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before and after

before & after: chair redo with screen-printed fabric

by Kate Pruitt


It’s so fun to see where people go hunting for furniture — thrift stores, yard sales, the bizarre junk shop you can barely walk around in. There’s treasure to be found everywhere! Wippowillow founder Kate Troyer decided to combine her modern textile designs with a more traditional chair shape. Her friend and colleague Shannon found this gem hiding among the junk, and snagged the piece for only $40. After creating a custom screen-printed fabric and re-upholstering the piece, Shannon and Kate now have a truly gorgeous chair to last them a lifetime. Kate’s pattern is beautiful, and I love the contrast of the bright orange against the dark, classic wood. Beautifully done, ladies! — Kate

If you like the fabric on the chair below, click here to see the full Wippowillow collection including wallpaper, textiles, lighting and pillows.

Read the full post after the jump!

Time: 2 days to screen-print and heat-set the fabric, and 7 evenings to complete the upholstery (approximately 18 hours, but many of those hours were spent socializing in class and checking out all the other upholstery projects!)

Cost: Chair: $40; Wippowillow hand-printed fabric: $150; Upholstery instruction class: $175 for a 10-week class. This cost included tools, instruction, studio space and access to upholstery supplies such as foam, cotton, tack strips, etc.

Basic Steps: We decided to maintain the character and patina of an older piece of furniture and pair it with a striking and unexpected fabric, which we found to be a visually stunning dichotomy. After we reupholstered the chair to the point of the muslin layer, we spent time draping Wippowillow fabrics over the chair to find a color and pattern that “popped” next to the dark wood of the chair. The pattern for the “Swoon” fabric was hand-drawn and then hand-silkscreened in Tangerine onto a pearl gray cotton velveteen fabric using eco-friendly water-based pigments. The fabric was then heat set.

Advice: Each piece of furniture is different, and there can be unique issues to resolve with each project. It is helpful to take photographs at each stage as you begin disassembling your furniture piece because you will generally rebuild it in the same order as it was originally upholstered. You may need to take it down to its bare frame in order to determine if you need to replace distressed webbing or retie springs, which will form the basis and structure for your new upholstery! Seek out an upholstery class in your community, so you can work under a master’s guidance. Doing so will also allow you access to space, tools and materials. I worked under the guidance of Master Upholsterer Scott Smith through Portland Community College in Portland, Oregon. — Shannon

If you are printing your own fabric, consider burning a smaller silkscreen or hand-block printing your design. These processes will allow you to print smaller amounts of yardage in your home or studio. I recommend stretching canvas over a thick industrial felt on top of a sturdy piece of wood. This surface can then be used to stretch and pin your fabric down for hand printing. Also, be sure to test different pigment brands. Some textile pigments have an undesirable texture to them, and you want to be sure you are sitting in comfort when the project is finished! — Kate

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