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Dec 15

Inkle Band Woven Chair Seat

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Designed by Judy Pagels

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.

Black ladderback chair without a chair seat

Judy’s chair before restoration

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

Design diagram for weaving Inkle Loom bands

Judy’s final design for the bands

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.

 Project Details

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.

Finished size:

4 bands, each 1-7/8″ wide x 102″ long

Yarn:

3/2 mercerized cotton in colors Oak and Natural: 40 yds Natural and 26 yards Oak for warp, 26 yds Oak for weft

Notions:

sewing thread

Equipment:

inkle loom; 8-1/2″ Texsolv heddles (optional); sewing machine; wood glue; staple gun and staples

Weaving

  1. 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.
  2. Weave the full length of the warp with Oak weft.
  3. Make 3 more bands.

Diagram of warp color order for Inkle Loom bands

Warp color order

Inkle Loom bands stapled to the seat bottom

Inkle bands are stapled to the bottom of the chair.

Finishing

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.

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Woven chair seat comprised of white and gold Inkle Loom bands

It’s all in the details!

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 . . .

Completed woven Inkle Loom Band chair seat

Finished seat cover

Restored black ladderback chair with Inkle Loom Band woven seat

Judy’s restored chair with new paint and a handwoven seat