Victorian balloon Back dining chair

Two of a kind

Learning the noble art of traditional upholstery continues to be both hugely challenging and incredibly rewarding. However, it turns out that creating a number of matching chairs is a whole different skill in itself! So back in the summer, I brought two dining chairs into college to work on together.

Great legs

These chairs are Victorian balloon backs with cabriole legs and some beautiful carving. This style of chair dates from about 1840, so they are approximately 150 years old.

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Snap!

In order to create two matching seats, you have to apply each layer of upholstery to both the chair frames, weighing the stuffing and constantly measuring the height as you go.

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Woman on the edge…

Stitching is one of my favourite elements of traditional upholstery – it creates a firm edge, gives a seat its shape – and its key to creating two seats that look the same!

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A matching pair

Using traditional upholstery methods and materials on these antique chairs means that they not only look beautiful, but will now have many, many more years of life in them yet. And they look pretty darn matching too!20141101-234935.jpg

I could have been a sports car, you know….

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When we were at a friend’s house a while back, I spied a lovely Victorian balloon back dining chair that was looking rather worse for wear. The leather was very worn and split and the seat was dipping – so I offered my services to rescue it from ‘sagsville’.

According to our friend, Anthony, the chair was likely to have been last reupholstered by a someone who worked alongside his father at the MG factory in Oxford in the 1950’s.


All the trimmings

They used red leather from the trimmings workshop, and judging from the colour, its probably the same leather that would have been used on the interior of the 1950’s MG Magnette saloon – see below. I know this because Anthony told me and he is quite the MG expert…

MG magnette exteriormagnette interior

New for 2014…

I have now re-upholstered the seat. Although it doesn’t have that sports car feel about it any more – it looks rather lovely and is much more comfortable!

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Keeping hold of the past

But, so we don’t lose an important part of this chair’s history, I have saved a sample of the MG trimming leather and slipped it under the webbing with a print out of this blog entry. A little piece of history for the next upholsterer to find…!