Upholstering a rag rug chair

My mum and I started out 2020 with the intention to push the boundaries of what we could rag rug over the year. So far, I’ve upholstered a rag rug ottoman, made a rag rug jacket and covered a laundry tub with a beautiful rag rug sleeve. It’s been a proper year of experimentation. 

Amongst smaller projects, my mum’s main rag rug project this year has been to upholster two of her grandmother’s old chairs in rag rugging. And finally one rag rug chair is finished. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s an absolute stunner! 

Colourful upholstered rag rug chair
Our first rag rug chair is quite a statement piece

Want to read how Victoria came up with the design, and see work-in-progress photos? Read on below…

The Inspiration behind the chair:

Anyone who has been following Ragged Life for a while will have gathered by now that my mum, Victoria, has a bold colour aesthetic. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why one of her favourite interior designers is Matthew Williamson, who is known for pairing bold colours with bold prints. For some, he’s a bit much, but for my mum, he’s just right.

Earlier this year, Matthew Williamson shared photos of a vintage armchair he had updated with bright pink paint and fabric from Osborne and Little. The result is definitely a Marmite creation (some will love it and others hate it), but it sparked Victoria’s idea to pair a bold pink frame with a vibrant rag rug design.

Prepping the template:

As I have a bit more experience with 3D rag rug creations and construction, I was tasked with creating the template for Victoria to rag rug. I brought the chairs outside and carefully pinned the hessian over the back and base of the chairs to draw on a rough template to rag rug within. This was quite tricky as the chairs weren’t a simple shape.

I started off by sketching the shape of the back and base of the chair onto the hessian.

Once the seat pad and back templates were marked out onto the hessian, Victoria had free reign to mark out whatever design she wanted.

She was clear from the beginning that she wanted a fairly repetitive pattern that let the colours do the talking and eventually settled on a design inspired by bright Indian prints. Fabric-wise, she used a mixture of sari silk ribbon (duck egg blue and pink), jersey (aqua blue and dark blue), synthetic lining fabric (purple) and cotton, dyed off-white with tea bags. She began with the outline of each ellipse and built it up one colour at a time.

How the rag rug chair was made:

Once the rag rugging was complete, Victoria moved onto prepping the chair. First, she stripped the chair back to its base before moving onto the painting…

As with any project like this, the part that you think will be easiest always turns out to be the hardest. For us, it was finding the right colour pink paint for the rag rug chair! Everything we found seemed to be too neon and Barbie-esque. That meant, in the end we had to mix our own. Victoria started by cleaning the chair, then applying a base coat, and finally two coats of the pink.

Upholstering the rag rug chair:

With the chair prepped and ready to go, all that was left was the upholstering of the chair itself. This part, we didn’t feel too confident with, so we recruited the help of our friend Terri. Annoyingly, when we came to attaching the hessian, we realised that I’d made the template ever so slightly smaller than was needed, so a bit of rag rug surgery was needed to add a couple of centimetres more of rag rugging on each edge. This was a good learning for the future.

And here is the finished chair…

So, what do you think of our first ever rag rug chair? Comment below to let us know your thoughts or join the Ragged Life newsletter to be the first to see when new projects go live.

Happy rag rugging!

Elspeth x

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[…] Controversial though it may be, personally I prefer the colour cream in a rag rug project to white. It’s a purely subjective, but I think it looks a little less stark. I needed quite a bit of cream coloured fabric to complete the background for one of my projects for the new book and was totally out in my London flat. You can’t exactly pop down to the local charity shops with lockdown in full force, let alone with holiday hours, so I decided to take a leaf out of my mum’s book, and dye some fabric with tea… Read more »

Ann Kirkham
Ann Kirkham
17 days ago

It’s outstanding and I suspect it may be the first of its kind. I belong to a few rag rug groups and have only seen, a pouf, a stool and a loose seat cushion covered with rug hooking. What a trophy, well done.

Carolyn Meggison
Carolyn Meggison
2 months ago

Victoria’s creations are so inspiring. I love her use of rich colour combinations and pattern. I’m always excited to see her next project. I’m a big fan of her work ! 😊

2 months ago

In answer to Pam gittins: Use old t shirts scrounged from friends and family; there’s no need to buy expensive fabrics. Dye white ones the colours you want?

2 months ago

Great idea to upholster the chair and it looks really good! Victoria should be very proud!

2 months ago

That is stunning! Well done Victoria!

Pam gittins
Pam gittins
2 months ago

Awe inspiring but also made me feel a bit intimidated. I am 72 next week and can’t afford to buy shed loads of the right colours hence my rag rugging is always multicoloured cushions or throws to just out over furniture but you effort is fabulous love pamgittins3

2 months ago

Absolutely beautiful ❤️

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