The Transformation of Edith, the Gossip chair

For the month of May, besides wearing Me-Made items and trying to finish up some sewing projects, I have been taking an evening class on furniture rehabiliation and upholstery.  Our teacher, the wildly talented and passionate Maaike of Maaike Furniture Resurrection, fearlessly led us through unchartered (for me) territory of ‘real’ furniture upholstery. And so a dream was realised and Edith was given a second life.


I met Edith when she was in a very dark place in her life.  She was abandoned on the side of the street, her vinyl skin faded, and her inards falling out. I could see she had potential and with a bit of love could be restored to her former glory.  So with an awkward walk home, carrying a decaying Occasional chair, I saved Edith from Furniture Death Row and the fatal crunch of the Monday morning rubbish truck jaws.


Dear Husband was not highly impressed to have his precious garage space taken up with a dust bucket so Edith was relegated to the balcony to await the furniture resurrection workshop.


And so began the journey of my Thursday evening escapades at Maaike’s studio in Darlinghurst with friend, Rochelle, forgotten dinners, fun music, broken nails, sore hands, dusty clothes and huge smiles and an enormous sense of satisfaction.  The first step was to strip Edith right down to her naked self.  Every tack and staple had to come out.  All her guts and rotten springs were removed and she was left as bare bones and vulnerable – which she didn’t enjoy. But it gave us a chance to envisage the new Edith.Image

I then set up the structure of webbing pulled tight (with nifty little jigs) and nailed in with tacks.


New springs were added and painstakingly stitched onto the webbing and knotted and tied down with string that was stapled to the frame.  This is to make sure the springs don’t shift and only ever spring up and down rather than warping forwards or sideways.


A layer of hesian went over the springs and more stitching and knotting to hold them in place.  Then I stitched in some ‘bridles’ which were stuffed with teased coconut husk.  This was a seriously dusty exercise and had me sneezing all evening.  And Edith suddenly looked all wild and scary and I had a hard some seeing how she’d get her elegance back.


But another layer of hesian plus a clever roll on the front edge under the hesian and she started looking like a chair.


Two layers of foam came next  – one on the top, and a thinner one to the frame edge. And then a layer of flock to smooth out some of the edges.


And finally the top fabric goes on.  I chose a gorgeous vintage upholstery fabric from Maaike’s stash.  I think it’s of silk (maybe polyeser given it’s 70s history) with a metallic sheen and payful green geometric shapes.  I LOVE this fabric but I’m not going to lie it was NOT the easiest to work with.  It doesn’t always sit well, I had to be careful of matching shapes and every now and then it decided to rip (the most terrifying sound ever).  But we managed to hide most transgressions and it was well worth the effort.


Bottom done. Back getting it’s foam over webbing and hesian.


Nearly there…


A bit of coffee sacking for the back, more flock and the final cover piece.Image

Ta Daaahhhh.  She’s done!!  One beautifully elegant and graceful Edith and one Very happy Mary :-).  Edith now has pride of place in our home although no sweaty cyclists are allowed near her.




Edith is already attracting attention on the World Wide Web on Maaike’s Facebook page.  And I’m looking forward to a long happy relationship.  When I showed a picture of the completed Edith to a friend she said “ooh…it’s a Gossip chair!  You sit with your friend, sipping your tea and gossiping.”  Well I only have one Edith (for now)  so she and I will be doing the gossiping 🙂

Thank you Maaike for a fabulous workshop and thanks, Rochelle for joining me on the journey.  What’s next?




5 thoughts on “The Transformation of Edith, the Gossip chair

  1. Pingback: Me-Made-May: The Grand Finale | Dodgy Zebra

  2. So fun! I love the transformation. I wasn’t brave enough to start totally from scratch when I reupholstered my ottoman. Even though the webbing wasn’t taught anymore, I just couldn’t imagine the amount of work that would be needed to strip it back that far, so I decided it was good enough. Also, I love that there’s coconut in your chair!

    • Thanks, Amy! I definitely wouldn’t have stripped it back to the skeleton if I wasn’t in a class where I got step-by-step guidance. Although I’m stoked that I followed through the whole way 🙂 It was certainly a great learning experience.
      The coconut was a nice classic additional although VERY dusty to work with. Definitely wouldn’t do that in my living room!
      I also have a wingback chair that I’m thinking of tackling although I’m not convinced about how to deal with the final bits that you hammer in…will have to do some research. And fabric? Maybe some of your gold (dodgy?) zebra print 🙂

      • How much fabric do you think a wingback will take? I’d love to remake mine, but I’m scared as to how much fabric it’ll need. And I have two!! In my dreamy dream world I’ll actually have enough of the gold zebra left over to add it somewhere onto the wing backs – maybe the back piece? – to unite them with the ottoman since they were all originally from the same set. It would be awesome if you had a matching gold zebra wing back in your home!

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