I hate these frickin’ chairs

I hate looking at them.

I hate working on them.

I hate writing about them.

After our last post, it got personal with me and these chairs. A point of honor.  I was not going to be defeated in this DIY endeavor. Defeat was just. not. gonna. happen.

This (sorta) Old Life:  Chair project

We WERE going to have vinyl, dammit, and the corners were NOT going to look as crappy-ass as this.

When we discovered we didn’t have enough vinyl, Cane and I decided to be all in. We sucked it up and bought more, even though the price of the materials we’d bought was taking these chairs out of the bargain range. And–oh, yeah–the running total included the cost of two more cans of spray paint for the wood.

I had to put all the supplies aside while I suffered through the second half of a nearly two-week migraine jag, but as of last Friday I was on day 7 of no headache, so this weekend it was on. The chairs were going down. And I was going to emerge the victor.

Cane and I pulled out the chairs on Saturday. We tried a few more ways to fold the fabric around the chair, but no matter how we did it, it just looked crappy.

“Dang it,” I said. “I’m just going to have to sew the cushion cover.” Over on Facebook, a blogging friend (Alice of Bohemian Hellhole) very generously offered to show me how to sew the vinyl.

I thought about contacting her, but I really wanted to finish the chairs this weekend.

It can’t be that hard, I thought.

I sewed two scrap pieces together, and was surprised to find that the machine was able to sew the vinyl easily. No special needles or anything.

I wasn’t sure of exactly how to do this, but I started with the back, and I made a model out of paper.

This (sorta) Old Life: stupid chair project

Once I saw how it would need to go together, I screwed up my courage and started cutting the (not-cheap) vinyl and sewing it together.

This (sorta) Old Life: stupid chair project

Here’s the only useful information you’ll get in this post: If you’re sewing vinyl, you don’t want to hold the pieces together with pins–they’ll put holes in it. Painters’ tape works nicely, though.

Halfway through one side, it looked like this:

This (sorta) Old Life: stupid chair project

I’d try to explain how I figured out how to do this, but (SPOILER ALERT!) I’m not in love with how it all turned out, so I’m not going to bother.

I measured and figured it out as I went. I know it wouldn’t be that hard for most people, but in high school I did once score at the 2nd percentile on a test of mechanical and spatial reasoning, so it taxed my brain. (And that’s why I made one out of paper before cutting into the vinyl).

If you’re not one of the bottom 2% of humanity in terms of mechanical/spatial reasoning, I’m guessing you can look at the photo above and figure out how I made the blasted cover.

While I worked on the chairs, Cane spent the afternoon putting some poly/stain on the closet doors we weren’t supposed to buy until the stupid chairs are finished.

I’m glad we broke that rule we made, because his project went much better than mine did.

This (sorta) Old Life: stupid chair project

ANYWAY, back to the chairs.

After I wrestled one of the covers onto a back cushion, it looked fairly crappy because the cushions are a bit concave and have stitching that kept the vinyl from lying flat against the cushion.

This (sorta) Old Life: stupid chair project

So I stuffed the empty spaces with some polyster filler.

This (sorta) Old Life: stupid chair project

I was afraid this was going to look lumpy–or get lumpy after some use–but Cane encouraged me to go with it.

After finishing a back cushion and putting it into place, I was getting cautiously excited. This looked so much better than our first attempt, when we tried to wrap the cushion with the vinyl the way we would with any other fabric.

This (sorta) Old Life: stupid chair project

Don’t those seams look almost like a real upholstery job?

It took us just a few minutes to make some adjustments to our wrapping technique for the bottom cushion, and then we were ready to re-assemble the first chair.

It wasn’t all that easy to put the chair back together. Cane had to bring out the clamps just to get the screws all the way into the cushion.

This (sorta) Old Life: stupid chair project

We couldn’t get that gap to close without bringing out the clamp.

This (sorta) Old Life: stupid chair project

When it was all done, I wanted so much to be in love with it.

But I wasn’t.

The corners are still not as clean as I’d like. The cushions are not a smooth as I’d like. For all the time and money and energy I’ve put into these chairs, I wanted to love them.

This (sorta) Old Life: stupid chair project

Does this look like a guy who is sold on the new chairs? No, it does not.

I told myself to quit being such an anal perfectionist. I told myself they were going to look great in our colorful family room full of color-blocked pillows and art. I told myself that the chairs are just fine.

This (sorta) Old Life: stupid chair project

But I don’t like how the line of that seam doesn’t follow the line of the frame. At all.

Then I wheeled one into our family room. I don’t have a picture because by the time I did that it was getting dark and we needed to start dinner and I was not excited about how this was turning out.

I guess I would say that we didn’t hate them, but we didn’t love them. They were OK. Until I decided to sit in one. That’s when I discovered that the chairs are too short for our desk.


Why did we not test that before embarking down this dark and bitter path?

Because that’s how we do things!

Because I assumed that they were the right height. Or, like all such chairs, that the height could be adjusted!

And, no–the chairs can’t be adjusted. Of course they can’t be adjusted!

Yes, the chairs would be OK with a pillow on them. But after all this trouble, I don’t want them to be only OK with a freaking extra pillow! I want them to be fabulous! I want this to be a total victory! They aren’t, and it’s not.

And at this point, all the things I was trying so hard to overlook could not be overlooked any longer. Because they were screaming at me.

This (sorta) Old Life: stupid chair project

The seam I worked so hard to figure out and execute just wasn’t going to cut it. The seam needs to curve like the top of the frame does. I know this marks the chair as undeniably DIY, and not in a good way.

This (sorta) Old Life: stupid chair project

In case you think I’m being completely ridiculous, I offer this view. Compare the wavy line at the bottom of the back cushion with the straight line of that arrow.

So (as you can see above) we hauled the chair up to the kitchen. Just to see. We’re still using a motley crew of mismatched chairs at our kitchen table, and we thought we’d just see how these might work up here. Because I’m kinda hating them for the family room now.

This (sorta) Old Life: stupid chair project

Cane ate dinner in the chair, and he declared that the chair is comfortable. But if I were to put them in this room, I’d want to change the fabric. I could easily wrap a regular fabric around the cushions so that the corners look just fine. And while the orange/red combo works great in the family room, it doesn’t up here.

But I don’t know if I can do it. I don’t know if I can buy anything more for these chairs that (today at least) I’ve pretty much come to hate. I think I would always feel resentful of them for not being the fabulous chairs I envisioned. I think I’d always look at them and see failure.

In the meantime, while I’ve been sitting here working on this post, Cane’s been surfing for chairs we could buy for not much more than we’ve spent on these “bargains” and showing them to me. I consider it a sign of my restraint and love for him that I did not pitch his laptop across the room after chair 15 or so.

“You know,” I finally said, “if we’re going to just go out and drop a bunch of money on some cool chairs, we should have bought the ones I wanted back in August.”

This (sorta) Old Life: stupid chair project

At $80 a piece, we thought these were too expensive. Now they look like a bargain.

I know there’s a lesson (or 500) in all of this, but right now I am too tired and frustrated to see it.