I enjoy yard sales. It's just fun to shop for bargains and to explore what others cast away. Last summer I found a true treasure.
It was late in the afternoon, always a good time to get the best
prices. A shabby rocking chair caught my eye. Someone’s favorite,
it had been used well, then stored for a long time. The back was
hanging in shreds, with no seat at all. It was impossible to
test its comfort, but I fell in love with the shape and the potential.
I also fell in love with the price: FREE!
I took it home, stripped it, and removed all the
tacks. It was very sturdy, no loose joints or
cracks in the wood. After some sanding and
three coats of polyurethane, it looked like
a chair again. Its age? It's a style that was
used over several decades.
The original seat as well as the back were underpinned with webbing which is lighter and less expensive than wood, but I opted to replace the webbing in the seat with a piece of cut-to-fit plywood. Plywood makes the chair heavier, but it won't sag. I topped the plywood with 3” thick foam, softened with a layer of batting, and the seat was ready for a cover. I used the traditional webbing for the back and topped that with 1.5” foam, also softened with some batting.
I realized that the chair would look good in many different fabrics – I had a lot of options. The fabric I chose was a bold choice, but it really caught my eye at Ragtime! I carried my chair into the store. Yeah, they probably thought I was nuts, but no one said a word. (I've always loved Ragtime! Great people!)
Assembly of the cover took only a couple of hours using an electric staple gun. I worked on the seat first. The plywood was separate from the chair. Once I had the fabric design centered, I fastened the front and back, working to keep the tension on the fabric even and to prevent pulling the design off center. Then I mitered the corners, worked the sides down, and put it back into the chair. Voila! It had a finished seat!
Next was the visible side of the chair’s back. I started with the design centered and wrapped the fabric over the top. The fabric was stapled across the rear of the top rail, low enough that those staples would be covered later. I wrapped the remaining edges around to the back and secured them with staples. It was a bit tricky to staple the areas where the arms joined the frame, and of course, through this whole process, I had to keep the chair from rocking. Some of my working poses weren't exactly graceful!
I always find it amazing the first time an upholstered piece finally takes on its finished appearance. I love it! But...there was still one more side to finish...the rear of the chair back.
I cut a rectangle of fabric large enough to cover the
back, again keeping the design centered. Then I
flipped the fabric and stapled it in place across
the top rail through a tack strip, a narrow lightweight
trip of cardboard, to form a straight edge. To soften
the back, I added a layer of batting. Then I folded the
sides and stapled everything in place. Done!
Well, almost. I should cover the underside with a dust cover. It's not visible so who knows...maybe I'll be
changing the fabric again before I get to that last step!
Our Ragtime Staff