February 8, 2013

projects at home

{in which I went mildly insane}

Yes yes! That is a rubber stamp! And yes, I carved it myself and printed it on fabric! I tackled this project a while ago over the holidays, as I tend to go a bit cabin-fever-esque and the crafty side of me comes pouring out during that festive season. Once a year I really need to recharge with a few materials at the opposite end of the spectrum from wood. Let's say... a glue gun, some fabric, maybe some paper, and a sewing machine. Crafty crafty. Switchin' it up. Plus, it's been a while since I did any makeovers or before-and-after funness and I was generally getting the urge to make something for myself --- for a change. So this time around I tackled a big guy: the biggest chair in my fleet whose current upholstery made me feel like a grandma, complete with cat scratched sides and all. Though I think we all know who's fault that is. Ahem.

I really had nothing against this chair until I got it in my head that it could be improved. The fabric never bothered me much, it was simply an homage to it's era. Era being the late thirties, according to it's label hidden inside the upholstery. It certainly had great texture, I'll give it that.

Of course, I assumed this whole process would take about two days, but it took me three hours just to design and commit to the pattern I wanted for the fabric. So even before I started I was already behind. An omen to how the rest of the project was bound to go.

First order of business: remove the old fabric. Yeck. There's lots of dust, grime, and greasy, disintegrating horse hair in chairs from the thirties, I will tell you that. Second order of business: realize that you hate the weird, old, oddly greenish finish on the wood and decide that it looks horrid with the new linen you have spent good money on. Now you are in a pickle. You are left with a torn-apart, fabric-less, unusable chair and you must suddenly commit an extra ten hours at least to stripping off the old finish on top of everything else. Damn.

So I got an old chisel and went to work. You gotta do what you gotta do. Am I gonna half-ass this project when I'm already going so far as to print my own fabric? No.

And whaddaya know, after hours of back-breaking scraping, a lot of sweeping, and some serious pain in my hand, underneath that green old mess appeared some beautiful maple. Raw wood! Love it. Okay okay, so I might be doing a teeny bit of half-assing as I'm only scraping off the minimum -- in the areas that are relatively easy to reach. I'm letting some of the old finish stay in a few places and I'm cool with that. Good enough.

Then on to printing! I used the old fabric scraps to trace and cut the new pieces and printed them all individually, as I wanted to control exactly where the pattern went on the chair. For lack of a better idea and the energy to hunt down that idea, I used black acrylic paint. I've got that stuff on my clothes before and it never washed out, so I figure I'm relatively safe on it lasting. But let's not say that I recommend doing the same, just in case I'm utterly wrong and it smudges all over someones ass in the next month. I'll keep you posted.

I ended up re-using the old upholstery nails pulled from the chair to tack the new fabric back on, and when evenly spaced I realized that I liked them exposed {originally the nails were covered over by a corded-trim, stapled on}. Nailing on all those nails took a good three hours, and pulling the fabric tight was a test of patience, but hey, now I fully understand why upholstery is so damn expensive. Next time you see an upholsterer, shake their hand for me would ya? What a job.

Anyway, after all this work, the chair ended up sitting, unfinished, in our living room for... forever.  Since late December. I did all the fun parts and then couldn't bring myself {nor find the time} to upholster the damn seat cushion. I have a lovely tendency to leave some projects half finished and let them stay that way for months {I still haven't grouted the kitchen tiles from like a year ago, and one of the bathroom doors only has one scratchy coat of paint on it. Yikes!}

But at least I know myself and I know that if I wait to post this until the chair is finished, it will be next year, and my poor neglected blog is already falling by the wayside.

So, still cushionless, here it is: TA-DAAAA!!!

I'm SO happy with it! And now we have a new goal in life: don't let the cat get his grimy little claws on my damn LINEN.