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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Week 4 Project Update: Upholstery (Victory!)

A mere six weeks ago, back in the heady days of Craft Book Challenge Week 4, I began the process of stripping the ugly away from my oversized chair.

Let me be the first to tell you that stripping a chair is the easy part. Reassembly is where the angst comes in.




I did make some errors. (HA!) Seems my fabric did have a directional pattern that I discovered AFTER I had cut out most of the large pieces. My cushion would not earn an A+ in Home Ec. (Machine operator error.) Also, no one tells you how to use strip tacks. I even went to the library to see if any of their upholstery books could tell me how. Only one book had that information (Simply Upholstery by Sunset Books), and still I had trouble. I got only the last one perfectly set.

However, the fabric pattern is busy and no one in this house can spot what is upside–down. What needs to be straight is straight. I matched the pattern on the front apron. Most importantly, the chair is done, can be sat upon without falling apart, and looks dang good, if I say so myself.

So, what would I suggest if you're thinking about reupholstering a chair?

  1. Believe in yourself. 
  2. Start simple, which I was advised and promptly ignored. You can ignore this suggestion if you follow #1.
  3. Get a good guide. Make sure it has the information you need for your piece of furniture.
  4. Label everything as it comes off the chair. Write how it was attached, the order in which  it was attached, and where. (I used chalkboard chalk on the back of the original fabric.)
  5. Take pictures. You won't need to refer to them all. The act of photographing helps you remember the process.
  6. Use a video camera/phone and talk yourself through difficult assemblies. Again, I didn't have to watch all my videos, but it helped to know they were available.
  7. Avoid striped and obvious patterned fabric for your first project. Don't make it any harder than it is.
  8. Do buy upholstery fabric. I found a steal in an upholstery outlet at $5/yard, but I had to drive 500 miles round trip to get it.
  9. Use the original fabric as your pattern but cut everything at least an inch larger on each side to give yourself wiggle room for errors.
  10. Break the process down step by step. I had a list of the order of assembly and worked on each step separately. Each step completed is a mini victory.
  11. YouTube and search engines sometimes provide the answer when you're stuck. Many online experts generously share their knowledge.
  12. Don't rush and don't trim the excess fabric before you're sure you can.
  13. Don't dwell on the errors. No one sees them but you.
  14. Don't be afraid to make a mistake. I found several errors in my "professionally" upholstered chair. Besides, mistakes are opportunities for learning.
  15. Use an air compressor with a stapler attachment if at all possible. Your hand will thank you. You will use hundreds of staples.
  16. Be proud of yourself. You learned a lot and have something beautiful and functional to show for it.





 Done!

Linked up @

23 comments:

  1. You are amazing! I have wanted to rescue many big comfy chairs, but have been terrified of trying to replace the fabric to make it fit a room or clean it up. It looks wonderful!

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    1. Thank you, Teresa. I still am pinching myself that I was able to recover that chair by myself. Everyone says it is so much more comfortable now that it is higher.

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  2. Thanks for stopping by The 2 Seasons. I will look up zentangles, something I have never heard of. I love how people in blogland share info like this.

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  3. I have two sofas and two armchairs that are waiting for a reupholstery job but I've been too chicken to try! THanks for the great tips - it's nice to see some positive encouragement. Love your project! :) Found you through the My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia blog hop by the way.

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    1. Anna, thanks for your comment. My biggest fear was cutting into the fabric for the first time. Good luck!

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  4. It looks AWESOME!!! I can't wait to try it out!

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  5. Wow I am so impressed. For some reason doing this scares me but your post gives me some hope. My friend feels the same way so I will need to send her the post and I think it will motivate the 2 of us to try this ourselves.

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    1. I would definitely recommend the buddy system!

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  6. Very nicely done!!! I like that you let the feet show.
    Much better, after...
    (stopping by from Becolorful : )

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    1. Thanks, Kathy. The old feet were plastic junk. I'd been wanting to raise that chair by several inches for years!

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  7. I'm not worthy. Very impressive. Nothing feels so good as to have something like this turn out well and to have that fabulous sense of accomplishment. Thanks for sharing at BeColorful
    pam

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  8. Replies
    1. Thanks. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel when the cushion went on.

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  9. I don't see any mistakes. It looks fantastic. I'm getting ready to reupholster a headboard. Is there a particular button covering machine (gosh is it even a machine? LOL. I don't know what it's called!) you'd recommend?

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  10. Hi, Scarlett. Thanks for your comment.
    Look for a covered button kit in the upholstery section of your craft/fabric store. You can find them in all sizes, from 1/4 in. up to 2 1/2 in. The instructions are clear, but all you have to do is cut a circle of your fabric, place it over the button dome, and push on the bottom shank to hold the fabric taut. Good luck!

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    1. Thanks so much. I'll let you know how it turns out:)

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  11. Awesome job!! And great post. I just made a slip cover for a chair that I thought would be a piece of cake and it was not. But now hopefully I can tackle the 2 chairs (similar to yours) I have in my garage!!! I will keep your advice in my mind when I do mine :)

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    1. Thanks. I think reupholstering might be easier than slipcovering now that I have done it. Good luck!

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  12. great job. My daughter recovered a chair my mother gave her. Great chair stuck in the 70s I can't get over the after pics and I can't wait to see it in person. If you feel you can do it then you can. Take it step by step like you would anything. It is my belief that anything is doable. You just have to do it. Very good job!!!

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    1. You are 100% right, Dawna. Walt Disney said, “If you can dream it, you can do it." Congratulations to your daughter for bringing her chair out of the 70's.

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  13. Hey there! This is a good read. You have such an interesting and informative page. I will be looking forward to visit your page again and for your other posts as well. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about upholstery. I am glad to stop by your site and know more about upholstery. Keep it up!
    Usually a high-resiliency, high-density plastic foam with a thin film of plastic over it is used to keep out water that might get by the seams. Closed-cell foam is used on smaller cushions which can double as flotation devices. Dacron thread must be used in any sewing work. Zippers should be of nylon.
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