sewing diversion ... before & after

You may recall this post back in February where I posted a pic of some recently acquired vintage linen ... gorgeous, scrumptuous, super stout vintage homespun linen.  This linen ...

I love just looking at it and I've had it rolled up on a shelf in my workroom for easy gazing.  But I actually had a plan for some of it.  Last week I got inspired to take a break from jewelry and haul out my beloved little Bernette sewing machine and take on a bit of a sewing adventure ... re-doing the upholstery and cushion of Dave's grandfather's rocking chair. 

We don't really know much about the rocker - how old it really is or how long his Grampa had it.  Dave's had it since we met over 34 years ago.  It was in pretty good shape back then.  But through the years, and mostly thanks to an incorrigible chocolate lab puppy, much of the fabric was in shreds.  I've been draping assorted fabrics over the sad, flat cushion for almost 20 years.  So when this amazing linen came into my hands, I knew the time had come to try my hand at upholstery. This chair from Restoration Hardware provided my inspiration.    

Here's a couple of before shots ...

Now, I've made plenty of pillow covers, but with the curves around the arm rests, this cushion was a bit more structured.  Even so, I wasn't really worried about that part of the project.  What was concerning me and what I've never done, was the underneath support part ... webbing, tacks, padding.  This is why I checked out an upholstery book from the library.

It was great fun ripping all that old fabric off the frame.  Of course, I had to be really careful about losing rusty tacks in the carpet, so I put my cutting board on the floor to catch all the mess ... loads of dust, a couple of ancient lady bugs, a few splinters, gobs of rusty tacks, nasty old cotton batting and rotten fabric.

Once the frame was bare and all cleaned up, I commenced to laying in the webbing.  There was something ever so satisfying about getting the webbing taut (I had to buy a stretching tool) and the tacks spaced just right.  I'm quite pleased with my first efforts ...

I tacked a layer of muslin over the webbing, cut some 1" compressed batting to fit and then tacked on the linen top layer.  The homespun is only 19" wide and has wonderful selvedge edges that I wanted to use as much as possible.  Using that Restoration Hardware chair as a model, I wanted the fabric to roll over the front edge a bit - a perfect place for the selvedge to show.  I had to piece the base so I could use the selvedge edge at the front and the back.  The side edges are machine stitched. 

It's not perfect, but I think it looks pretty darn good for my first try.  Here's the front tacked edge ...

And here's a detail of the new cushion in place.  I used the selvedge on the front of the cushion as well.  I wish I'd made it a bit deeper, but it's the same size as the original, so I guess it's okay.  It's kind of hard to see, but I hand stitched the edge with some linen warp thread I had on hand.

I had an old Pier 1 cushion at the back of the chair that was just too blah with the new look.  So I pulled out another one of my vintage fabric scores - vintage homespun hemp kaya/mosquito netting from Japan.  Once again - it's narrow - so I had to do some piecing. 

I used the selvedge along that center seam and did a herringbone stitch with the unbleached linen to join the two pieces.  I was also able to use the raw ends with a machine zig-zag for stability.  That cross seam is the opening where i inserted the pillow.  I slipcovered the insert with an unbleached muslin to show off the open weave of the fabric.  I closed the opening with a running stitch.

And the finished project ...

Dave's grandparents were talented woodworkers and enormously creative people ... I'm thinking they'd be very proud of my efforts ... I know I am.

Well, that's done and it's time to head back to jewelry ... stay tuned for a very special project to follow in the next couple of days.

l i g a - kvk

p.s.  if you'd like some of this yummy linen for your ownself, go check out Lisa Carter's CoolVintage Etsy shop and you can find vintage hemp kaya at Kimono Boy