Sometimes you see a broken piece of furniture and think I just don’t have the skill set to restore this. That is exactly what I thought when I saw the cane rocking chair in a local junk store. The seat had been completely smashed through and it looked sad and lonely, and I hate to see a sad piece of furniture. I have no idea how to re cane a chair and if I am honest I do not have the desire to give up my time to learn but I thought I could still fix the chair by giving it a solid seat. The chair was cheap because of the state of it so I bought it and decided to give it a new lease of life.
I was so enthusiastic to start my renovation project that I cut the broken cane out of the chair and sanded it down before taking a real before photo. So here is a before photo with a few jobs undertaken. I really need to remember to not be so enthusiastic and start taking better before pics.
I knew I was going to make the upholstered seat from a bright vintage curtain so I felt the whole chair needed to up its game, this, of course meant more work. The swirly twisted wood looked lovely and is what sold me on it as a project but oh my word just when you think you have finished sanding it there is yet another surface. During the very lengthy sanding process I started to think about how I could give the cane seat back a makeover. I like many crafters am
cursed blessed with left over wool from larger knitting projects. I thought that with a little thought I could use the back of the chair like cross stitch fabric and the wool as over sized thread. To create a crisp background for the wool I sprayed the cane, front and back with white paint.
Now all I had to do was paint it with the bright yellow eggshell I had picked out. I say all I had to do but really this very nearly broke me. I thought sanding it was a pain but painting it was so, so much worse. Every time I turned my back there was another surface to paint, I swear it was multiplying, and that is not just the sleep deprivation talking. So much waiting and painting, waiting, turning it over, painting and yes then I discover rogue drips so the between coats sandpaper made more than one appearance. It was worth it, I love the colour and now the fun part making the seat and adding the embellishments.
After I had cut out what was left of the cane from the seat I used it as a template to cut a new seat from thick plywood. For this I used a jigsaw. I made my new seat slightly larger than the old one. I like to use what I have as much as I can so I used old cushions to pad the plywood and a piece of calico underneath. I then added the top cover, which was a vintage curtain I had picked up a long time ago on a whim.
I stapled the fabric on the underside of the seat. A few things to think about when you do this; the shape of the seat once you have finished so don’t pull too tight, and make sure the fabric is even. You can ensure that it is even and not puckering by stapling the centre of one side, then staple the opposite side in the centre. Then the next centre side followed by the opposite. Work your staples out from centre until you reach the corners then I folded then until I was happy with the pleat that would show and secured them with a couple of staples. Feel free to trim the fabric as necessary but leave enough to tuck the edge under before you staple it as it looks neater and gives a more professional finish.
Once the seat is stapled you need to attach it to the chair frame with L brackets.
I thought it would be a fun idea to add an ’embroidered’ arrow pointing towards the seat as if it was directing your bottom. I think it looks really cute, Joe thinks it looks a little silly, you will have to decide for yourself. The cane work is not a true grid so you need to fudge your design in a little.