Week 4 ORC: Reupholster a Chair
Yippee Yi Yo Kiyah! I did it! I finished reupholstering the chair for my office. This is something I’ve been wanting to try my hand at for several years and finally the planets aligned and it happened! I will not sugar coat it, it wasn’t what I would call ‘easy’, but I will say without hesitation that it wasn’t as bad as I thought and that it wasn’t worth all the anxiety I had over it. There is a little sewing involved (cushions and deck) but other than that it’s really a matter of cutting, fitting and stapling. I am tickled pink to show you the final product and to share some tips to successfully reupholster a chair.
If you’re new here, ‘Welcome’. This is week 4 of the One Room Challenge organized by Calling It Home. Twice a year a group of bloggers tackle one room in a 6-week period and provide updates week to week. You can see Week 1, Week 2 and Week 3 if you’d like to catch up.
And don’t forget…the Cutting Edge Stencil Giveaway is still going on. See the week 3 post for all the deets!
So, before I get to far down the road chatting about my reupholstered chair, let’s take a quick look at where we started. And wouldn’t you know it, I didn’t take a full on photo of the chair before I started but this should suffice to give you a sense of what we started with.
The chair was in good shape, it just wasn’t my style and definitely wasn’t going to work with my new office. I found a simple beige linen that would work better with my plans.
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Before I started my project I watched this video produced by Sailrite fabrics. It’s rather long, but I did watch it start to finish and then watched parts again during the process.
They do a great job explaining the step by step process. I highly recommend watching this video. They also have one for making box cushions which came in handy as well.
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I also purchased the bookSpruce by Amanda Brown. Not only is it a beautiful book to look at and be inspired by, but Amanda provides detailed photos and directions for a variety of different chair/sofa/ottoman styles.
You might not have a piece of furniture that exactly matches one of hers, but you could easily use her directions for an element of your piece of furniture…kind of a mix and match thing.
With all that said, I am not going to give you a step by step on how to reupholster a chair. That wheel has already been invented and it’s working just fine. But, I will give you some of my takeaways and suggestions to increase the chance of success when you tackle your project.
Tips to Successfully Reupholster a Chair:
- Before you do anything watch a video. There are many videos on YouTube, but I found this one particularly helpful. I am not affiliated with or compensated by Sailrite in any way, they just produced a great, very informative and instructive video.
- If it’s your very first time reupholstering, I’d start with a solid fabric. Matching patterns so that they aligned on my chair/sofa is just one more element that I was so glad I didn’t have to deal with.
- Before you start taking your chair apart, write on each piece of fabric where it came from. The Spruce book was helpful in suggesting labels for those parts as well as calculating the yardage.
- The Sailrite video suggests an order to taking fabric off and putting it back on…that was very helpful.
- Get a staple and tack remover. I did not have a staple puller and it took forever to pull out the 1,897, 534 staples that were originally in that chair. I used a small screwdriver and a pair of pliers to pry up each staple and then pull it out. UGH. My fingers ached for days. Very much worth the $10 to get both of these.
- Save each piece of fabric, trying very hard not to rip them as you remove them from the chair. You will want those pieces to be intact as patterns to cut your new fabric from.
- I also took many pictures as I deconstructed the chair showing how certain areas were attached, folded or pleated.
- Taking the fabric off and deconstructing the cushions easily took as long as putting it back together.
- When you start cutting your new fabric, note with a piece of chalk any notches or cuts in the original fabric.
- You want to cut the outline of your fabric, not the random cuts that go in to the fabric. You will make these cuts bit by bit as you fit the fabric around the frame of your chair. In the image below, I just cut the outline, not the cuts that came in from the side.
- You’ll need a sewing machine for the cushions and the deck (the part of the chair underneath the bottom cushion), but everything else it just cut and staple.
- I did use some special needles and think that they are probably worth the minimal investment you would make. I used a Curved Needle and a long Upholstery Needle to attach the decking. I think it’d be pretty darn difficult to do it without these needles.
- Use a rubber mallet. I did not have a rubber mallet and thought I could get by with my hammer. I did put a piece of moleskin over the hammer, but that wasn’t enough as I did put a hole in my fabric when I hammered the tackstrip.
- As it relates to putting a hole in your fabric…I was able to mend mine with an iron-on patch.
- Also…duck tape came in handy to soften the edges of the tack strip so that they wouldn’t put a hole in the fabric.
- And I might have used a wee bit of glue here and there…whatever it took to get the job done.
My favorite part was adding the nailhead and I have a couple of suggestions about that too:
- Use quality nailhead. I don’t want to name names, but…my experience is that it is worth paying a wee bit more. I’ve used both and the cheaper brand really bends easily. This is what I bought for this chair and would definitely use it again.
- Those little pieces of fabric on the end of the arms need to be formed and ironed bit by bit. Once you’re done with that, measure and make small marks on your fabric so you know exactly where to put your nailhead so that it’s in a straight line and not all wonky.
- Mine were 7/16″ inch wide, which is pretty darn close to a half and inch, so I made marks every 1/2″ and 1/4″ from the edge.
- Once again, a rubber mallet would have been nice. I put some moleskin on a small hammer so that I didn’t scratch the tacks. I had to replace it several times and the way I knew it needed to be replaced was that the tacks were getting scratched.
- I had a pair of beading pliers that worked perfectly for holding the tack while I hammered.
So…those are my handy hints for reupholstering a chair or a sofa. I highly recommend that Sailrite video…it was invaluable.
Let’s just have one more look at that beauty, shall we:
So, with my chair DONE and the wall stencilling DONE, it’s party time all the time in my office right now. By no means am I coasting here. I am busting it and will be until the final reveal. But, those were two biggies on my list. So, speaking of the ‘list’, let’s take a look at where we are and what still needs to be done:
Reupholster club chair
- Paint Walls
- Prime and paint chest
- Make pillow for chair
Make ottoman out of that gorgeous, to die for, coral fabric.OK…you’ve twisted my arm…I’ll give you wee peak now.
- Paint trim (this may or may not happen. It needs to be done but …we’ll see)
- Find lamps
- Make skirt for counter (I’ve got almost all the ‘parts’…which was half the battle)
Find or make and frame artwork(it’s on it’s way…Thanks Minted!) Find a rugOrdered Figure out what to do with bulletin boards.I’ve figured it out, now I just need to do it.
- Recover bulletin boards.
I am really excited about how the room is coming together and the family may have a hard time getting me out of here once it’s done. I could easily sneak a little beverage refrigerator under my counter and could last for days.
And before I leave, I have to share this photo I snapped on my phone yesterday. Terry and I had just brought the chair back in to my office. It was here less than an hour when these two cozied up on it to soak in the afternoon sun. Puddles (the cat) is not very generous with her snuggles so this was especially sweet.
Make sure you pop over to Calling It Home to check out what all the other bloggers have been up to this week. I can’t wait to see and be inspired!
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Until next time,
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