29 May 2008

Re-upholstery 101

Take one very old and tired 1940s Radio Rocker Chair.



Tear up the quote from the professional upholsterer amounting to close to $1,500. You can sew, use a staple gun and a hammer - how hard can it be.

Remove all the old fabric. In my case this involved removing hundreds of staples and nails.



About this time I realised that something very frightening was about to be revealed.



How many times has this chair been reupholstered? I lost count.



Take deep breaths, and don't panic.



Check rubbish bin for upholsterer's quote.

Contemplate enrolling in upholstery course at local TAFE.

Discover lost ear-ring grip down the back of the chair and wish it had been a $100 note to help pay for TAFE course.



Cover entire nightmare with something pretty and sit down with large glass of red wine to consider folly of starting this job.



Next day - or when you are feeling strong enough.....

Polish the woodwork and cover chair with wadding. Pat yourself on the back for keeping all those end pieces from your quilts - you knew they would be useful one day.



Using the pieces you have removed from the chair as templates, cut out new pieces of fabric.



Start with the seat of the chair. Pull the fabric firmly over the seat and staple it in place. Pull the fabric to the back between the seat and the back of the chair.



Now do the same with the back of the chair, cutting the fabric to fit over the arms. This is the trickiest part. You don't want to cut in the wrong place or you will ruin the entire piece of fabric.




Now it's time to sit down with a cup of coffee and a rock bun. You need to keep up your strength. Tell yourself you have got this far and you can do it.



Using the zipper foot on the sewing machine, make yourself some piping.



Sew the piping to the side pieces of fabric and to the front and side skirt. Then attach these pieces to the chair.



Maybe this is going to work.




Staple a piece of fabric, I used calico, to the underside of the chair.



Using upholstery tacks, attach fabric to the back of the chair. I don't like these black tacks, but they were all I could find. The back of the chair is against the wall, so I figure they won't be seen.



Sit in the chair to make sure that all the fabric doesn't tear away when you sit down. Breathe a sigh of relief when everything stays in place. You have finished.

Add a pretty cushion and ta da...............



That wasn't so hard was it?

Note to self - next time a chair needs recovering, leave it to the professionals.

43 comments:

Marjie said...

Diana, my so, so clever cousin, you are amazing! Such a beautiful outcome. I have a chair here you can upholster any time - made myself a note - must buy a staple gun!!

Erin said...

thank you thank you thank you! i have a chair that desperately needs to be done, but just looking at it makes my stomach drop. i will bulk up on strengthening foods and dive in!

Anonymous said...

Leave it to the professionals??? But you made it look so easy! Beautiful fabric BTW.

MissyP

Karen Gough said...

What a fantastic tutorial. Funny as well as really informative. Thank you. Karen.

Michelle said...

Hmmm, I might go and buy a chair just so I can try this! I really enjoy your blog and adore your grandaughter's quilt. I have tagged you today - details are on my Blog page. Please don't feel obligated to participate - but it would be lovely to learn some more about you!

X
Michelle

Suse said...

Words fail me. That chair is magnificent!

Susannah said...

Magnificent chair. I recently recovered a similar one - 1940s vintage - through an Adult Education class. The tutor referred to it as a "Princess Rocker). Mine had originally belonged to my parents in their first house, and had been re-upholstered in the 1970s in an awful beige vinyl. It is now recovered in stylish dark grey, and its arms have been french polished. Fortunately I didn't have much work to do on the internals, but I am just about to embark on redoing another chair, where the springs have collapsed through the webbing, so there is a bit more work than just doing the cover. (ie, huge job, not just big job!).

Did you consider sewing down the back instead of using tacks? I sewed mine - using a curved needle to do the ladder stitching. The stitches all but disappeared into the texture of the fabric.

regards

Susannah

Danielle said...

Wow that does look tricky - well done for working it all out! The end result looks gorgeous :-)

Concha said...

waht a brilliant post! I could really feel your agony and I admit laughing out loud with your comments! It turned out fantastic -- good job!!!

rubylou23 said...

Hi Di,
Fantastic job done and such beautiful fabric!! Your chair looks gorgeous. Yesterday I became the proud owner of a 1920-30's armchair that has seen better days and I would love to reupholster to give it a new lease of life. You mentioned in your blog that you completed an Upholstery course at TAFE, was that the Cert III that you completed? Did you feel it was worthwhile?

Many thanks, Leah

Nichole said...

Wow, that is gorgeous!! I have a rocker that I bought with the intention of recovering it, but I haven't worked up with nerve to tackle it yet.

Knitsonya said...

Hey there, I followed the link over from Whip Up - love the process. Breaks and all! A gorgeous chair.

daisy janie : scoutie girl said...

Hooray for you and this post!!! I have a chair to recover, and this will help immensely!

bon said...

That looks very professionally done. You make it look so easy!

Maybe if you do another one, you could paint the tacks with some enamel paint that matches the fabric before you begin the project?

L. said...

Ha! That made me laugh. Whenever I try a DIY project halfway through I'm thinking "Why don't I just pay someone to do this"...but the satisfaction at the end makes it worth it. Right??? hmmm maybe not all the time.

Well I think your chair looks amazing. Good work!

Sarah said...

What a perfect choice in fabric! And seriously, that is the funniest tale of successful reupholstery ever :)

Rosa said...

That is fabulous! Great job upholstering that chair. It turned out amazing. I've been trying to convince my dh to get into upholstery because for the last year he's been fixing our sectional sofa when the kids tear the cloth from the frame. He's gotten quite good. I will show him this post and convince him to fix two chairs that are being sold at our local thrift store.

sweavo said...

Great tutorial! After reading through it, I don't know whether or not I regret abandoning our project on a near-identical chair to this one!

Teresa said...

Wow! I am truly feeling inspired! We have a warehouse down the road that sells used furniture for just a few dollars. I am going to have to head down there and buy a new chair to reupolster!

erika said...

Thank you! That was so funny and very helpful. I especially love the idea of stopping for some wine. And the chair ended up so pretty! Great job!

Eliza said...

This is very cool! I have a chair that needs redoing. How long did yours take?

Ginger said...

I have a old chair, i can try this on thank you so much for the lesson awesome!
hugs ginger

jennifer said...

Just an FYI...Tacking strip, which you put under the fabric and then hammer in from the outside of the fabric, would eliminate the need for those nails. It would also make the edges back there very smooth and straight.
:)
But in this case you don't really need it...this chair looks very good!

Jodie said...

I love this! Can I ask where the fabric came from? It looks gorgeous you should start charging for re-covering armchairs. I would defenately hire you!

Di said...

Jodie

I am glad you liked the chair. The fabric is screen printed by The Cut Cloth here in Perth and is available for purchase.

Di

Katie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jena said...

Thank you ever so much for your funny, helpful and instructional post! I look forward to hours of fun ;) Regards! JH

Elisa said...

Haha...that was funny. I have dreamed of doing this to many chairs, but have not dared to start a project. What always baffles me is the piping. Did you attach it to the fabric first? Or add it to the chair last? Why is it so hard for me to get that? I don't know. Anyways, maybe in another 6 months, once I've moved I will come back here and tackle my la-z-boy.

Rose said...

I think that you did a great job with this chair. I just sent your link to my husband who is in the process of redoing a similar chair of ours. He has gotten as far as taking it all apart and photographing as he goes. Perhaps your work will inspire him to continue?
I was wondering if you would have any info on making a bedskirt? I have some fabric for a bedroom which is 54 inches wide. I want to make something simple and tailored. My sewing skills are quite rudimentary, but i am anxious to try. This is for a queen sized bed. I look forward to your response.
Thanks---Rose Sluzas

Di said...

Thanks for your comment Rose and good luck with your chair. I am sorry to say that I have never made a bedskirt. Some of the pattern companies such as Butterick, Simplicity etc have home decorating sections and they might be of some assistance. I don't think it should be very difficult. I wish you success.
Di

Used Office Equipment said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
crystaljewellery said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Heather said...

That is amazing! Your chair looks so good, and I feel very inspired to go tackle the 4 chairs sitting in my garage!

Lou said...

I just purchased my first project chair! I think your post has given me just enough courage to get started on it :)

http://louinthefishbelly.blogspot.com

dristy said...

great!
great writing!! great work!!!

since past few weeks i've been craving for remodeling a piece f furniture, i have moved to a house and my living room is quite empty till now. so i wanted to start with a arm chair...but i never could manage to like any tutorial, they were either too "easy" looking (which my instinct says "NO")or too "professional's job only"looking.

and now i have come across to ur post. i'll do it as soon as i get an armchair :-D

littlemiso said...

love this - you made it look too easy (with the teabreak!) am dying to try it for myself now.

Dennise said...

Wow,that really amazed me. I can't imagine that my old sofa can be switch to new and nice one. thanks for the post. it is really appreciated.


Lounges perth

Layne Adams said...

Hi there! great stuff, glad to drop by your page and found these very interesting and informative. Thanks for sharing, keep it up!


upholstery north hampton nh

Upholstery said...

Your work is very good and I appreciate you and hopping for some more informative posts. Thank you for sharing great information to us.

Milla said...

I envy you so much! I really wanted to do DIY upholstery! It would be a great project to do next year.

Di said...

Thanks Milla. Have a try it's not too hard just takes a little time.
Di

Leatherrepairssurrey jbncreators said...

We start by stripping back your exciting covers and the top layers of the padding, the springs and frame joints are inspected and repaired or replaced as necessary where required.

james abram said...

It's as good as new! :) hehehehe. Thanks for sharing! www.morethanantiques.com.au.