A. One route would be to have chair covers handmade to duplicate the originals, says Kathleen Friedeman, the manager at City Stitcher (1 E. Huron St., 312-664-5499; citystitcher-needlepoint.com). If you don’t have a photograph of them, you can sketch or describe them. You can also choose from among the many designs the shop carries to see if there is something similar to the original pieces, and a City Stitcher pro will produce the needlepoint panels for you. Custom designs based on any image you like are another possibility. City Stitcher can send your chair and your new needlepoint chair covers to an upholsterer to complete the job, or you can use your own.
Professional stitchers work at a pace of about one and a half square inches per hour, so it could take quite a while for your two panels to be completed. Depending on the intricacy of the design, it could cost $600 to $700 to hand paint and then stitch both panels, plus about $300 more if it’s a custom design.
Other shops we talked to—The Canvasback (1747 Orchard Ln., Northfield, 847-446-4244; canvasback-needlepoint.com) and Needle Pointe (122 W. Northwest Hwy., Palatine, 847-963-0794; needlepointeltd.com)—provide the same service at approximately the same prices and schedule. Cheryl Greenman, owner of Needle Pointe, also hopes you’ll consider learning to do needlepoint yourself.
Another option is to keep an eye out at flea markets and antique malls, where old textiles and needlework can often be found for low prices, though obviously sizes and patterns will be catch-as-catch-can. And then there’s eBay. Needlepoint chair covers in a wide range of sizes, patterns, and conditions come up for auction frequently, and many go for good prices. (We saw four vintage chair covers in a floral pattern that sold recently for less than $50 for the bunch.) You might have to be patient to find just what you’re looking for, but the savings can be tremendous, and if you succeed, from now on, whenever you see your grandmother’s lovely chair, you’ll feel triumphant.