Ercol Llama, no drama upholstery challenge.
Ercol Llama, no drama upholstery challenge.
As part of Sew Crafty’s design team, once a month I get to choose some beautiful goodies from the site to make a personal project of dreams. Although this seems very very simple the truth is with so many fantastic fabrics available to choose from, it can leave you with too many ideas! I knew from first browse that I needed this Llama fabric by Robert Kaufman, but what to make with it? It would look excellent as a shirt (as made by Michelle Walsh) or I was contemplating trusty old Simplicity 2226, but many months ago before my partner and I had even found our first home I made a massive trek across the country to pick up a chair I’d successfully bid on eBay.
Mid-century style furniture has always had a special place in my heart and I’ve longed for an Ercol rocking chair because of how much it reminds me of my Gran’s tall backed rocker. It took some time to succeed, but when I did it was a mini jackpot. Although not a 1960’s original it is a 1990’s Ercol re-release with its gold insignia and Ercol covers.
Those covers. My partner only grudgingly agreed to the rocker, with the proviso that I’d quickly change the covers. The ReCover service from Ercol costs in the region of £300. Completely understandable but massively out of my budget and as the foam pads were in good condition and I can sew, this may be one of those rare projects that may actually end up costing me less to sew it myself! The challange? Make up to date covers that can be washed, because pug feet are smelly and always getting up on the furniture.
I decided Llama’s and grey cotton mash up would be an excellent addition to the house, but I’ve NEVER taken on a project like this before. I have made the odd 50 x 50cm scatter cushion but both pads were odd shapes and there is no available pattern for them. MMmmm. Drafting my own patterns secretly fills me with dread and the underlying fear that I’ll fail, but as this year’s mantra is ‘no fail, only learning’ I committed to some Llama drama.
I opted for a very simple pattern design and used the old covers as my starting point, seam ripped the basic shapes apart and then ironed the seam allowances INWARDS. I kept the seam tapes and zips to reuse.
I then ironed the pieces in half, drew a center fold line on pattern paper and lined up the fold of the covers on the line. I then drew around them on pattern paper, marking where the seam tape popper things needed to be and zippers.
I added 1.5cm seams allowance around the pattern piece and cut them out ready to use as normal. I used this technique on both the bottom and back covers. It actually turned out to be quite simple! After so much panic and concern, the pattern pieces sewed together without issue. Who knew I could sew, hey?
The only tricky parts are the popper tapes which I made sure I marked lines on before removing them so they could reach the fixed poppers on the bottom of the rocker, and the top of the back pad. I definitely recommend doing this and making sure you have them the right way round before reinforce stitching them in. I also added heavy weight interfacing on the back pad fabric where the poppers are reinforced to stop the fabric from being stretched when used.
I busted open the seams to create the parallel seam stitch which reinforces the seams that will come under stress, which was an original feature in the old covers. I also used mega fat piping on the bottom which the original design included and basically made the bottom covers more sturdy and give a professional finish.
Llama’s back and front to complete the look. I was super careful with my 2.5m of Llama goodness and managed to get front and back Llama’s on both sides of the foam pads. No matter where this open-backed chair is placed, this beautiful print will be visible.
The finished result is literally my favorite project to date. After so much self-doubt, procrastination and making excuses I proved to myself that I actually know what I’m doing. Those little Llama’s work so well with the piping and grey shot cotton. From afar they look like a traditional dogtooth but closer inspection shows the happy pink-cheeked cuties ready to comfort your bum. This chair is perfect for knitting, cross stitiching and if you have a baby, breast feeding, and hugging.
Of course now I’ll spend most of my time telling waldo off for trying to commandeer it, but who could blame him? Hope you join me for next months sew crafty design team make.
Both supplied by Sew Crafty