The right tools for the job

At the risk of sounding terribly old, where has this year gone? Those of you who have been (very kindly) following my progress would be forgiven for thinking that I’ve packed in this upholstery lark altogether due to my lack of presence but the year just seems to have run away with me. A bit of a household disaster in the form of a leaking cellar that needed immediate, drastic works has sapped a lot of my upholstery time in the last few months (excuses, excuses!) but things are getting back on track and a couple of commissions have come my way in the last few weeks which have been the gentle nudge I’ve needed.

Cellar Disaster - not much fun taking the whole room back to brick
Cellar Disaster – not much fun taking the whole room back to brick

My post in July talked about the need to clear the decks in order to move on to other projects, namely the lovely Ercol sofa and chair that I’d bought. So the good news is that I completed and sold my little 50’s chair, and while I was sad to see it go (I really did love it) it’s new owner lives in a really fantastic mid-century architect designed home so I think that’s a rather fitting match! The other good news is that I finished the wing back chair and I’m as pleased as punch with the results! Now cast your mind back to when I started it and I wrote this post – the whole idea of doing this piece was as a learning exercise and if the finished article didn’t look quite 100% there was no harm done. Well, while there are certainly some things I’d do differently next time, it turned out far better than I’d hoped, I’ve learned a huge amount and gained a rather stylish armchair for our bedroom in the process. Yet another keeper.

Finished wingback
Finished at last – this project has taught me so much

So what of the Ercol? I set to work on the frame of the armchair with my magic furniture reviver (my kitchen looked like a chemistry lab making this stuff!) and after a couple of days of grubby, fiddly rubbing, sanding and reviving, the frame looked so much cleaner and brighter while still retaining some of the age related marks that give it real character. Full of enthusiasm, I ordered fabric samples and they arrived in all of their bright, felty loveliness. Then I looked at how thick the fabric was and multiplied it by 4, because if I’m making piped box cushions that’s how many layers I’ll have to machine together …….. Then I looked at my domestic sewing machine and simultaneously let out a big sigh.

The cleaned frame and the material that would tip my machine over the edge!
The cleaned frame and the material that would tip my machine over the edge!

The time has come for further investment, and this time it’s in the form of an industrial sewing machine. Try as I might, while the domestic I have is doing a sterling job, it can’t always manage fabrics of medium thickness, let alone the types I’m looking at for this project. A plea went out, and that plea was answered by Tamsin of Curious Upholstery in Harrogate. Tamsin (being way ahead of me in her upholstery career – check out her website) was looking to upgrade her trusty industrial machine for something for really, really tough fabrics and as luck would have it, her old machine is a perfect upgrade for me. Deal done! This little beast will do 2000 stitches a minute and I’ll work really hard to ensure that they’re not through my hand.

If I’ve learned anything in life I’d say that having the right tools for the job has to be one of the most important lessons – I tried to assemble a bedside cabinet at work the other day with a spoon. I didn’t end well. When it comes to upholstery my electric staple gun has made life so much easier, my reviver concoction has worked wonders and my new sewing machine will be just as important. I’ll be able to tackle more jobs now with much more confidence and besides anything it will be far too heavy to throw out of the window if I get annoyed with it (unlike my current machine which has been close to airborne on a few occasions).

So it looks like I have a day trip to Harrogate to look forward to! I’m hiring a van and buying a Yorkie.

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