A Make-do-Chair for the Hearth

This blog will, from time to time, stray from the food prepared for a meal, and dabble in items that might be found in the kitchen.

Around the colonial table one needs chairs, a stool or a bench.  In cold drafty kitchens it must have been nice for those who could afford a comfy wingback chair to sit by the hearth and keep warm. If you could not afford this luxury perhaps you made a Make-do-Chair.  

To build your own you might use an old ladder back chair or other wooden chair. First you would add a high enough back and then perhaps some sides from scrapes of wood that were available. Then cover it with an old whole cloth quilt that is well used or a piece of linsley-woolsey from an old curtain or counterpane you had around the house.  I’m sure that there were many ingenious men around who could construct a make-do-chair and women behind them cheering them on.

While off antiquing with a friend one day she came across a great chair, in original red paint, just crying to become a make-do-chair.  Barbara already had a make do-chair, and after a bit of discussion I bought it. I brought it home and like many of my finds, my husband rolled his eyes and shook his head.  Another project! 

What he did not know was just how easy this was going to be. Some make-do-chairs have lots of wooden parts.

Mine would not have sides so it should be easier to make. The chaining was in ruff shape and needed to be removed first, so we could get a good look at the project before us.

Once it was removed it was webbed tightly for a firm seat. As you can see the turnings are lovely and such a nice color and the arms much too graceful to hide with large sides wood panels.

In my closet sitting for the last five years, has been some old curtain I loved, but did not fit the window in my new house. This seemed like the perfect way to reuse them. I first covered the seat with foam and cotton batting. Then cut the material for the seat and a piece of canvas for the bottom. This I sewed together to make a tight fit.

My husband bought some pine and cut out two wooden forms for the inside of the arms.. He put two screws underneath the arms, and cut two wooden uprights in the form to receive the screw heads. With this and two screws put in from the bottom of the chair the side cannot fall out.  

I took time figuring out just how I wanted to apply the covering to the back of the chair.  I did not want to hide the back post. Unlike the chair seat, I covered the rungs with cotton batting and pulled the back batting through to the front after the second rung. This gave the lower chair back more loft. Then I folder a large piece of foam over the top and covered the front and back. I then covered that with the fabric and sewed down the edges between the rungs. When I got to the bottom I pulled the fabric tight and stitched it down under the seat.

 I made a double sided pillow to put on the seat. First I made an inside cover for the feathers . The sun was warm and the temperature about 70 degrees, so outdoors I went. I had a new down pillow that was too big for my couch and I took it outdoors and cut into it. The feather went flying everywhere. But I managed to stuff the new pillow seat and a back pillow too.

So here is my make-do-chair, ready for the hearth, or to pull up to the table as a comfortable seat to offer to one of my Easter guests.  

Happy Easter