Thursday, March 27, 2008

Design Dilemma: What Fabric for This Chair?

More Ways to Waste Time reader Amy writes: "My eyes are sore from staring at the computer screen, and my mouse hand is weary -- I need your help. I'm looking for fabric to redo this director’s chair and its twin. I’ve been searching for a zig-zag fabric like the one on the pillow below from Twinkle Living, or maybe a wavy pattern, but I'm also open to other ideas. I’m going to sand and repaint the chairs, so some paint color ideas would help, too. Orange, blue, green, or a nice crisp white would work in my house."

What a fun project! Those chairs are going to look sharp.

I love the idea of sanding the wood and painting it a poppy hue that coordinates with the fabric you ultimately choose -- though you might not want to paint if you think the chairs might be valuable.

Since the fabric will have to support the weight of the sitter, you'll need something pretty tough, such as a thick canvas or upholstery fabric. But my friend and sewing goddess Kitty, to whom I turned for advice on this question, says that regular cotton would also work as long as you interface it.

You're right that fabric with a zig-zag pattern isn't easy to find. But Kitty and I did a little online digging late into the night and came up with a few options for you:

The big, bold chevron pattern of Schumacher's High Voltage linen-cotton fabric in Espresso is probably the closest to the design on that Twinkle pillow. (FYI: Schumacher fabrics are "to the trade" only, but if you have a design center near you, you can ask to be connected with a buyer there.) This would look dramatic and sophisticated on chairs stained a deep espresso shade.

This Zenyatta Mondatta cotton-blend fabric in Peacock, also from Schumacher, is my personal fave. I'd lacquer the chair frames in a high-gloss green matching the "olivine" shade in the fabric.

Though it's not quite a zig zag, this Marimekko Geometric Lock cotton upholstery fabric in Chocolate Chip, $20 a yard at Contemporary Cloth, has a similar effect. For pure pop, paint the chairs to match the green.

Another bold and colorful choice: Donna Wilder for Free Spirit's Utopia cotton fabric in Leaf Green and Chartreuse is just $4.24 a yard on eBay. I'd match the chair paint to the darker green, but you could go either way.

OD Zig Zag synthetic outdoor fabric in Sunshine, $14 a yard at Hancock Fabrics, would look so cheerful on white-painted chairs.

IKEA's Petronella cotton duck fabric, $6 a yard, has that geometric flair you're after and would be really dramatic on black-painted chairs.

For a wavy look, I like this fresh green Katrin cotton duck fabric, also $6 a yard at IKEA. I'd go with white chair frames for this one.

Marimekko's Lokki heavyweight cotton fabric in Blue and White, $42 a yard at FinnStyle, would be another great wavy option (and look super-snappy on white chairs) if the scale wasn't so big -- those stripes are a whopping 11 inches wide. Anyone know where to find something like this in a smaller pattern?

If you decide not to paint the chairs, the natural tones in this faux Bangal Chestnut Tiger Skin, $16 a yard from Hancock, would pair nicely with the wood. It'd still give you the zig-zag effect you're after but also add a dash of "safari chic."

For an idea of what the finished project might look like if you go the natural wood-and-animal print route, here's a pair of similar chairs I found on 1stdibs that have been done up in (real) cowhide: These babies cost $1,500, so your chairs have the potential to be a great find -- not to mention a super-stylish addition to your home.

Anyone out there have more fabric suggestions for Amy? If so, please post a comment (with a link, if possible) and share it. And Amy, please send me a shot of the chairs when you finish making them over!

P.S. Have a design dilemma of your own? Send it in, along with a photo or two, and I'll put it up here for a communal brainstorming session.


Kelli said...

I immediately thought of some zigzag fabric I saw on Making It Lovely last week. It's Amy Butler's forest/ritzy stripe fabric (though it may not be thick enough).

Anonymous said...

I was going to suggest the Amy Butler one too, it's beautiful!

Another one I love is this ikat fabric (although it might not be suitable for Amy's project..)

RicRac by Studiobon might appeal..

Anonymous said...

I love that sunshine-y yellow one (the outdoor fabric). I just might make a shower curtain out of it!

So, I'm not really helping with suggestions, just stealing ideas for my own use... :)

Anonymous said...

Lulu DK's "Reverse Chant" would look great in any of the colorways.

Anonymous said...

Good Job! :)


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