People have asked me about this one but I have never seen instructions on how to do it. I haven’t looked in awhile so maybe someone has published a how-to by now. It’s simple but kind of counter-intuitive at a couple of points. I learned by studying the original weave on a chair and just messing around with a piece of cord trying to copy it—and even then it took me at least half an hour!
This is my original drawing and it is copyrighted; you are welcome to link to it or include the diagram on your site as long as you credit Modern Chair Restoration. Unauthorized sale of the diagram or its inclusion in materials for sale is absolutely forbidden.
This is only for the part of the weave that is different from other patterns. The information here is not intended to be instruction on how to weave the entire chair. The weft (side-to-side strands) are woven like other chairs where you have to wrap completely around the side rails.
Obviously this is a slightly exploded view. In reality you will need to pack the cord as tightly together as possible on the rails as you work, once you’ve finished each step and have gotten all the slack out.
NOTE: One of the rails is always wrapped as you make the warp strands. That’s how you get the cord from one pair of warp strands to the next. The second rail is wrapped separately and if there is only a small gap between the back and seat of your chair, this is much easier to do when the first rail that you wrap is at the top of the back (or front of the seat)!
- You must first figure out how much cord you need for the entire warp (the vertical strands on the chair back; front-to-back strands on seats). Do this with a scrap piece that is a few yards long and figure out how many warp strands you need, using the original weave as a guide, or find a good photo online and count the pairs. Then figure out how many wraps are needed on the rail and calculate that total length of cord. Add the two together. Because this weave is common on so many different styles of chairs, I’m not going to include lists of measurements. You’ll have to do the math yourself.
- MARK where the pairs of warp strands are on both rails. There should be an odd number on each and numbers must match on top and bottom rails. Make a single line on the top of each rail and then simply make sure that each cord in the pair is positioned on either side of the mark.
- This is a LOT of cord and it’s usually not possible to use a shuttle on Yugoslavian chairs, so you must be able to keep the cord neat and contained, otherwise you end up with tangles that are frustrating and time-consuming to undo. I find that a hank is the best way (more info below). If the gap between the back and seat is big enough to pass a full shuttle through, then by all means use a shuttle!
- Yes, this needs to be all one length of cord, at least for the back of a chair where it’s hard to hide tacked joints neatly and impossible to hide knots at all. With seats it is possible to hide a joint, though I prefer to do it all with one strand.
- If at all possible, schedule your weaving when you can devote several days in a row to it. If you do a little here and a little there, you will most likely have to relearn it each time and that will end up adding hours to an already long project. It’s the kind of thing that gets easier and faster with lots and lots of repetition—at least until you get to where you really think you know what you’re doing so you slack off on your focus and start making mistakes! (Ask me how I know this.)
- Work from left to right as shown in the diagram. It’s possible to work from right to left but you have to tighten and then loosen the loops, or something awkward like that. I did it once and vowed never again.
- Do each pair of warp strands as shown above, leaving lots of slack because you will need to fit the entire bunch of cord through two different loops. When all those steps are done, start tightening from the left and work towards the right. Use a spring clamp to hold the cord taut if necessary, then wrap around the rail until you get to the mark for the next pair of warp strands.
- You can contain your gigantic length of cord in one of two ways, either in big loops or a coil, but both must be bunched together in the center and secured with something. Covered elastic is best (get some covered hair elastics at the grocery store) but a rubber band will do. Non-elastic ties have to be readjusted too often for my taste and they tend to loosen when you don’t feel like stopping to tighten them again. The coil will not work if you just tie it around the side. That would have to be untied and retied every every time you need to pull more cord out—which will be often.
- Many Yugoslavian chairs and others are woven with two or three pairs of warp strands in a row. I like to do single pairs because the loops look more tidy that way. If you want that look, space them more closely on the rails (like four wraps between each pair, as in the photo at top), otherwise you end up with not many warp strands and that may make for a weaker seat. I don’t think strength is an issue for the back.
September 2020: I’ve been asked how to do what I call a hank of cord. It’s pretty simple: