Thursday, April 30, 2009

1930's Overstuffed Armchair - Pollack Sedan Plush"Grenadine"

What is the most important seat in the house? To a writer, it may be an Aeron chair pulled up to a desk in front of a wide window with a gritty city view. It may be a chaise you have to lay down on, or for some it may be the bed. Some people write in bed, I'm sure... But for this novelist/poet owner, a 1930's overstuffed with paddlearms wide enough to accomodate writing paper, sketchpad, a stack of books, photos, news clippings, paper correspondence, a toddler and maybe even a mug of something hot and invigorating could all fit on these ample arms. Thick textured and long-wearing like mohair was the desire and it had to be crimson. This Pollack Sedan Plush in color Grenadine is just the ticket. It is moderately priced, easy to work with - heavier than cotton velvet, as supple and lustrous as silk mohair.

Just a few things found in this chair. Small cent coins from the Bahamas, paperclips, a barbie tiara, blue marble, a half of a wheat cracker...

Very pretty curves to this chair, very feminine. All springs retied and curled hair padding replaced with the addition of new layers of cotton just under upholstery fabric. Cushion is a new feather down envelope surrounding a 3" foam insert, giving it more loft.

Handsewing the back. Sometimes I choose to do this rather than the quicker application of flexstrip, because I enjoy to blindstitch! I can sometimes capture the curve better this way. And a final image of a topview of the chair. Look how this fabric glows!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Spring Unit Drop Seat Cushions

Arts and Crafts, some rattan and wicker, Early American or open frames often have wooden framed spring units, like little mattresses wrapped with burlap or spring covering, then curled hair, ginger straw or moss (can be mixed) and cotton padding. Sometimes when they come to be reupholstered, they look so ratty and awful, people think they'll just get some new foam...think again, my eco-conscious friends! The spring units inside are often quite good and simply need rewrap over the springs and new revamped padding of cotton. These are generally not the heavy gauge coil springs present in handtied furniture, but a lighter gauge that are often misshapen, but easy enough to bend back where they need to be. These cushions are worth keeping in that the price to redo rather than replace is far better over the life of the chair. If you still have the original cushions, let's take a look inside to see if they are in fact these little individual units we can repair.

Cushions shrink and start to look terrible (not to mention uncomfortable) when the spring cover deteriorates and that stuffing can cave in where the holes are. Pretty soon, you feel like you are only sitting on springs, with nothing soft in between. That's because you are. All the cotton's fallen down into the cracks!

Rewrapped and reupholstered and they are perfectly suitable to keep. On any gauge coil spring, I prefer a heavier upholstery weight fabric such as this thick woven chenille.  If a lighter weight is chosen such as cotton or linen print fabrics, stabilizing with a treatment of knit or acrylic backing or nanotexing at the mill will extend the life of the fabric as it wears better across the springs. 

H.T. Cushman's "Colonial Creations" from the 19teens thru the early 70's manufactured a solid no-nonsense Early American inspired line of furniture popularly known to decorate many a country cottage. Their drop-in seats most often lay over narrow steel band webs hung by short extension springs, but sometimes just sit tightly over corner blocks in the frame. This particular chair lost it's original boxed cushion long ago, so is a 5" down-wrapped foam placed on a removeable was recycled from a Better-Department Store's loveseat and certainly works here. And look how fantastic the wood looks once refinished. Apologies to any purists, but on something conceived of being imitation Early American to begin with, the owner of this chair (and I concur) is not too concerned with preserving the original patina of this piece! And See? Early American might just have a place in contemporary society...The fabric here was a new, repurposed giant tablecloth purchased as a travel gift-souvenir at Charles de Gaulle airport. A customer of mine decided they could live without it and gave it to me. I still have plenty of remnant and was thinking of making a summer skirt...

Here's the seating for a couple of mission style rockers, both made by the Wisconsin Chair company from Port Washington Wisconsin 1888 to 1954. The basket woven textile is finished with a "waterfall" edge, meaning it wraps under from top to front, with sewn sides only. The other is a welted boxed cushion which the customer chose to center a novelty print of one of her favorite dog breeds.  Is that a Wirehaired Fox Terrier or a Welsh? Or is that the basically the same kind of dog?  It's certainly makes for a unique Mission style rocker.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Still Life With Rose

New Etsy store Great Vintage listing...a black silk chiffon dress I date from the 60's, owing to it's zipper with placket up center back, and band at natural waist. Even so, it definitely has an Edwardian feel, what with the S-curve of wide cut bodice, cap sleeves and blousoned back. It's handmade with fantastic detail, even though it's condition is less than perfect. I'd wear it... if it fit, which it doesn't. Still it's worth having, especially to pattern from. What does this have to do with upholstery? Garment fashion always informs interior fashions and vice versa. Any day now you'll see in a magazine, expensive club chairs trimmed out with decorative nails in this dresses' embroidered pattern. Or a reinterpretation of it in wallpaper.

1930's Over Stuffed - Jacquard Woven III With Velvet

An old sofa and side chair living beneath shrimpy pink slipcover til the family just couldn't stand it anymore. Chose a vintage look of  pattterned fabric on cushion tops, and frame in solid coordinating color.  Chenille woven pattern was Scribbles and solid cotton velvet is Pembroke both by Robert Allen Design.  This was a satisfying project in that the effects were so dramatic from what they'd been living with.  The companion chair was also reupholstered, as well as a midcentury blonde wood pull-up side-chair rocker that you can see in the background in one or two shots here. More on those later.

The marshall spring unit cushions no longer fit the sofa and this happens  when the spring-covering fabric, an inner burlap or muslin deteriorates and the cotton and curled hair padding sinks through, no longer giving correct dimensions to the cushions. But I fixed all that.  Full restoration here.

Kids get really excited when furniture is reupholstered and brought back into the household. The delivery puts them over the edge and they can't wait to jump on it! That's just what happened here, but there was a sharp reprimand from the parent..haha!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Mid Century Modern Danish Chair - Etsy Alchemy

Sold this chair on Etsy last month and was waiting the arrival of fabric from Pottery Barn. The customer in Virginia asked for a custom order of sewn cushions from her preferred fabric to replace the black high-traffic chenille that I put on the new foam inserts to sell the chair. She had linen pattern "Serafina" shipped directly to me.

New elastic webbing spans the foundational support of the frame. You can buy this as a DIY Danish Webbing Repair Kit either at my etsy store helenmillerhandcraft, or on ebay, or call and I'll provide this service for you. Below shows a quick inspection of received yardage.

The fabric is charming. Pottery Barn's inspiration for this print comes from a study of Tree of Life motif's on Indian Palampores, such as this one owned by The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Confirmation was given that cushion seams be topstitched for a clean line on this highly patterned linen. A successful long-distance project!

1930's Over Stuffed Jacquard Woven II

An example of sofa and chair set redone in jacquard woven tone-on-tone and a thick floral tapestry on cushion tops. Fabric is customer's own from S.R. Harris in Brooklyn Park. You can see the original mohair velvet in a solid color covered the frame while cushion tops originally were contrasting patterns of cut velvet. Very nice effect, many people choose to keep this look.

From Start To Finish

Here's a post from a while back that had lost it's image links.  Someone was asking about Cogswell chairs just yesterday, so...