Sunday, March 20, 2011

Chair Weaving Tutorial

Here it is.  The much requested how-to on weaving chair seats.

Preparation:

Find a chair that needs a new seat.  Ladderback chairs are great. Lots of rockers are suitable.  Remove all the old chair weaving.  Clean up and paint or stain if necessary.  If you paint it, give it plenty of time to cure before weaving.  The yellow chair in this post came from a recent yard sale.  It was already an interesting chippy yellow so I didn't even bother to repaint it.

Find material - lots of it - and rip or cut it into strips. I usually make my strips about 2 inches wide, but you can vary that for different looks. I mostly use old sheets, but sometimes I use tablecloths, curtains, or nice fabric.  I love finding sheets at Goodwill or yard sales to re-purpose.  You can use a wild assortment of colors.   Sometimes it looks good.  Sometimes it looks obnoxious. I've done that in the past with awful results.  You can use a single color. (I recently did a set of 4 chairs with dropcloth fabric.) My favorite thing is to use a limited color palette for a more coordinated look.

Weaving:


Find a good movie to watch.  You're going to be here for awhile.

Put all the fabric strips where they are in easy reach.  Have scissors nearby.

Start tying the strips across and under the chair.  If the fabric has a good side and bad side, make sure the good side is facing out where it'll be seen.  Don't worry too much about loose threads.  You want the strips fairly tight, but there's no need to be obsessive about it.

I like to tie the knot on top where it's easy to get to then slide the strip around so the knot is on bottom.  You can only do that for the pieces going across.  (Is that weft or warp?  I've forgotten weaving terms.)

Scrunch the strips together towards the front (widest end) as you go.  Keeps adding more strips til you get to the end.  I ended up with 12 strips front to back on this particular chair.  There will be a lot of knots with pieces hanging down underneath.  I cut those ends to about 4 inches.

Now for the weaving.   You have to know at least a little about how to weave because I don't think I could adequately explain that to somebody who has no idea at all.  If you ever did a paper weaving project in elementary school, you probably know enough.
Top

I weave a few strips on top, then turn the chair upside down and weave it on the bottom.  I weave so the ends meet somewhere in the middle of the bottom and then I tie the two ends together.
Bottom
I cut the ends to about 4 inches and tuck them under so they don't show from the top or the bottom.  Try not to put all the knots in one spot.  Try not to put any knots too close to an edge.

Turn the chair back over.  Scrunch the strips together.  Weave in more strips. Keep adding more strips til you finish.  Clip the loose threads. Stand back and admire your chair.




By the way, this is not my favorite chair that I've done.  This one is very chippy and rustic.  I'm in love with greens right now and the last green chair I wove is probably one of my favorites.  I have 4 rockers that I hope to do soon.  I'm thinking about doing them in a similar look.

How does it hold up?  You won't believe how well!  We have cats and dogs.  I have  rockers with woven seats and backs that have been on a porch year-round for over a decade.  The fabric is a bit faded, but the seats (and backs) are still strong and sturdy.  They are comfy, too!

If you use this tutorial to weave your own chairs, I'd love for you to let me know how it came out. Send me a photo if you can!

I've linked this post with the following blog parties:

29 comments:

  1. I saw a chair made like this yesterday except they used old leather belts. How do you all come up with these clever ideas?!?

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  2. I love your yellow chair, and your rocking chair and your green chair............ Now - I'm on the hunt to find a chair that I can do this to!!

    Hugs ~~ Suz
    inspiringcreativeness.blogspot

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  3. This is great! What a creative idea! I love how it turned out!

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  4. I have 4 of the exact chairs...they were the chairs my husband's grandparents set up housekeeping with years ago. About 15 years ago, I did the same rag strip weaving to the seat. I never finished but one chair, but it is in my sewing room now. Great job.

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  5. Denise, that is soooo pretty! Thank you for giving the directions and for linking to Favorite Things. laurie

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  6. This is very cool! Thanks for sharing this....I might have to give it a try. I have an antique little chair that has no seat (I think it used to have a caned seat) and I've been trying to decide for ages whether to have a seat made (upholstered) or try to find someone who does caning....this might be just the thing!

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  7. I just LOVE this! Thanks for linking with air your laundry Friday!

    xoxo,
    Jami
    www.freckledlaundry.com

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  8. Same already discussed recently

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  9. Thank you SO much for posting!!!! I have a chair that I want to try this, but I had no idea how to do it! Yours look GREAT!!

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  10. I love this idea.. thank you. Do you have any advice on how to do it on a curved chair - i actually want to do it on a chair back, it is tall and narrow but the top is rounded instead of flat across. Also any tips on how to hide the knots on the chair back? THank you!!!

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  11. Tausha HouckJuly 17, 2012

    Thank you so much. i have 2 farm chairs my grandpa gave me years ago. he is gone now and now i can redo them because of you.

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  12. i am so doing this! thanks so much!

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  13. i did it! http://sewkellysews.blogspot.com/2012/08/wip-wednesday_29.html

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  14. I so want to try this on my hubbys grandfathers old rocking chair. I have been looking for someone to cane it but I think this will work for me and so much more economical. Thank you so much for the idea - will try to send pics when I accomplish this task (hopefully by Christmas so I can surprise my hubby -

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  15. Hello! I've been using your tutorial to work on my own chairs, except I'm using old blue jeans. My first (and only, so far) chair began to sag one day after I created the seat. I tied it as tight as possible, so I'm not sure what happened. Any ideas about what I'm doing wrong?

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    Best,
    Phoebe

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  16. Hello! I've been using your tutorial to work on my own chairs, except I'm using old blue jeans. My first (and only, so far) chair began to sag one day after I created the seat. I tied it as tight as possible, so I'm not sure what happened. Any ideas about what I'm doing wrong?

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    Best,
    Phoebe

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    Replies
    1. Phoebe - Without seeing your chair, I'm not sure. I generally have lots of strips of fabric in both directions and they are curled, bunched or folded over, so that a two inch wide strip only takes up about 1/2 inch. I have seen some chairs woven where the strip is left pretty flat. It takes fewer strips to complete a chair, but I don't think it would hold up as well. Thick blue jean denim seems like it would be hard to tie and my jeans seem to stretch a good bit while I'm wearing them. What feels tight in the morning, feels like they might fall off later in the day. Is denim stretchier than other cottons? I don't know. I've used a denim-like fabric, but never only denim from actual jeans. It might be possible to buck up the support by weaving in some other fabrics along with the denim. If you get to the bottom of this, please write back.

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    2. Thanks, Denise. I appreciate your suggestions. I think you're right about jean being stretchier than other fabrics. I'm going to try a few things and definitely get back to you.

      Also - sorry for posting my question twice. Sometimes the blogger comment feature confounds me.

      -Phoebe

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  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  18. Love this! I have two old chairs I can't wait to start! I love to refinish and repurpose too! Check out my blog www.freckledhorse.blogspot.com.

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  19. I am working on a chair with my daughter and I would like to know how much fabric you used (in yards) if possible even a ruff guess would be helpful. Thank you!

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  20. AnonymousMay 15, 2013

    I have a GREEN rocking chair frame, all ready for this! Thank you SO much! I am off to find some fabric to work with, right now! <3

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    1. AnonymousMay 15, 2013

      Me again, checking in....it is already finished, and I love it! Thank you SO much for sharing this, I never would have thought to try it! :)

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  21. I have been looking for instructions like this for an old rocking chair. The chair belonged to my great grandmother that passed away in 1964 at the age of 93. I was planning on buying fabric because I never thought of using sheets. I have some old top sheets that will work perfect and I will just need to buy some printed to match. Thanks again.

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  22. I've been using this technique for awhile now. I have only one piece left you can look at. It's a old milking stool: www.facebook.com/TheJunkinJezebel. I have done all the same weaves you can do with rattan. I don't knot all my singular lengths as you do however. I do end a color at the back and put a slit in the end and a slit in the new piece and run the new through the old slitted section and then pull the other end through forming a strong slit knot. Because the whole lengths and the weaving gives the strength these slit knots hold up incredibly well. I don't worry much about fraying and might work with strips anywhere from and inch to 2 inches in width. And you are correct in that I have also found that this method stands the test of time.
    Thanks for sharing. I've never encountered anyone else using this technique.

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  23. Beautiful tutorial, I have a chair that I want to try this, but I had no idea how to do it! Yours look GREAT!!Brown TV Bed

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  24. Thanks for the great tutorial. I have used this technique before and I have a little tidbit that may be useful. If the fabric seat seems to stretch after awhile, take a spray bottle filled with water and spritz the fabric until it is evenly damp. Then sit the chair in the sun until dry. It tightens up the fibers again and your chair is good as new.

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  25. Have you ever weaved with the fabric damp?
    Reason being you could pull tighter and as the fabric dried it would pull fabric even tighter.
    I really like your chair. Looking forward to trying it.

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  26. Denise, I can see that this is an older tutorial, by looking at the dates, but it is just what I was looking for! I recently purchased, two chippy, children's, woven seat chairs and want to weave new seats, for them, using the salvageable pieces of my old tattered quilts. This tutorial has given me inspiration and hope, since now, hopefully, I will know what I am doing! Many thanks! Your chippy chair is charming! Holly

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