06 October 2012

Re-upholstery 101 ..... or how to make a slipcover for a wingback chair

Luckily for me, this chair became surplus to Mum's requirements. However, it was in desperate need of a makeover. The following is a tongue in cheek tutorial of how I went about this. Firstly, I set aside six months. Five and a half months to look at the chair and wonder why I take on these projects; gather my supplies; think about how I could accomplish this; and, for the other two weeks, grab whatever time I could, and working in half hour to an hour bursts (I am what could be described as a bit 'time poor'), actually start work. The first thing I tackled was the cushion. Well, I have made enough cushions over the years for this part to be relatively simple, even if the cushion is a very weird shape. I made a pattern for the end sections using some tracing paper and a Sharpie pen, cut two of these out and added some piping.
I was not going to use piping, but decided that this was being lazy so I compromised and used it sparingly.
Once the cushion and the two end sections (don't know what else to call them) were made, the easy part was over and I knew that the next sections were going to call for a bit more head scratching. Five and a half months of thinking about how I was going to accomplish this project did not actually produce any real plans. Instead all I had was a fuzzy idea in my head of what to do. At about this stage of the process, I took a break and made a pretty hat for a sweet little girl who needed a new hat for summer. I tried not to be deterred by the fact that upon seeing said hat, Mandy decided that her family could also use new hats. So I factored in three more hats and got back to the chair.
I decided it would be a good idea to make the cover in calico. This served two purposes. Firstly it would give me a practise run before I cut into my good fabric and secondly it would ensure that the existing fabric on the chair did not show through the new cover as the fabric I had bought was not very thick. I started by pinning and draping a piece of calico over the arm of the chair and then, scary part, I cut away all the excess fabric.
I then used this piece to make an identical piece for the other side of the chair.
I then made a pattern for the back and front of the wing section of the chair and cut out two pieces of each (one for each side). I should add here that it is important to leave a generous seam allowance when cutting.
Then I placed all these pieces over the chair and pinned them together.
I cut out another piece of calico for the end sections and pinned these in too.
Once the two sides had been completed, I cut out fabric for the base and the skirt at the front of the chair and pinned these to the sides.
Lastly I added a piece for the back rest and another for the very back of the chair. The result was like an inside-out coat for the chair.
I trimmed away a lot of the excess fabric, then very carefully lifted the whole thing off the chair and took it to the sewing machine where I stitched all the pinned seams together.
I then repeated the whole process with the good fabric, but this time I sewed the sections together as I went because I had found it difficult to get the seams to join together neatly when several of them met at the one point. Messy!
Holding my breath, I gave the chair its new coat and breathed a huge sigh of relief. It fitted and it looked good.


Anonymous said...

Just one word for now! AMAZING!
Now for some more words - congratulations, you clever, clever girl. Fancy even contemplating such a job, let alone finishing it! The chair looks beautiful. I have a little bedroom chair I would like recovered but I don't know whether to go for a plain fabric or a patterned one - geometric or floral. Velvet or line> So there I stop and keep pondering and another year goes by! Procrastinator is moi, unlike you!

Alex said...

What an intense process - but a wonderful finished product. Great job!