Monday, December 16, 2013

Goodwill Steal: My new adventure in re-upholstery

I have been wanting to broaden my sewing and re-upholstery skills for a while now. Our kitchen dining chairs have been upholstered, the glider and ottoman in Declan's nursery was re-upholtered and I have made a few drapery panels and pillow covers, but I have never tackled re-upholstery from beginning to end.

This project began as the first project for our new bedroom. It also began when I made a trip to our local Goodwill and discovered a Wing Back chair for $10!! I didn't buy it at first, but I did rush over the next morning and snag it up. It sat in the garage for a few days until I decided it needed to get going. I made a trip to a local fabric store and found two rolls of remnant fabric in the sale bins!! I was ecstatic! These rolls were only $3.48 each. I knew I needed at least 5 yards. The two rolls equaled 7 yards.  I spent a little over $30 for all of the fabric. This brought my total to $40! I thought this was a great deal.

After watching several youtube videos, reading several books and researching Pinterest and blogs, I decided I could probably do this.

A few pointers I have learned along the way:

1. Choose a sturdy chair:
Your chair can come from anywhere, but make sure you really look at it before making a purchase. Look at the fabric and make sure it is just worn or a bad choice of pattern and that the underlying foam is not damaged. Also make sure that the chair is sturdy. You don't want a chair that wobbles or has loose parts like arms or wings (for a wing back chair). As with wooden case pieces, also make sure that the legs of the chair do not have deep gouges that cannot be fixed. I also sat in the chair to see if the springs were still springy and I smelled the chair {I know, I know the people in Goodwill probably thought I was nuts!}. I wanted to make sure it didn't smell of mold or cigarette smoke.

2. Purchase fabric that will actually work well for a beginner project:
The rolls that I purchased were remnant rolls. Have the salesperson roll the entire roll out for you. The rolls I purchased were not complete yards of fabric. A couple of the yards on one roll were shorter because they had already been cut. This, I knew, would be okay for me since my chair is small. These shorter pieces will be used for the arms, sides and seat cushion.

3. Choose your pattern carefully:
An all over pattern will work as long as you buy extra fabric for pattern matching. You wouldn't want a large flower in the center of the chair back and the same flower to show up in a different place on the seat cushion. All over busy patterns, dots. paisley or a stripe will work well and will use the least amount of fabric matching. You also need to choose a fabric that works well for the piping if you add that to your chair. Some people cut fabric straight for piping since they don't need to be particular about matching and some people cut piping fabric on the bias {as for striped fabric}. Cutting on the bias uses a lot more fabric, but the stripes will match  up well.

4. Take your time:
It will be uber tempting to just slash that old fabric and rip it off the chair frame, but resist the temptation. I reached this point one night about 11 P.M. when my hands were sore, I had blisters on my thumbs and I still had a million staples to pull. You do not want to damage the current fabric because you will use it for your new fabric pattern.

5. Use safety measures: 
It may not seem like a dangerous task, but pulling old fabric from a chair can cause injury. Keep your eyes covered with safety glasses {Staples often break into pieces and pop out of the wood}. Wear gloves to help prevent blisters. {If you are using a flat head screwdriver or even a staple puller (if you can afford pricey tools, purchase a staple puller http://www.amazon.com/North-County-Tool-Repair-SR850/dp/B00AIH5PRS) to pry staples loose, push away from your body since you could slip and cut yourself}.

Have a container for staples so they are not on the floor or work surface and place tac strips away from the work area. {This chair had cardboard stripping full of staples, nails on the armrest and curve ease on the chair back}

6. Label 
As you remove the pieces of fabric from the chair, label them with a marker or tape. Label the position of the piece and add a number for the order you are removing them. You will reattach the new pieces in the reverse order. Also, take a LOT of photos and make notes. You will want to refer back to these photos as you reupholster the chair.


So, this is what I have learned. Now I need to get back to pulling staples. I am really ready to get the new fabric cut out and reattached!!

Chair Minus the Skirt


New Fabric



I look forward to completing this chair and blogging my experiences. I will not be doing a complete tutorial. There are so many out there already. I will just post links to my favorites! Stay tuned!
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