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Upholstery Workshop

Dear Kay,
I am beginning to think that my Alice Starmore Fair Isle chair slipcover idea is maybe not so great. I mean, I like a nice Fair Isle chair slipcover as much as the next person. But given the engineering required to get it to fit over my office chair (I’m seeing a kind of Kitchener-stitched steek-based flap flange with I-cord somehow involved), I have decided to move on to upholstery on a smaller, two-dimensional scale.
Chair pads. I need chair pads. In my kitchen I have six chairs which are in constant jeopardy of Play-Doh, maple syrup, mustard, applesauce–it’s a regular Spray n Wash commercial in there. Short of replacing my chairs with a long, mean, Oliver Twist-looking bench, I need some kind of kidproof cover for those poor old chairs.
It’s not a cushion I need: the chairs are upholstered. It’s a cover. Something tough yet cheerful, like my second grade teacher Mrs. Champion. On a trip to Angel Hair Yarn Co., I pondered a pair of felted slippers: thick, impenetrable felt. Syrup-proof felt. I thought, what if I could cover my precious upholstered chair seats with felt? What if I used colors that appeared in the Play-Doh shade card? What if I had the chance to mess around with size 11 needles? I could give my Starmore-glazed eyeballs a rest AND actually complete something for a change.
And what if I used yarn that came from the Land o’ Kay? Lamb’s Pride Bulky, made with pride in Nebraska. Why, it would be poetic! And Lamb’s Pride is a member of the Felting Yarn Hall of Fame. It doesn’t get any better than this.
I’m off to the races at this point.
chairseats1.jpg
I have no idea whether this will work. I don’t know if my idea of a trapezoid is what my washing machine will think is a trapezoid. I don’t know how I’m going to hook the pad to the chair. I feel so . . . patternless. Wheeeeeeeeee!
In this unfettered, wanton state, I am desperate for advice and cautionary felting tales.
Love,
Ann

17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Ann – I love your chairs! They’re classic, clean and styling.
    To attach the covers, though… have you thought of making a mini-chair skirt? Kinda like a box top for the seat, then attaching straps that hold it across the bottom? Might work.

  2. Well, they do say you should knit and felt a swatch beforehand so that you know the proportions it will felt in – because length and width no not shrink in the same proportions.
    Seeing as you’ve already started…. if it ends up the wrong shape, since it’s felt, you could always cut it.

  3. I do know that you can CUT pieces after they are felted soooo if you make something like a chair cover too large you can always cut it down to size. Also, have you thought about popping off the fabric covered portion of the chair and attaching the felted pieces taunt with a staple gun underneath and then placing them back on the chair. Something very “trading spaces” don’t you think??

  4. Ummm, not sure that felt is syrup-proof. Sure a trip to the local Linens&Things or whatsit store for some slipcovers that you could spray with Teflon or something isn’t what you want?
    Otherwise, looking very pretty, but I am scared.
    And keep knitting on Keava – no slacking off missy!

  5. Cautionary felting moral numero uno: put the item(s) to be felted in a pillowcase so your washer’s filter doesn’t suffer egregious abuse.
    I did crocheted circles using Blue Sky Alpaca’s free pattern, but your chairs look like they need trapezoidal coverage.
    Cautionary felting moral B: it’s absolutely addictive and you may suffer from Keava amnesia for a few weeks (or months).
    Agitate on! Cristina

  6. I’m very much a “dive in and try it, if it doesn’t work you can always rip it out” kind of knitter. I am, therefore, also a “constantly ripping stuff out” kind of knitter. But, uh, once it’s felted….ain’t no ripping going on. But this also has a Keava-remedy “primal scream” kind of feel to it…like “give me big needles and one color at a time, or give me death!”
    But, hey, I’m also a “willing to learn from the experimentation of others” kind of knitter, so I can’t wait to see if it works!

  7. Melissa–I was indeed thinking about some kind of vertical flange coming down, a three-inch-deep panel dropping off each edge. I was thinking it would look like a snug little boxtop, just as you say. But then I got nervous about how it would felt, what with two different directions of fabric and all. Kay was working on some kind of felted tray thingie that involved vertical edges; maybe she’ll chime in.
    Oh, Krista Jo, I knew I should have swatched this first. But it’s just as Mary B says–I’m cheating on Keava with this chunky, easy yarn, and damn the consequences!
    Kimberly–By the time I’m done with this, I may conclude that, well, sticky upholstery is kind of authentic. I may try your Trading Spaces idea, if the felting isn’t too thick. The cushions are a pretty snug fit at the moment. And when all else fails, I’ll just trim to fit. Or turn this whole thing into a Booga bag or some slippers.
    Angela. I reckon nothing in this world is really maple syrup-proof. My hope was only that the maple syrup would make it only through the topmost layer of the felt. Euw. I’m grossing myself out. No more syrup in this house.
    Cristina–You’ve done chair seats???? Help! Did you attach them to your chairs? Did you felt them? Details, please!

  8. Ann, why don’t you try something like these chair covers: http://www.homevisions.com/hvprod/page2.asp?Pid=354
    You needn’t buy, but could easily make them yourself. A well-washable fabric would take care of the mess problem too.

  9. you probably have already seen them, but did you ever see the seat covers in the book weekend knitting? they’re gorgeous bright colors and look like they would fit on those chairs!!
    I ABSOLUTLEY LOVE THAT COUCH, I HOPE YOU DON’T PLAN ON COVERING THAT!!

  10. Ooh, nifty! Can’t wait to see how it comes out.

  11. hmm… i think felt covers might get pretty fuzzy, pretty fast. i might use a very densely knit fabric instead.

  12. On those home shows they always seem to whip those seat bottoms off and staple gun everything…or hot glue?? Love the colors.

  13. So… I admit I’d be likely to knit and felt the flange separately, then use my handy-dandy sewing machine to stitch them up…
    I don’t think taking out the seat and recovering them with the felt is a good idea – the felted materia is likely going to be _way_ too thick for the seat to sit snugly in the frame when attached, and if you want it easily removable, staples are not the way to go.

  14. Yes, Ann, I did chair pads! Round, crocheted and then felted. I made i-cord ties to attach them to the spindles on the back of the chair, so they flip a bit in front, but we’ve all mastered the technique of sitting down in them so that the gluteus angles in for a landing to keep the thing flat. I guess I could do ties to secure them to the front legs… Alas, they’re Lopi, so they’re going into hibernation for the summer and we’re back to the IKEA $2.99 specials.
    Good luck with your trapezoids, Cristina

  15. I have three little ones, and know all about incredibly nasty table chairs. I thought about knitting a cover, but decided instead to buy some fabulous crushed zebra print velvet off eBay. Mine need a new cushion AND upholstery, BUT, the point is that I have decided that after I DO get around to actually recovering them, I am going to buy some nice, thick, pliable plastic to put right over the top. I agree it is less than cool, but so are gross, stained, sticky seats. My girls aren’t likely to take scissors or knives to it, so I think I’ll be OK. Good luck!

  16. PS- I LOVE the colors. Those are the colors I used, in the worsted weight, to make my marsupial tote out of the StitchnB book. I love it. I think the orange and red look amazing together, and even after they are felted, they retain their cheery, warm feel.

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