Last day of the course and the finished chair!

It turns out that I didn’t have to hold Richard hostage for much more than 15 minutes in the end. Everything came together nicely although I must admit it felt a bit like a race against time in the last hour, but that was purely my own sense of pressure as Richard continued to give me all the support and guidance I needed.

The last day was fitting the top cover and a few new techniques were collected along the way – polyester ‘dacron’ (a thin polyester padding) was added between the top cover and the calico beneath, something I’ve not done before but a great way to add a subtle softness to the feel and even out any very minor imperfections. I also learned about tack-ties, a phrase I had heard a great deal this week but didn’t understand (I had assumed it was some sort of fastening technique!) which turned out to be the vertical indentations you can get around the side of your chair if your tacks are pulling too hard on the fabric. My chairs so far have been full of them but until now I didn’t know that this wasn’t the done thing – I’m on tack-tie watch from this point forward and thankfully I’ve been shown how to sort them out.

Last thing to do was make my double piping for the trim, a quick lesson on warp, weft and bias-cut gave me a few options before setting to work on the industrial 1960’s sewing machine, which had so much power that it’s a wonder my piping doesn’t also include my wristwatch, a bit of  jumper and the top of my index finger.

So with everything ‘tacked off’, trim applied and bottoming cloth placed underneath as a finishing touch, it was done! Ta-da!!!!!!!!

This is without a doubt, technically the best thing I have been able to create so far. This week has been not only hugely beneficial but incredibly inspiring, cementing the feeling that this is what I want to do and making it an even stronger aspiration and therefore an even stronger possibility. The danger for me now is that I’m so full of enthusiasm that I just want to take that leap of faith, so I know that the coming days will be agony as the more powerful, reasoned and sensible part of my brain fights against my heart. Maybe there’s a compromise in there somewhere?

I really was sad to leave Tresithick this week, not just because of how much it’s developed me but also because of the people I’ve met……

So I just wanted to thank Lindsey (a talented seamstress who makes blinds and curtains, with the same unhealthy obsession in rubbish old cars as me!), Dawn (just starting out on her course and creating some beautiful pieces already), Penny (owner of an antique shop near Plymouth, brilliant upholsterer and spotter of tack-ties!), Richard (excellent tutor, coach and with the patience of a saint), Sonja (ruthlessly organised, helpful and kept us going with lunches of the highest order), Nadine (not pictured but working as Richard’s second in command and always on hand for expert guidance) and Bella the dog (who kept us amused every break time with pouting looks in the hope of cakes and biscuits), for helping to make my week in Cornwall so bloomin’ brilliant.


12 thoughts on “Last day of the course and the finished chair!

    1. Thanks Chantal, I feel really proud of this. Believe it or not, this is Ikea fabric! It’s not the one I was intending to use but everyone agreed that it had the most impact.

  1. Hi Jon!

    What a wonderful account of your/our week at Tresithick!! Gutted that you didn’t mention my argument with the wall on our first day!

    Hope you got home in one piece and didn’t take you to long. You chair looked great, think you have definitely got the taste for it now, just like myself. Hope to see you at Tresithick in the future at some point. Thanks for making the week enjoyable.


    1. Thanks for looking at my blog Dawn, I thought I would save your blushes on the whole ‘wall kissing’ incident so long as you didn’t divulge how much I flinched every time an insect came near me!

      I’ve certainly got the bug and I’m now plotting whether I can fit an enormous workshop (shed!) in our back garden.

      I’ll be booking again for the new year so I’ll ask Sonja who’s on the course before I commit to a date – would be great to see some familiar faces.

      Do keep me up to date with your progress – I want pictures and everything!!

  2. I can see that you have made a massive leap from the New Year – look back at your blog – see how far you have come and acknowledge what a brilliant job you have done! How awesome is that double piping?!!! Super super smart.

    As you plan for any “great leap” I wonder if this blog post I did a while back might help. Before anyone changes jobs I suggest that they need three things: 1 A Plan. 2 A Cushion. 3 A Space.

    Now I’ll resist the temptation to say that you’ve got the cushion bit all covered! (Oh look at that, I didn’t resist the temptation!) but here’s the post that has a bit more detail: It’s about someone who was thinking about taking redundancy to start their own business, but the principles are totally the same. Happy to talk further about any of this. Good luck!

    1. Hi Kate,

      Thanks for your encouragement, you know I’ve not reviewed my early entries in respect of where I am now – perhaps I should to full appreciate my journey!

      It’s funny that you should recommend this particular article as Helga Henry recommended it too when I first started this venture – some very sound advice, even more so now as I’m considering the possibility of part-time in my paid employment to allow more time to develop my upholstery skills and potential business.

  3. Hi Jon, I saw your post on on the Livingetc forum about your Hare chair and so came over to read your blog. I love the chairs you have done, you obviously have a talent and passion for this kind of work.

    I have a beautiful chair, left to me by my dad who passed away last year. It’s similar in style to this one but is in very poor condition. It’s stuffed with horsehair, which is falling out of the torn hessian underneath, and the fabric is worn and torn. I would love to repair and re-upholster it, but wouldn’t know where to start. Do you think it’s something I could attempt? I have looked for somebody to do it nearby (I’m in Warwickshire) but struggled to find anybody.


    1. Hi Charlotte,

      Thanks for your message and the kind words about my recent projects, I’m really enjoying the journey of becoming an upholsterer.

      I’ve been thinking about your inherited chair and how you could tackle it – in a lot of respects it would be really satisfying if you were able to restore it with your own hands. Traditional upholsterers seem to be few and far between so I’m not surprised that you’ve struggled to find one.

      I would say that the ease of restoring it depends on what’s inside – if it’s sprung or just stuffed, and also if it has any stitched edges. These things can all be learned and I could recommend some good books. Of course, you’d have to buy some tools too – webbing stretcher, tack hammer etc to do an authentic job. Do you think you would do other projects if you invested in these things? I’m sure you’d love it!

      I’d be really happy to help in any way I can – I’m in Stourbridge, west mids so not a million miles away.

      1. Hi Jon,

        Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. I agree that I would get a lot of satisfaction from restoring the chair myself, and would love to if I could do it without fear of ruining it. I have added some photo’s of the actual chair to my Flickr account so you can see for yourself what it’s made up of.

        I’d be happy to invest in a few books and tools to make it possible, because I think it would still work out cheaper than paying somebody to do it for me. And assuming I was any good, would use them again. I much prefer old furniture to new.

        Any help and advice is very gratefully received.

      2. Hi Charlotte,

        What a great chair! I love the shape and it could carry a number of different fabrics really well – have you considered what kind of style you’d like to go for?

        With my limited knowledge, I would say from the pictures that the sprung base looks to be in good order – this means that you could renew the fillings and top cover and you’ll need less tools. In one of my early posts I have a link to a couple of good books that have been invaluable for me, So I would recommend these for you too – they explain a lot of the basic principles and techniques really well a good starting point would be to strip the chair down making a note of what’s inside and how it’s been put together – taking photos at each stage is even better. To strip the chair you can use a chisel and a wooden mallet for removing the tacks, some form of pliers or pincers would be handy as well as a staple remover just in case.

        Buying materials will be the next thinly, I use for my stuff – the books give good advice on what to buy.

        I’m really happy for you to drop me a line as you progress if you want to chat it through, as you know I’m still learning but I’m sure between us we can get that chair looking wonderful!

        Have fun!

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