Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Contemporizing a 1970's Beaucraft of Minneapolis, French Bergere

I love my customers! I'm so lucky to get the ones I do. Glancing thru the previous posts and perusing my saved photos for future posts, I'm remembering the process many of of you go through in selecting fabric for frames. It's true the arts and crafts of everyday benchwork in upholstery is fun (some may beg to differ), but I also enjoy the conversations concerning pattern and fiber content, as it pertains to diffferent styles, different needs of use or wearability. Sometimes even before we've properly met, I enjoy the exchange of ideas over a few phone calls and emails, such as this one...

Someone emailed me with this 1970's modified french chair - kind of a winged bergere. I assumed it was American made and actually "it" is a pair acquired on Minneapolis' Craig's List. The tag still firmly attached to the tacked scrim underneath proves it to be a locally made Beaucraft Inc. Custom Furniture upholstered frame from Minneapolis, and a date of 1929. I'm sure this chair came later - I've posted with the title "70's" but it could be late 50's thru 60's. The date given is probably just marking the company's compliance with state regulations in 1929.

Turns out I know this chair very well, as I've been enjoying the same one myself, in my own house for 2 years now, wearing an off-white microfibered velvet. The nap is longer than "suede" but not fully plush like the longer nap of velvet. Still plenty cozy and clean - and $9.00 per yd at S.R. Harris. I need a blank canvas in the house to decompress after working with pattern and color all day. It hasn't always been that way and it won't last for long, because I'm too nuts for fabric, it's an ever changing interior around here. But for now, the white is working it's magic.

Here's how mine started out in life though - a green and blue brocatelle - frame solid as a rock, but upholstery stained overall, from the years of lotion, perfume, hair products used by whoever sat in this chair day in and day out.

The inside-back had been buttoned and was an attached back - made to look like a separate cushion with a single welt. I decided to tight-back it and lose the buttons. Spring system is the old tried and true sinuous springs, in seat and inside-back. No muss, no fuss, just a fresh burlap covering, fiber mat and cotton, then new deck cloth.

Sometimes the nails holding the spring clips have worked their way out. I have seen them with the thick gauge steel broken off, but this is rare. I'd say somebody was using the piece of furniture to stand on, for that to happen. My mother would have had a fit...

Here's what my new lady is considering though for her pair - what a statement any one would make - I think all of these are fantastic. The first five are Marimekko and the last two are Designer's Guild:

I'll definitely let you know what happens..!


  1. Hello, Helen!

    I am currently doing my first upholstering project (yikes!) and am working with a Beaucraft chair similar to yours. Mine also has the back where it looks like its a separate cushion. You mentioned that with your chair you have made yours with a tight-back that doesn't have the buttons or the piping; I was wondering if this is an easier method? I am mildly terrified of the prospect of sewing the cushion, so I would love to find ways to avoid this. Any advice or hints would be greatly appreciated!

    Thank you so much!

    -Michelle, your neighbor in Wisconsin

    1. Michelle - pardon the delay in response! You've probably already finished your piece. I totally think it's easier to do tight-back. I'll try to do a new post on it...Thanks for your comment - H.


From Start To Finish

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