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  • Writer's pictureEd Chang

Customized Arm Chair

For the past week we have been adding our personal touch to a well designed chair frame from our favorite local maker, The California Workshop.

The goal: elevate its look and feel, crafted for a long life and given a timeless design.


“We love the original look and feel of the chair and knew this piece would be in our lives a long time so we took the time to add a personalized touch to really make it ours.”

We started customization by tapering the felt cushion and wet forming the vegtan cover to get the contour just right. After some test fitting we cut the excess and left just enough extra material to burnish flush with the edge of the wood base.

Long Lasting

We put our background in shoe design to use by applying the hand welt technique to the seat base. The wet formed contour of the cushion lets our welt sit flush for comfort and even wear. This technique is still used in high-end boots and shoes today and we applied it to our chair cushion for the same durability and touch of class found in any modern hand welted shoe.

Hand Stitched

Nobody teaches how to sew leather to wood!”

The hand stitching process is usually very straight forward but hand-sewing through and around wood structures adds a learning curve. While a punch awl would work for a layer or two of leather we had to find another way for this half-inch furniture-grade plywood. Luckily we had tackled this issue in the planning stages and marked the leather cushion cover to drill holes to line up with our welt. Precision is the key here as we cannot stretch a hole the way we're used to when working with just leather.

A New Technique

Our biggest challenge was to convince a tough, flat material like vegtan leather to wrap around multiple curved surfaces. After some sleepless nights and countless failed ideas we tried a variation of the stitchless leather handle wrap from the internet. Repurposing this interlocking pattern allows the leather to flair and taper along the curves without stretching or bunching.

Finished Product

The finished product! The fun part of crafting any item is obsessing over the details, tailoring the pieces to fit and adding a bit of personality. We are so happy to start from a well crafted chair frame it’s a great challenge to elevate and personalize.

The heart of our craft is making long lasting and personalized products. We made two chairs from the same hide but one was darkened by exposing the pieces to the sun for a week before installing. It’s really inspiring to see visual changes so quickly because we’re always excited to see how the pieces will patina with use.

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