Fabric Art Rocking Chair Seat
a reupholstering project
©2005, by Aisling D'Art
the rocking chair, before & after
woven fabric art
by Aisling D'Art
The rocking chair is called a Lincoln rocker by some, and a Kennedy rocker by others. It's the same design that Jack Kennedy had in the White House. He felt that it helped his back. This particular chair came from a yard sale on Boston's North Shore (an area by the ocean, north of Boston) and it cost $60 many years ago when my younger daughter and I found it. She could "see" me rocking in it, and so we brought it home, propped in the trunk of my car, and held in place with nylon camping rope.
The chair was well-used and well-loved for several years, until the dry woven seat finally began to sag and then collapse. I was dismayed, and knew that I wanted to do something wonderful with the chair, and make a present of it to my older daughter. It seemed naturally to belong to her, after awhile. I don't know why, but certain things are very organic and clearly "belong" to certain people.
When we were in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1996, I was in the big bookstore in town and saw a book, Country Rag Crafts, which I bought and sent back to the States. In that book, there were instructions for a woven footstool. As soon as I saw the color photos, I knew that was what I wanted to do with the rocking chair. With different colors, of course.
First, I wrapped fabric strips around (and around, and around) 3/8" sisal rope ("seagrass" in the UK). As I wrapped, I secured the fabric with hot glue.
Then I wove the seat, in a fairly intricate design that gives maximum coverage with minimal bulk. The design starts at the corners and works in.
The entire project took about three days, about three hours a day. It was a project completed while watching favorite old movies.
The fabrics include glittery pieces and plush black velvets, but mostly cottons. One of the fabrics is a blue calico that I used in the first quilt my older daughter had, when she was born. Some of the fabric is part of a seat covering fabric collage, which used to be on the back seat of our art car, the Glittermobile. There is also a Disney fabric woven in, with a yellow background and Mickey Mouse faces here and there. These are the things that are a personal "signature" in fabric art, and while I know what they mean (and my family does), they're sort of our personal secret when we look at what I have woven.
The rocker is now very comfortable, and it's in my older daughter's home. I'm very pleased with the results. And I hope this chair will last a long, long time before it needs a new seat again.
Here's the book that I used to learn to reupholster this chair: