw in the headboard free to seal the deal. I could not bring myself to tell him that the tired looking cheap plastic faux leather headboard would not be going anywhere near my new home. But once we got it all home I realised that I own a staple gun and a cupboard full of material - genius!

It is now covered in a grey/blue tweed from the wonderful Bute Fabrics - I always buy a bit extra from them because you never know when you might need some tweed. We are now ready for visitors...

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Two Chairs

 This week I got the chance to work on two chairs. It was quite a challenge since the client had chosen a luxuriously thick patterned material of which there was enough by millimetres, there was so much piping to stitch, and I had to make the second chair look exactly like the first!

I started by stripping the original material off. These chairs were modernly upholstered, i.e with foam and staples. I found a ten pence piece inside with 1992 as the date - though obviously this means they could have been upholstered any time since then, I like to think that someone put the coin in as a memento of that particular year. That would mean I was just six and still aspiring to be a pig farmer when these chairs were last worked on, never imagining that I would grow up to be an upholsterer. Anyway...

Modern upholstery is notoriously hard to strip since you have to use so many staples to keep the material in place. It is difficult to get your staple remover under the old staples and results in many blisters - very tiring work...

Once the material was off I separated each piece and used them as a template to cut the new material. This was tricky as the pattern needed to match up when attached to the chair, and due to the amount of material there was no room for error.

When the material was cut I started stitching the panels together and stitching the piping. I strongly believed that practise makes perfect and the more piping I stitch the better it will get. That was until an upholsterer friend of mine, who is a pro on her sewing machine, told me that she still finds piping a nightmare. I fear I will eternally dread it.
But, once the stitching was all done I got onto the fun part. The seat material was temporary tacked (i.e with tacks not hammered in properly so they are easily removed to change things) so that I could get the pattern on evenly and pull the material tight. Once this was exactly how I wanted it I stapled it onto the frame. The arms went on next, again with temporary tacks to ensure both arms matched before being stapled. Then the seat back was stapled down and I hand stitched the piping edge to the edge running against the arms. Finally the back was attached and I glued on two lines of braiding to cover the staples.

Although a challenge, these chairs provided a good chance to practice some new and old skills, I am pleased with the results, and there was even a good sized off-cut to make a bonus cushion cover!

Monday, 11 July 2011

Library Chair

Remember this old chair?

I carefully stripped the material off and used it as a template for the new Harris tweed material. Before I attached the new cover I strengthened the webbing to alleviate any sagging and added a little more stuffing. 
The hardest part for me was stitching the piping as I had not had much experience with this. The back and arms of the chair are made up of three panels stitched together along two piping cords. The seat is made up of two panels stitched together, with the piping joining them along the front of the seat.
Once these had been stitched together I attached them to the chair using tacks, pulling the material as tight as possible. The back was then stitched together (another three panels, but no piping) and attached. This was then finished with decorative tacks.


  Finally I replaced the old castors with some nice new shiny brass ones, and attached a dust cloth. The end result is a very cosy, solid chair that would look totally at home in a library, next to a roaring fire. Preferably with a good book and your favourite drink. For close ups of the material see here.

Friday, 8 July 2011

The Apprentice

Apologies for the lack of creativity going on here recently. We are now (mostly) unpacked and settled in, and I have gained an apprentice, Henny. She is great, lazy company but demands a tea break every hour.

Despite all the breaks and slow work, my tub chair is nearly finished and photos will be up here by the end of the week. I have taken a delivery of four dining chairs that will be getting spruced up and sold on. And there is another project for someone else in the pipeline. 
Let the creativity commence...