Saturday, September 25, 2010

Hands On Designer

I guess summer is officially over, although it seems like it still should be around August 17 to me... Looking back at last summer's projects, this was my absolute favorite. Designer Jacqueline Fortier took a decided hands-on approach to this fully upholstered vintage Danish teak frame which was actually a modified wing-back that I had sourced at a local estate sale. She set about patterning and then piecing exquisite fabrics in just the right colorways for a one-of-a-kind living room chair.

She made templates from the chair and expertly sewed fabrics with a variety of weight and texture. Take down process on the chair itself was easy enough, thanks to smart upholstering by the factory from whence it came - not too much hardware to remove! always a happy thing, then I just made sure we had proper allowance in the quilted pieces to allow for the special patterning of the wings and curves of seam. Jacqueline designs frequently without welt cording, so I wouldn't have that as a stable area in which to hide excess fabric or fold and handsew down. In fact, she didn't want even the single welt trim that was to hide the staple line all around, so I'd have to be particularly crafty with closing.

A colorful mid-century linen print served as stretcher for the inside arm. Stretchers are those parts sewn on to extend the fabric drawn under in an unseen area, to save on expensive yardage of the outer upholstery. They're always little time capsules of workrooms past - whatever was lying around was apt to get picked up and sewn inseam for future upholsterer's to see and marvel at (well, I do anyway. One day I'll do a post on my collection of stretchers!)


Easing the sewn corner of wing to arm.

Look at that chair! Have you ever seen anything so fabulous? There are a lot of piece-worked chairs out there - I like Squint in London really well...but this! It's not only the perfect frame to lend itself to this, but it's Jacqueline's scale and selection of color and pattern. This to me, is as good as a shot of wheatgrass, Daily Multi or whatever.

I took a million pictures of it because I just couldn't get enough. I can see a great Liberty Furnishings fabric that replicates a traditional quilt pattern, Raoul printed linen, Clarence House linen velvet and stripe, Beacon Hill's London House and Lee Jofa's incredible crewels, Groundworks and some Jim Thompson stripes. Here's a picture from when I delivered it, but I should get over there get a new picture - I hear the whole room's been rearranged around that chair!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

September Upholstery Class

Last weekend was the first set of 2 day workshops I plan to offer for people wishing to learn how to upholster their own side chair. Classes will be ongoing, but kept very small. In fact, miniscule - no more than 2 at a time. There's a lot of design criteria that needs to be considered beforehand to make sure each project can be completed in 12 hours, and that they are similar enough to each other that I can give each one a relatively equal and proper amount of tutelage, but different enough to where people can learn about someone else's different furniture style - a challenge I found out, but quite rewarding!

These were the first images emailed to me regarding 2 projects to be undertaken:

Deborah's chair (at left) had been a wedding gift to her parents in the 1930's. It may have been reupholstered once before to the best of her recollection. She wanted to keep a sample of the past to record the work being done now for future family members. And Linda's (at right) is a Conant Ball chair recently found at a Salvation Army. She had a creative redesign in mind for make it almost a caricature of itself by really plumping up the high scrolled back and stretching a new fabric over it in such a way that would resemble too-tight jeans - a far cry from 70's traditional chair small floral tapestry to the new circular spiraling jacquard modern pattern. Both chairs were to turn out beautifully.

The take-down was easy enough on both pieces…of course Linda had arrived Sat. a.m. with hers nearly done and Deborah's like most mid-20th century pieces, had originally been tacked with proper sized upholstery nails, all of which came out easily. We took time to inspect the construction of each other's frames and the upholstery methods originally employed.

Burlap spring cover of Deborah's chair had been recycled way back when from a Fisher Peanut bag...

Linda and I work on layers of padding for the upper part of inside-back while Deborah's working on aligning stripes while pulling through the inside-back thru the back...not as easy as it sounds (if it does). Stripes can easily be pulled askew when you're not looking, working from the back.

By the end of our 6 hour day Saturday, we had inside backs attached and our sewing lined up for the next day. Linda would do a double welted boxed cushion while Deborah had already applied a flat panel to the seat of her chair, but would have to regard her fabric carefully to line up stripes for trim panels and welt cording.

TA DAH. Gorgeous, both of them. I'm teaching 3 classes in October through Minneapolis Community Ed and then will resume the side chair weekend workshops in November. Email or message me on facebook if you want to register for a class.

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...