Thursday, June 23, 2011

Impulse Buy

This all begins where so many of my posts do....a yard sale.  I saw this little chair and thought,

"I can improve the looks of that."

  Yes, that's how all things begin with a DIYer.  Within minutes it was on it's way home with me.  You can see the fabric was stained and soiled and the chair was on the feminine side.  Now, I do have two granddaughters but the youngest is 11 so it will have to be for my grandson.

I put it in my studio and thought about it awhile.

I even bought fabric to recover it, but, there was no hurry.  You see, my grandson wasn't born yet so I had some time.

When my grandson hit his seventh month birthday, I decided it was time to get started.

 I started by stripping off the old fabric.  Sounds simple, right?  Not really.  This is when I discovered these little chairs are assembled after the fabric is applied to the pieces.  That means that the fabric is wedged between the parts and the only way to get at all the staples is to disassemble the chair.  Trust me, that was not happening.  So I pulled and tugged and cut away at the fabric until it was all off.  By this time, I'm questioning my resolve.  So I started thinking of my options.

Option #1 was to e-mail pictures to an upholsterer for a bid.  (That thing I said about resolve..well it fades faster with age.) The bid came back at $250.00 and I thought, "That can't be right."  So I drove to another upholsterer and showed him the chair in person.  His response, "I can do it for $199.00.  Now let me tell you, I could have kept this up in an attempt to get it down even more but we all know it wasn't coming down to the price I had in mind.  So, back where we started. DIY!

I brought out the fabric and thought about how I would apply it.

I had the most of this fabric and I knew I had planned the red for piping but there was a small problem.  There was only enough of solid fabric to do the arms.  I wanted the stripe on the seat and the inside back.  So now what do I do about the back?  More thinking.  In the meantime I might as well get started on making the piping.

Good plan except that when I reached into my picnic basket where I keep my sewing supplies, I could not find my zipper foot.  First disgust that I had been careless enough to lose it.  It probably fell through the open weave of the basket somehow when I was taking it to my daughter's to work on something.  It seemed pretty hopeless.  When 'hopeless' registers, I think of my buddy, St. Anthony, finder of lost items.

My sister gifted me with this statue.  Somehow she must have known...
My other one was looking a little ragged.  Probably from all my requests.

So, for about the millionth time, I turned the search over to him.
I usually get fairly quick results but it never hurts to have a backup plan.
So, I started searching the internet for a replacement zipper foot.

Let me interject here that my Viking is about 36 years old.  I knew I wasn't going to walk into a fabric store and find the zipper foot for my model.   However, I did exchange e-mails with a guy who said he could order it.  $26 with shipping.  I decided to hold out for a bit and give St. Anthony a chance first.

In the meantime and to keep the momentum going, I  borrowed my sister-in-law's push buttom machine.  I picked it up along with the manual and started reading the steps to threading the machine.  (We are talking a 36 year advance in technology folks!)  After following the instructions I made it to the part where you actually put the thread through the eye of the needle but it was late, dark, and impossible.  I put it aside until the next day.

 Before I got back to the machine I decided to pin the fabric over the cording.  I was moving along with that until I ran out of pins in the pin cushion and had to get the box of pins out of the basket.  I started pinning again, reaching without looking when I felt something that wasn't a pin.

My little miracle worker did it again.  Thank you, St. Anthony! Do you see it in there?  Don't ask.  I think I put it there for safe keeping when I was transporting, but who knows for sure.  OK, so on with the project.  No need to buy a new foot.  I was thrilled about that and excited to move on.

But, I could not talk myself into using the stripe on the outside back as well as the inside back and seat.  It just wasn't what I wanted.  So back to the fabric store to see if they had more of the solid.  (Remember I bought this some time ago.)  One more fly in the ointment...JoAnn's is moving so the store is half empty and the chances are slim to none that I will find it.  Turned out to be none. 

So I bought a different piece of fabric in the amount I needed to do the arms and the back just to be safe.   I like them both for different reasons and still haven't resolved this little dilemma, but I will and then I'll finish this post.
PS: (Just for the record, I ended up using them both.)


I am now ready to staple and I hit another roadblock.  That spankin' new staple gun has a new and improved method of loading the staples.  It says, "squeeze  here."  This allows you to pull back on the trough and insert the staples.  Does anyone else have a problem with this new fangled method?  I ask you, "what was wrong with the old way?"  It worked for me.  To say I was getting madder by the minute is the mildest version of what was happening.  I was cussing the manufacturer, the designer, and everyone under 50 who probably thought this was easy.  I squeezed with my right hand, I squeezed with my left hand and I squeezed with both hands until I gave myself carpal tunnel.  Then I went outside, stood on my sidewalk and waited for someone to come by walking their dog.  (I live one short block from the park on a corner so I knew I wouldn't have to wait long.)  About 30 seconds, in fact, and along came two dogs and two nice guys.  One got it open although, in my defense, it took him a couple trys.

I decided to calm down by taking on an easy part.
Remember the little pads on the front of the arms?
I'm showing you the backside in hopes that you can see all the staples in this tiny piece.  (122 staples and, yes, I counted them)  I think the guy putting this together got paid by the number of staples he used.

Ok, enough grumbling.  On with it.

 If I finish one small part of the job, I am somehow encouraged to tackle the bigger parts.  It keeps me from getting discouraged right off the bat.  When I hit a wall I think about the time invested in the finished part and I have to push on.

Those places where all the parts are stapled together with 4" staples is making it really tough to pull the fabric where it needs to go.  I am improvising but I'm not sure how this will affect the end result.  One can only hope for the best.

FINALLY I am down to the skirt around the bottom.  I had to piece the fabric and planned it so that the seam did not end up in an obvious place.  Guess what happened.  It ended up in an obvious place despite the planning.  I wasn't happy but I also wasn't going to take it apart and do it over.  That little skirt had already given me enough grief.  I had decided to machine stitch the hem with a zig-zag but when I set my machine to perform that stitch it refused.  I'm flexible.  I'll just use a straight stitch, or so I thought.  Turns out my machine was now confused and would only sew backwards.  Ok, I can live with that for now because, by gawd, I was going to finish this TODAY or else.  So I sewed the entire hem in reverse.  Looked like it was working fine until I turned it to the right side.

There was a snarled mess of thread on the front side.  Nothing left to do but rip out the entire hem.  No time to think about machine repair now.  I still had the borrowed machine and I whipped that back into service.

For the record, I skipped a few of the hurdles involved in this project.

Not a $250 job.

Not even a $199 job.

Let's just call it a labor of love.

In the hope it creates a love of reading.

I am linked to Furniture Fridays at:
Miss Mustard Seed's Creative BlogAnd Funky Junk, and Restore it Wednesday.

Funky Junk Interiors


  1. Wow!!! Very, very Nicely done!!!
    And the sweet face that sits in that chair... can not put a price on that.. : )
    Great Transformation!!!

  2. Labor of love with the help of St. Anthony! Darling chair for the wee one!