Today, I’m introducing you to Casey Biuso from New Hampshire. Mother of two daughters, wife, and upholstery wiz kid, Casey is one of my Bootcamp alums. We’re kindred spirits when it comes to furniture, fabric, and design. She took to upholstering like a fish to water. She’s one of those people that, when you’re talking, you don’t even need to finish the sentence, she gets it. After Bootcamp, Casey returned to her home far far away. We’ve emailed a little, chatting chair makeovers and whatnot.
THEN, this past weekend, she sent me photos of a chair makeover she just completed. Who knew she could do this on her own? I’m kidding, I knew that she could. I am so proud of her, I just have to let you meet her. In fact, I decided to ask her some questions that readers ask me. If you’re like me, when you work alone, it can be confounding to figure things out on your own, with seemingly no help around. (Seriously, I’m always here to help!)
Sometimes, people get going on a project, run up against something that frustrates them, then they give up. Not this one.
Meet the beautiful, funny, talented and all around SuperGirl, Casey Biuso and her younger daughter, Finley.
The duck chair has found its place. The great thing about the chair is that it’s wide enough to share. Perfect for both sisters, Finley and Eleanor, or one child and one grownup. There’s nothing better than snuggling down on a cold winter afternoon.
There’s a lot of crafty souls out there who may be afraid of an undertaking this big, see what Casey says about her project triumphs and pitfalls. (BTW-NICE double welt cord!)
Q: This obviously isn’t your first attempt at upholstery, how many pieces have you done?
A: This is my second piece but really it’s my first solo attempt. I have a habit of running before I walk.
Q: Where did you find the confidence to tackle such an old chair?
A: The credit goes entirely to my favorite upholstery diva Ms. Shelly. I had always wanted to try but had never found the confidence nor the place to start. Having jumped at the chance to do a Bootcamp with Shelly, I got an elbow deep experience which showed me, start to finish, the process and took away much of the intimidation.
Q: Was there horsehair stuffing in it? Did you take it all out and replace it with modern padding?
A: There was horse hair and it was D.I.R.T.Y. And yes, I happily replaced it.
Q: What aspects of the chair did you restyle?
A: Other than making a (perhaps) questionable style choice for the back cushion and a little repaint the overall style is the same.
Q: Did you have to make a pattern for the cushion, or was there a reliable one to use?
A: A little of both. My cushion was dusty but usable. I wanted more depth so I used the cambric and some muslin to pin a mock up of what I wanted. Plus, I have a real thing for symmetry and there is nothing that bugs me more than an imperfect pattern (especially, front and center on the cushion!)
Q: What did you make the new cushion out of?
A: 4″ high density foam with a Dacron wrap. The back cushion is made of a down bed pillow. I don’t have much access to supplies so finding simple solutions has been a must.
Q: How did you make the double welt cording?
A: Well, this is where the story turns into one of the larger learnings for me. You see, I was trying not to do double welt thinking that some of the curves would be easier with a single welt. But when I had finished all but the cording I realized I couldn’t figure out a way glue the single welt neatly, so I just didn’t do it. The poor chair sat 3+ months while I ignored the problem. Finally, I realized I had to step up to plate and buy the foot and double cord (both are very worthwhile purchases). Once I got them, the whole thing took :60 and half of that was cutting the fabric. The cording was probably the simplest part of the whole darn project! Silly me!
My sewing machine is a brother se-350. It’s a good machine with some heft. Not too finicky about thick materials. Though a little finicky about thick thread.
The foot came from gonesewing.com. As I look at it now my machine isn’t listed as a fit match (though it fits perfectly fine) but you can easily get Viking ankles that fit almost every foot.
The foot thing seems the most intimidating when shopping online but in the end I think it would be hard to get the wrong one as long as you do some quick google research.
Q: Were there springs under the seat? Did you remove them? What did you do from there? replace? re-tie?
A: There are springs. I left them because there is some serious metal with sharp lookin’ teeth down there. Having sat in it more I think I will add some webbing to support the bottom of the springs a bit more.
Q: How long did it take to reupholster this chair?
A: Working wise- 2- 2 1/2 months working between nap times.
Q: What advice would you give someone who has never upholstered, but wants to try?
A: Dig in. Well, that is- try it with a teacher and if that’s not available find a good tutorial and THEN dig in, even if you aren’t exactly sure what to do. Work on something you don’t need to keep and find some free/ bargain fabric so that your heart isn’t set on the project’s ultimate success (a decorator will almost always have left over yardage or try Craig’s List). My favorite chair is about 4th on my list so that I can build up my confidence and technique a bit.
Q: What’s your next project?
A: After dumpster diving a church dumpster in my small town (with my two small children on a very hot day- it was a sight) I found a 70’s rocking armchair. It’s the perfect manly chair for husband’s home office. I’m trying to talk him into an octopus fabric I love from Spoonflower… Wish me luck!
Q: Was your family impressed with your mad upholstery skills?
A: Very impressed. My daughters like to snuggle in it and it seems like it will hold up to them. My husband now hopes that it will mean that I can put a dent in the over grown chair collection that has sprung up in our barn- watch out people this sport is addicting and space consuming!!
Peek in to see more of what goes on at Bootcamps here, and here and here.
If you have an interest in exercising your brain, meeting new people, turning something old into something beautiful, and just plain learning a valuable skill, we have one space left for the February Bootcamp and one spot left for March. You can actually make some good spending money rehabbing and selling mix and match chairs. To learn more, click right here on Classes.