Saturday, April 9, 2016

How to re-upholster a chair in 2 weekends: part 2

Well, here we are... back for part 2, and ready to get this project done! In this post we'll take this piece from a bare frame to a completed chair. From paint to padding, piping to pillows, let's get it done ;D
If you recall, in part 1 we cover the first 2 steps of my 4 phase process:
  1. Find and plan
  2. Tear down and prep
  3. Sew and upholster
  4. Assemble and finish

That left us with a pretty bare looking frame, and a lot of clean up ;D

This chair was totally stripped down, and cleaned, so it could be painted a bright white. That's burlap covering the springs on the seat. 

And now we're on to step 3, sew and upholster

So let's gather up our tools and materials, and get started! Today we're going to need our batting/padding/wadding, upholstery fabric, staple gun, staples,  hammer and nails, scissors, tailors chalk, measuring tape, flex-curve tack strip, piping cord, sewing machine, matching thread, and dust cover fabric.

First, let's tackle the padding. Depending on the state of the padding on your chair, you may or may not have much to do in this step. In my project, I'm replacing it all. I'll start with the seat which uses the most padding. On the seat I'll start my replacing the burlap (or hessian) that covers the springs. Next I'll add a piece of 1 inch thick upholstery foam. Top that with a thick layer of cotton wadding, and a final layer of upholstery batting which gets stapled in place around the perimeter of the seat frame to hold down all those layers.
The seat back gets a little less, one layer of 1 inch foam followed up with a couple layers of upholstery batting stapled in place. The outside seat back gets just a layer or 2 of upholstery fabric. Finally, the arms get a layer of 1 inch foam, and a layer of upholstery batting that comes across the top and down the sides of the arms (just to where the upholstery will stop) and staple in place.
With that complete, it's time to move on to the measurement and cutting. Some like to use the previous pieces as a template. I like to take my own measurements, especially if I've replaced all the padding and potentially changed the shape of the piece. First I'll measure around all pieces that require piping, cut and prepare that. Next, I'll measure each section of the chair that will require covering, starting with the inside, working my way out. These measures don't need to be precise, I can trim as I attach them, but should include a 3 inch ease for folding and stapling (just add 3 inches to each measurement).
For this chair, I need 8 pieces: seat cover, front seat panel, right side seat panel, left side seat panel, inside chair back, outside chair back, left arm, right arm.

The detailed order and technique used to attach the fabric is partially based on the end result you're trying to achieve, and partially based on personal preference. My approach here definitely reflects my preference!

I'll start with the seat, knowing that the raw edges in the front and sides will be covered up by the front and side panels, I can align the pattern straight and put a basting staple in the center front as well as one on each side. With these secure, I'll pull the fabric taught to the back and staple the fabric under the frame. This will require some ease cuts around the arm and back supports.
Next I can finish securing the front and sides with a few more staples, before attaching the piping around the seat. With the piping on, the front panel is attached using a cardboard tack strip. This is a great technique for getting a nice straight line! It's a simple process; lay the fabric with right sides facing and raw edges aligned. place the card board strip snug up to the piping and staple in place. Drop the fabric down over the cardboard and voila! All that's left is to staple the panel under the frame. Repeat for each side panel.

For the arms, I'll use a slightly different approach; the flex-curve tack strip. This type of tack strip will tear up your hands if you're not careful (so try to be careful), but accomplishes upholstery magic! I'll start by applying the piping around the arms, knowing the raw edges will be covered up by the arm panels. Next I'll apply the flex-curve tack strip following the piping edge with the teeth facing down. This will allow me to lay the arm panel over the arm, and push the edges up into the teeth of the tack strip (trimming as I go).

The seat back and outside back are handled in much the same way as the seat. Start with the seat back, knowing that the raw edges with be covered up by the outside seat back. Apply piping around the outer edge of the seat back, and use a tackstrip to attach the outer back panel.

And now for the finish! Step 4

Almost done, this is the best part; the finishes! This is where we get to look at the chair and determine if there are any imperfections that need to be covered up/fixed, or any embellishments to be added like decorative nail heads. My project wont get any additional embellishments, but I do plan on using a bit more piping around the arm just to tidy up the seams. Only thing left to do is attach the dust cover; you know that black fabric on the underside of your furniture.

Well maybe I spoke too soon... how about a cute little lumbar pillow ;D

OK that's it! Hopefully that was a helpful and inspiring recap of my process, because I'd really love to hear about your projects; what are you working on, what have you been afraid to take on? Can't wait to here about it!