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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Four-Shaft Tapestry Adventure

Most of my preparation for this project has been separate from the loom itself. The loom is dressed and ready. That’s the easy part. The lion’s share of the work is in developing the cartoon. This project is my first four-shaft tapestry. My usual tapestry work is on a small portable tapestry frame. This is BIG in comparison. 93 centimeters (36 1/2 inches) in the reed.

Glimakra Ideal with linen warp, ready to weave a tapestry.

Linen warp is tied on. Treadles are tied up. Sheds are clean. This Glimåkra Ideal is ready and waiting for the weaver.

Cartoon is on a table behind the loom undergoing cartoon prep.

Warp beam. Cartoon is on a folding table behind the loom undergoing cartoon prep.

After finding a subject for the tapestry, I have been drawing the cartoon and a cartoon key. And I have the yarn. Now, I am determining colors, distinguishing values, and arranging my yarn into a workable order. To tell the truth, the cartoon scares me. It shows me how grand a task I’ve signed up for. But there’s no turning back. I’m committed. (I will show you the cartoon when I’m further along…)

Wool being sorted for 4-shaft tapestry.

Wool, mostly 6/2 Tuna and 6/1 Fårö, with a few other wool yarns thrown in. These are some of the colors going into the planning of the cartoon.

Distinguishing between different values in the wool yarn assortment.

Black and white photo helps distinguish between the different values of the yarn colors. Contrast in values help define the woven image.

The cartoon shows the intent of the tapestry designer. Likewise, heaven shows the Grand Weaver’s perfect plan. Heaven holds the true picture. Heaven and earth, two parallel realms. Jesus came to earth to bring us into that heavenly version of the tapestry. When we put our trust in him, our colorful threads in various hues and values are woven together in the grandest tapestry ever.

May you take a bigger step than you have before.

Courageously (with knees knocking),
Karen

7 Comments

  • Betsy Greene says:

    Oh wow. You really are in the deep end. Good for you!
    I’m not so brave but I will live vicariously through you.
    Betsy

  • Good morning,
    Now that Spring has become a verb in SE Wisconsin my weaving goes back one more seat while I try to undo the neglect of the yards here and NE Wisconsin. Yesterday I took out and re-wove ~ 10 rows of rosepath rag rug because I mis-read the pattern. Once done I realized this project is not as scary as I imagined it to be.
    Today there is a quiet book to be put together for my granddaughter’s 1st birthday. And… once again I am delaying the work because I have not worked out the details of construction. We all know that in the end the quiet book will be completed and the tapestry will be completed and the rug will be completed and the maybe … just maybe this year I will be able to keep ahead of the weeds. But, boy oh boy… from this side of the project that does not seem possible.
    May God bless both our hands with creativity and love.
    Nannette

  • Michele Dixon says:

    I’m a tapestry weaver too. I’m quite interested in seeing what your 4 shaft piece turns into. I have a brand new Glimakra Standard, 4/6 so I am hoping, in the future, to expand my 2 shaft images to 4 shaft. I’ll be watching with great interest.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Michele, Congrats on your new Glimakra Standard! It’s exciting to try a new way to do tapestry. I’m glad to have you along!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Michele Dixon says:

    Thank you, Karen. It’s such a pleasure to read your blog.

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Dream Weave and Slow Reveal

This project is a slow reveal. I am showing what I am doing now, but I am waiting to tell what this will become. There is a flurry of preparation behind the scenes. In time, you will see what develops on the loom. You and I both will find out if I am jumping in over my head. Or, if I can, in fact, pull this off.

Warping reel with 16/2 linen for a new warp.

Warping reel with 16/2 line linen for a new warp.

Dressing the Glimakra Ideal loom with linen.

Linen shows itself to be a beautiful mess.

This is a gorgeous linen warp, with three shades of 16/2 linen: sable, northsea blue, and persian blue. I am dressing my Ideal loom to almost full weaving width: 93 centimeters. The sett is 3 ends per centimeter in a 30/10 metric reed (equivalent to 7.6 ends per inch). I am intensely eager and cautiously optimistic regarding this weaving adventure.

Linen. Dressing the loom.

Linen. Sable, northsea blue, and persian blue. Bockens linen comes with color numbers only. It is interesting to see the names given to the colors by different suppliers. These creative color names are from Vävstuga.

Ready to beam this linen warp on my Glimakra Ideal loom.

Pre-sley reed is in the beater. It’s time to grab some warping slats, slide the lease sticks forward, and beam the warp.

Love is like a hidden dream in your heart, awaiting expression. Love goes with you. It is a treasure you get to bestow on others. In some cases, your treasure may be their only hope. The God of love with us weaves the love of God in us, as his faithfulness is revealed over a lifetime. If we could see the end result the Grand Weaver has in mind, most certainly it would make us smile.

May the God of love and the love of God be with you.

Secretly,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Julia says:

    I’ve no doubt whatsoever that you will be completely successful in this endeavor. You’ve shared a few detours in your weaving, but I’ve yet to see a failure.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Julia, Thank you for your vote of confidence. I appreciate that! Hopefully, I won’t need to detour on this one.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Linda says:

    This is fun for me to watch as I’ve never warped with pure linen.

  • Maggie Ackerman says:

    I’ve worked with a linen warp before on a rag rug and had issu s with fraying and breaking until I wet the warp while weaving. Will you have to wet this warp to weave without fraying? Gorgeous colors. Whatever this becomes will be beautiful.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maggie, Oh yes, I know exactly what you’re talking about. I’ve had to do the same at times, putting a little dampness on the selvedge threads. But I’ve also had quite a few experiences with linen that gave me no problems whatsoever. I hope, hope, hope this one will refrain from fraying. We shall see…

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Betsy Greene says:

    I’m looking forward to following this project. You’re using a very open sett. I have an idea but I will keep it to myself and see if I’m right. I like your use of a multi colored warp. It’s going to add some visual interest and depth to the … whatever. I’m quite sure you are not jumping in over your head. You are a very strong swimmer!
    Betsy

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, I agree, I think the multi colored warp will add visual interest and depth. I may be able to swim this, but I’m still taking a deep breath as I jump in.

      Thanks for your encouraging words!
      Karen

  • Hmmmm..
    Monochromatic ‘starry starry night’ blues going on the warp. A visual surprise. I was expecting the high contrast of the plum blanket as I scrolled down the posting, instead of my go-to color pallet. As always the colors are wonderful (and grown up).
    ~ a yard wide— That width could be used for much. Clothing, drapery, household linens… …. I will have to wait as you share to progress.
    You are going full steam ahead with a new challenge.. Oops CHALLENGE. I am dragging my feet getting back to the new warp on my loom set up for rosepath rag rugs. I will be brave and go forward, after I complete the patched baby blanket with lime green and turquoise turtles. 🙂
    Nannette
    .

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, Isn’t this one of the things we like about weaving – the CHALLENGE? Thrill and fright. But there’s no challenge at the loom that can’t be tackled and overcome.

      Rosepath rag rugs?? How fun! I’ll trade you… 😉 naw, just kidding. Go for it. You can do it!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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Transferring Warp Ends Takes Courage

There are four pairs of overlapping warp chains, with stripes to line up. I created a mess. A few options to consider: 1. Give up. 2. Weave it as is, destroying the design. 3. Use two sets of lease sticks, and expect problems with threading (2,064 ends). 4. Transfer all ends to a single set of lease sticks, arranging threads in order for each stripe.

Eight warp chains...to correct a huge winding error.

Each of four warp chains were duplicated when I realized I had wound only half the correct number of ends in each chain.

Option 4 seems the riskiest. If I lose the cross while transferring threads, I have an even bigger mess. It’s all or nothing. Go for it! Fortunately, my apprentice, Juliana, arrives in the nick of time to give me a hand.

Transferring color stripes to one set of lease sticks.

Lease cross is tied separately for each color “partial” stripe.

Transferring two warp chains to a single set of lease sticks.

Stripes from the two warp chains are transferred to a single set of lease sticks. Now the stripe colors are at their full correct width.

Preparing to transfer warp ends.

For the four center warp chains, each section of color is separated and tied at the cross. It takes an extra set of hands to transfer them in order to the primary set of lease sticks.

Delicate transfer of warp ends accomplished!

All warp ends are now successfully transferred to a single set of lease sticks. Let the loom dressing begin!

It worked! All the threads are successfully transferred to one pair of lease sticks. What a relief! I can beam the warp knowing that all is well. A beautiful double weave throw is imminent.

Pre-sleying the reed at the loom.

Warp is pre-sleyed at the loom. So far, so good.

Double weave warp ready to beam!

Ready to beam! Looking forward to this dressing and weaving experience.

We all have made a mess of our lives, and we know it. We hear of options to fix things, but one seems the riskiest: Transfer everything to God. But what if I mess that up, too? There’s good news. God transfers us. When we place our trust in Jesus Christ, God transfers us from our messy state to his good order. And the result is a weaving that showcases his workmanship—a beautiful you.

May you take a worthy risk.

With you,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Glad this worked! Even more happy that God works messes out for us! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joyce, It is a relief when we see things begin to work out! And what a relief it is to trust our great Lord with the most important things in life.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Annie Lancaster says:

    I like this thought.

    And so glad the mess worked out. But I knew quitting was never an option for you, Karen!

    • Karen says:

      Annie, You are right. Quitting was a thought that flickered for a moment, but I never really considered it an option. You may know me a little to well. 😉

      Karen

  • D’Anne says:

    I know that was frustrating, Karen. Been there, done that, although with a smaller warp. Perseverance pays offf!

    • Karen says:

      D’Anne, That is so true! Perseverance does pay off! I think that is something that has been a part of me since childhood – quiet perseverance. Thanks for making me stop and reflect on that for a moment.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Linda says:

    God does fix our messes in unexpected ways. …. when we ask. And I thought 398 ends of only two colors were a challenge! Perspective and perseverance are helpful tools.

    Thank you for sharing your faith!

    Linda

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda, It is crucial for us to have the humility to ask God for help out of our messes. Perspective and perseverance are indispensable!

      Thanks!
      Karen

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Bold Color and Weave

Remember the placemats I started on my Texas hill country loom in Colors on Trial? The pattern in the fabric looks nice and pretty. But it doesn’t display the striking color-and-weave effect that I expected. The problem is not the threading, nor the colors.

Color and weave using single weft instead of doubled weft.

Nice and pretty, but lacking the boldness of the planned color-and-weave effect.

Aha! I overlooked an important detail on the treadling draft—the weft is supposed to be doubled. That changes everything! Since there is very little excess warp for this project I need to back up and start over.

Backing up the weaving. Clipping through weft threads. Yikes!

Backing up. After loosening warp tension, I carefully clip the weft threads down the center of the warp. I go at a snail’s pace to avoid accidentally snipping any warp ends.

Backing up. Weft removal, one pick at a time.

Removal, one pick at a time. I press the treadles in reverse order to pull out each row of weft threads.

Weft has been removed. Now ready to start over!

Back to the start. Sufficient weft has been removed. Now I am ready to start over.

I am losing the nice and pretty fabric. But it is being replaced with something better—fabric with a bold color-and-weave effect.

Two double-bobbin shuttles with color and weave.

This is the color-and-weave effect I was looking for! Two double-bobbin shuttles carry the weft threads.

Color and weave for placemats.

First placemat is a “Joseph’s coat” combination of colors. Bold color-and-weave effect has a striking pattern.

I would like my life to be nice and pretty, easy and comfortable. But if I get closer to the Grand Weaver’s intentions, I see something different—a bold strength of purpose. Not necessarily easy. God’s will is better than mine. When we aim to understand his will, we see details that we’ve overlooked. It affects how we walk through life. We take his doubled weft threads to replace our well-meaning attempts. The result is a beautiful display of striking life-changing effects.

May you be mindful of the important details.

With you,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Annie says:

    I love your analogy and courage to cut out all that work. It did look nice before but wow! Such a great difference with such a small change. An encouragement to make small changes in life as they may lead to great overall improvements.

    Have a great day, Karen!

  • Cynthia says:

    Hi Karen, I used to work for your husband in Tulsa. Love your work. My cousin weaves and I have shared your blog with her, she sure enjoys.

  • Ruth says:

    Good Morning Karen,
    Thanks for sharing your technique for unweaving. To correct mistakes I’ve literally thrown the shuttle across my warp threads to take back many inches of weaving. This seems a much gentler way to save a warp. I like your calm approach to correcting an error and enjoying the outcome. Blessings to you and yours, Ruth

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth, I do think removing the weft this way is less damaging to the warp. Even if I don’t clip through the center, I usually cut the weft and pull it out rather than send it back with the shuttle if it’s more than one or two picks. This is especially important if the warp is linen, which is much more susceptible to breakage from abrasion than this cotton warp I have here.

      One thing I enjoy about weaving is that just about anything can be corrected!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • SM says:

    These are, as all your projects are, beautiful! Is this a little like doubleweave? You see the back on the front and the front on the back?

    • Karen says:

      Hi SM, I appreciate your sweet compliment!

      This is much simpler than double weave. This is actually plain weave with two treadles. It’s the arrangement of stripes in warp and weft that give it visual complexity. This fabric is the same on front and back. It’s amazing what can happen with color and weave!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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