Happy Weekend everybody!
Today, I finished my first project of the year! I’ll be honest, this project became an idea in October last year, and a reality in November… but with little spare time in the lead up to Christmas, I did indeed delay it to become something I completed in the New Year. I haven’t spent every day working on it, in fact I purposefully took my time, it was something I’d never done before, and would either look fantastic or absolutely rubbish… I’m too much of a perfectionist to let this project go wrong, because this one would mark the start of my new creative lifestyle!
When I found out my flatmate was going travelling, I had 2 options: move into another house-share, or live alone. After much searching for a suitable house-share (and not finding anything I was excited about), I was offered an amazing annexe attached onto the old house I shared with 8 other people. After a little thought, I jumped at this offer and promised myself that, even though the house is up for sale and I could be asked to move at any time, I would to make this place homely and all my own – which is one of my most favourite parts of living alone. Within 2 weeks, I was settled, fairy lights and knick-knacks on show!
Everywhere I have lived, I’ve always had my sewing machine on show, on a small desk with my tins and jars of various sewing accessories. This is my Sewing Home, this is where the magic happens… Somehow, since leaving university, I’ve never had an office chair, and I’ve coped because all of the places where I have lived has had a little chair that I would make do with until I bought one. Well, I decided 2 years was enough of chair scrounging, so I embarked on a journey that would bring me to today… I was going to renovate a second-hand chair, and make it my own! And also, without a chair in my (now) current home, I couldn’t actually use my sewing machine, so I’d either have to buy a new one or buy and old one to make my own!
I started with Gumtree and Ebay, and after a few weeks I settled on this:
This chair isn’t terrible, but it is brown and it has torn corners in the fabric at the front and worn down paint, but it’s vintage and it swivels and it looks like a good starting place for my little project!
I looked at how it was constructed, and took the seat and back off the frame to give myself an idea of how to proceed. Before I could do anything (other than the lengthy process of removing all of the staples holding the fabric in place) I needed to decide what colours I wanted my new chair to be… I don’t have a sewing room or even a permanent abode, so I didn’t want to commit to something I won’t like in 2 years time. I did a looong search online for appropriate upholstery fabric and decided to go funky! A quick eBay search, and a few emails later I’d purchased this:
I haven’t bought a lot of fabric online before, because I like to feel the fabric, and I wouldn’t want to be disappointed with the colour… But as I said, before Christmas I was tight on spare-time, and my creative juices wanted to get flowing! It all worked out in the end anyway, because I LOVED the fabric when it arrived!
While searching for fabric, I was also thinking about how to paint the frame. After a little research into metal spray paints, I decided I wouldn’t risk the messiness and poor coverage so I’d buy a tin and paint the frame instead, in the warmth of my flat, with Friends on in the background. I kept swaying between black and silver, they are both versatile colours, and go with pretty much everything… but I decided black was too sensible… and in the end it would not have complimented my fabric, or at least not in the way the silver does. I’d recommend this paint (pictured below), it did everything I needed it to for this chair and only took 2 coats, but I have no other experience in using metal paints, so I don’t know how viable that opinion would be in the grand scheme of things.
With a few other items purchased and borrowed:
- New screws to put the chair back together
- Staple gun
- Foam backed fabric to use as a lining
I got to work on renovating this chair by removing the remaining fabric, and a thin foamy layer from the seat and back, to give me a clean slate. I kept the original foam pads because they were glued onto the wooden back and seat, and I decided if I covered them in foam backed fabric, then it wouldn’t affect the main fabric. This lining layer would also serve as a “practice round” for stapling fabric to the chair.
At the same time (not literally), I coated the frame of the chair in the silver paint, trying not to leave any drip marks and to give the chair an even coverage. As stated above, it took two coats, not because the paint doesn’t cover well, but because I am a perfectionist and not very good at painting. In other words, it could probably have been done in one, very well executed coat.
I stapled and stapled away on the back and seat of the chair with difficulty, because the staple gun I’d borrowed wasn’t an expensive one and the wood that made up the back and seat was very good quality and very tough. I was so close to being finished on Thursday night, until I couldn’t get the back fabric panel that would cover the wooden back of the chair to staple on properly. This led to me sulking and brainstorming on alternative ways to attach it. I was so close, had taken my time and I was being held up at the last hurdle, I had every right to sulk, okay?!
On Friday, I bought some Heavy Duty staples and, after finishing work, I drove home in excitement of finishing this project once and for all… Only to find the heavy duty staples wouldn’t work in the staple gun. I refused to sulk this time, and decided to do what I know best: Sewing. That’s right, it took 4 times longer than stapling, and I had to be careful not to leave the stitching showing, BUT it is done! It is finished, and I now have my very own sewing chair, that is completely unique, and is my very own design. Aaaand, I think it looks absolutely amazing (even if I do say so myself)!
I did a little maths, and (without going into too much detail), this chair has cost me a total of approximately £60. A little more than I intended, but worth it all the same!
Now, as the title suggests, I had a few revelations during this project:
- You can do anything if you put your mind to it, and you don’t have to spend a lot of money, only time. Take the time to research what you’re purchasing, what you’re going to use to apply it and how you’re going to do it. Make the time to do it, and ensure you give yourself enough time. Obviously, once you become skilled in something you’ll get faster and will be able to judge the amount of time needed, but if it’s a first time project, there’s no need to rush!! Even if it takes a few hours/days/weeks longer than it would take someone else, don’t panic! The main thing is to finish a project, don’t just leave it when you hit a brick wall… there is always a way around it!
- Although I intended to use this approach in order to furnish my sewing area to save money, I spent more money than I would have done if I’d bought a cheap mass-manufactured chair but I am MUCH happier with the final piece. Obviously, ways to save on this would be use a chair you already own and/or fabric you already own, but I didn’t have these things. So I could have saved money, but I wouldn’t have something that I know is good quality, unique and completely my own, that I intend to keep forever! So, in the long run, I’ve probably saved myself a few quid!
- And most importantly. Whilst hand-sewing the back panel in place, I had a lot of time to reflect on this blog, and what I wanted to achieve from it. I’m a creative person, and I want to use the blog to log my journey in life, including my creative projects. With this in mind, I am afraid this blog won’t be so anonymous… When I make garments, or refashion/amend clothes, I’ll be showing them on here, my face will probable be seen in photos and my identity shown to the world! But I’m okay with that, I know my passion is sewing so I can let that overshadow the writing of the blog, without upsetting myself too much. It also means I can share this blog with family and friends, or if they stumble across one of my projects on here they won’t be confused about why I hid the blog from everyone in the first place. That being said, the blog will mainly run the same, I’m not going to share all the ins-and-outs of my life with you all, you won’t even know my name for now, but at least this whole thing is a little clearer for me in my head!
So, here it is again, but Before and After:
Let me know what you think of the chair :)!! Now that I have somewhere to sit in my sewing home, I will be working on a few things over the next few weeks that I’m really looking forward to sharing with you!