I wrote about the floor model chair that I picked up for half-off yesterday. It had a 2″ tear along the top (not along a seam), and I asked if it seemed like something that can be fixed.
I called Anthropologie to see if they could offer a better discount (no), but they did say that I could still return the chair even after attempting to fix it, so I figured I had nothing to lose by trying. Many of you recommended keeping the orange chair that we already own, and having it reupholstered for a new look. I like the shape of the new chair more though, I love the fabric, and if I sell the orange chair I can essentially swap chairs at no cost. Then if I decided to reupholster the new chair at some point, I’m not out any more money than I would be had I reupholstered the orange one.
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I went to the fabric store for mending supplies and came home with an embroidery hoop and some fabric to practice on, various liquid stitch adhesives, Fray Check, curved needles, iron-on patches, and several types of thread and embroidery floss.
I stretched my scrap fabric on the hoop and jabbed at it with scissors to recreate the upholstery tear. I frayed the edges too for good measure. Then I got to work trying out various methods, keeping the fabric stretched tight on the hoop to simulate the conditions of the fabric stretched tight across the chair back. Here are the methods that I (a novice) used.
Method 1: Darning Upholstery with a Looped Stitch
First, I applied Fray Check, as recommended by this upholstery darning tutorial. Then I used a heavy-weight thread that matched the fabric, and started with a looped stitch. I’ll let my play-by-play Twitter updates tell the story here.
I'm getting my darning on. I have some scrap fabric stretched on an embroidery hoop to practice with before attempting to tackle the chair.
And I am not understanding this looped stitch AT ALL. It looks like Frankenstein stitching. I should practice this stitch on lighter fabric. I can't tell what I'm doing! Though I kind of like the Frankenstein stitch. It's charming.
OK, I was trying to be cute with that last bit. The Frankenstein stitching was
somewhat charming, but not enough to actually use it on the chair. And I did figure it out toward the end, but it still wasn’t a good enough fix and I was worried that the extra tension would eventually rip the fabric further.
Method 2: Trying to Glue the Fabric Back Together
I thought that I could slip a little fabric under the tear and then glue in back together. I had actually called a local upholsterer for advice and this was the technique that they recommended, so I tried it. Messy and awful. The worst of it was a product I found (that sounded promising!) called Tear Mender. It was a rubber-cement like adhesive that smelled awful and gummed up my fabric. I think it could be great for thicker fabric or leather, but it was terrible for my linen. I tried a few other liquid stitch products, but none with good results.
Method 3: Patching the Fabric
There were two options for patching. One: I could cut out a matching portion of fabric from my chair’s armrest covers, glue it over the tear or iron it on with fusible mending tape, apply Fray Check to the ends, then stitch around the patch to secure. Or option two: slap an iron-on patch over the rip. To my surprise, the easier option worked! The patch fuses completely to the fabric, bonding to the ripped portion and preventing the tear from getting worse. And even better, the edges of the mending patch won’t fray so there’s no need to stitch around the edge (which calls more attention to the repair).
It’s not invisible (and I never expected that it would be), but it looks like it’s just part of the chair’s busy pattern. And as I had mentioned, the tear takes away some of the chair’s preciousness, which isn’t such a bad thing. I could even blend the patch by using fabric paint to match the pattern, but I don’t think that will be necessary.
One Last Option
I can pile on the pillows and a throw blanket. Sure, there’s no room to sit, but look how cute it is.
I kid! The chair’s going to be just fine.