Tag Archives: recycled textiles

Hooky mat chair cover project

Hooky Mat Chair Cover Project – Update 2

The worn chair cover of one of our dining chairs needed mending. This gave me the prompt I needed to try my hand at an old upcycling craft – hooky matting, as we call it here in North East England. Upcycled textiles are cut into strips and hooked into a strong base material to make rugs or other textile items. I thought this technique would work well for a hard wearing chair cover.

In my last post I showed you how I used the charcoal transfer process to draw up my design on the heavy linen I’ve chosen as the base material.

After some practise with the handmade wooden hooky mat tool, I’ve now begun hooking the textile strips into my chair cover design. To gain further practice with the hook tool, I decided to work the flower stems first. The green t-shirt material I’ve used for the stems provided two different greens, depending on which way up I used it. I largely chose to use the darker green side, but I also made use of the more faded green on some edges and on one of the lower stems.

Hooky mat chair cover - starting to hook the design
Hooky mat chair cover – starting to hook the design

The next part of the design I have begun hooking is the outline of the largest flower, using some thin black strips of textile. This is one aspect of my hooky mat chair cover project that I have been trying out before I made a start on the actual thing. I don’t want the black outlines to be too heavy within the design so I experimented with different widths of textile strip. The close-woven nature of the linen base material is helpful in that it will readily hold the narrower textile strips in place.

I’m quite pleased with how this first stage of the chair cover has gone. Having the linen stretched on the frame certainly helped with keeping the design in place while I worked.

Hooky mat tool - now shiny from use
Hooky mat tool – now shiny from use

The hook tool has worked out well for me too. I’d made a few minor amendments to it using a file and I’ve noticed the hook end has already worked very smooth from pushing it through the rough linen. The smoother the hook the easier it is to work through the linen. I can imagine it is faster to hook textile strips into a more loosely-woven base fabric, but I have developed a reasonable rate of working … so it’s so far, so good.

I’ll post another update when I’ve made some more progress on my hooky mat chair cover project.

J Peggy Taylor

Hooky mat chair seat cover - craft project header

Starting a new craft project: is it a rug? is it a chair?

We have a preference for pre-loved furniture in our house. For example, this means we have dining chairs that don’t match. The dining chairs themselves are all of the long-lasting wooden variety, probably dating from somewhere around the middle of last century.

Our pre-loved furniture
The wooden dining chair near our Beautility sideboard

Our dining chairs see very regular use, so you can imagine the seats of these chairs from time to time begin to show distinct signs of wear and need to be re-covered. One of the chairs is currently in this very worn condition and in dire need of repair.

Worn chair seat cover
Worn chair seat cover in need of replacing

Normally to mend our chair covers, I simply cut out a suitably sized piece of upholstery material and replace the old chair seat cover, restoring the seat padding at the same time if necessary. However, this time I decided to combine replacing the chair seat cover with practicing a new textile skill. When I say ‘new’ textile skill, I really mean ‘very old’ textile skill – it is only new to me, though I have been studying it for a while. Now I have the perfect opportunity to try my hand at a traditional rug-making method that could have quite possibly been practised in the homes where our old chairs started out more than half a century ago.

Will it work, using a rug-making method to create a chair seat cover? Well, I can only say I have seen it used this way in the hands of an expert, so I am hopeful 😉

The rug-making method I am planning to use was known locally in our area as “hooky mat-making” where strips of recycled textiles (usually old clothing and household textiles) were hooked onto a base of strong woven jute sacking that had been stretched taut onto a frame. In North East England the word ‘mat’ was used rather than ‘rug’. Hooky mats are one of the two main mat-making styles that were widely used right up to the middle of the twentieth century in North East working class households to create floor rugs, as bought carpets were unaffordable for many people. When completed, a hooky mat has quite a flat pile with short loops. The other style of mat-making was called a “proggy mat” and that results in a mat with a longer, softer pile finish.

Linen canvas stretched on the frame
Linen canvas stretched on the frame – this is the base for the chair seat cover

For my hooky mat chair seat cover, I have chosen to use some heavy linen canvas as the base and I’ve stretched this onto a large heavy-duty painting frame that I had conveniently available.

Hooky mat tool in hand turned wood
Hooky mat tool in hand turned sycamore wood

The tool I will be using to craft my hooky mat design is this wooden hook that I asked my son (the woodworker) to make for me to a particular size and shape. He began by turning a short length of sycamore wood on the pole lathe and then between us we carved the hook end to the required shape. The hook may need some more refining yet – I shall have to see when I put it to use.

My draft designs inspired by Rennie Mackintosh
My draft designs inspired by Rennie Mackintosh

Currently in my new craft project I am preparing the design that I will be working onto the linen base. While I was browsing for potential design ideas I was inspired by some of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s flowers and Art Nouveau mosaics, so I decided to develop my design in this early 20th century style.

Hooky rug tool, textile strips and draft designs
Hooky mat preparations – tool, textile strips and the beginnings of a design

My colour scheme will be deliberately chosen from a limited palette of colours and I also want to keep the colours subtle rather than bright. Partly my range of colours will be dictated by the availability of suitably coloured textiles. I have begun preparing some textile strips in greys and purples so I will choose other colours to work with them.

Hopefully I will complete the design this week and perhaps manage to make a start on working the textile strips into the linen base. I’ll let you know how my latest upcycling craft project goes 🙂

J Peggy Taylor