I’m thinking, I’m thinking!

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Some days my brain is so full of ideas, I don’t know where to begin. I have two knitting projects on the needles, and a sketch of a third. I have a baby quilt half finished, and four patterns lined up for sewing. I have a knitting design book on hold at Barnes & Noble. And, I have about 179 starred items in Google Reader that I am going to make “next”.

Other days, I feel frustrated by my projects and want to chuck it all. Projects don’t turn out right, fabrics don’t wear well. It’s enough to make me throw up my hands and say, “I can just buy one at the mall!” Today is in that category. However, it is Thursday Think Tank with Making Rebecca Lynne. So instead of giving up, I am going to think on it. And I need your help.

My baby quilt wannabe project is on hold because the energy auditor is scheduled to make a million updates in three weeks, all taking place in my craft room. The squares are done, but I need to pull out some fabrics to decide how to sash them. Any thoughts? When I can get to my stash again, I’ll let you know.

That leaves the Dreaded Dining Room Chairs Redo — Part 2. I have a gorgeous dining room set that includes a buffet, a smaller table with drawers, a dining room table with six chairs, and a liquor cabinet. The set was my Aunt Diane’s forever, then my mom and dad’s, then my Aunt Diane’s again, and now mine. Auntie actually tells me that it was her friend Barb’s first, so I am guessing it is a nice antique vintage.

Liquor cabinet

I re-covered the chairs when they came to me about 10 years ago. No big deal. Unscrew the seat from the legs, wrap new fabric around, staple in place, re-screw seat back on legs. Easy.

Recently it became quite clear that the fabric needed replacing again. My child is not a neat eater, so the chairs were very stained. In addition, the front edges of a few chairs were worn completely through to the fabric layer below. Not to worry, I thought. I borrowed a staple gun from my friend Richard from The Authentic Experience, pulled out some fabric from my stash and went about unscrewing the seats from the base.

That's a lot of fabric layers

There were three layers of fabric on the seats now, and hardly a place to put new staples. And since the last layer was worn through, I thought a next layer might look uneven or wear more quickly in the bare spots. So I began pulling out old staples and tearing off layers of fabric.

Oh my goodness. What a mess. The layers were unbelieveable filthy, for one. But worse, when I removed the bottom layer of fabric, I found that the padding had turned to a layer of mush. Whatever it was (actual horsehair? shreds of paper?), it was disgusting. It was matted and dusty, and disgusting. I took it outside for fear of giving my family cancer with the airborne particles.

Bottom (original) fabric layer. Note the beautiful edges where it was stapled to the bottom.

Chair padding...it left a dirty mess everywhere and fell apart in my hand when I tried to remove it.

No problem, I thought. I will merely replace the padding. I am famous for my pluck and perseverance. Ahem. I did a quick google search and read about 427 tutorials on recovering chairs. However, even when the information included replacing the padding, it gave no indication whatsoever about what to use for padding. Surely, nobody sells horsehair mush anymore?

What *is* that stuff? Do I want to know?

I brought my boy to Jo-Ann’s where we put the three varieties of “padding” on the floor and took turns sitting on them. I do so wish I had a photo of that. We decided to bring home the “high-density” foam in the 1″ and 2″ variety. I also made a cushion from three layers of crappy polyester quilt batting, because I’ve recently decided to upgrade to better batting and wanted a good use for the old stuff. Then we put one cushion on each of three chairs and made Husband try them out with us. We had our own “The Three Bears” play. I also draped the fabric over each sample and simulated the way the chairs would look when made up.

We unanimously chose the quilt batting. There was no dicernible different in comfort. The foam cushions were too high and fluffy for the chair, and they were $8 each (without a coupon) x 6 chairs. Stash quilt batting = free. Pleased with our choice, I moved forward with the project.

I was very happy with the way they turned out.

New chair cover on left. The right still looks good, but that is the "company" chair. And still...wait til you see how dirty it really is.

Gross, right?

Beautiful new chair! Yay!

You know that’s not the end of the story, right? Was it the “Part 2” that tipped you off?

About a month later my parents were visiting, and my dad said, “Why are these chairs so hard all of a sudden?” I had to face the awful truth. The batting completely lost its loft after being used for that very short time. It was like there was no padding at all. Of course, the fabric that I so carefully stretched over the padding was now billowy and loose.

Can you see the loose fabric?

And most sad of all, where the icky shredded padding of old had filled in all the nooks and crannies of the antique (read: pieced from cheap wood) seats, the new padding did not, and you might pinch your bottom (in a bad way) if you got caught in a crack. Eek.

Mind the gap! I never felt that crack before now.

So, I’m thinking of what to do next. And thinking. I went back to Jo-Ann’s for their coupon extravaganza and brought home three 1″-thick high density foam pads (at 40% off). I have left mine in the plastic, but have been sitting on it on my chair for the last few days. So far, so good. I am concerned with how ridiculous the chairs looked with the poofy, high cushion, but like everything these days, I am willing to sacrifice a little style for a lot of comfort.

I promise not to keep using it this way for longer than 1 week.

And I am throwing the rest of my polyester batting in the garbage. Please, any suggestions for chair batting are welcome!

Did you think I forgot about Self-Stitched September? Nope. Yesterday on Sept. 21, I wore my Eddie Bauer knockoff over a Gap long-sleeved T-shirt and cropped jeans.

Today I am wearing my second make of Simplicity 2255 (View D) with Old Navy jeans.

So please help me out, readers, for Thursday’s Think Tank. Do you have any suggestions for my chair padding? I would be willing to entertain all ideas, short of going to the stable for hay and, you know…horsehair.

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4 responses »

  1. Sandy I can’t believe I never made it over here last week. Ugh! How bad am I as a linky hostess? I love these squares. I don’t think that white is it though…at least not stark white. Maybe a different kind of neutral color? What do you think. Anything in your house that inspires you…a matching pillow or table runner perhaps?

    • It’s ok, life is busy, I know! I am not getting inspired about the sashing. I keep thinking, maybe I should just decide to make it for a girl, then pick a neutral-y pink. Or a yellow! I will try to pull out some colors and post photos. With all the random colors going on in the quilt, I think I may find an unexpected sash color will unify the whole thing. And how is it Thursday already again?

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