Friday, July 17, 2009

Finally Getting To My Wingbacks

I haven't been the most dedicated blogger this year, mostly due to the crazy roller coaster of life and work and finding a balance. Besides the fact that I haven't felt like writing much, I don't have a decent camera so there's another roadblock. However, I did get a snazzy new red cell phone a couple months ago that has *gasp!* a camera! My last terrible $20 nokia didn't have one, so this is a huge step up for me in the technology department. I still need to borrow Andrew's camera if I want to capture a decent photo, but for right now I'm working with my grainy pixelated cell phone camera, and I'm ok with that. On to more important things than my tech famine....

I recovered a RECLINING wingback chair!!! This is no small feat. It became much easier when, about 70% of the way through the project, I realized the seat and back piece separate from the arms and leg piece in two structurally sound chunks. I can't tell you how much easier this made prying out staples and ripping off the 20 year old pink fish-scale-esque fabric that originally upholstered these bad boys. Yep, they were ugly from day one. I remember as a pre-teen when my parents brought them home from the LA-Z-BOY showroom, shiny and new, and thinking, "Really? Pink scales was your top choice?" But hey, it was the early 90s, and based on my fashion choices of that era, who am I to judge?

[This is me circa 1992 looking hot in my mom jeans and cosby christmas sweater. The picture is too small to really expose all the glorious details that make this family portrait (and particularly me) so painfully awkward, so I'll fill you in: it was the second year I started to pudge up a little, and I'm clearly uncomfortable about it, which is why the sweater is actually tucked into the mom jeans in an attempt to slim my waist (a suggestion from my mother who knows these things). I had also just begun to experience acne, making me so uncomfortable about my appearance I had no interest in getting my picture taken, but it was Christmas and that's what families do on Christmas, so I choice but to shove my hands into my front pockets and pose for the picture. At least I remembered to wear my Santa Clause novelty earrings - that definitely made it better. Oh, the pain!]

OK back to the original purpose of the post: chairs! These chairs have seen me through all of my awkward years and then some, and have seen a whole lot of love. When my parents passed them on to me for the apartment that Andrew and I now share, they were threadbare, dingy, splitting at the arms and in places on the seat, but in otherwise great shape. They didn't look great, but they're solid chairs.... and they recline! So cool!

detail of the foam coming out of the arm where the upholstery split

I've been wanting to recover them forever, but about two years ago when I started pulling the upholstery off one of the chairs, I realized it was a much bigger job than I thought, became overwhelmed and intimidated, and abandoned the project. This is pretty uncharacteristic of me, but it felt like the right thing to do at the time, and it was. The skinned chair sat under a lumpy baggy slip cover for many moons looking tragic and unloved. Earlier this month, after successfully completing some smaller scale reupholstery projects, I decided it was time to revisit the giant pink elephant in the room. I had about 7 yards of hideous but good quality upholstery fabric I'd gotten from an outlet store years ago at a deep discount for the express purpose of being test fabric for a project such as this.

So... I dove in. It was a total pain in the arse, and took many many hours (at least 40) to get it from total disarray to finished, but it was worth it to go through that learning process and regain my confidence that I can, in fact, reupholster anything. It's not flawless by any means, but it looks pretty durn good if you ask me. I have the original fabric in pieces to use as a pattern, and I have a plan hatching for some custom slip covers. The trick is maintaining the full range of reclining motion, so it'll have to be a 4-piece cover. Now I know I can do it and I'm giddy and the possibilities!

This isn't an after picture, really. I still hate the fabric. I'll call this the "during" picture, and post a pic of the finished product when I've redone it with a fabric that's more my taste. I may try my hand at fabric stamping.... hmmmm.... :)


Charles said...

I love the fabric. The chair has that feeling of friendliness and belonging that a trip to grandma's had as a kid.

How many hours was this would you say?

Monica said...

It took over 40 hours at least. I think when I do it again, it's going to be a slip cover.