When I told people what my next project would be, my lovely family and friends look shocked…I got, Are you crazy? But your not an upholsterer Kel? What if you mess it up? Do you know how hard upholstery is? It seems upholstery is the untouchable of the furnishing world, maybe my loved ones had a point? So I rang around to get some quotes from professionals and the quotes made my mind up for me, I was looking at £300 upwards. Now these people really do know what their doing and I don’t doubt at all that their mad skills are worth every penny of that £300, but I didn’t want to pay that much for something, that I could likely do myself, all I had to do was learn. So first port of call YOU TUBE, I watched many many tutorials and I found one in particular that I found really useful How to upholster a wing back chair , because of that video I figured out what supplies id need and the tricks of the trade that would hopefully allow me to make a beautiful chair.
Here is what the chair looked like before, it cost me £25.00 of ebay.
I went with Fryetts Breeze, Large check Gingham Fabric, its 100% cotton and colour woven, perfect for domestic upholstery. I bought 4 metres in total, allowing for awkward cuts and the inevitable mistakes I was bound to make.
The first and for me the most time consuming part was removing the old fabric, its tough and messy work, old fibres flying about, achy hands and hundreds of staples that all need to be removed, there’s no getting around it, its gonna take a while. Arm yourself with a heavy duty staple remover like this one
When removing the fabric, try keeping the tricky parts as a template, for example the fabric that covered the wings will come in really useful and save you measuring for yourself. The foam on my chair was in pretty good condition,however I did need to replace the thin wadding on top, its around £4.00 a roll and you just place it over the existing foam and staple in place.
Now you have the bare bones of your chair, its time to get started, I liken upholstery to wrapping a really awkward present! The only difference being your not fixing it in place with tape your fixing it in place with staples, I used a heavy duty Manual Staple gun…it did the job, but I warn you it really takes a toll on your hands, ideally you want an electric or a bradnail gun which I will be investing in for my next chair, but like I say if your not scared of a little more graft then a manual staple gun does the job just fine. The first area I covered was the back rest of the chair, I offered the fabric up and pushed it into all the nooks of the inner wings and made sure the whole surface of the back rest was covered, you want to leave lots of extra fabric on each side, as you will be stapling the fabric to the wood at the bare back of the chair where they cant be seen, when its time to staple just make sure your pulling the fabric as tight as possible to prevent wrinkles. Again refer to the video above as guidance.
So the wings, I was dreading this part! However it was pretty straight forward, as I had already saved the previous wing fabric, I just placed the old stuff on top of the new stuff and cut around it, I stapled the inner wing fabric on first, then fixed on the covered piping and lastly the outer wing fabric..the video can show you the technique far better than I can write it( think I’ll do a video tutorial with my next chair)
The arms, we are again just wrapping an awkward present, start with the arm rests, wrapping the fabric round it, folding under any rough edges, staple underneath where they cant be seen, ive found its all about finding a place to fix the staples, that ultimately gives your chair the best look without seeing the reason for it, with the sides use the inner or under wood of the chair to hide your fixings.
The open back of your chair will no doubt look quite a mess at this point as this is where most of your staples are, measure the back, then cut your fabric leaving a couple of extra inches on each side, the top edge of your chair will be on view, so you want it as tidy as possible, make sure you have this
Its upholstery tacking on a roll and gives you a nice clean edge mine was £6.00 of ebay, refer to video
The seat cushion cover was run up on my sewing machine, I examined the stitching on the existing chair cover and copied it to create the curved square edge.
Now no first upholstery project can go off with out a mistake or 2 and it was right at the final part, the seat cover where I messed up, I had miss measured the only fabric I had left for the underside of the cover…so I had to compromise and here it is
Do you know, I dont mind it! its a kinda happy accident and has put me in mind of maybe having a crack at trying a patchwork chair.
So there it is, I gave myself a full day for this project and believe me I needed it, now ive had my first go at upholstery, ive learned something new and im confident that my next project will run much more smoothly and hopefully take less time.
Hope this has been helpful, have a fabulous day!