Friday, February 22, 2013

Upholstering A Chair

This is my big project I have been working on for awhile.  I have always wanted to reupholster a chair.  You can always seem to find cheap chairs with horrible fabric, that you know would look great if you could just get some new fabric on them.

It was a huge and daunting task.  There are some great tutorials out there if you want to learn how to do it yourself.  I’m not going to go into great detail here.  I actually didn’t use a tutorial myself…I just winged it.  I would say that some chair styles anyone can recover with fabric.  The one I tackled did have some sewing to it, so it would be more of advanced beginner experience project.  If you want an easier project, just look for a chair that has a seat cushion that isn’t removable.

So here is the old chair I picked up on Craigslist for $10.


It has very simple lines, nothing fancy.  I figured it would be a good chair to start with.

I had already bought fabric that I was going to use to recover some kitchen chairs….but since we have new plans for the kitchen, I decided to use the fabric for this chair instead.

So here is the finished project.


It now sits in our family room and completes the empty space that was being filled with temporary chairs that didn’t match.  The only question I have left is whether I want to paint the chair legs in a cream color.  I’m leaning towards yes.


I’m actually pretty proud of myself and now have the confidence to tackle two other chairs that need reupholstering.

As I mentioned I won’t be doing a tutorial, but I thought I would list some simple tips in case you are thinking about trying this yourself.

1.  Fabric choice is very important.  I picked up a fabric that had a little bit of a stretch to it.  It made it a little harder to get nice crisp lines.  If I did it again I would get a fabric without stretch.  Come to think of it, with two black dogs and kids, I probably wouldn’t get a fabric with so much white on it again. 

2.  Take a lot of time to write down what you are doing when you remove the existing fabric, then when you use the new fabric you just work backwards.  Takes pictures of areas that are difficult to remember so when you are putting it back together you can remember exactly how it goes.


3.  You have to be careful because you will use the fabric you remove as patterns to cut out the new pieces.  This is also good to remember because if you get a chair with fabric that is so gross you don’t want to touch it, you won’t want to use it is as a pattern.  So make sure the old fabric is ugly, but not infested, gross or too dirty.

4.  The one thing I wish I would have done is when tearing apart the pieces that were sewn together (ripping out the stitches), I wish I would have marked the stich line with a permanent marker on the old fabric and cut the old fabric on that line.  Then when I used the piece as a pattern I would have cut around leaving a 1/2” seam allowance.  This would have made it easier to stich back together and get the perfect shape.

5.  It took about 7 yards of fabric to cover this one wing chair.

In the end it took about 7 hours of my time and $70 dollars worth of fabric.  So after you add the initial cost of the old chair you have a total chair cost of $80 plus labor.  Not a cheap item…but buying a custom chair with fabric you like in a store can easily set you back hundreds of dollars.

P.S.  If you follow my personal blog you will soon be able to see the post my husband did that I had to remove until I was able to finish this project.

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