Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Re-upholstery: What the Chair Reveals

This weekend I coaxed my seam ripper out of hiding and began the arduous task of re-upholstering one of the wingback chairs we purchased a while back.  Between ripping out staples and carefully labelling the pieces of old fabric that will serve as my template, I learned a few things.

First, I am not much of a planner (okay, maybe I knew this already).  When faced with a project, I like to get a few important details lined up; in this case, new fabric, a re-upholstery book I can refer to, a good pair of pliers, and a Sharpie.  I tried reading the entire re-upholstery book a couple months ago and I got a couple pages into it and gave up.  It meant very little without actually working on the project.

Secondly, the chair had been re-upholstered before, and some of the original fabric had been left intact.  Here's the spooky part: the original fabric looks almost exactly like the fabric we chose to re-upholster the chairs!  This means we're either old-fashioned or cool in a vintage sort of way.  I'm going to go ahead and say it's the latter.  Yup, that's it.  (Just humor me, okay?)

Revealing what's underneath.  I'm still unsure as to how much of the batting will need to be replaced.

A closer look at the original fabric.  Click here to see what we picked out.  It's downright freaky, I tell you.

You know how old furniture sometimes bulges out?  That's because the webbing (those brownish strips in the photo) have stretched out from the tension of the the springs and years of use.  These need to be re-stretched, though I'm hoping not replaced.

The first rule of re-upholstery seems to be to keep all the pieces you remove, so they can serve as your templates as you cut out the new fabric.  Here I've labelled one of the panels, and I am also keeping track of the order in which I remove the panels (hence, the "2nd" in the circle).  I admit that I sometimes have to force myself to do things like this, but I'm sure I will be glad I did!
I really, really, hope to complete this chair within the next week and a half, but that may be a somewhat optimistic outlook.  I do promise, however, to post the results (and any mishaps) when I am done!


  1. Cannot wait to see whats next! Looks to me your doing a super job being very organized with this!
    Thats funny on the fabric your going to use being almost what was on it before :O)

  2. I just ordered fabric for 2 wing back chairs! I was almost embarrassed when I had to admit to the very professional looking lady at Calico Home that I was going to attempt to reupholster the chairs myself (mostly because I had, through clever wording, led her to believe that I was going to use the upholsterer down the street from me, but could not extend the lie when she asked how much fabric "he" told me to buy) Anyway, I do hope that you will have advice for me when it comes time for me to do mine. I, too, have a book, but wasn't able to make it through reading it. I'm a hands-on learner, too. Can't wait to see yours done :)

  3. Excited for you, Kim! I got a look of disapproval/disbelief when I mentioned I was re-upholstering by myself, too. Going pretty well so far; I'm working on cutting out the fabric tonight!