Tuesday, October 13, 2009

THE chair and The Bumby

What you have in front of you are two things that I like very much. Unfortunately, one of them was the downfall of the other.

The little creature sitting in THE chair like a person looking out the window is a Bumby. Many people would call her a cat, but in this house, she is the most uncatlike cat living here. She likes to eat the dog's food, drink their water, hang out in their room and chase their toys. She also says "please" and "thank you" whenever she is let in and out the door. She has, however, within her a very catlike habit. Clawing.

Bumby and THE chair came into our household about the same time. I bought THE chair from a neighbor's garage sale for $25. It had been her grandma's and the history of it appealed to me. I liked the lines, it was well constructedand I felt that the upholstery would hold up for a few years and then I would recover THE chair.

Enter Bumby. We were out walking our lab, Jake one night and came upon three abandoned, very young kittens by the side of the road. As we were looking at them trying to decide what to do, a lady pulled up in a car. She had also seen them and was willing to take two of them home. Much to the dismay of Mr. Tennis, I said we would take the one left. Thus, The Bumby, entered our lives. Two unhappy older cats gave her the cold shoulder (okay, it was worse than the cold shoulder-one of them literally kicked the tiny kitten off the ottoman I placed her on- welcome to the household), but The Writer and The Maven were happy about the addition to our personal zoo. Bumby thrived and settled into the household rather seamlessly except for one thing. Okay, there were actually many things, but one for the purpose of this blog. She liked to work out her claws on THE chair. It was her favorite past-time besides hassling me in the middle of the night. Yes, I provided her with scratching posts and other outlets including this cathouse/scratching post that Mr. Tennis purchased in a moment of Bumby-love weakness.

Alas, THE chair did not fair well and looked awful after many months of abuse. I put it in storage. Bumby got declawed. We got two new couches.

The Dawn of a New Age: Mr. Tennis and I had finally dealt with emptying out our storage unit. THE chair! I had put it out of my mind for several years. We brought it home and I placed it in the living room and it really looked bad now that we had a new couch. I turned around to say something to Mr. Tennis and the next thing I knew the clawless Bumby was working THE chair over like old times.

Undaunted, I set about getting prices for re-upholstering or having slipcovers made for my old friend. I took my good friend, CG, with me to look at fabrics and get the estimates. As we left the first place, she complimented me on the ability to keep a straight face when the lady told me it would be $600-$700 to recover THE chair. I'm sure I at least had the good sense to blanch a bit.

I never got an estimate (including fabric and labor) for less than $500 for recovering. $350 for a slipcover. I was relating this ridiculousness to CG when she uttered the words that I'm sure she has come to regret: "We could do it ourselves". Gulp.

First we shopped for fabric. Check. $21 for 7 yards at a discount fabric store. Then we shopped at Joann's for other necessities such as thread, tacks, batting, button-making kits. You get the idea. So far this was a bargain in the making!!

Two weeks ago CG came over bright-eyed and bushy tailed for our first session. Actually, I thought the whole thing would be done in one day. I had no idea.... I should have known when she came armed with cutting boards, a sewing machine, quilting rulers, scissors, AND, two cans of Coke, that we were in it for the long haul.

That first day my friend amazed me. She had never recovered furniture before, but her analytical, physicist, engineer mind just took over and she was completely in control. We would take the fabric off, label it, write down what we did AND take pictures. That way, she said, we would have a record of what we did and we would do the reverse when we recovered THE chair. Brilliant! I never would have thought of it! I would have ripped the pieces off, used them as rough patterns, cut out the new stuff and started stapling.

The first day - 6 hours - we spent removing the fabric, removing staples and tacks, labeling, etc. just as CG said we should. I was exhausted. She was exhilirated. It was then I realized why the prices were so high to re-upholster. These poor people needed a therapist when they were done with each piece of furniture they recovered. Our next time together would be the next week. Surely we would finish it then.

The next week came and so did CG. I started out chipper enough, but didn't realize that our ENTIRE DAY would be spent placing the old pieces of fabric onto the new fabric. Yes, readers, it took a WHOLE day! Thank goodness for CG! Her brilliant mind gave her the instincts of an expert upholsterer. She knew that we would have to place the pieces carefully so the fabric design would flow and not look like some idiot (read, me) just put it on there haphazardly. I'm a person of action and a day of pinning old fabric on new fabric after laborously scrutinizing the design of the fabric did me in. I didn't even have the heart to take pictures of that stage of the process. I practically threw CG out the door. I'm surprised she came back after all the whining I did.

But, she is such a good friend, and return she did 4 days later after I had "recovered". CG arrived again with a big smile on her face and her rulers and sewing machine. This was a day of action as we used the batting to build up the existing padding on THE chair. After a couple of hours (yes, it took that long, don't be impatient) we were determined to get at least ONE piece of new fabric on. According to our (very detailed-yet still sketchy) records, the seat was the last piece taken off, so it would be the first to go on.

With her usual precision and sixth sense instincts for upholstering, CG placed the new seat fabric on THE chair. We were both nervous, but each wielded our staple guns with confidence. It went beautifully! We had made the proper cuts in the right places and, THE chair had such wonderfully hard wood for it's frame, that we occasionally needed to use tacks instead of staples. But we did it. We recovered the seat!!!

I am so grateful for the friendship and expertise of CG (okay, skeptics, I AM NOT "using" her). Although we aren't finished yet, she has made this project fun, educational and, well, I just need to say it again - fun! Thanks CG, you have the patience of a saint and I owe you big time! See you tomorrow! To be continued...

Some of us prefer "other" chairs and recline in them at our leisure:

Many thanks to my very good friend, CG. If the Bostons like ya, you're okay!

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