It’s time for another upholstery series! If you missed my last one, I showed how to upholster a wood-framed, French-style chair. You can find it HERE. If you’re scared of upholstery, you’re going to like the way I upholster and teach. I’m a DIY, self-taught upholsterer, not a “professional.” I started upholstering dining chair seat cushions and benches with a manual stapler and then graduated to simple slipcovers, such as they were, and finally dove into upholstering an armchair about five years ago.
I took the chair apart and then had a little freakout moment. What in the world have I done to this beautiful chair?! I had read upholstery books, but I really wasn’t sure if I would be able to get it back together. I worked through it step by step, just like putting together a puzzle. It wasn’t perfect, but it actually looked okay! That gave me the confidence to keep at it. I’ve upholstered dozens of chairs, settees and sofas since then and I get better and better each time, but I’m still learning and honing my skills.
I admittedly take some shortcuts to save time and often do things the way they make sense to me, but it might not be “the right way.” I want to get it done well and I want it to look good, but I’m okay if it isn’t perfect. Does that sound doable for you?
So, the style of chair I’m working on is this French wing chair.
It’s sort of a wing chair with “mini wings”, but this can translate to a full wood-framed wing chair.
If you’ve noticed, all of the pieces I upholster have an exposed wood frame. It makes it so much easier, because that style can be upholstered in panels and you don’t have to use tack strips. If I’m dealing with a fully upholstered piece without an exposed wood frame, I opt to slip cover. For now.
Most of this series will be in video format, but I wanted to share how I prep before I start stapling.
Even if it gets a little ripped up in the process, I always keep the old fabric that is stripped off the chair. This gives me a template to work off of, that is especially helpful when pieces need to be sewn together to make a larger panel, like on the back of this chair.
I’ll lay each piece on top of the fabric I’m using to reupholster, pin it to the fabric, and then cut it out, leaving about a 1/2″ allowance on all sides. That allowance is going to give me a little “wiggle room” when I’m upholstering. If you cut it exactly, it might fit, but the new fabric you’re working with might not have the same stretch as the old fabric, so it might not fit as well. You can always cut off fabric, but if you come up short, you have to start over. Not fun.
Once the new fabric is cut, I’ll lay out the new panels and the old together, so I know where the panels need to line up and be sewn together.
I’ll then pin the new panels together and sew along the pin lines. Make sure the right sides of your fabric are facing each other. This check is double-sided, so it didn’t matter which way it was lined up.
Before stapling the newly-made fabric panel on, take a minute to iron the seams open. This helps them lay flat, so it’s a simple, but important step that makes the finished piece look sharper.
The panels that don’t need to be pieced together are just cut and set aside until I’m ready to staple them on.
In the rest of this series, I’m going to show how to upholster the chair and make double-welting…
Kriste and I just had an amazing few days in Wisconsin and we’re traveling back today. I can’t wait to share all about it.
(And yes, we did eat cheese curds!)