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1930 Sewing Rocker Restoration

Back in August, I purchased this 1930s sewing rocker at an estate sale for $40. It originally had a cane weave for the seat and chair back. This had all been removed at the time of purchase. I was able to date the rocker because I bought the sewing machine and cabinet that went with it (The sewing cabinet upcycle will be revealed next week!)

I decided to created a cushioned seat and chair back to replace the cane weave. The seat part was a slam dunk: cut a board to size, top with foam padding and fabric. I cut the corners of the fabric and then sewed, rather than folding the corners and tacking them to the chair bottom. I chose to have sewing seams at the corners because the foam cushion was so think and this would give a clean look – more like a box pillow.

To jazz up the soft pink fabric and emphasize its sewing rocker function, I wanted to add embroidery. I found some really cool designs on To get the most from their designs you would need an embroidery machine, but they do have hand embroidery patterns and, like me, you can always simplify them.
If you’re thinking about an embroidery machine here is one I found through Amazon Associates which got a 4 star rating out of 79 reviews. The thing I like about it is that is has a USB hook up to import designs up to 5″x7″.

Thin back for chair back, covered in quilt batting and embroidered wool felt.

The back was a design challenge because it was curved. I essentially sewed a pillow around a board thin enough to be flexible, hoping I could bend it into a tension fit. That technically worked but the pillow fabric didn’t lay smooth.

Then my husband had a very cool idea that made for a really sexy chair. I cut the board so it fit comfortably. Then from behind, I used the holes from the cane weave to sew a corset look into the back of the chair. This pulled the pillow fabric into the curve of the chair and closed the arced gap between the chair and the pillow.
What was originally most challenging offered the most unique design opportunity.

I used small buttons, hidden between the chair and the back of the pillow to hold the ribbons tight.

Cost breakdown:
Chair: $40
Fabric: $16 (one yard of wool felt on clearance)
Ribbon for Corset stitching: $3
Seat Cushion: $15
Wood for seat and back: reclaimed (at hardwood store it would have cost about $10)
Embroidery floss: $2
Quilt batting for seat back pillow: $5
Total: $81 – $91

This chair is seriously comfortable. I couldn’t be happier with the choice of the super soft wool felt. It feels amazing. I also used the leftover material to make myself a brooch for my shawl wrap!

And, if you’re thinking of adding an embroidery machine to your wish list, I recommend checking out the Brother PE770 Embroidery Machine with USB Memory-Stick Compatibility (affiliate link).

Eve of Reduction: Free Seasonal E-Newsletter; Extra tips and wit on Facebook; Reduction Beauty on Pinterest ; The debut DIY lifestyle book (includes 10 upcycling tutorials); and the guide to creative streams of income ebook (only $2.99).

I’m Cristin Frank (AKA Eve). I love all things frugal and crafty. My mindset is always on upcycling, repurposing, reducing waste and saving money – and Eve of Reduction is my roadmap. You might also want to check out my book, "Living Simple, Free & Happy."

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