When new student Tai pulled up to my studio one Saturday morning a few weeks ago to show off her $5.00 mushroom ottoman find, you’d have thought she found a tiny bag of diamonds. She was beaming. Coming straight from a Saturday morning estate sale, she asked if she could reupholster this in her Beginning Upholstery class. It wouldn’t take much time, so of course she could fit it in while working on her chair.
Upon examination, there was the name Erzeugnis Luschon on the bottom of the stool. Neither one of us had heard of this guy, but we both concluded the seller had no idea what he had just given away for a measly $5.00. Quick, to the archives! Our research attempts were disappointing. All we found were random dinner chairs, egg chairs and some stools circa late 1960’s, early 1970’s. Tai was still elated, so it didn’t really matter.
As you can see in the photo, the black tulip base is topped off with an icky white faux fur. Now before you go trashing faux fur, let me point out some of its good qualities. Whatever they use for the backing on fake fur, it allows you to stretch the heck out of it. Thus the white faux fur fits nice and snugly around this curvaceous beauty.
We thought about trying to find a real vintage fur coat to use as upholstery fabric, but the hide may not provide the stretchability to fit smoothly against the foam mushroom shape. If we tried to upholster it with any woven fabric, or even a stretchy polyester knit (which Tai brought in to sample), once you get down around the bottom edge, there will inevitably be too much fabric to ease in and get snug against the bottom edge. Then, lightening struck. If she wanted the look of a real mink coat, why not find a high quality looking faux mink that has that same backing as the original?!! I pulled out two options from my stash and she found the one she wanted to use. She took the ottoman apart, painted the black base a glossy white and was ready to re-cover.
One little scare was that the 1 yard I had ended up being about 2″ too short, until I showed her how to boss that faux fur around and give it the old stretcharoo. She started by pulling the two short sides up and over the bottom edge and getting some staples in place.
After stapling two opposite sides, she went to the other two opposing sides and got staples secured there. Now, the tricky part. Since there’s more material between two stapled sections than there is wood, you have to ‘ease’ the fabric. Easing is a sewing term that is usually used when you’re trying to fit a sleeve into a shoulder opening of a garment. What you do is divide each section of fabric in half (between two points that are already attached), and staple right in the middle. Next, you take the middle of the next sections and so on. Now, it would help if you could see this, but you have to use your hand to really smooth out the wrinkles and stretch the excess fabric (faux fur) around the edge so it’s flat. Then, quickly get your staples in to hold it smooth, unwrinkled and snug around the bottom edge. If you don’t quite get it, here’s a link to a little video I did a long time ago, but it illustrates how you ease fabric around a curve.
After it’s completely attached, she used a utility knife to cut off the excess. If you use scissors with faux fur, you’ll end up with a mess.
She placed the cardboard bottom back over the bottom of the wood base, marked the holes with a regulator (you can use anything) and stapled the cardboard in place.
The freshly painted white base goes back on.
And it’s finished!
It’s going in her closet, so she had to give it a try.