So hard to believe but I am only three steps away from finishing my chair! I hear angels singing and there is a special light shining over my home. The last three steps are adding the trim around the edges where I want nail heads, adding the bottom, called cambric, and the finishing nail heads. I’m saving the nail heads for the reveal post. Which means that this post is all about the trim and tush…wait, I’m bottom. (Yeah, I know. Bad joke.)
Adding trim is completely optional when you are adding nails heads. My original chair didn’t have it. Given that I was using two strong fabrics that on their own didn’t really “match”, it did need some transition elements to help truly pull the look together. The gold and ivory leopard print welt cord went a long way to transition the two but the HGTV trim I found at JoAnn Craft Store nailed it in my opinion. And for the record, I could have stopped there but as much as it helped transition the fabrics, it also was another strong statement, but I will get into that more when I talk about the nail heads and the reveal.
I digress. Attaching the trim can be a rather sticky situation. And by that I really do mean sticky. Believe it or not, you attach trim and double welt cord with, wait for it, HOT GLUE. No joke. Hot glue. But it needs to be an extra hot temperature glue gun – not just the kind of glue gun you find at your run of the mill craft store. If you have hot glued before, then you know, it can stick to you and actually almost burn, so be prepared and careful. I burn myself at least three or four times I use my glue gun. Oh well, the life of a DIY-er. To attach the trim, I simply added a thin bead of hot glue to the exact area I wanted the trim. To make sure it stayed tight and adhered, I only added glue in about 6 inch increments. The trim that ended at the bottom of the chair got wrapped underneath to make a clean edge. The cambric covers it and creates a professional look in my opinion.
And that brings me to the bottom, the cambric. Adding cambric is actually fairly simple, especially compared to the rest of the chair. Most chairs, its also the finishing element! Cambric is basically the dust cover that sits on the bottom of your chair. It typically is a black and thin material. It comes in a big sheet generally and is pretty readily accessible at most upholstery supply stores, even JoAnn. It also serves to hide the inner workings underneath the chair. Remember those springs and burlap.
The best way I found to add the cambric is to take the old piece of cambric from the original chair and use it as a pattern. I did this with almost every other pieces of fabric that I took off the chair. I cut the exact same shape making sure that I added one (or two) inch more around the perimeter of the old cambric. Then it’s basically pulling and tacking and pulling and tacking and pulling and tacking.
The cambric is fairly thin. In fact, you can tear it pretty easily. So to give it added strength, I folded that extra inch underneath. To know where to make my fold was just a matter of folding it to match the original. There is no ironing in upholstery. Apparently most upholstery fabric doesn’t hold up well to an iron’s heat. So to keep the folds, I simply finger ironed. We have all done it. You know, where you fold a piece of paper and run your nails along the fold. Same thing, just with fabric.
As with all the other fabrics, you lay the cambric into position. You start at the top center and tack. The you move to the bottom center and tack. Repeat going back and forth top to bottom, switching from left top to left bottom to right top to right bottom, all the way across to the legs. Little tip I found was to pull out and slightly up as you tacked the top and out and slightly down as I tacked the bottom. This helped keep the cambric taught. Next you repeat the same tacking process on the left and the right side of the chair. If you are doing your own chair, you’re going to run into a challenge around the legs and that’s OK. Release cuts are needed to make those areas seamless.
At the leg, I attempted yet another release cut. I don’t mean to brag but I’m getting pretty brave and pretty good at these release cuts. Its simply a matter of holding the fabric taunt and perpendicular at the inside corner of the leg. Then, its as easy as slowly cutting straight down the center of the leg until right before you reach the base of the chair. The trick is then to make a very small Y cut that keeps the fabric from tearing. Fold the ends under and align them so they rest right up against the leg.
Pulled out the pneumatic stapler and stapled it in place. A little trick I learned was instead of taking out a tack and then stapling in its place, I stapled between the tacks. When done stapling the cambric down, I removed the tacks. Then I stapled where the tacks had been. One key thing for keeping the cambric strong and in place is how you staple the staples. If you keep them parallel with the outside edge of the chair’s frame, you are grabbing the most surface area of the fabric so it doesn’t pull. The only exception at the legs. I still stapled parallel to the frame all the way up to the edge of the leg. But to give it some added strength and to not have any open areas, I also stapled parallel to the leg.
Then there I was. Only one step away from finishing. One step for my ugly duckling of a chair to turn into the beautiful swan of a chair I knew it could be. But that’s for another post.