Sunday, July 18, 2010

Junk To Jewel: Office Reading Chair

Les Variations...they're French and they rock!

I decided to share a junk to jewel moment on the blog today.  Check out the junk, here:

My brother, Ben, bestowed this chair upon us.  It  had been left outside in the Austin weather for who knows how long and was in pretty sad condition but I have always liked this cool vintage chair and could not add it to the bonfire.  I figured it would be a great reading chair for our recently finished office...but man oh man did it need a butt load of  work.

The existing 50 year old upholstery, cushions and springs were decayed and rusty, so with beaucoup elbow grease, a lot of swearing and a little blood all this stuff was wrestled away.  It's amazing how many hundreds of upholstery nails had been used, and the craftsmanship of the original upholstery...well, hats off to those creative artists who know how to do it.  Upholstery is so cool.

Here is the bare chair.  Ready to be sanded and ready for all those nail holes to be filled.

I reinforced the joints with wood glue and clamped them for 24 hours. I filled the nail holes and various dents with plastic wood putty.  I sanded some more, and sanded, sanded, sanded and sanded.

I decided to skip the upholstery shop and tackle this project myself  the cheapskate's way by installing a new seat and back out of plywood, and making new cushions out of foam and batting.

 Here are the back and seat plywood pieces I cut with a skill saw.  I screwed the boards to the chair with 1" screws.  The new seat and back help to strengthen the chair frame. And then I sanded some more until this chair frame was as smooth as Serge Gainsbourg.

At this stage I primed the chair and painted it with 2 coats of a high gloss black latex, and topped it off with 2 layers of clear poly coat.

Next I measured for foam cushions.  I went to a local upholstery supplier and they cut the foam to my measurements.  I ended up getting extra firm 4 inch foam for the seat and a softer 3 inch foam for the back.

  I covered them with 1" thick quilt batting to soften up the edges and give them a little more cushiness.

I hand stitched the batting together.  Really easy to do and doesn't have to be pretty since all that stitching will be covered.
 Here are the cushions covered with batting.

 Here is the cotton muslin I used to for the cushion inner cover.

  I cut an upper and lower square of muslin for each cushion, pinned them together with the right sides facing in, and stitched them up on the trusty Riccar sewing machine.

 I trimmed the seam edges to half an inch, below.

 Here are my new cushions.  Now I just had to make the outer covers.

I had this black and white oval IKEA fabric lying around that both Dan and I like and I also had this floral fabric that I like, though Dan nixed the flowers.  Too girly I guess.  Dan ordered a moratorium on pink awhile ago, but now on flowers too?   Solution: make both.

I am not going to go into detail on how I made these cushion covers except to say it was really easy and almost exactly the way I made the muslin covers.  Seriously.  Measure, cut, pin, sew, and you got cushion covers. Oh, and Velcro is my friend.  I didn't want to go out in to the hideously fiery weather and schlep to the fabric store to get zippers for these cushion covers so instead I stitched on some Velcro I already had.  Works great. 

Then I stuck some of those felt covered tack things on the bottom of the chair legs to ward off floor scratches.

And here it is!  Our new junk-to-jewel office reading chair.  A lot of work but totally worth it.


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