a view from the laundry pile…

…it's all about perspective.

Upcycling a chair…again.

on May 7, 2012

About 6 years ago, Fred and I took a simple day class on “making a topiary chair” at our local garden center.  I’d picked up (or “stole” according to the woman I was haggling with at the garage sale) 3 metal scroll chairs for $15, one of which we used for this class project.  I think it turned out quite well and added a little interest to our back yard. 

However, after sitting outside for a few seasons, being subjected to the weather, chomped at by the deer, gnawed on by squirrels, and pecked at by the birds for nesting material, it was time to either redo it or make something new.  I decided on “new.”  Not because I didn’t like the way it looked as a topiary chair, I just wanted to try something different…because I could.

After poking around a few days, I found an idea that I really liked.  The inspiration for it came from a post on a website, that I’m really starting to fall in love with, called ‘recycleart’ where things are reused, repurposed, recycled —  right up my alley.  It was a vintage/used wooden chair that they wove a new seat onto.  Their piece was done with mens ties but, since I don’t have any mens ties here, besides the one that Fred owns (and I do mean “one”), and I’m not going out and buy any for this, I’m going to use scrap fabric that I already have (everyone has scrap fabric, don’t they? Bit and pieces from leftover projects? Ugly husband clothes that you’re dying to get rid of while he’s at work?) and ‘weave a seat’ with that.

But, first, I had to clean up the chair.  So, I donned a pair of gloves (always use gloves – I have scars to prove this is a good idea), got the clippers, and clipped all the wire that was holding on the moss and chicken wire.  Once I got all that cleaned off, I brushed off the loose schmeg, and washed down the chair with the hose.  When it was dry, I gave it two coats of black spray paint (you can use brush-on paint instead of aerosol or something made for metal. This is just what I had). 

Side note; it wasn’t my intention to try to make this look ‘new’ again (I really do like the vintage/chippy/rusty look). I’m just trying to extend the life of the chair for a while longer. So, if “new” is the look you’re after you may have to strip and sand and do all that messy stuff, too.

This is, obviously, not an exact science, nor is it the only way to do this. And, I’m sure, the pictures will make it easier to understand what I’m saying if I don’t quiet make sense (I do this for Fred, too…he loves it when I draw pictures to help explain things like how the rats drank all the Gatorade or that wearing shoes indoors makes me fall down). So, here goes…I measured the width and length of the chair seat so that I’d know how long to cut my fabric strips – mine happened to be 10″ x 14″ (now referred to as the “short side” and the “long side,” respectively).

And, while the paint was drying, I got to cutting.  I’m chopping up an old paint shirt, parts of a flannel sheet, and a piece of red cotton scrap from a Halloween project (when I recycle, I recycle).  I cut 20 – 2″ wide strips from the shirt and red fabric (10 of each), each at least 28″ long  (double the long side measurement, at minimum – you can always cut off extra but it’s kind of difficult to make it longer…).

Then I cut 10 – 2″ wide, 30″ long strips from the flannel sheet (and, I did end up using some of the flannel sheeting the short way to fill in gaps between the shirt and red fabric but, after it was finished, I think it would’ve been fine without it, too).

When the short side was filled, I tied one of the flannel pieces to the seat frame, on the long side, knotting it from underneath, and started weaving (do you remember making potholders on the metal looms as a kid? This is what I felt like when I was doing this. Mine always turned out lopsided and ugly but they were always great fun to do), alternating over, under, over, under.  Instead of tying it off when I got to the other side, I just wrapped it around the seat frame and started back the opposite direction.  When I got to about 3″ from the end of the piece of flannel fabric I was working with, I tied the next piece of fabric on (“square knot”; right over left, left over right) and kept going. When I got to the end of the weaving, when the seat was all ‘full,’ I tied the end to the seat frame, with the knot underneath, and trimmed the excess. I left any knots, that ended up on top (visible on the seat top), where they were and just tucked the ends down through the weave and cut them short from the bottom.

Once the weaving was done, I cut the ends at various lengths (though you could cut them all the same, or use pinking shears, or fray them, or whatever your little heart desires. Personally, I like the messy, uneven look here), and trimmed some of the longer strings (and left some, too…I think it gives the chair extra character).

And there you have my version of an upcycled, recycled, woven seat chair. I’m not sure, yet, what I’m going to have sitting on it. Probably a basket of flowers. But it is good to see that chair, sitting pretty, under the apple tree again.

So, I’m looking for something that the deer won’t eat and the squirrels won’t munch on…any suggestions?


2 responses to “Upcycling a chair…again.

  1. I’m not sure which I like more, the woven chair or the topiary chair! Both are such cool upcycling ideas. (and I like the idea of weaving my husband’s ugly shirts!)

    • LB Driver says:

      Thank you! They were both such fun projects. I’m already thinking about what to do with the other two chairs. (Hmm…I’ve never liked that old sweater of Freds… 😉
      Take care & thanks for your lovely comment!

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