Mom’s Rocker

For several weeks, I’ve been working on a secret project. Last Friday, we had the pleasure of delivering it to a very important client. . .

When my mom retired in the fall, we found this old chair in a corner. She loves rockers and had squirreled this away to do for herself, “Someday” but we all know how that goes! I offered to take it and reupholster it, “Someday” for her. She said no rush, if you can do it in the next two years that would be nice, but if not . .. I sneakily snapped this photo and promptly put her on the schedule. My siblings happily agreed to cover material costs and lend me helpers to get it done in time for Christmas.


My son, Noah and neice, Katrina came in to tear the chair back. Katrina found a magic wand and drumstick – did Grandma have some secret hobbies???? My nephew, Sam cut and sewed all the welt, and my younger son Ian made the buttons – just like Grandma taught them 


While this chair was comfy and cool, it was also a mess. The back rail was split and had to be replaced, along with the corner blocks. Once the springs were reattached, it got all new foundation materials and padding. My mom’s one request was that the arms get more cush – they were basically cotton on wood.


The one creative liberty I took was to make a contrast welt. My mom had selected a purple floral tapestry (purchased years ago, long since discontinued, no messing up!!!!) and I worried that the lovely curves and lines of the chair would get lost in the busy pattern. This fabric was satisfyingly coordinated. (Note: I would NEVER make changes on a client project without express permission. I only make an exception on secret projects for my mom) I opted to center the floral on the seat, back, nosing and tack band, but not to match the pattern throughout. This is personal preference, but I feel that these lovely random florals lose some aesthetic energy if you match everything to death.


Once the attached/rolled seat cushion was finished (I replaced the deteriorated marshall unit/cotton with a high quality custom foam insert) it was on to the back. The old cushion was a strange design, and while it looked fine in the original fabric,, I thought it would look too square and bulky in the new. So I repatterned a back cushion from scratch, aiming for a more traditional, softer center seam. First I ran the contrast welt all the way around, but I didn’t like how it looked along the seat and arms, plus it sat higher than I wanted. Out came the insert and apart came the cover! Once that bottom it was gone and I could snuggle it down lower, I was much happier with the result 🙂 Again, I replaced the springs with a custom foam insert, adding thickness in the lower back to match the natural curve on Moms spine.


Once the inside was complete, it was a pretty quick trip around the outside! Time to deliver. . . . ring ring! Emmi, bring your van!!!!


The fact that my mom never got around to her own chair is unsurprising. She’s a woman who tends to put others first (and second and third) . . . After watching her work for others for so many years, it was an honor to do this work for her. Retiring was bittersweet for Mom – for three and a half decades, the shop was a central fixture in our family. I’m the only one who “went pro” but we all grew up helping – everyone in this photo can make a button, carry a sofa down stairs, take apart a hide-a-bed, talk to you about spring systems. For my mom, the shop was always a FAMILY . . . Business. We’re all so incredibly proud of her, and happy for her. Now maybe she’ll have time to read a few of her 10,000 books, and at last she has a comfy chair of her own in which to read them.
Merry Christmas, Mom!

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