PROJECT POST: Amanda’s Victorian Settee, Part 3

28 Feb

"Deconstructed" Settee

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since my last entry. I am a terrible blogger, but, thankfully, I’ve been a little more diligent with the Monrovia Community Adult School upholstery class. When last I posted, my poor little settee looked like something out of Restoration Hardware’s line of pre-distressed furniture. Now, it looks like no other settee around. (Reveal at the bottom of this post, after the break.)

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When I finished adding padding and muslin to the front of the settee, I trimmed the edges of the muslin with a razor-cutter. Later, when working with the upholstery fabric, which was prone to fraying, I used double-curved embroidery scissors, which worked awesomely.

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Next, it was finally time to put on the upholstery fabric. I chose a charcoal gray velvet baroque pattern on a lighter gray background. The fabric seemed heavy enough in the store, but had two layers that slipped against each other, and made it difficult to line up the pattern. The photo above shows the settee with the strings I anchored in the frame to use as a guide for lining up the pattern. This was a huge PITA, and if it wasn’t for Donna’s keen eye and expert guidance, it would not have come out well.

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After finishing the front, it was time to move on to the back. I should note that I took a quarter long break from class over the holidays. I took the settee home for that time, and everyone who saw it from afar thought it was done, until I pulled it away from the wall to show the unfinished back. Also, there was no welting to cover the raw edges of the fabric.

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I added cambric to the underside to cover the webbing. Then, it was time to move on to the welting…

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When I started this project, I loathed the idea of double welting. It was one of the things I really didn’t like about the original red Victorian incarnation of this settee. It just seemed so stuffy and superfluous. I thought I’d use upholstery gimp to cover the edges, but after looking through several upholstery stores downtown, the only gimp I liked was $5 a yard.

So, welting it was.

Old school upholstery books say you have to cut welting strips on the bias, but apparently most people don’t, these days. However, I’d read that bias-cut welting goes around curves easier. Since my settee has tons of curves, I decided to do it the old school way. The photo above is of the welting strips, lined up and waiting to be sewn together.

In class, we have a special double welting foot for the industrial sewing machines. I tried to use it on the welting, but I had a difficult time maintaining an even speed on those high-horsepower sewing machines, and made a mess of it. I ended up picking four yards of bad stitching out of my first attempt at double welting.

I ended up taking the welting home and doing it with a zipper foot on my pleasantly plodding home sewing machine. This meant I had sew all 18 yards of welting twice, but it worked out fairly well.

imageOnce the welting was done, I used a glue gun to glue it around the edges where the fabric met the wood. I don’t think I’ve used a glue gun since the 90s.

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The last step was to clean up my mistakes. This meant softening the visible glue-gun glue with a hair dryer, and cutting away the random globs. I also used a black sharpie to fill in a couple of nicks in the paint I’d made during the upholstery process.

imageHere is the finished settee, all ready to go home. It took more than a year of classes, but I learned so much!

A Few Lessons Learned

  1. Pay for good upholstery-grade fabric. I love the final look of the fabric I bought, but it was heck to work with. It went off grain, frayed at the edges, stretched…the list goes on.
  2. Avoid intricate (or any) patterns. You have to buy extra fabric to match the pattern, so the larger the repeat, the more extra fabric you need. And once you have the fabric, you have to take the time to match the pattern across the piece. If your piece has curves, like, say, a Victorian settee, that might be tricky. You also have to line up the pattern. If your fabric happens to be some slippy, fraying decor fabric you got for what seemed like a good price downtown, all of these steps will be time-consuming.
  3. Chalk Paint. That stuff sticks to anything. If I’d known about it when I was painting my sofa frame, I’d have used it, because even though I deglossed, sanded, and primered the frame, the paint still chipped fairly easily. I did, however, apply a layer of furniture wax over the paint, and that seems to have given it some protection.
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