Part III: Reupholstering & Refinishing a Rocking Chair

Slowly I am getting there.  The chair is nearly done.  I’ve found it necessary to rest too often lately, and it has really extended the timeline.  L has been working from home which also kills my levels of productivity thanks to a lot of interruptions and time taken to make meals that otherwise wouldn’t be happening.  I naturally have a harder time with my motivation when anyone is around besides.  Finally the end came into sight yesterday though, and I’m mostly happy with the way it is turning out.

In the afternoon I had to stop work early, and I was as far as having attached one outer arm section.  Today I should do the other outer arm and the back.  Then I could make and glue the double welt trim to completely finish… except that I need a lot more of the cord to do that.  (I selected a thinner kind than the big spool I have since the velvet makes it appear even wider.)  Drat, drat, Drat!  Tomorrow I have an appointment which is right by the store to get more, so I cannot finish it until sometime after.  I’m not thrilled about this, but I’m not wasting time and fuel today to go to the store when I have to be there tomorrow.

Here is yesterday’s stopping point.  Aside from missing the finishing welt on the edge it looks done from this angle, yay!

stopping point the 19th June 2017.jpg

You may notice a flaw that I regret…  When I pieced lengths of bias for the welt trim for along the inner seat I mistakenly switched the direction of the nap of one piece, and the light catches it very obviously.  I’m irked with myself for not catching this until I was in the midst of gluing, and for thinking that the bias would keep it from being noticeable.  It sticks out like a sore thumb to me, and I am past the stage where I could tear it off and replace it.  (I was too afraid to try this when I first realised only halfway through gluing, and it could have been a big issue pulling out staples from the narrowly trimmed edge and ruining that side, I guess… so, I’m trying to ignore it.)

Bits of bias cut velvet made into cording/piping for the seat and to border the outer back:

The piping gets sewn to one seat piece, and then you go over the stitching again with it sandwiched.  All the sewing is done with a double cording foot.

stitching seat deck pieces and piping.jpg

At this point I was excited to finally begin applying the pretty fabric to the chair.  I measured and marked where the piped seam should sit to make it easier and more precise to attach.  I’m not certain if this is correct, but it seemed like a good idea to hand stitch the seam to the line in order to keep its proper placement.  All my other sofas and chairs had separate cushions, and this is similar to what is done with the seat deck in those cases.  I didn’t want it to pull out of position as I stapled or to slide with use, and I hope it works out well long term. (Not only to look better, but using a curved needle really sucks and cramps up my hand, so it better be worth it!)

Stapling the seat and then finished off with welt:


Inner arms done and gluing the trim:

Attaching muslin and dracon:

Stapling outer arm:


At this point I realised I could finish off the bottom with cambric and didn’t have to wait until I have the welting cord or anything.  Yay.  The straps are all hidden and clean now.


Waiting for another outer arm, the back, and finishing trim:

So close!  If only I wasn’t held back by running out of the cord!  I cannot even spend the rest of the day making pillows without it.  Instead I’ll probably install blinds and do other small tasks depending on my pain and energy levels.  Needing the space to work on the chair has kept me from pulling out the crib, or anything like that, and I could today… but I probably should wait until after our vacation that starts tomorrow just to avoid unnecessary cluttering.  Perhaps I’ll plan out the quilt(s) to figure out yardage requirements or even cut out a dress?  Or just spend too much time laying flat on my back to keep it from going into full on spasm, more likely.  Sigh.

Singer Single Thread Embroidery Attachment 26538

I did not finish this post on the 5th of July  Heh!  Anyway…

Today (I am not likely to finish writing this tonight, the 5th, but let’s pretend…) I received something very special in the mail: a vintage Singer embroidery attachment.

Some ten years ago or more, I saw a very expensive and very interesting attachment on eBay sometimes.  Whenever they popped up the bidding wars began between the Featherweight crowd, and over time the prices only became worse.  I’d been introduced to the ingenuity of the old treadle machines, and the attachments produced for them, and I was on the hunt for more, but I just couldn’t swing the big ticket embroidery attachments at hundreds of dollars (at least not unless I would forgo the actual machines, treadles, and more basic attachments.  Priorities and stuff.)  However, I put it on my to-acquire-eventually list.

Now I have one.  W00t!

Not only is it a nifty old embroidery attachment capable of adding beauty to my projects, but it is the rare “single thread attachment.”  They are hard to find outside of eBay, can be extremely expensive, and are tiny little marvels of creation.  It never fails to amaze me how cleverly designed old gadgets and machinery can be.  (Forget boring computerised and electric stuff!  The workings of perfectly designed gears and such are so darned lovely!)  :Swoon:

There isn’t too much information out there about the single thread attachment (or its more interesting-to-see-in-action sister, the two thread) aside from a few videos.  April 1930s is a great resource for vintage attachments, and almost everything I know about 26538 is from her site.  Across the web there are a few short reviews, videos, and mentions, but I haven’t found anyone posting their work produced with the attachment.  I hope to fill in that void and eventually share some finished projects.  For now I do have a tip that may be of use to someone, because I while I was quite lucky to receive a working 26358 from eBay today I… uh, promptly mucked it up.  Luckily I was able to sort things out, and I truly think/hope that the solution will help someone out there eventually.

A shot of the 26538 all set up on my Singer treadle 15-30:

26538 on 15-30

A view from the side:

side view attachment

Close-up while I tried it out for the very first time:


…and the very first sample:

stitch sample

Isn’t that stitch lovely?  I’m looking forward to using this to create pretty things!

Here is a silly video that I took showing how the attachment works and explaining how to adjust and fix it if you screw it up like I did.  I’m rather embarrassed by the video, but I was tired of trying to film, speak, and sew… and will have to live with sounding ridiculous.  😀




a Raised Garden Bed, Reel Mower, and Grilled Sliced Portobellos with Steak!

Yesterday was very sunny and warm!  Of course this meant yard and garden activity.  First I had to go buy some items.  When my friend was here she determined that the old garden bed was too shaded to grow things very well.  I am still going to use it, but I’m adding some raised beds in the most sunny part of our yard.  There is going to be very little sun once our neighbour’s trees have leaves, unfortunately.

So, I set out to buy soil, a raised bed kit, and some odds & ends.  I found that Home Depot had the most cost effective kits, so I planned on the 45$ one.  Once there I saw a  better option of 4×8′ which can be configured to a larger layout, but between the higher price that day and the cost of a lot more soil… I didn’t go for it.  Perhaps later?  I’m sure that it could be cheaper to construct raised beds oneself rather than kits, but… I just wanted to do it easily.  It only took a couple of minutes to set up, which was nice, but with a router I could DIY.  For now I am happy with the kit.

raised bed kit raised bed assembled and filled

Another idea was to use large oval tubs for the tomatoes and peppers.  I could put one on the raised section of deck along the house and perhaps another below, and they would look great, but they are rather expensive.  The 20$ round tubs, like the pair I have bulbs in, are also an idea, but I think that a single oval would have more usable space not to mention look nicer?  Maybe another year…  I don’t know if this is enough space for all my pepper and tomato dreams, but I suspect more room would be welcome.

While at the store I saw these and thought they looked neat although too colourful for my yard unless perhaps I stuck to grey.

plant cages

I should have photographed the matching plant stake spiral things too.  They were neat.

My seeds are growing well now, but a few bigger shoots have dried out or something.  Oops.  At least the most stubborn peppers are beginning to sprout.  Here are two of the tray:

seed tray starter tray

I ended up going ahead and buying a Scotts reel mower.  This was planned and researched even before we found a house to buy, but then the previous owners surprised us by leaving a gas powered mower between our final walk-through and closing.  Growing up we had a very big yard, and it was generally my job to mow for several hours on the riding beast.  Using a gas powered push mower seems intimidating to me and too loud and nasty for a small yard.  Still, I appreciate their generosity and expect it would be useful… except that there is a long flight of stairs from the garage to the yard, and I don’t think that I could bring the mower up myself.  That would cause a lot of logistical problems and probably some ill-will with my husband at times, so when I noticed that the HD price was the same as Amazon’s yet included the grass catcher and a slightly upgraded ball bearing design I went for it.  Very soon we’ll have to start mowing after all, and I had some store credit to use.

I assembled it and just had to try it out.  Luckily we have clumps of wild chives in abundance, and they were already quite tall.  I whirred around the yard, and probably made our neighbours worry about my sanity, mowing a dead-brown lawn.  Haha.  Then I emptied the grass catcher, strewn with chopped chives, onto my very new compost pile.

Using the reel mower wasn’t exactly as I anticipated.  It does make a noise, for one thing.   It also seemed heavier than I remember from the antique sort I tried as a kid, and since it is 20″ wide it certainly is larger (especially with the grass catcher attached.)  It may not be perfectly suited to our yard either, but then again the difficulties of our yard would also be an issue with the gas mower, such as the fact that the yard is a hill.  I really do think the reel will be easier.  At least it was fun, quiet, and novel.  Plus, if it was a slight struggle to take it down to the garage then I don’t want to think of how difficult the heavier and bigger gas mower would be!  The yard may have a steep slope and some tree roots, but it is so mossy that I don’t expect much grass to keep up with.  I’ll certainly write about the reel mower again after I have more experience.

Last night I took advantage of the gorgeous weather by grilling steak, rings of onion, and sliced portobello mushrooms.  It was delicious!

supper from the grill grilled meal

The steak had nothing but garlic salt, fresh ground pepper, and MSG on it.  The mushrooms were salted and drizzled with olive oil after grilling.  I served it with a bit of my simple tomato salad (topped with dill) and in my case with a few dollops of homemade hot sauce.  Yum!