Choosing Upholstery Fabric With My Mother

Robert Allen, Waverly, couches, chairs, patterns and colors, all dance in my head. My mother and I initially chose upholstery fabric this past Tuesday … surprisingly, it was relatively easy. My mother wanted me to help select pink fabric to match her couch (pink roses, shades of green leaves with blue swirl stripes) and green Lazy Boy recliner. She wished to have a 55-year-old wing back chair recovered (she told me that it was purchased when I had been born – this would be its 4th recovering), plus she also wanted an old occasional chair covered that had been my Uncle John’s chair (possibly dating from the 1930s or older).

Choosing the pink fabric wasn’t that hard – choosing the side chair’s fabric turned out to be more difficult than I expected. I found a blueish-green fabric in a fish scale sort of design that really worked well with the existing fabrics as well as with the newly chosen pink. Yeah! Project completed! But not so fast – the company had discontinued the color. Ahhhh.

I couldn’t open another page … it felt futile to go on … then we found that the design came in a cream background that matched the cream background of the couch. We could go home. I had done my job, my talent at picking colors still managed to stand up to the test … until my mother said, while sitting on the couch in her living room, “Maybe the cream fabric will be washed out by the while walls, maybe all the other colors will wash it out.” She sounded less confident in my perfect fabric matches.

It was decided that we would start again the next day, but this time we would go to Joanne Fabrics where larger fabric swatches were displayed and could be mixed and matched with ease. We left after the supper dishes had been put into the dishwasher and the pots and pans hand-washed. When we arrived Mom looked at the store’s hours and declared that we had twenty minutes to find something for the side chair. With my color abilities now on a strict timer I looked through what seemed like 1000s of swatches with little to recommend – until we both came upon a neat cotton-polyester blend in a matelasse weave that I declared perfect for the wing back chair (the actual swatch was in a blue-green color but I knew that somewhere it came in a pinkish tone).

My mom said that this matelasse was it for her – except she couldn’t tell from the tag how many double rubs the fabric could take (how times a person could sit on the fabric before it gave out, this is very scientific, the higher the sit power the better and we are talking really high numbers here). This is where you hold your breath – and suspend reality – with sincere apologies to Nancy the upholsterer – but choices need to be made and held to, cloth costs money.

This is when the store manager announced that the store was closing in 10 minutes and counting. Panic sets in; we hadn’t even found any fabric contenders for the side chair. We could use Yahoo! search at home, fire up Dad’s Dell and hunt without pressure.  Home we went and after two hours we found a tight happy stripe that pleased my mom and I breathed a sigh of relief. Now I could relax and head for bed (hopefully I wouldn’t dream of fabric swathes dancing in my head!) to get some much-needed shut-eye. My only hope is that both of the new fabric choices are in stock.