selecting color and fabrics for seats on fancy chairs

I love fancy chairs and recently I got a deal on several at an antique shop.  These aren't models from the 1700s and possibly are from the 1920's, but at least they will help me learn to appreciate the chair forms.  I plan to eventually make some more period versions using references or through taking a class someday. 

So I purchased a couple Queen Anne chairs and a couple Chippendale style ladder back chairs.  I plan to repair these chairs and to change the seat fabric to something more fitting than what is on them now. 

Here is my question: how do I look for fabric on the seats?  Most of the pictures of reproduction pieces that I've seen feature pretty light colored fabrics--shades of white to cream.  Was that the norm or did some chairs feature darker fabrics as well?  What reference could I use to help guide me in choices?  Any comments would be appreciated.


From your post it appears you have some chairs that may not be particularly valuable, but you would like to improve their appearance.

Of course, you can purchase period  correct fabrics from specialists, and some people opt fore needlepoint ( I could well have the term wrong) seats with a scene and plain backgrounds on their chairs and you can buy these with stiching of the fancy part already complete and "just"  fill in the solid color of your own choice - or go to a sewing store where there may be lists of people who take in this work. It is not inexpensive.

When faced with doing a set of fourteen dining room chairs, I elected another approach. I went to a couple of the large fabric stores and searched the brocades. I was finally able to find a floral pattern ( better not to show spills) and enough to do the set of chairs was affordable at about $ 25 per yard and it has somewhat of a period appearance.

Thanks Karl. I'd like to fix up these 20th century chairs so I can eventually venture into building some period pieces from the 1700-early 1800's. For one thing, because of my other work as a pastor, my wife will probably be waiting a bit for me to build the reproduction pieces LOL. 

But I was wondering about the color of the fabric too.  Like, what was the desire of the fancy chairmaker in selecting the fabric color for the seat?  My inclination here is that the desire of the maker was not to emphasize the fabric where it interfered with the appreciation of the chair design. So light colors may have served that purpose.  Maybe the client drove the seat color selection and it was just expected that light colors were used.  But I've seen green and light blue as well on these chairs, but honestly I don't have an appreciation yet from visiting museums as to the historical preferences.

Then the next question is if the lighter colors were predominate for seats, did the chairs have more limited use and if so, did they use another cloth as a cover to keep the seats from being soiled.  I'm probably asking things that many of you already know, but heh I just wanted to get more of an appreciation for these chairs.