Grandma’s chair


Since my escapade with the mini chair, I could not wait till my next upholstery project!



This lovely lounge chair was donated by Alex’s family, it was his Dad’s Mum’s chair originally, and since her death her household possessions were slowly distributed around the family – so lucky to have something to remember her by. Such beautiful detail on the wood, complete with wheels, and a gorgeous shape to it! We decided to make it our own by choosing some interesting fabrics to cover it with – a gorgeous tartan contrasted with the crazy colours of the exotic birds!

But before I could get to that bit, I needed to strip the chair down and see what I was dealing with! Famous last words and all that – since I am still a novice, the whole thing was daunting, so I took it one step at a time, but ended up ripping!


And the more I took away, the more I learnt about how the chair was constructed – I tried to take as many pictures as possible, to make the reconstruction process a little bit easier for me!


So many layers…


Eventually, I got down to the Tate and Lyle Sugar bag level!

And then the springs, which I decided to keep (one less thing to worry about) as they are still in pretty good nick! And gave the whole chair a good hoover – you can see the layer of dust on the straps compared to the hoovered one!


Now it was time to take out the old tacks – I thought this would be easy, but the chair is so old, a lot of the tacks had rusted, so when I attempted to pry them out, the heads just snapped off, often leaving a sharp spike in it’s wake! Oh, well, it will be covered eventually – I’ll juts have to be careful!

I started ordering equipment which was needed, and started to feel very professional when I tacked the first strap on the back of the reclining chair! (Note HOW many tacks I had to leave in!!!)


Alex also had a hand in restoring the chair as the left side piece had snapped, previously a bit of wood had been glued to secure it, but, like the tacks, the glue had aged and dried so Alex very kindly drilled it back on – it’s not going anywhere now!

The next step was to cover the base of the chair with hessian – again, feeling professional and clever, I cut into the hessian to allow it to curve around the arms. It’s funny how a little bit of fabric really makes it look like a chair rather than a shell.


I stitched the hessian to the springs, or visa versa, as this was also done on the original upholstery, and it will help keep the springs in place when sitting upon it. And then started adding the horsehair base layer as Lisa Johns taught me…it must have been over a year ago now! By making loops with the string and tightening them around the balls of horsehair. 

And covering it with calico and stretching it out to achieve a lovely smooth finish…

I also did this process on the side of the arms as these will not get too much wear and tear – I decided to use both traditional and modern upholstery techniques as Alex requested that the chair could be super comfy so I measured up and ordered some foam from HM? Foam in Calne to add the comfort Alex desired!

This I stapled to the back and arm rests of the chair and added and stretched the calico over the top because I still wanted that smooth finish which was achieved over the horsehair, and to create a good base to put the top fabric over.


Now for the really fun part – putting on the top fabric!! I started with the back as this was the biggest piece, I lined up where I wanted the stripes and just started tacking it in place and smoothing it down. The cuts were tricky but I just took my time getting the fabric straight and trying to be accurate with my cuts – it took shape really quickly!


I then applied the purple tartan to the inside of the arms, the arm rests and the base of the chair!

I chose to cover the outside of the arms with a contrasting fabric – I’m glad I did as the stripes started to create a bit of an optical illusion!

I then added a trim around the arm rests and the tropical sides to hide the tacks and the edges of the fabrics…


Finally I attached another piece of the tartan on the back of the chair, tacked it in place and, as before, covered them with the trim…

I also created a separate cushion for the bottom of the chair this could be replaced as this is the part of the chair which will take the most wear and tear, and where the foam is most likely to get flattened! With the tropical fabric on the top and bottom, tartan around the width, contrasting piping and a zip fastening at the back.

I am so so happy with the outcome – the colour is just so fab, makes me smile every time I walk into the room!

We are in the process of moving house at the moment so I will post photos of the engagement chair when it is in situ!


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