Monday, April 25, 2016

Creating a Custom Chair Part IV: Upholstering the Seat and Creating a Kitty Hammock

Chair With First Covering Option
Photo: P. MacLeod

I was able to work on the custom chair this weekend and get it all done! So I'm going to chronicle that process in this blog.

As shown in the picture above, when I put the material I originally picked for the seat on the chair, I instantly felt it was all wrong. The pattern of the material is too busy and "fighting" with the mosaic. Darn.

So I went off to Jo-Ann, our only retail sewing store, to find a better option. My instincts told me a solid blue is going to be a good choice. I don't know how many of you have purchased upholstery material, but it ain't cheap. I don't have deep pockets, so I spent a lot of time picking through the remnants and marked down bolts. I did find a pretty blue for the seat and a fleece blue for the hammock. (I wanted a very soft fabric for the hammock.) I also bought white decorative cord for the hammock.

When I got home, I just laid the material on the seat and immediately knew this is the right color. My cats thought so too, as you can see in this photo:

Juno and Rango Check Out the Chair
Photo: P. MacLeod

Now I was ready to try out my new pneumatic upholstery staple gun. I bought a Surebonder brand staple gun and the recommended staples. I haven't had much experience with a compressor, but the staples are forced with air from a compressor.  I had help from my husband and after using the compressor and gun, I don't think I would work with those without a helping hand. I'm just too nervous. To top it off, the safety warnings in the owner's manual were long and sobering.

(DO NOT use any of this description for directions. READ and FOLLOW all manuals and instructions with your tools.) The basics of using the compressor are that it has to force air into the tank, which is measured by one gauge. After it fills to your specific p.s.i., you can attach the air hose, and open the valve to allow air into the hose, this p.s.i. is measured on the gauge on the right. Then the air hose is connected to the staple gun. After you are done using the compressor, you have to let the air out. The staple gun itself is rather simple. It loads a lot like a regular stapler. There's safety on the trigger. I put the safety on anytime I was not actively stapling. 

This is noisy and scary. The compressor keeps the pressure in the tank stable, so it will turn off when the p.s.i. is right and turn back on to maintain that p.s.i. It takes a few minutes to get used to that. I was really nervous at first. I wanted to be very careful not to put a staple in my hand or head. Here's a brief video of me using the staple gun:

Video by R. Scurlock

It does a great job, though. I stapled the middle of the top side and the middle of the bottom side first, just to keep the material from slipping. Then I worked on each side and overlaid the material at the corners for a nice, smooth tuck. I pulled and smoothed the material frequently to keep the material from bunching.

Next I worked on the hammock. I haven't sewn anything in years, so my plan for this was VERY basic. I measured the approximate space that seemed large enough for a cat or small dog, and then I measured the distance from the hooks to about where I felt the hammock should hang. After that, I cut four lengths of cord and taped those in loops in each corner. Then I set up a bobbin and simply sewed the sides closed. 

And here's the before and after shots:


Photos: P. MacLeod

I hope it will bring a big bid at the auction! It is Saturday, July 30 at the Levin Jewish Center here in Durham. I'll cover that in a blog afterwards.

May all of your scores run true!

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