Friday, June 1, 2012

Have A Seat!

I went out again this morning. Seems like that's all I do lately, go out shopping and buy, buy, buy. Sometimes I wish I could say no and skip it, but whenever I do I get pressured into going. Besides this time I needed to go out. I'm happy to say that I had a pattern sell! It's been a serious downturn in sales around here, so I'm thrilled that something finally sold! The person paid with a money order, so I had to wait for it to get here before I could send their pattern. It arrived last night, so I was able to get it all prepped and ready for the post office. Which is why I went out, so I could get it into the mail.
But we didn't go straight to the post office. Yesterday I had foolishly mentioned to my father than I had seen something he might have thought was interesting at the antique store from yesterday. It was a West Germany military patch, and he was stationed in the Army in West Germany in the late 70s'. I would have shown it to him yesterday, but I didn't find it until after he was checking out with the Jem doll. I mentioned it in passing, so today we had to go back and look at it. When will I learn to keep my mouth shut on those things?
But it actually turned out for the best. After he bought the badge, we decided to look at the other stores on the strip as well. The store on the end where I got my horse has basically the same stuff as last time, so nothing that I wanted. The Antique Mall was the last place I visited on the strip. Like usual I headed to the upstairs first. I really didn't see too much that was different, I almost made it out empty handed. But when I went into the back rooms, on a mounted bookcase next to one of the rooms I found a little chair. It wasn't perfect, it had some scratches and was missing all the cushions, but it looked like it had potential. I don't know enough about furniture to know when it was made, but it looked old. Since it was only three dollars, and I'm always looking for more chairs for Charlotte I decided to get it.
While it was missing it cushions, it still had it's original sticker label attached to it. On it was a picture of a pony, the name "Pert Pat" and Boscawen, New Hampshire written on it. Using that as a guide I looked it up online. Online sources are limited, but I managed to find enough out about it to satisfy my curiosity. Pert Pat (located in Boscawen, New Hampshire), was a doll furniture company only around for 7 years (1954-1961). They made a variety of furniture other than my chair; a rocker, a couch, an end table, as well as I believe a bed and hope chest. Using their dates of production I assume they originally designed their furniture for Ginny dolls. I did test it out on Charlotte, and while she can use it, it is a little wide and low for her, which makes sense since Ginny is shorter and the older ones use a "V" leg joint so they would need a wider seat. I also learned it's made of Pine. I did find some for sale online. Someone is selling a pair of the chairs that still have their cushions for forty. And Someone is selling the couch, a rocker, a chair like mine, and a coffee table for ninety. So they're out there, just more than what I paid for mine. I think the shipping for those would be more than what I paid for mine!
But mine does need work. I am going to have to make cushions for it. Something that I was both looking forward to and dreading. Back at home I looked through my fabric stash to see what I had that could work. I wanted to pick a fabric that looked like something that they would have used originally. Also I was trying to avoid more "girly" fabrics since I think Joe would look good using this chair, but when you mostly sew for women, most of the fabrics I have are pretty feminine. (Not that there's anything wrong with that, I just didn't want that for this project) The first thing I pulled out a brown striped fabric that I had leftover from a project I made for my parents. It fit all the guidelines that I wanted, but when on the chair it was so ugly. There's a reason why that fabric was on clearance at Hobby Lobby all those years ago, and I've never managed to find a use for the leftover material. So back into the drawer it went. The next fabric I pulled out was just right (but it should have been too hot). It was a vintage fabric, I'd guess 60's that I got from my Grandmother. It's a geometric print, in muted blues, greens, and browns. In each square is a circular design. It's really pretty, but a bit big for my uses, but I still took it, just in case. I think it was just waiting for me to use on this chair. It's just perfect for it.
I started off with the backing. Before I bought the chair I was thinking about the best way to make cushions for it. For the back part I thought that it would be simplest to take some fabric and just wrap it around the support post, then use snaps to close it. That way it's quick and easy, and if I decide I want to change the cushions, I can easily take it off and replace it. I thought I was doing something similar to how it was originally done, but when I saw the pictures online, it was so different than how it originally was. The original back cushions were just tied around the back of the chair. A piece of twine that was knotted in the back was the only thing keeping the back cushion attached. The posts along the back of the chair were just for support, they were never used for the cushions. And not to be too braggy, I like what I came up with better.
So that's where I started, I cut up the receipt for the chair to figure out the size I'd need to cut out of the fabric to cover the back (can't return it now though!). I ended up centering the fabric for the backing, and making sure that the pretty blue square was the center square on the back (even though it's covered when someone's sitting there, I still know it's there). I used two snaps on the back to close it. Originally I had three, but after adding the two end ones I realized that they held it together just fine and removed the middle one. This was a good start to the project, easing me in because the next steps aren't so easy.
Case and point, the seat cushion. I could see that there were some grooves on the back posts for the seat cushion to slide into, and that there was a ledge at the front for it to rest on, so I had to build my cushion around that. How I wish I had Smidge Girl to guide me during this step! I decided I needed something flexible, but sturdy to use as my foundation. I thought about cardboard, but remembered that I had some plastic canvas I could use. It was stiff enough, flexible when I needed it to do so, and easily cut to size. I started off with a piece of paper, cutting it until it fit the space where the cushion was to go. Then I cut the plastic canvas. For some reason it ended up being bigger, so I had to trim it until it fit. I did make it a little smaller because I was planning on wrapping it with fabric and that would take up some space. I'd hate to make it and not have it fit. Actually figuring out how to make a decent looking cushion was the hardest part. I spent hours and so many different techniques trying to figure out how to make it. I think I had at least four failed attempts before I came up with one that's at least serviceable. I ended up folding the fabric over at the corners and doing big unattractive stitches to hold the sides together on the bottom. I was really making it up as I went along. I also stuffed the seat with some reused stuffing I got earlier in the year. To make it look more realistic I sewed down four beads on the seat cushion, like they do on real chairs. And to cover the bottom with it's awful stitches I used a square of felt in white and carefully sewed it over it on the bottom. It was such a hassle, but it does look good. I'm not ready to go into cushion production (I don't even want to make another one for myself), but at least my attempts netted me something useable.
I'd share pictures of the work I did, but something's still missing... but what?

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