Thursday, July 10, 2008
Chair Upholstering Tutorial, Continued
Finally! We're ready to continue our upholstering tutorial! I hope you have all the "before" pictures handy, along with the ones you took during the deconstruction process. You'll also need: Fabric that you chose for this task, scissors, hammer, tacks and/or heavy-duty stapler (not the kind you have in your office) and staples, a roomy workspace and a good attitude. Remember, this is not a good time to have toddlers around; you may still come across staples and nails that you previously missed and you know how little ones like to put absolutely everything in their mouths. Plus, this is generally where the cursing begins and of course, they shouldn't be around for that. The chair I am working on here requires padding beneath the seat cushion and on the chair back itself. I have chosen to cover a seat cushion in a contrasting fabric; therefore, today's photos will be only of the backs (both sides of the back) of the chair and the bottom area upon which the cushion will rest. In other words, the cushion itself will be the next (as well as the last!) part of this tutorial. At this point, the chair has been completely stripped of all its old fabric and stuffing materiels (spelled correctly, check Webster's) and the frame has been cleaned, sanded smooth and painted or otherwise prepared. Since my chair required some padding, I cut batting and used some leftover quilting fabric to hold it in place. I will be stapling my upholstery fabric over what is shown in this picture. Although the batting and fabric used to secure the batting in place will be covered, neatness is still a factor. If this step has lumps, so will your final step. Think of it as making a bed without straightening your top sheet. I like to start with the seat area. Lay your batting, fabric, etc. on the area you are covering and smooth with your hand. You're ready to trim away excess fabric. Make sure you cut your batting and subsequent covering fabric long and wide enough to fold a hem. This will help increase the strength of the fabric and help prevent fraying and tearing with normal use. Pull the fabric as tightly as you can, stapling it on one side and then the opposite. KEEP IN MIND that all chairs do not require this step. If you didn't remove batting, etc. during the deconstruction process, you don't need to add it now (unless you just want to). Once the seat area (not including the cushion) is finished, turn your attention to the back of the chair. This one required padding on the back. I chose to not cut a foam cushion for the back and opted to instead stuff it with foam pieces (available at WalMart and most fabric shops). I did this by stapling my under-fabric to the back, leaving the top open for stuffing. Make sure there are no lumps or uneven stuffed areas before you staple your opening closed. It's now time to apply your final upholstery fabric to the bottom of the chair. (I hope you're continually examining your "before" pix) In the same way you applied the batting, smooth your fabric over the seat area. Again, you want to make sure you have fabric enough to turn the edges under for a hem. This will probably require a lot of positioning, stretching of the fabric (make sure it's nice and taut) and grumbling on your part. Turn the ends under as you would if you were making a bed with "hospital corners". Don't get frustrated. Take a break if needed. You can do this. This is probably the first chair you have completely stripped down and upholstered; forgive yourself for any "mess-ups". Chances are, there is a way to fix it or hide it. Send me hate mail. Just don't hurt the kids or yourself. Now that's out of the way, let's do the same thing to the back. Cover the front of the back first. That is the side that your back will rest against when sitting in the chair. Expect the back to not be perfectly square or rectangular. You may have more fabric left over at the bottom than at the top. That's okay, it's to be expected. Just try to not trim it too short. If you're going to sew buttons to the back for decorative reasons, do it now before you put the true back part (the part that will probably face the wall) of the fabric on. You'll need a long needle; I use a 3" doll needle. Don't try to do this with a regular sewing needle or embroidery needle, as it needs to be long enough to penetrate the fabric and all the stuffing you used. Pull your needle and thread all the way to the back and fasten securely before you go on to your second, third, etc. buttons. (I use a piece of chalk to mark the areas where my buttons will be; it's much easier to measure and mark before you start sewing on the buttons.) The following three pictures show the process of securing the true backside of your chair back. Start securing the fabric at the top of the chair, being sure to fold in your hem as shown. Position the fabric on top of the staples or nails you used to secure the front side of your chair back. If you are using decorative upholstery tacks, this is an area where you will want to utilize them. However, I suggest that you hammer them in only far enough to hold your fabric in place. You will probably end up removing and repositioning both the tacks and the fabric. The fabric will require some "easing" and gentle pulling here and there. Tacking the top in place and allowing the fabric to hang loose allows me a better visual of which areas (if any) need to be trimmed. Too much bulk will end up in a lumpy back. Once you have your back in place, you're almost finished! You now have only the cushion to go! But that's enough for today - the final installment of this tutorial will be posted in the next couple of days. For now, take a deep breath and maybe a few swigs of wine.