Sometimes I need an incentive to make a “someday” project into a “now” project. Schacht had an employee makers’ challenge this past fall, and it motivated me to pursue and complete a simple chair restoration. The twist: I wove inkle bands to replace the chair seat.
The chair has a simple design and I remember it being in our house when I was a little girl. At some point, it became mine and eventually the seat disintegrated. I stored it away for years, always intending to make a replacement seat in natural cord similar to the original—until inkle weaving entered my life! I have a fondness for uncommon decadence, so it was not a big leap for me to think that a woven seat of inkle bands would be just the thing for the chair.
I have not been an inkle weaver for very long. In 2019, I took a class at a local yarn shop and loved the simplicity of the loom and process. Then Annie MacHale published her book In Celebration of Plain Weave: Color and Design Inspiration for Inkle Weavers. I indeed found immediate inspiration—just as the title promised—and decided to pursue more inkle weaving. The patterns in her book were created using the online Band Weaving Pattern Editor at http://www.raktres.net/seizenn/editor.html
I started to use this pattern editor myself, turning out pattern after pattern. Designing with it is so much fun, it’s hard to stop and settle on a final design. Finally, I created an asymmetrical design that seemed perfect for my chair restoration project.
The seat required 5 vertical bands and 6 horizontal bands. I determined that weaving 4 bands at the maximum capacity of the Schacht Inkle Loom (about 8-1/2 feet) would give me plenty of yardage. Each band is about 1-7/8″ wide, made with 3/2 mercerized cotton.
4 bands, each 1-7/8″ wide x 102″ long
3/2 mercerized cotton in colors Oak and Natural: 40 yds Natural and 26 yards Oak for warp, 26 yds Oak for weft
inkle loom; 8-1/2″ Texsolv heddles (optional); sewing machine; wood glue; staple gun and staples
- Warp the inkle loom following the color order below. Heddle the appropriate warp threads—I used Texsolv heddles instead of string heddles and saved a lot of time.
- Weave the full length of the warp with Oak weft.
- Make 3 more bands.
Warp color order
The chair needed some TLC. I reinforced the joints with a little glue and gave it a new paint job. I selected a charcoal color to change it up a little from the original black. I used a brush but in hindsight should have used spray paint.
When I began this project, I did not have a clear idea about how I was going to attach the bands to the chair. I opted to cut each piece to the proper length for its position on the seat. Then I secured each cut end at the sewing machine, using a lot of zigzag stitching.
Each reinforced band was attached to the chair in two hidden locations, bottom and inside, with multiple staples, using a handheld staple gun. First, I evenly spaced and attached all of the vertical bands. Then I wove in the horizontal bands and stapled each end.
This was a lot of inkle weaving for me in a fairly short time—bandaids were required after a point—but it was all worth it. Not only do I have one less thing in my garage, I have a one-of-a-kind accent chair in my home. Would I do it again? Absolutely! But not until after the holidays . . .