I’ve been getting into upholstery lately and I’m really loving it. I’ve been teaching myself how to properly tie springs, add burlap, build seats back up, etc. There are quite a few skills that are way out of my league right now, but I hope to be able to tackle them at some point. The sight of channel backed furniture still sends a shiver down my spine because I know how hard they are to make. I’m also afraid of buttons, but I’ll get there…
So when I saw this cute mini Victorian settee on Craig’s List, I thought this would make a good starter project. No buttons or channel backs in sight!
It had a wood frame, which is easy to attach fabric to, and gimp trim around the edges. While it was very outdated, it had good bones and tons of potential. Plus, it was priced extremely well for what it was.
After getting it home, I took the fabric off to reveal muslin underneath.
Whatever fabric I picked was going to be determined by what I was going to paint the body, so I started there. The color of the wood was dark and red, so I sealed it all over with Miss Mustard Seed’s Tough Coat.
Tough Coat is an acrylic polymer resin that acts as a primer, sealer, and topcoat. Applying it to the settee did two things for me – first, it sealed in all of that dark stain so it wouldn’t bleed through my paint. Second, it provided a surface Milk Paint could adhere to.
As I applied Tough Coat, I was careful to avoid the muslin and I watched for drips. That was probably the trickiest part of this stage, because all of the carved details were goldmines for drippy spots.
As I sat on the chair to assess its level of comfort, I noticed that straw was coming out of the bottom. I removed the cambric dust cover and saw that the original straw stuffing was falling through the burlap, into the springs, and out of the bottom.
I could have left it alone and pretended I never saw it, but that wouldn’t be right, so I took everything apart. I removed the layer of jute webbing, untied the springs, removed the burlap, and threw the straw away.
At that point, I had a settee with no bottom…just an empty frame coated with Tough Coat. While I placed my orders for new upholstery supplies, I painted the frame in Miss Mustard Seed’s “Mora”. Mora is a gorgeously pale blue/green and it’s named after the town of Mora, Sweden that is famous for curvy clocks.
Covering the mini settee took three coats of Mora and the Milk Paint crackled and crazed all on its own in certain spots. It was simply gorgeous!
It took quite a bit of time to gather all of the upholstery supplies I needed to complete this project. I didn’t have anything – no webbing, no stretcher, no tacks, no spring twine, no burlap, no tools…nothing! It was probably two months before I got everything delivered and ready to go.
(Now mind you, I wasn’t buying all of these supplies for one project. I’m definitely invested in pursuing upholstery and this piece definitely wasn’t going to be my last.)
I didn’t take many photos of the upholstery process because I was so concentrated on what I was doing to remember. I did snap a few for Instagram, and I highly recommend following me there. I film a story just about every day and it’s a great way to keep up to date on what’s going on in the workshop.
I also ordered my fabric online as well. I went with a lovely linen that I found on a website a friend recommended to me.
Isn’t it lovely?
My source for learning HOW to upholster is Kim’s Upholstery. As I was looking up videos to learn how to tie springs, I found one of hers on YouTube. Then I found her website. THEN I saw she offered access to TONS of videos, a community forum, vendor sources, and so much more through her online classes. I signed up for her yearly subscription and I watch them when I have down time. She has videos showing how she does specific skills as well as video series showing a project from start to finish. If you’re a novice like me, I highly recommend checking her out.
After some time, I finished the mini settee and I’m so darn proud of myself!
I know it’s not 100% perfect, but I did all of that work myself. I taught myself how to do it and I did it. I’m really happy with the way it turned out.
It’s the exact look I was going for – soft, simple, sweet.
I distressed the edges of the mini settee and went into the carved details with a small screwdriver to highlight all of the lovely features.
Victorian – era furniture can often times be over-the-top in its embellishments, but I think the soft color palette of this piece tones all of that down.
Here’s a close up of that natural Milk Paint crazing. I didn’t do anything to bring this about. Milk Paint did it all on its own. That’s one of the things I absolutely love about this type of paint. It takes on its own personality and gives you an authentically aged finish.
The mini settee doesn’t have a very large profile. It fits one person and it’s more of an oversized arm chair than a settee.
The back has a lovely panel.
I was able to use some French scroll gimp that I had leftover from another project. As I was gluing it on, I was literally praying that I had enough. I had roughly measured it and found it to be enough, but you never know. When I finished, I had about 5 inches to spare!
I saved the original upholstery tag that was underneath the chair and hot glued it to the bottom. I thought it added a nice finishing touch to the total makeover.
So that’s my mini Victorian settee makeover from start…
This mini settee is available for purchase at Rooted in New London, PA for $320 if you’re interested! They can be found at 2049 Newark Rd, Lincoln University, PA 19352 and you can call the shop at (610) 869-6474.