SalvageHappy January 2021

ScrapHappy is a lovely virtual get-together on the 15th of every month, hosted by Kate and Gun. My current project doesn’t really count, because I had to use some new material, but I was able to salvage a 100-year-old chair, so I slightly adjusted the name of the event, and I am hoping to sneak the new stuff past the judges.  🙂

Back in the 1960s, my in-laws bought a set of wooden chairs at an auction.  They passed them on to me in the 1980s, and I learned how to do seat caning, and re-caned four.

Circa 1987, re-caned chair on the left, original broken seat on the right.

Over the years, a few strands of the cane cracked, and it got to the point where they weren’t safe to sit in.

One of the seats I caned back in the 1980s, now starting to crack and sag.

Then my in-laws passed even more chairs on to me, and they all needed new seats.

Group of chairs that needs repair.

I knew each one would require about $30 worth of new cane, and about 20 hours of work, to repair, so I put it off for years.  Finally I bit the bullet and ordered new cane, cleaned out all the old cane, and sanded the edges of the chairs where sharp edges had caused the cane to break.

All cleaned up.

But when I started to work on them, the new cane splintered like crazy.  There was no way I was going to spend hours working with faulty materials, and with buying online, there was no way to check the quality of cane before I bought it.

Looking up alternatives, I saw lots of pictures on Pinterest, where people had tied fabric strips around chair seats for a cute, rag-rug-looking seat; but I was afraid we would spill all over something like that, and it would be too hard to clean.  I also saw some chairs where people had taken big strips of leather or denim, and woven them around the seat.  I tried that with pieces of black-and-white ticking, but I had trouble going around the sides of the seats, because of the wood pieces holding the seat to the back, and it looked too awkward.

Then I thought about paracord, and that seemed worth a try.  I went to the hobby supply store and got what they had — sadly, not enough in any one color, but enough to try it out.

I just did a four-strand weave, instead of the traditional six-strand caning pattern.  It was lovely to work with the paracord — I didn’t have to keep it wet, and it didn’t slice my fingers like traditional cane can.  I didn’t keep track of how many hours this seat took, but the longest amount of time went to the edge finish, where I laid a double cord over the drilled holes of the seat, and then stitched that down with a thinner cord.  The cord is too thick to go through a tapestry needle, so I used a very small crochet hook to pull the cord through the holes of the seat.

Old chair, fixed with modern materials.


Detail of the corner.

It is serviceable rather than pretty and traditional-looking, but I am just going to use commercial seat cushions on top of these paracord seats, so it really won’t matter.

The red cord I used is 3 mm, size 325, and that is what I have ordered more of to complete the other chairs.  I also used black in 2 mm and 1.5 mm sizes.  I’m not thrilled with the two-color effect on this one, but the next ones will look better!  I am really happy to get this chair out of the barn and into my kitchen, and I am looking forward to getting them all completed.

We post our scrappy creations on the 15th of the month, and if you would like to join us, just let one of the hosts know!

And here is our current list of participants – drop by and see what they have created from scraps lately!

Kate,  Gun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean,
Jon, HayleyDawn, Gwen (me!), Connie, Bekki,
Sue L, Sunny, Kjerstin , Vera, Nanette and Ann