When a room begins to look shabby, and therefore untidy, the purchase of some pretty chintz, which may be bought from 6 1/2d. per yard, to make loose covers for the furniture, will work wonders. Loose covers are not difficult to make, for the method of fitting is simplicity itself, if understood. It is also possible to engage a furniture fitter; this useful person will come to the house at a wage of about 4s. to 4s. 6d. a day and food, and will cut out the covers, leaving them all ready pinned for sewing.
For those who prefer to do their own fitting, the following will prove useful hints :
Let us suppose it is an armchair which is to be the subject. It has grown shabby and dirty in the service of the nursery; there is a dark, greasy mark where heads have rested, and on the arms. Obviously, the first thing to do is to clean the chair, or the dirt and grease will soon work through the new cover.
Stand the chair on a dust-sheet, and begin to rub the greasy parts with the bread. You will find that with patience the bread will remove the grease.
If very dirty, benzoline may be used,
This may be bought of any grocer or dry-salter, but as it is highly inflammable it must be used with the greatest care, only in the daytime, and in a room where there is no fire and no artificial light, for the vapour of benzoline is very explosive. The best plan is to carry the chair into the garden, and clean it with the benzoline there. After use, the dirty fluid must in no case be emptied down a drain or a fixed basin, but should be poured on the earth in a shady spot, never in the sun. Benzoline should only be used as a last resource, owing to its dangerous nature.
Diagram showing the method of fitting and pinning in position the material for a loose chair-cover. New covers of a fresh pretty chintz will renovate a sitting-room most successfully and inexpensively
Pour some into a basin, and, if not working in the garden, leave the doors and windows wide open; work quickly, for benzoline evaporates very rapidly. Use a piece of coarse flannel (cotton rag is of no use whatever) and saturate it in the benzoline. It will feel as if it burnt the hand, but it really does no harm at all. Wring the flannel lightly, not too dry, and rub quickly and hard, not merely wipe the chair. If the first application is not successful, pour away the dirty benzoline, and wash a second time in the same manner. It will remove the grease and dirt very effectually.
The Odour of Benzoline soon Passes Off
Having cleaned the chair as thoroughly as possible, beaten it all over and underneath, and brushed it out in every crease, proceed to fit the chintz.
A chintz with a nondescript pattern is the easiest, as it need not be centralised. If, however, a distinct pattern be chosen, great care must be taken that the pattern be exactly in the centre of the seat and of the back. Such a pattern often cuts to waste, and this should be remembered when buying the chintz.
Place the chintz on the chair wrong side out, so that any pins can remain till the cover is sewn. It is a mistake to fit the material on the right side, for then it must be turned for sewing; sometimes a fold slips, or a little more stuff is taken in than is intended, with the result that when the cover is turned again it is too tight, and the work, if not spoiled, has at least to be done ovei again. Therefore fit the material the wrong side out, and not at all tightly.
If the cover is to be lined, use unbleached calico, which may be bought for 3 1/2d. a yard. It must be well boiled before using, as it shrinks very much. The lining must be cut at the same time as the chintz.
If the chintz be fairly thick, it is not necessary to line it, and it sets much better unlined.
Place one end of the chintz on the chair, making sure that the pattern runs right way up, and that the centre of the pattern is in the centre of the chair, allowing the material to fall well over the front of the chair, allowing for a hem at least an inch in depth. Tuck the material well in at the back of the seat, or the cover is apt to split when sat upon. Pin the front carefully, then pin up the back, allowing a certain fulness, as the shape of the chair may require, and hang the chintz over the back of the chair, and allow it to fall to the ground at the back. Pin it carefully just over the top at the back, and cut carefully.
The back of the chair, showing the fitting of the cover at the back and the drawing tapes that keep it in position. A flounce all round makes a pretty finish
New fit the back, allowing for the hem at the bottom. Fit the side pieces in the same way, allowing for the hem. The front of the arms may need pieces to be let in, and these must be very carefully done, but patience, pins, and neat sewing will achieve it in time. Allow plenty of material to tuck in at the sides, and where possible arrange any joins to be in the tuck-in. Always remember the hem, and measure all round to make sure there is the same depth of material below the frame of the chair.
Having fitted the chair, remove the chintz very carefudy. An opening must be left, the best position being at the back to one side. Make a false hem for the buttons, and an inside flap for the buttonholes, which should be of medium size, and placed at short intervals. Linen buttons covered with the chintz are best.
Use strong cotton for the sewing or stitching, and sew closely, over-sewing firmly every corner. Turn up the hem, and thread a tape through it from end to end, and be sure to sew down all edges inside the hem, so that the bodkin carrying the tape may pass easily. The tape draws the cover neatly round the frame, the tape ends being tied underneath the chair. The flounce should not be too full, and should hang equally all round, reaching from the seat to the floor. It can be put on with a little heading, so this must be allowed for when measuring the depth required.
Sofas and settees are covered in the same way.