Thursday, September 1, 2016

Walking Through the Web(bing)

So, although I had a TON of things that I COULD have been doing around the apartment, last night I grabbed my trusty webbing and tools for stretching it so I could give the naked chair a little something before I give up, and leave it out on the curb. KIDDING! Kidding! '

Alright, so you already know that I'm using my trusty guide to rework this chair myself. Upholstery is just so expensive here, with very few people who know how to do it correctly. It makes books like Spruce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Upholstery a wonderful resource for the first-time, do-it-yourself-er.

Using Amanda Brown's (author) list of items necessary for upholstery, I picked up some burlap webbing, a webbing stretcher, and some steel tacks: 

Now, I have to tell you, Amanda makes this look VERY easy in her book. Of course! And it ACTUALLY is VERY easy! Like most things, it takes some patience and finesse, but once you get the hang of it - it starts to go much, much faster! 

Here's the bottom of the chair once I finished weaving the webbing:

The chair has a decorative scroll detail in the center, so I wasn't able to do a strap in the center of the chair, but given that this seat only had 4 when it started its life, I think we're all set. Now, tying the springs, that wasn't as easy. I will say though that the instructions in the book are phenomenal when it comes to showing you how to get this done!

I'm not going to lie to you. This part took me over an hour, for 9 springs! I CAN NOT imagine doing this for a sofa full of springs. When you look at upholstery that requires reconstruction and reconditioning of the springs of your piece, let me tell you - I now understand why it's so expensive!
With that all done, and just an hour or so before my bedtime, I walked my little French Bulldog Foreman for the job, and decided that I should start working on webbing the back of the chair: 

Before you knew it, I was out of upholstery tacks AND staples! That always happens to me! I get on a roll, and then my poor planning stops me dead in my tracks! But I did get most of the chair finished, with just two rows left.

Now the chair looks a little less naked, but it's still a daunting project! Next step (after I finish the webbing) is to cover the springs, and webbing on the back of the chair in burlap. After that, I'm supposed to fill in with batting, dacron, and possibly foam (for the seat). There are of course 105 more steps (about that anyway) before the chair is ready for top fabric, but I've spent hours looking at the many options. My friend Joni, of Cote de Texas has suggested Zebra hide, much like this chair that once was for sale at Shabby Slips of Houston

It's incredible, isn't it. Just gorgeous. I think most of you probably read the story about Arlo chewing up my zebra hide rug, right? Well, it is DESTROYED! That little booger started in the middle of the rug and worked his way out. There's nothing left of that poor hide, but lesser grade hides can be found on eBay at quite a bargain if you're patient and on top of the listings. 

I don't mind the idea of hide, but I question whether or not it's the most suitable fabric for a first-time upholsterer, like me. A DIY, untrained (except for the book) upholsterer, I might add. Across from the zebra hide chair is a similar fauteuil done in what looks like cotton, perhaps velvet, in a solid color. Pretty, but no question, the hide chair is a stand out! There are alternatives to authentic Zebra, of course. There are zebra stripe printed cowhides:

It's a little less interesting, for the mane of the zebra centered on the back of the chair from Shabby Slips is really just gorgeous. Can you imagine it tickling the back of your neck though? Come on, surely I'm not the only one! I'd constantly be scratching my head - literally, afraid something was crawling on me! It's just so beautiful, though.

I've always loved Axis deer hides. They're so interesting and lovely, aren't they. There's always the option of doing something like this in lieu of the zebra and cowhide, if hide ends up the way to go. The other options? Well, my lovely rug is a wash of creams, camels, tans, and really dark charcoal. So, I could do a charcoal velvet, or flannel, like this chair: 

I just love this room by designer Robert Brown. Gorgeous in every way. Plus, with my limited knowledge of upholstery, and my DIY ability somewhat, err patience-less? I think that a solid color fabric (no tricky patterns to match up) and a forgiving fabric like velvet or flannel might be the way to go. Any DIY upholstery peeps have suggestions? 

And ... go! 


  1. OMG!!!! You are making so much's going to look fabulous!!!! I vote for the zebra hide.....

  2. axis or giraffe but could never use the real thing. Please tell me all these are faux hides...

  3. I love the look of the deer hide, but like GodGirlGail, could never use the real thing. I adore that Robert Brown room though and don't think you could go wrong with something neutral and then maybe a faux zebra/deer/lion/tiger/giraffe, etc. pillow or two.

  4. I was involved in the designer showhouse featuring Robert Brown's spacious master suite. He also upholstered the gentleman's bathroom in that gray flannel.
    Consider using charcoal leopard in a heavy cotton or velvet with a neutral background. Much less to match up and would look good with your rug.

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  6. Doing a great job on that chair , Artie .
    I am doing two french bergere chairs in grey wild silk for my bedroom .
    It's not really difficult at all , but PATIENCE is the keyword . Just started on one side and you're four hours later !
    Now I know what makes upholstery so expensive , the time that goes in one piece ...

  7. I wonder if the zebra would be easier since it is so heavy and strong? try. that is Shabby Slips store. Gorgeous. have you see the green damask chairs they have for sale right now? omg - GO LOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! green damask!!!!!!!!!!! emerald green. they are gorgeous. maybe this??????

  8. thata chair must be for sale or its another one.


  10. Great job Artieben! Question though re the instructions you are following; do they recommend 'sewing the coil-spring bottoms to the webbing'? Reason asked, it is often done on a fully upholstered armchair's deck and should be ideally done prior to upholstering with the fabric. (I believe the proper term is called 'mooring' and slip knots are used.) Also, re your fabric I have never worked with a short-haired hide so unfortunately cannot share any tips however know when sewing fur garments you first sew the seams and then working from the right side you tediously pick out/fluff the hairs but shear those remaining inside to eliminate bulk. With anticipation to see your finished project as I am sure it is going to be beautiful. -Brenda-

    1. Artie: correction -- it should have read: you tediously pick out/fluff the hairs that were caught in the stitching but .... ..... . (Hopefully that makes more sense.) -Brenda-

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