Victorian Chair Reupholstery

This, probably, Victorian corner chair belonged to my Nanna, I don’t remember exactly how it came to be in my possession but I recall nobody else wanting it. It was in need of some work but it’s a lovely piece with huge sentimental value to me.

Wear and tear and very little padding remaining.

I started by stripping the chair back completely. This was a process, when I was done I was covered in one hundred year old dust head-to-toe! I uncovered two previous lives in the chair.

My Nanna had covered the chair by tacking some fabric over the top. Underneath was a cream floral fabric which in some areas remained unbleached by the sun. Under that was the original upholstery, the fabric was darker – still floral. Obviously traditional methods had been used, it felt wrong to do any different in reupholstering.

I enrolled in an evening upholstery course, everyone else appeared to be doing modern upholstery methods or much smaller simpler items. Nevertheless I was keen to bring some life back to this tired chair. Every Thursday evening I hauled the chair into my Micra’s boot. The progress felt slow at times, layer after layer, bin bags worth of horsehair painfully worked into a firm seat.

It took the best part of a year to finish the chair. I remember little about the specifics of what I did but I did take lots of photos. When it finally came to the fabric to cover the chair I used my Nanna’s old curtains! William Morris Golden Lily, still in ok condition – a bit of discolouring in parts but they were big enough that I could cut around these parts.

Having been sat in the same position for many years a couple of the castors had become misshapen meaning the chair didn’t wheel very well. My Grampy is a very clever man and performed some sort of magic on the castors and restored them – good as new.

The last thing I did was to put a cutting of each of the previous fabrics inside the chair along with a note about the history of the chair. I closed off the bottom with the backing fabric from the curtains. I didn’t want the history of the chair to be lost.