Monday, May 19, 2014

Creating Arm Pieces for A Sofa (or Chair)

When I began my journey into upholstery, I knew I would learn a lot! I also knew each piece would be different. But, when you want to learn a new skill you have to do your research. It is trial and error to a certain extent, but you must have the right tools for the job if you want it to turn out.

So, on my first reupholstery project - a Goodwill chair find at $25 - I knew I had my work cut out for me.

I checked out books at the library and I researched several Upholstery sites to study the tools needed and the different types of materials. This gave me a new admiration for the furniture builders in our history! Wow!!

Project 1
 Goodwill find as first project in our Master Bedroom Redo


On this chair, the front arm piece (shown above) came off easily with the help of a flat head screwdriver. It consisted of a piece of cardboard with a nail at either end. That was then covered with fabric with the piping added as well. After being reupholstered with the new fabric, I just had to hammer it back into the chair. Easy, peasy. I then decided to add the decorative nail heads.

Project 2
Client's Sofa 


This sofa had a similar arm piece on the front of it. I guessed it would be just as easy to reupholster as the ones on my Goodwill chair. 

Well, like I said you learn something new with each piece. The decorative nailheads on this piece were not that great. They were not separate pieces. Instead, they were long strips of metal pieces attached together. They were dangerously thin and could've sliced my fingers had I not been wearing gloves. They were a tad scary. 

When I took the old upholstery off of the sofa, I discovered the arm pieces were not that different, but they were lacking the nails in the cardboard pieces. It took me a minute to decide how to reattach them once they were reupholstered. 


I decided to use some of the tack strips I had left over from a previous project. I could've just added nails through the cardboard piece I already had, but this piece goes the length of the arm and I wanted a snug fit all the way down. 


1. Use the existing cardboard strip and add the Tack Strip.
 IMPORTANT: Make sure the tack strip is facing the right direction. You want them to hammer in from the back of the piece. Also make sure your left and right are correct. 

There are two types of tack strips:

Metal with teeth- this type is more flexible {Metal Tack Strips}
Cardboard with nails inserted {Dritz Home Fiber Tack Strip With Nails}

2. Use spray adhesive to attach the dacron or batting to the front of the cardboard {I used a Spray Adhesive}. Just make sure it says that it is All Purpose and includes fabric. 

3. Attach the new fabric {I admit I used a regular old office stapler for this since I didn't want the staples to poke through and show. They are merely for attaching the fabric to the cardboard piece. 

4. Attach the piping in the same way as you attach the fabric

5. Hammer into the arm of the sofa 

Note: Because I used the cardboard strips and they are not as flexible as the metal ones, I will need to go back and hand sew with an upholstery needle and thread with a hidden stitch so it will be snug with the sofa arm. 

I will add more detailed photos of this process when I can. Stay tuned. 

This is the progress so far: