Tuesday November 14, 2006

My maternal grandmother died in 1969.  I was only twelve.  She left only two children, my mom and my Uncle Bob.  Uncle Bob was still living on the family farm and had been a bi-vocational farmer since my grandfather’s death several years earlier.  Since Uncle Bob was still living in the family home, my mom only asked for a very few things that had belonged to her parents.  One of the things she asked for was an unmatched pair of oak rockers that had been in her parents home when she was a girl.

Uncle Bob couldn’t even remember them, but he and my dad wandered out to the barn and brought them in.  At some point in time Uncle Bob had taken out the broken seats and replaced them with the old seats from a car!  It was in that condition that my mom brought them to her home in California from my grandmother’s home in Missouri.  Shortly after bringing them home, she had them professionally redone – the wood was refinished, the seats were rebuilt and the chairs were reupholstered.  They were gorgeous and remained in my mom’s living room until her death in 1993.  That’s when they came to live with me.

After surviving about 24 years in my mom’s house, and then another 13 here in my home, the upholstery was shot.  One of the chair’s seats was so badly broken down that it really wasn’t even usable.  Having the chairs professionally recovered was not an option.  Last summer, my thirteen year old and I decided to tackle one of the chairs.  I used a 40% off Jo-Ann coupon for the foam, and bought the fabric on a 40% off home decorater fabric sale.  I went back with a second 40% off coupon a couple of weeks later and bought the trim.

My son and I did okay, but there were some things that we couldn’t do (strength-wise) or didn’t think to do.  That first chair is covered, but I’ve never been thrilled with it.  I was proud of my son’s willingness to help because I could never have done it without him, but I wasn’t sure where we’d gone wrong.

Yesterday, Copper spent a rainy afternoon “helping” me recover the second chair.  I gotta be honest, he really did the lion’s share of the work.  I helped just a little here and there and took a lot of pictures!  Since this second chair turned out so much better than the one my son and I did, I thought I’d show you how it was done.

We brought the chair into the kitchen so that we wouldn’t get in Dani’s way.  This is important because she was blessing us greatly by cleaning the carpet in our bedroom!  I had already removed the old upholstery, and this is just the old burlap cover over the springs.  You can see where the burlap has been torn from the broken springs popping through.

Copper pried off the wood strips that held the burlap in place, and then we removed all of the old burlap.  Ugh, what a dusty, dirty mess that was!!  I can’t believe how much dust had accumulated inside that chair in the last 30+ years.





Removing the old burlap exposed the springs.  To my surprise, there was only one broken spring.  Of course, it was right in the center of the seat!!  Not to be discouraged, Copper brought in some twine and retied the springs that had broken their ties, and tied the broken spring in such a way that it is now held into place and won’t break back through the upholstery.  The tieing also reinforced that part of the seat so that it should remain stable.

Once the springs were retied, we put a new layer of burlap over the springs.  This was stapled into place on the frame, and then the wood strips were put back on to secure it tightly.




Next we needed to cut the big square of foam to fit.  We traced the front curve of the chair directly onto the foam.  Then Copper measured, remeasured and measured again.  As he called out measurements, I wrote them with a Sharpie pen onto the foam.  When he was done, he used the measurements to draw the shape of the seat onto the foam, carefully marking for the arms and wood supports at the rear of the seat.   This picture shows what the foam looked like before cutting.  You will notice that there are two outside lines in this picture.  Copper realized just before we cut the foam that we were measuring assuming a flat surface, and in reality, the seat had a bit of a curve to it from the springs.  He added a bit all the way around to compensate for the curve of the seat.

Now, I would have had no idea how to cut a piece of foam like this, but the gals at Jo-Ann used an electric knife to cut the piece when I bought it.  So,  I brought out our trusty electric knife.  This faithful appliance was a wedding gift from Copper’s paternal grandparents when we were married in 1978!  It’s carved innumerable turkeys, hams and roasts, and now it has also cut foam!   After cutting the foam shape to fit, we found that there were a couple of places where the cushion was still a bit too large.  Copper flipped the chair upside down, and I used the edges of the chair as a guide to trace along the cushion where we needed to cut a bit more off.  Once the foam was trimmed, we were ready to put on the fabric.

About this time, my camera battery died, so I have no pictures to show the actual covering of the chair.  Drats!  I had already cut a piece of fabric using the piece I had removed as a pattern.  Unfortunately, it was just not quite large enough to fit over the extra thick piece of foam I bought.  Fortunately, home decorating fabric is very wide and I’d bought a bit extra to make pillows.

We started with a piece of fabric much larger than the size of the seat.  Since I’d chosen a checked fabric, we needed to be careful to keep the fabric as squared as possible with the frame of the chair.  Needing a starting spot, we checked one more time for squareness of the fabric, and began stapling the fabric to the chair across the back.  I pulled the fabric straight and taut while Copper stapled, being very careful to follow the line where the staples had been removed from the old cover.

We then pulled the fabric straight and taut and placed three or four staples at the center front, and then did the same at the center of each side.  We were satisfied with the squareness of the fabric on the frame, so we simply started on one side and Copper stapled as I pulled the fabric taut and straight.  We worked our way around the chair in the same manner.   As we approached a corner, we straightened the fabric out and then cut into the corner at an angle to fit around the uprights.  We folded the raw edges under and then secured those with staples as well.

In the process my arm got pinched two or three times with the handle of the staple gun, and poor Copper pinched the blister on the finger he’d burned earlier in the day!  We survived, though, and about 2 1/2 hours after starting, the chair was almost done.  We put the chair back into our bedroom and cleaned up for dinner.

This afternoon, after buying some Tacky Glue in town, I sat down and began to apply the trim to both chairs.  I cut each strip to fit, applied a bead of glue down the center of the trim, and then carefully applied it to the chair.  I worked quickly and carefully to get the staples covered and to keep the trim as straight as possible.  The chair I’m working on the picture is the one my son and I covered last summer.  You can see how our inexperience has caused the fabric to not fit very well on the back of the chair after a few month’s of use.  I am confident that the way Copper took care of tying the springs and replacing the burlap (steps my son and I did not do) will keep this from happening to the second chair.

And here they are, all finished and ready for an afternoon chat with my husband or a quiet reading time.  Copper built the faux fireplace for me last spring, and I am glad to finally have the chairs finished and this wall looking just as I’d hoped it would.  This area in our bedroom is one of my favorite spots to read in the afternoon.  By the way, it looks like the knitted monogram pillow I recently finished has found its permanent home here in one of the rockers!

God bless you as you look well to the ways of your household!
Proverbs 31:27

Remember to pray for Karen!

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13 comments to Tuesday November 14, 2006

  • Woohoo! They look so much different! Hopefully they still have the same squeaks and groans?

  • Oh, they look incredible!! I love the fabric and trim and what a lovely reading spot you have! It looks like the perfect home for your new pillow too!

  • Mrs. Cooper, your rockers turned out beautiful. Thank you for walking us through the proccess. Clarice

  •   I love the cozy pink rocker with the lampstand in the kitchen 😉

  • Well you know Dani, that’s because she’s such a lady of leisure, she needs to sit and rock as she stirs something for dinner

  • Hello everyone – The cozy pink rocker in the kitchen my daughters are, um, discussing, is visible in one of the pictures above.  It was there because as I mentioned, my daughter was blessing us by cleaning carpets.  Not only did she clean our bedroom carpet, she also cleaned the hall, her own room and my parlor (where the pink chair belongs). 

    Yes, girls, I am indeed quite the lady of leisure.  In fact, I’m having Dad put wheels on that “cozy pink rocker” so that I can have my children push me from room to room as I execute all of my leisurely activities.  😆

  • 😆 While eating bon-bons I assume?

  • Bon bons?  Why, of course, my dear Corin.  And peeled grapes as well.  While being fanned with palm fronds by my sons.

  • Great job! I recovered some hand me down kitchen chairs once. It was quite a learning experience for me. I will be tackling a new set of chairs after the holidays.


  • What a wonderful job! Thank you for the step-by-step instructions, too. You’re new reading corner looks so inviting, and the great job you did on the pillow must be very rewarding!

  •   Yes, I often push mom around in said chair while she dusts the furniture.  Meanwhile Lukentato waves palm fronds to keep her cool, and Vilhelm carries a tray with fresh lemonade and bon bons.

     Hmmm… it seems there are no tongue in cheek smileys so a wink will have to do! :wink::fun::spinning:

  • I’ve always had a fondness for rocking chairs…I remember my own dear “Gram” in her kitchen sitting by the stove in her rocking chair…thanks for sharing your pictures of the lovely rockers!