*This is a sponsored post written by Hearts & Sharts on behalf of the Online Fabric Store in exchange for free product. All creations, opinions and juvenile poop humor are my own.*
I’ve reupholstered several chairs in my lifetime and have learned a lot about what to do and what not to do. I have never taken any classes on this stuff, I am just pretty confident that if I take something apart, I can get it back together properly. Except for, like, spaceships and Johnny Number Five and stuff. There was this one incident with a sewing machine and timing belts… bygones.
These are my tips, just know; I am not a professional, I only play one on the internet.
Last week I posted about these chairs:
This was the first time I had ever done a Louis chair and the reupholstery was much easier than I thought it would be (the piping is a different story). Since every chair is different, a full tutorial here didn’t seem right, so I just thought I would run through some tips and useful tidbits for any first-timers who might be thinking about tackling a project like this.
Always order extra fabric. When doing a pair of chairs, you want the patterns to match on each chair and you’ll need some extra fabric to account for that as well as any upholstery-sharts you may have. For this pair, I ordered 3 yards of the main fabric, Abigail Storm Slub by Premier Prints, and 2 yards of the striped fabric, Canopy Storm Twill by Premier Prints. This was enough for both chairs, one pillow cover and over 30 yards of double welt piping. There’s literally none left. I can’t even spare a square (any Elaine Benes fans out there? Shut UP!)
I cut each piece of fabric using the old fabric as a template. If you are reupholstering with a fabric that has a “center”, make sure you mark the center on the old fabric before ripping it off the chair. This way, you can line up the old fabric on the new before cutting, and make sure the center design goes down the center of the chair. Make sure you leave yourself plenty of extra fabric by cutting at least an inch larger than your old fabric. Also make sure you label all your pieces. It’s amazing how a quick sandwich break can make you forget what you were just doing.
Instead of cutting the leg holes in the new fabric, I just line up the new with the old and cut a slit. You can always go back and trim the excess, but you can’t un-cut. Learned this the hard way – several times.
For these chairs, I lined up the fabric on center and stapled at the top and at the bottom. The bottom staple is more of a “basting” staple, it just holds the fabric in place for a bit and can be removed later, if need be. This is basically the same technique as reupholstering a square piece, start in the middle and work your way out. I went from my top center staple and stapled a couple times on the right of it, and then moved over and stapled a few times on the left of it, pulling taut to prevent wrinkles. I kept going back and forth from one side to the other until I got to the mid point on the sides. I noticed there was a little bit of slack in the fabric, so I removed the bottom “basting” staple, pulled taut and restapled. Then continued stapling from the middle/sides all the way around to meet up with the bottom staple.
When stapling, start with some staples that are not super close together. If you realize you have a wrinkle or it’s not tight enough, you won’t have a thousand staples to remove.
Once you’ve stapled all the way around, go back and add staples to make it more secure.
For padded arms, same thing, start in the middle on one side, with a basting staple on the other side of the arm (the inside). Work your way out, while pulling taut. Working with stripes is a tad tricky, pulling to much or too little in one direction or the other can make your stripes all … wonky, so go slow, use well spaced out staples and once you have it where you want it, go back and add more staples to make it secure.
When working with a chair that has double welt piping or gimp, it’s helpful to have a small piece of it handy when stapling on your new fabric. There’s always a staple (or ten) where you get it in the chair and then think “oh no, is my cording going to cover that?!” Instead of trimming and waiting until it’s too late, if you have a small piece of what you will be using, you can hold it up against those questionable staples to see right away if you should remove and re-staple, or move on. Using fabric scissors, go back and cut the excess fabric as close to the staples as you can, avoiding the paint job.
If you’re working on a chair like this one, where there isn’t an actual wood piece for the seat to remove and recover, and you have to work around the legs, treat each section separately. Staple/tack the front middle as well as the back middle and then work outwards from the middle staple towards each leg.
For the side sections, do the same – staple the center on one side, the center on the other side and then work from the middle out towards the legs, pulling taut as you go. Any excess fabric can be trimmed when you get to the legs, or, if its not much, you can use a flat head screwdriver to push the fabric down into the chair. Once your piping is glued down, the fabric will stay put.
On a matching set of chairs, make sure they match each other; the fabric on the armrests, the backs, the seats. I had a blonde moment and cut one of the seat backs so that the pattern was upside down and had a minor panic attack when I thought I wouldn’t have enough fabric. Here they are after the upholstery, pre-piping.
The most important tip I can give is this: don’t be afraid to try. Like I said earlier, this was my first time doing a pair of Louis chairs, and, I’m not gonna lie, I think they look great, but I constantly tell myself “I can do anything, I can make anything”. If you’re using the word “can’t”, then you’re sealing your own fate.
If yer moseyin’ around yer local flea market and you spot a cheap chair with good bones and you say “Man, I wish I could redo this thing”, gurrrl, you betta look left, look right, and look out, because I WILL come out of nowhere and slap your face.
You can. You can do it.
If you ever have any questions or need any tips, holler at me.
Up next on Hearts & Sharts: double welt piping. dun Dun DUN!