Quiet Friday: Linen Chair Seats

This week I crossed something off my Weaving Bucket List: Use handwoven fabric to upholster chairs. Remember the color-and-weave linen fabric? It’s part of my collection of fabrics designed specifically for our Texas hill country home. I covered four barstool seats with this linen upholstery fabric!

Handwoven linen upholstery fabric.

Weaving the fabric is the easy part. But I’m a newbie at upholstering. As such, using my “precious” handwoven cloth is unnerving. But I was fortunate enough to receive terrific advice and encouragement from friends, including one who conferred on my behalf with professional upholsterers she knows. And another friend generously loaned her power staple gun to me. I also referred to a book (Matthew Haly’s Book of Upholstery, by Matthew Haly) that I picked up a few years ago in hopes that I might someday reach this item on my bucket list.

Testing handwoven fabric for chair seats.

Trying out handwoven fabric for chair seats.

Removing staples, to re-cover the seat.

Covering seats with batting and muslin.

Reupholstering chair seats. Muslin first.

Handwoven linen upholstery fabric. Covering chair seats.

Handwoven linen upholstery for chair seats.

Backing the upholstered chair seats. Handwoven upholstery.

Upholstery backing in place. Handwoven upholstery project.

Finished handwoven linen chair seat! Ta da!

Underside of re-covered chair seats.

Four newly upholstered chair seats. Handwoven Upholstery.

Handwoven linen upholstery. Newly covered chair seats.

Newly covered chair seats. Handwoven Linen!

I count this as practice and a first step of experience. Eventually, I may work up the courage to reupholster our eight dining room chairs. Hmm… the thought of getting to design the fabric makes that challenge rather appealing.

May you cross something off your bucket list.

Your amateur upholsterer,
Karen

32 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    They look fantastic, Karen!

  • Shirley Haeny says:

    You did a great job. I`m sure your dining room chairs will turn out just as good.

    • Karen says:

      Good morning, Shirley, I appreciate the encouragement! The dining room chairs will have to get in line. I have a few other projects in mind before I tackle more chairs.

      Thanks!
      Karen

  • Betsy says:

    Awesome! Have you put a Scotch Guard on the fabric. I would be afraid to use the chairs. lol

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, I hear you! As a matter of fact, we have Scotchguard on our list for errands this morning, to treat the seats before we install them on the chairs.

      And little children will sit on a towel until I get some child covers made for the seats.

      And when the chairs become too stained and worn, I’ll make some more fabric and recover the seats. 🙂

      Karen

  • From your photos, it looks like you were given good advice. It is nice that you had flat seat bottoms to work with first. If you ever work with curved bottoms, make sure you staple the front and back in the middle first and then work out toward the sides. Sides are next from the center towards the corners. Corners are last, just as you did with your seats.

    For a first timer, they turned out beautifully. Start planning fabric for those dining room chairs!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jenny, Sounds like you are another person I can come to for advice! Thanks for the tip; that makes a lot of sense. I need all the help I can get.

      I’m going to start collecting fabric ideas for the dining room chairs. I already know the main colors I want to include.

      Thanks!
      Karen

  • Sandy says:

    Beautifully done, Karen! Congratulations on your “new” stools!

  • Rachel says:

    You inspire me – thank you. I have upholstered chairs but planning fabric for a stool my husband stained for me years ago – I can do this through your inspiring blog. God bless your fingers and mind as you share your talent.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Rachel, What a worthy project you have in mind! That will make your stool all that much more special.

      Blessings to you,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    One bite of elephant, and before you know it…. The project is complete. Great job.

  • Karen says:

    Very “clean” and elegant. That fabric would fit with classic to contemporary style. They look lovely!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, We’re trying to develop a hint of Arts and Crafts style in this home, with a contemporary touch. Hopefully, this works with that! I like hearing how you see it.

      Thanks!
      Karen

  • Michele says:

    Whoa, that’s a lot of work. You did a fabulous job. They look perfect. Congratulations.

  • Joanna says:

    Oh wow! Perfect!

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    Karen
    They look wonderful. I just love them. I’m so proud of you!
    Liberty

  • D’Anne says:

    Wonderful job, Karen! You’re braver than I am. I wove the fabric and had the chairs covered professionally.

    • Karen says:

      Hi D’Anne, That was a wise move to have your chairs covered professionally. This seemed like a “safe” project to see if I could do it myself. I’m sure your chairs are beautiful!

      Karen

  • Cindie says:

    Those turned out incredible. I’m going to need new seat cushions, just the kind you tie on, I might have to give thought to weaving the fabric for those.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindie, I hope you do weave your fabric for new seat cushions. That’s one of the perks of being a handweaver. We can make our own fabric! 🙂

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Mary says:

    What fun! The chairs look great! I encourage you to continue to create cloth for upholstery! Yay!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Mary, Thanks for the prompting. It makes a lot of sense to weave cloth for upholstery. I think I will do more of it!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Kay Larson says:

    They look Fantastic! Maybe one day I will have the courage to weave the fabric and then redo our barstools and dining chairs.

  • Ruth says:

    Nothing amature about this project! You are a professional and so talented. Lovely, lovely work. Blessings

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth, You’re so sweet! I’m honored that you think so highly of my work. As the maker, I see loads of room for improvement, but I’ll take your kind compliment.

      I am blessed, indeed, to get to weave and to grow in these endeavors.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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Quiet Friday: Linen Upholstery Fabric

Do you dream of making upholstery fabric? I do. There are four chair seats at our Texas hill country home that I want to re-cover. Now I have custom upholstery fabric!

Linen on the cloth beam.

Linen upholstery fabric on the loom.

Cutting off never loses its excitement! I have one long piece of yardage, with no separations or divisions.

Cutting off! Linen upholstery fabric.

Cutting off! Linen.

New linen fabric.

Light through the linen fabric. Cutting off!

Tie-on bar as linen fabric is unrolled.

Just off the loom, the hefty linen fabric (8/2 linen, warp and weft) is stiff and unyielding. Will this window-screen material make suitable upholstery that’s soft enough to sit on? Yet, even in this state, the linen beckons and intrigues.

Unwashed new linen fabric.

First, the edges are serged. I check for weaving errors, finding none. There are spliced warp ends in five places, which are trimmed.

Unwashed new linen fabric.

I make a large tube by basting the two ends of the yardage together, to reduce twisting in the wash. The washing machine (top loader) works as a soaking tub first. The linen slowly soaks up water in the tub, relaxing there for an hour or two. Then it’s time to wash and dry. The first time, I omit the spin cycle and remove it from the dryer while still damp, to prevent permanent creasing.

New handwoven linen fabric just washed.

New handwoven linen fabric just washed.

And then, I wash and dry the yardage again.

New handwoven fabric after second wash.

Custom handwoven linen upholstery fabric!

Talk about softening up! Oh, I wish you could be here to handle it with me! This is dreamy linen fabric, perfect for sitting.

Just woven custom linen upholstery fabric.

May your fabric dreams come true.

Happy weaving,
Karen

24 Comments

  • Betsy says:

    What a great project! What sett did you use and how much shrinkage did you get with washing and drying. I have some dining room chairs that I want to recover. Your project may be the “kick” that I need to go from dreaming to doing.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, So I’m not the only one who thinks of weaving fabric to recover chairs…
      The sett is 15 epi. I haven’t done the final measuring yet. I’ll report back later today with the shrinkage after I’ve done that.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

    • Karen says:

      Betsy, I have the shrinkage figures for you.

      I had 12% shrinkage in width and about 15% shrinkage in length. The fabric was washed in warm water and dried on a medium setting.

      Karen

      • Betsy says:

        Karen
        Thank you for the info. That will help in my planning. I was just looking at a book by Ann Sutton called Color and Weave Design that has handreds of designs. They are all in black and white yarn and the book is arranged like pages of gamps.

        Betsy

        • Karen says:

          Betsy, Sounds like a fascinating book. I’ll have to look that up.

          Send me a picture (Karen @ warpedforgood . com) when you get something going. I’d enjoy seeing what you come up with.

          Karen

          • Betsy says:

            Karen
            My current project is to make a jacket to through on on summer evenings. I’ve just wound a warp with 3/2 cotton for sampling. I’ll move on to upholstery fabric after I finish the jacket.
            Betsy

  • Shari says:

    Absolutely lovely! It looks like two colors. What colors did you use. Looks like grey or brown. What’s the weave structure? 4 or 8? Absolutely lovely!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Shari, This is 8/2 line linen, unbleached and golden bleached. The look of natural linen is pleasing! Four shaft plain weave, with color and weave effect. Only two treadles! This was relatively fast and easy weaving.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Bev says:

    Love linen (having learned to spin on it decades ago) I really need to get my looms going. Thanks to your examples and encouragement.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Bev, I admire anyone who can spin, especially linen! I’m happy to hear that you’re feeling prompted to get weaving looms going. That makes me smile!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Kathryn says:

    This is so beautiful Karen! I have a padded piano bench that was my mothers that I have been wanting to recover and this is the inspiration that I needed to get going.

    I’ll take any opportunity to work with linen and I just love the combination of unbleached and golden. I’m wondering if a shadow and weave pattern would also work with this color combination of linen. The pattern might be more subtle, but could be interesting!

    Kathryn

    • Karen says:

      Kathryn, How lovely to weave fabric for your piano bench! I think this weight linen will work well for seat and piano bench covers.
      The unbleached and golden linen give only a subtle pattern, so if you want the pattern to be more noticeable, you’d want higher contrast in the colors. I don’t have experience with shadow weave, so I’m probably not the best one to ask about that.

      I’d love to see what you come up with!

      And, yay!, another weaving upholstery dreamer…

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Janet H says:

    Karen,
    Your fabric came out beautifully (LOVE it)–I do so want to touch it! Do you have to do any special handling while weaving with linen (I have no experience with linen)? And how do you handle the fabric from the washer without using the spin cycle? Isn’t it heavy and dripping with water?

    • Karen says:

      Janet, Linen works best with a little extra care, but I find it a special pleasure to weave with linen. I have a sidebar with tips for linen in my Dice Weave Pillows project in Jan/Feb 2016 Handwoven.

      Generally, you want good, even tension across the warp as you beam the warp. Avoid abrasion as much as possible, for which a temple is helpful. And, sometimes a little moisture will help if you have warp ends breaking.

      Near the end of the rinse cycle I stand at the washing machine and listen for the water to drain out. When it sounds like the last little bit has drained and the spin has started, I stop the machine. If there is still too much water in the fabric at that point, I even out the yardage, untwisting and unfolding it as much as possible and then turn it on and let it just barely spin. That gets enough water out so it’s not dripping wet, and I can to move it to the dryer.

      For smaller pieces, like towels, I don’t mind if they are wet and dripping. I roll them in dry towels to remove moisture before putting them in the dryer, or laying them flat to dry.

      By the way, this piece of linen yardage is heavy even when dry. When I first pulled it out of the washer it was really heavy!

      Thanks for asking,
      Karen

  • Libby says:

    Hi Karen,
    This is just beautiful! What a good idea to cover your chairs, I’ve done that many times over the years, but yours will be so nice. I can’t wait to see them done!!
    Libby

  • Hi Karen,
    In 1991 my mother-in-law was going through her attic and handed me some yardage that her mother wove on a loom made by her father. It was of pearl cotton with one in a birds eye weave of red and cream. I put them away because the fabrics had no purpose in my house hold with young children

    When we put together a weekend home I used one of the pieces to cover second hand dining room chairs. The result proves the rule to use beautiful things.

    Your beautiful newly covered chairs will give you years of enjoyment.
    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, Oh how wonderful! Thanks for sharing your experience. That’s great that you were able to put that special fabric to good use.

      I look forward to putting these chair seats together and sharing my enjoyment of them with my family and friends. It’s a great way to be able to see and feel the handwoven fabric in daily living.

      Thanks for your sweet encouragement,
      Karen

  • Doris says:

    Hi Karen
    You have woven a very wonderful fabric, that certainly gives great chairs
    Kind regards
    Doris

  • Elisabeth says:

    This fabric is gorgeous! Such a pleasant weight linen and the beautiful suble texture and pattern really adds to its beauty!
    I strongly believe that surrounding ourselves with things made with passion and love, and out of quality materials do something to us. I am convinced that the qualities put into it by the maker follow the item and is sensed by the user. It is so satisfying to touch, use, and take care of things like these. And they age so beautifully 🙂
    Thank you for so generously sharing your passion!

    Sent from my iPhone

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, You have a way with words. I enjoy hearing your thoughts—so rich and insightful. I agree, it is immensely satisfying to surround ourselves with beautiful things that are made by hand, with love mixed in.

      Happy weaving, friend,
      Karen

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Anticipation in the Final Stretch!

I can see the end of the warp! Finishing is in sight. And then, my daughter phones, “Mom! I’m headed to the hospital. This baby is ready!” Weaving suddenly becomes far less important… That was two weeks ago, and little Ari was born. Now, back at the loom, I’ll cross the finish line on this linen upholstery fabric before the day is over.

End of warp is near.

End of warp is seen on the back tie-on bar as it makes its final round on the warp beam.

Cotton double weave baby blanket covers newborn grandson.

Double weave cotton baby blanket covers baby Ari as he peacefully sleeps.

When the back tie-on bar becomes visible, it’s the beginning of the end. And then, the moment the back tie-on bar comes over the back beam I celebrate. It’s the final stretch!

Linen color-and-weave upholstery fabric.

Linen color-and-weave upholstery fabric.

Over the back beam, and lease sticks are removed.

Lease sticks are untied and removed after the back tie-on bar comes over the back beam. Two pairs of lease sticks were used with this striped warp.

We are participants in a great mystery! Christ in us. For those unfamiliar with the tools and methods of handweaving, it’s a mystery how threads can become cloth. But the handweaver knows. The great mystery of God is that Christ may dwell in us. For those who receive him, the peace of Christ rules within. His presence is woven in.

Short distance left to weave this linen fabric!

Short distance left to finish weaving this linen fabric.

The anticipation of finished cloth is nothing in relation to the anticipation of a new baby in the family. Imagine the anticipation of our holy Father to see the glorious threads of Christ woven in us.

May you participate in the mystery.

Happy weaving,
Karen

16 Comments

  • Linda Cornell says:

    Beautiful weaving, beautiful baby, beautiful Savior!

    Congratulations!

    God bless you and your family.

    Linda Cornell

  • Kay Larson says:

    Thank you for your blog. I love reading it each day with my breakfast. What a beautiful baby. Congratulations. You double weave blanket is lovely. What yarn did you use if I may ask? Many blessings to you and your family. God’s peace.
    Kay

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kay, It’s an honor to think of sharing breakfast time with you!
      The double weave blanket is 8/2 cotton, warp and weft. The sett was 5 ends per cm (about 12 epi), each layer, which is a loose sett, almost gauzy.

      All the best blessings,
      Karen

  • Linda Adamson says:

    Congrats on the beautiful grandson! Enjoy your blog.
    Linda

  • Annie says:

    Congratulations to you and your family on Ari’s arrival! Babies bring their own welcome.

  • Anonymous says:

    Wow, how can you think about anything else but Ari!!! What a beautiful boy! What a blessing for you and your family!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Liberty, I don’t live in the same city as Ari, otherwise I would be cooing over him instead of sitting at the loom. 🙂 He is a good-lookin’ baby boy, that’s for sure. I’m pretty biased, as I should be.

      Thanks for sharing your sentiments!
      Karen

  • Betty A Van Horn says:

    WOW too cute Karen, what a joy! Congratulations. Love that God sees each new Christian with the same joy. I love the blanket around Ari.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betty, Yes, what a wonderful thought… that God welcomes each trust-er in Jesus as a new family member.
      The blanket suits Ari pretty well.

      Love,
      Karen

  • Cynthi says:

    I love all your pics including that cute baby. Makes you want to kiss those cheeks off.

  • tsw says:

    Congratulations to your family on the new arrival!
    I noticed the double lease sticks and was wondering why you used them double. I’ve never seen that before. Is there an advantage? Special circumstance that benefits from them? Thanks in advance.

    Theo

    • Karen says:

      Hi Theo, Thanks! Good eye to notice the double lease sticks. I mention the subject in this post: Simpler Warp Stripes. Basically, I had two separate warp chains, each with their own lease sticks, in order to put narrow stripes on the loom without having to cut and tie all the color changes while winding the warp.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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What the Shadow Reveals

Sometimes things do not go as you hope or expect. I thought this color-and-weave effect would be more distinct. Yes, I chose low-contrast colors. I wanted the pattern to be subtle. But this may be too subtle. I have to use my imagination to see anything other than a faint checked pattern. It’s not a complaint. It’s just not how I thought it was supposed to be.

Linen on the loom.

All 8/2 linen. Stripes in the warp and stripes in the weft. I intended more than a simple check pattern.

I am taking pictures from all different angles, thinking the camera lens might show more than I can see with my eye.

Warp and weft stripes in linen.

Detail of warp and weft stripes. A simple, yet pleasing pattern.

Weaving 8/2 linen upholstery fabric.

Crosswise view.

Linen upholstery fabric on the loom.

View at an angle. No significant difference.

And, to my great surprise, there it is! The pattern I am hoping for shows up when I snap a photo of the underside. What happened? It’s all in the lighting. In this case, I need shadows to reveal the pattern in the weave.

Color-and-weave effects in linen upholstery fabric.

Pattern shows up underneath.

Color-and-weave patterns in linen.

Same fabric, different look. This is what I intended all along. Hidden in the shadows.

Shadow reveals the pattern in this linen color and weave.

To test my hypothesis about the shadows, I cup my hand over the fabric. Where a shadow is formed the pattern is revealed.

Endure. When you walk through shadows of life, the patterns that are woven in you become evident. If you depend on the Lord’s might to walk through and endure day-by-day challenges, that same power will be with you when you walk into a major shadow and need endurance the most. In fact, it is in that shadow that the image of Christ is most clearly seen in you.

With you,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Trick of the light! I love this.

  • cuyler says:

    Amazing! Thanks for the excellent photos. That really helps understand your point, and view.

  • Elisabeth says:

    It is when walking through the shadows of life we learn to see things in depth, it is almort like you experience life without a filter…it is raw, real, painful, yet beautiful at the same time… beauiful in the presense of wonder. Your pictures so well illustrate the beauty present in the shadows, as well as a great reminder not to fear the difficult times! Thank you!

    • Karen says:

      Elisabeth, yes, beauty can be found in the shadows. It’s not easy to remember that when you’re going through a hard time.

      Thanks for your words of wisdom,
      Karen

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Simpler Warp Stripes

Narrow stripes on the warp beam are stunning. But to wind a warp like that means frequently cutting threads and tying knots. Right? …not necessarily! You don’t have to wind a warp with stripes in order to have a striped warp on the loom. I didn’t know that. I thought that tying knots is the price you pay to get warp stripes. Winding this warp was a breeze! The secret? A separate warp chain and set of lease sticks for each color. I combined the threads, keeping them in proper order, as I put them on the back tie-on bar. That part was a little tricky, but will only get easier with practice.

Stripes on the warp beam are so enticing! Linen.

Unbleached and golden bleached linen pair up for this striped warp.

Knowledge. Knowledge gives us freedom to do things in a new way. This is why prayer is effective. Not praying for so-and-so to change, but asking that they may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will. And then, God takes it from there. Your prayer may be what it takes to initiate a new outlook on life for someone else. Much like finding a different way to put stripes on the loom.

May you find a new way to simplify.

Happy weaving,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Karen says:

    Beautiful!
    Question: So…2 warps, one color on each set of lease sticks. You held them and spread the correct number of threads for each stripe? Sliding the remainder of the warp over til the next counted out stripe…and kept them on the 2 setts of lease sticks, but ended up with those lease sticks held together and tied on to the back rod together?

    Sounds like a lot of good possibility. Thank you!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, Yes, that’s close to what I did. Alice-Ann’s comment below mentions putting dowels the ends of the warp chains. I did that, except I used warping slats because they were handy.

      There is great possibility with this. I am certainly going to explore it more on future projects!

      Thanks for starting a conversation,
      Karen

  • Marcia Cooke says:

    I’ve avoided warp stripes like the plague, although I’ve wound them at Vavstuga. Still can’t wrap my brain around your method, though I’ve done it on the rigid heddle. Must ponder 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Marcia, I’ve done it twice, now, so I think I can do it again with more confidence. I will bring any new insights or procedures here.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Alice-Ann Ferderber says:

    OK, I followed some of that and think I see it the way Karen does. But I think maybe the lease sticks are place in the usual positions, not wound on? Add x amount of one color off the end of the warp chain and slip them on the back bar, get the amount of color #2 from warp chain #2 and slip them off that end of warp and onto the back bar. Correct? I think I might place a dowel in the ends of each chain just to keep them straight instead of having to reach all the way to the lease sticks to get the correct ones. I can see that the stripes would have to be an even number if you don’t want to cut and tie. Very clever, we need a little video!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Alice-Ann, I am still figuring out specific procedures for doing this, but your description is pretty close to what I did. I moved all the threads to a separate dowel first, 4 from chain #1, and 4 from chain #2, and so on. After that, I moved them to the tie-on bar. That made it a little easier to deal with separations between beam cords.

      The stripes do need to be even numbers (pass pairs), but the numbers in each warp chain can vary. On the first project, I had narrow stripes between wider stripes. You have to plan the spacing for spreading the warp, but it wasn’t a problem.

      Also, I’d like to attempt putting all the ends on a single set of lease sticks, but I was too chicken to try that this time around.

      A video is a great idea! Perhaps on my next stripes project. 🙂

      Thanks for your input!
      Karen

      • Alice-Ann Ferderber says:

        Thanks Karen. My brain did not want to cope with taking 4 threads off one warp, then 4 off another and at the same time putting them on the back bar. Doing the stripe size choice before putting it all on the back beam might be a bit more work, but makes perfect sense to me! One could even sit at a table with the two (or more) warps being supported. The balancing act was not working in my head. Not on the first try anyway. I would make a mess even with both sets of lease sticks tied to the loom. I am liking this more and more. I can hardly wait for the video!

  • SM says:

    Could you also just wind separate warps and pre-sley them into their stripes? Or am I misunderstanding what’s been said?

    • Karen says:

      Hi SM, Yes, you can wind separate warp chains and pre-sley them into the pre-sley reed in order. That is what I did, putting a stick through the end loops of each warp after it is pre-sleyed. The tricky part comes after that in getting all the end loops onto the tie-on bar. With one warp chain, you can flip the reed over the lease sticks to get all the end loops to pull out. With two sets of lease sticks, I had to do more “hand picking” and there are more sticks and things poking around to have to manage.

      It’s not easy to describe the process in words. I think a video is in order…as soon as I figure it out a little better myself. 😉

      Thanks for joining the conversation,
      Karen

  • SM says:

    Oh! I get it! Sorry about that. For some reason my brain wasn’t registering that you were all talking about the END loops…even though that’s what everyone said. . Yes, now I can see where that would be a factor. Thanks for walking me through this; I would love a video! I just wound a thin-striped warp and it was not fun with all the starting and stopping. Have a great day!

    • Karen says:

      SM, Don’t worry, it’s confusing to begin with.

      I have wound many, many striped warps, and I don’t really mind it that much. But still, this new method will probably be a game changer for me.

      All the best,
      Karen

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