Friday, September 21, 2012

Teaching An Old Dog New Tricks

They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but I keep trying. I am the old dog in this equation. And I have just undertaken my first real attempt to UPHOLSTER a chair. It's turning out to be a hair-raising experience. Over the years, I have, of course, recovered the seats of my dining room chairs (multiple times, I might add) and sewed a cushion or two, but I have never ever entered this heretofore uncharted territory.

These are the things I have already learned:

  1. My newfound friends at the  Gaslamp Too Antique Mall told me it was easy. I don't want to say that they lied, but they are definitely young things and not an old dog.
  2. They advised me to get a decent staple gun. I hope I followed their instructions. I don't know yet. But they didn't tell me that I would need anything else and thus far, I have had to use the following implements: needlenose pliers (I had to go buy these), a very teeny tiny flat head screwdriver (I looked in five or six drawers and two closets before I found one), a pair of tweezers (sadly I used one of my nice Tweezerman brand tweezers because I needed a sharp tip, and this one is no longer going to be able to go anywhere near my face again), and a hammer.
  3. I did NOT want to sew anything in this project so I purchased something called "gimp" to finish the edging around my chair. This is what I will use in lieu of corded piping. I always knew gimp as a person with a limp but apparently it is also a flat trim of silk, wool that is used for fabric finishing or ornamentation. So there. Now you know another meaning for the all-important word gimp.
  4. The guts of a chair are not pretty. Especially when said chair has been recovered multiple times. The chair has to get naked again and that can be a painful and tedious process. I can identify with this aspect.
  5. I found out that I loathe removing staples. I am sure that professional upholsterers and other savvy DIY folks have this down to a science, but I was immediately dismayed when I realized I was dealing with staples over staples over staples, and I would not be able to use my new staple gun unless I removed about a bajillion staples.
  6. Totally Random Information: Did you know that rocker Jack White of White Stripes fame was an upholsterer? I have it on good authority from my own upholsterer who told me that Jack had shown him his equipment and tons of fabric. Apparently if Jack had not "made" it in the music scene or were to fall on hard times, he planned to go back into the upholstery business. I find this somewhat hysterical. So while I spent the better part of this morning removing staples upon staples from the chair, I thought about Jack White doing the same. It got even funnier. Then I came inside and dialed up some White Stripes and Raconteurs on the Pandora station. It is definitely not my kind of music, but after about a bajillion staples, Jack and I got in the groove. 
  7. I thought upholstering a chair would involve four steps: removal of the original fabric, cutting new fabric to fit using old fabric as a template and then stapling on the fabric and glue gunning (I don't think that this is a real verb, but it just became one) the gimp. (There's that other word for you.) At this point, I have just finished most of the staple removal on the top part of the chair and it has been about 3.25 hours. I still have the bottom part of the chair to do. Then I have to sand. And paint. And sand and paint the chair again. Then I have to make the template. Goodness knows how this is going to go. And then...I think you are getting the gist of this.
  8. I do like my fabric. As I keep getting discouraged and thinking about abandoning what has become a tedious and time-consuming project, I keep looking at the fabric. It helps. Otherwise the chair is going to the dump.
  9. Oh, and the previous owners had a dog or a cat or both. I intended to use the original foam, but now I have discovered that this will have to be replaced...yet another step. Yikes, I think foam is expensive. I am definitely not going to tell The Husband how much my little DIY foray is costing me/him.
  10. I may never show you the finished product. It depends. If it turns out reasonably well, I'll post a pic. Otherwise, I will just let you use your imagination.
  11. I think it was my imagination that got me into this mess in the first place.
  12. What WAS I thinking? Oh wait, I wasn't thinking...I was dreaming.
I am afraid that this is what I am going to look like when I finally finish my chair....

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