|Restored to its original color|
While over on the left side, the fabric was distressed and pilling.
This is cat-claw damage from you know who. The red chair has always been one of her favorite seats in the house.
I briefly considered reupholstery. I would want a similar fabric to the original – a wool-blend knit that hugged the chair’s curves. I mused that it was really too bad that the color had faded, because the original scarlet is exactly the color I want now. In fact, I would want exactly the same fabric as the original if I could find it.
It was this line of thinking that led me to consider painting the chair.
Wha-what? I know, but people have done it!
If you click on the “Chairs” link on her site, Kristy has assembled a library of before and afters from bloggers and readers, documenting successes and failures using the painting method.
Wow! Nice work, Kara.
First of all, don’t you just love the lines of Kara’s chair and the beautiful patina on the nails? I also love the fabric. And the color – both the faded blue original of the back and sides as well as the newly dyed purple front and seat. I applaud her decision to leave the chair two-toned. The colors look great together.
Of all the chairs that I have seen in my research, this one seems most like mine in terms of rounded shape and wool fabric. So I decided to give Rit dye a try.
“…we do not recommend dyeing upholstery as it is hard to fully rinse the dye from the upholstered fabric. If you would like to dye these items, we suggest testing the dye on a hidden area to see what color will be achieved.”
If you read the comments on Kara’s blog, many readers ask her about color transfer. Kara says that in her experience there was no color transfer and her chairs passed the “white t-shirt” challenge.
So, it’s a risk. But it’s a risk I am willing to take. I reason that if this doesn’t work, I can still move on to Plan D – reupholstery.
My next step was to have the chair professionally shampooed. This faded the color a bit more, and it did not remove the wine stains. But at least I was now starting with a clean palette. I then used my sweater de-fuzzer from Brookstones on the area that had cat-claw damage – and I have to say this gave very good results!
|Sweater de-fuzzer removes fabric pilling due to cat claw damage|
When I had the material as clean and smooth as I was going to get it, I assembled my supplies for the DIY dye job.
- Rit dye
- Scotch Guard fabric protector (not to be confused with Scotch Guard cleaner)
- Sponge brush
- Drop cloth
|I mixed the dye in a coffee mug that has a handle|
Step 1: Measure out a capful of dye and dissolve it in 12 ounces of hot water.
|Paint Rit dye onto upholstery using downward strokes of your brush|
Step 2: Begin applying the dye to one area at a time using smooth strokes going in the same direction. I started on the back of the chair which is usually against the wall, reasoning that if it immediately looked bad I could stop. The back went well, so I continued, working my way around the chair panel by panel.
|Brush Rit dye on upholstery one panel at a time|
This is what the chair looked like when I had finished one coat and it was still wet. At this point, it was not very encouraging. The drops of red wine stain stood out even more and looked very blue. I hoped that might change after it dried, so I carried on.
|Chair after one coat of dye, still drying|
Step 3: Apply heat. I’m not sure how much this will actually help set the dye, but it can’t hurt.
I didn’t attempt to dry the chair with the hair dryer. I just ran hot air over every inch – especially the areas that make the most contact when a person is seated. I then left the chair to completely air dry overnight before starting a second coat of Rit dye the next day.
|Heat from a hair dryer sets dye into upholstery|
Step 4: Spray thoroughly with Scotch Guard fabric protector. This step is also to help set the dye and keep it from rubbing off on people who use the chair. I applied two coats. I let the chair dry 24 hours between coats.
|Spray with Scotch Guard Fabric Protector|
You will need a drop cloth of some sort – I used a flattened piece of cardboard. Drips that got on our hardwood floors did not stain if I wiped them immediately. But I did get spatter on the white media center that I did not notice until after it had dried. It took a vigorous application of Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to get it off. Word.
I gave my chair two coats of dye, drying overnight between coats. I wanted a deeper saturation of color and I wanted to see if one more coat would better camouflage the red wine stains. The second coat did both.
Here is what the chair looked like with one coat in natural sunlight. Pretty good!
|Chair after one coat of Rit dye and 24 hours of dry time|
|The wine stain on the arm seems fainter after just one coat|
Pay attention to “nap”.
If fabric has nap it will look darker when you brush your hand across it in one direction than the other. Velvet is known for its nap. My fabric is a wool-blend knit, so I didn’t think that I had to worry about nap. However, I discovered after the first coat dried that I do.
Here is a photo showing the difference in color when I brush up (left side) versus down (right side). That is a difference that will still be visible after the dye has dried.
|Paint Rit dye on upholstery moving in one direction for smoothest coverage|
I prefer the look of the down brush stroke, so on the second coat I tried to apply all my brush strokes downward. As I finished each section, I went back over it again, brushing it all down one last time.
Here is what the chair looked like after two coats:
|After two coats|