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A seat of honor.

It's no wonder the humble wood-and-canvas director's chair is so popular: it's lightweight yet durable, and remarkably comfortable; its lines are elegantly functional; it folds for compact storage; and its canvas seat and back, sold in a generous selection of colors, can be quickly replaced. Best of all, it's inexpensive: $20 to $40, depending on the quality of the chair and where you buy it.

Here we explore some ways to personalize standard director's chairs. The six examples we show are meant to serve as inspiration for touches you can add.

Appliqued additions. With the chair's canvas as a sturdy base, there is almost no limit to the kind of adornment that you can stitch on. We used ribbons, suede, and light cotton fabrics. Lace, embroidered patches, or decorative fabric border strips are some other possibilities.

The easy-to-remove canvas panels are convenient sizes for working on a sewing machine, and most modern machines should have no problem sewing through canvas and another layer or two of fabric. We recommend using extra-strong button or carpet thread and a larger needle.

On most chairs, the canvas seat is anchored to the wooden frame by means of a fabric channel; a dowel or rope fits through the channel and slips into a groove in the wood between the arm assembly and seat. Unless you're using thin fabrics, don't cover the channel; thicker fabrics, don't cover the channel; thicker fabrics (like suede) won't fit in the groove. For the wrangler's chair (shown at far right), we machine-stitched and glued suede to a new suede seat and back. We used a tube of special leather glue, about $2 at leather shops.

Embroidery. Uniforms, bowling shirts, and club insignias are the type of work most commercial embroidery shops do, but we found that some shops will also tackle a single chair back. You can't simply embroider the canvas back because the wrong side will show through on the front, so we had our message sewn onto a matching piece of canvas and then stitched it onto the chair back. If you're a little more ambitious, you can handembroider a back panel; some home sewing machines can embroider, as well.

Painting. Colorfast fabric paints ($1 to $3) are sold by hobby shops and some fabric stores. To set the paints and make them permanent, you'll have to remove the fabric and iron it. We found white duck fabric to be a convenient and tempting canvas for artists of all ages.

Other options we developed include the parasol and lace-trimmed pillows on the opposite page, and the magazine bag and gimbaled drink holder (from a marine supply; $9) for the chair above left.

Though replacement canvas panels are reasonably priced ($12 to $22 per set), you may want to make your own. Depending on the type of canvas and its width, the price ranges from $9 to $19 per yard. For one chair, you'll need a yard of 36-inch-wide fabric, 3/4 yard of 45-inch-wide fabric, or 1/2 yard of 60-inch-wide fabric.

If you're buying replacement panels, take your old panels with you when you shop. We found that sizes can vary by up to 2 inches from one panel to the next.
COPYRIGHT 1984 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:May 1, 1984
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