video Textile History: Upcycled Sandersons Kea For A 1960s Rocking Chair

For a fashion history buff like myself, one of the most satisfying things about an upcycling project is really going for it with my love of all things vintage.

In the case of this 1960s rocking chair, it was bought with no cushions attached so was an upcycling project in the making!

Looking carefully at the chair before constructing the pattern, there were lighter bits of wood on the edge of the seat where the original cushions would have been.

On the back of the chair were two notches under the frame and I thought these were probably for the ties that keep the back cushion upright.

Both gave an idea about where the cushions would naturally fit into the frame and make it the most comfy to sit on.

Aside from that, though. It was a blank canvas.

Searching for a fabric was easy; it had to be 1960s or 1970s, it had to be striking and like any interiors project, it had to be something I could live with in my home.

A quick tour of eBay and bingo! Fabric found. I loved its swirly, naturalistic design that was 60s, but not too 60s as to make it a headache to have in a room.

There was only a couple of metres of it available so when I bought it I had to make the pattern for the bottom and top cushions very carefully.

Measuring the repeat – that means the length of print before the pattern repeats on the fabric – was tricky. I wanted flowers and blooms in all the right places to show itself off in all its glory.

Luckily the colours teamed perfectly with black. So, after measuring and drafting the pattern and cutting the fabric so the blooms were where I wanted them I set about upcycling some old feather filled sofa cushions.

Inner cushions done, I sat back to do a little research on the internet. The fabric was striking but there wasn’t a clue as to what it was called or where it came from.

After an hour or so, I discovered what it was by playing ‘snap’ in a pictures search. It was made by the famous furnishings company Sanderson’s.

Printing its first fabrics in 1919, it took the fashion for nature – think Pre-Raphaelite paintings – and since then has been successful in designing fabrics that have stood out for generations.

Kea in Yellow: brilliant and striking.
Kea in Yellow: brilliant and striking.(think Pre-Raphaelite paintings) and there started a long heritage of striking and durable British design.

It had a name too – ‘Kea.’

Kea was printed in 4 different colourways; ochre, yellow, blue and orange.

Sanderson’s Kea In Blue

All of them used the same Art Deco print so popular in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

I liked all of them- each show the background print in a different light and shows the ingenuity of the original textile design.

I have to confess something though: I am swayed by the beauty of the blue and dazzled by the happy yellows, but I think my new reading chair shows the best of them.

Rock on!

© Carrie Henderson 2016



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