If you meet me here every month, or have upholstered furniture before, you know that even the smallest project can turn into a labor of love, requiring hours of time and producing blisters and callouses. So what is it about upholstery that drives us to spend our wee hours of free time stripping, hammering and stapling away on a piece we pulled out of a dumpster? For me, history, textiles and restyling often pave the way for a spectacular transformation, turning a piece of trash into a useable, personal and handmade artifact. Starting today, we’ll sprinkle some upholstery inspiration into the Upholstery Basics series to see how textiles and styling choices can work hand-in-hand with craftsmanship to produce heirloom pieces. — Amanda
Photography by Mel Cole
The full post continues after the jump . . .
This story begins with a handmade crewel bouquet. In the summer of 1973, my mom spent every day for three months stitching each petal and leaf by hand. Her father had been hospitalized with cancer, and her handiwork became busywork for the hours spent near his bedside. She also told me that those three months of looking down turned into a nasty neck crick that nearly landed her in the emergency room!
I’ve been eyeing this piece for years, contemplating a connection between my craft and my mother’s. Meanwhile, I’ve been collecting other crewel art to upholster a set of chairs at my dining room table. When the set is complete, I imagine dinner parties with my guests and the ladies who created these art pieces in spirit.
The chair came from an interesting fellow whose warehouse (and my treasure chest) outside Austin City Limits is stacked 3-high and 100-deep with antique furniture. Unearthing this chair was like playing furniture Jenga. For over a year, I’ve been saving this chair for a special project, so it took some finagling to get it out of the Spruce storage shed. I love how Spruce has become my personal scapegoat for furniture hoarding!
- Use an old quilt, your favorite childhood t-shirt or a canvas painting to make your own upholstery time capsule.
- Line fragile textiles with a sturdy fabric for added durability.
- This treatment is perfect for chairs whose backs face the audience, but not so perfect for those that sit against a wall.
Want the full step-by-step? Check out these Upholstery Basics posts:
Coordinating fabric: Peaking Out by Robert Allen