This is my latest custom order for Bev, a revamp of two old/worn tub chairs.
Since putting out my bright colourful patchwork restorations in the shop, I often get asked questions about the making process. I find this hard to describe, most of the design process happens in my head. Explaining each stage is difficult.
So this time, I took photos along the way to provide a little insight and inspiration!
I love selecting the eclectic range of textiles. This is the fun part.
I juxtapose pattern and colour to achieve an overall harmonious balance.
Start with a few pieces of fabric you really want to include and build on that colour scheme. Chuck in a few random, vibrant pieces to make the collection really pop with excitement and intrigue.
I exclusively use reclaimed materials with a penchant for coffee sacks, flour bags, tea-towels and wool blankets. This gives it the charm and character you expect in a quirky patchwork.
I will be completely honest, during the sewing process it can get very laborious. Each chair is unique and requires a pattern to be created first.
But if you have time, patience and are willing to wrangle your head round cutting a pattern – it is not that difficult to do. If you can sew straight lines on a sewing machine – you can do this!
The first step is to cut a pattern.
You may need to sit and study your chair for a while. Look for panels of fabric, seams and joins. You want to try to replicate these shapes. This will give your cover the best fit, molded for that chair.
For square block shaped chairs the simplest more accurate way is to measure each panel. For curves and sculpted chairs, I use a thin transparent piece of fabric. This grips to the chair (or you can use a few pins). Using a pencil I trace out the shape of each existing chair panel.
Then you make a patchwork piece roughly the size of each panel. Using your fabric pattern, cut out the exact shape (allowing for seams).
Each patchwork panel is made separately. Figuring out how each of these panels fits together is like doing a giant jigsaw puzzle. It can help to pin each panel to the chair to figure out which panel it will connect to.
Each patchwork panel piece is stitched together to form a cover that can slip over the old chair cover.
I say slip, but in reality to obtain a nice taunt look means the pattern needs to be precise.
To fit the final ‘patchwork’ cover over the chair it is usually a tight fit.
Go slow, work the cover over the chair gently.
Trust me it is easier to tighten a cover then it is to loosen, so er on the larger generous fit to begin with. You can always bring a seam in another centimetre.
A bit of unpicking and redesigning is inevitable with these sort of projects. To get the perfect fit, alterations usually need to be made. So you might be fitting and refitting that cover a number of times until you have it right.
The last step is stapling the cover under the base of the chair.
It is a time intensive process but once you fire that last staple – the final reveal makes the hard work melt away.
Patchwork chairs are bold beautiful statement pieces and will no doubt be the subject of many a conversation.
The best part is you can save an otherwise worn/old/damaged chair from being thrown away.