Monday, March 8, 2010

Reupholstery 101 Day 1 (Deployment Project #42)


I don’t know about you, but I had a blast last week checking in with Beckie at Infarrantly Creative each day as she put into words, the entire process that she and I  went through redoing her two chairs.   If you missed Beckie’s posts, you can catch it all right here:

Reupholstery week Post 1

Reupholstery week Post 2

Reupholstery Week Post 3

Reupholstery Week Post 4

Reupholstery Week Post 5

You can revisit my post about it right here!


IMG_4327 IMG_4361

Reupholstering is a ton of fun.  It is a blast to take something old and ugly and remake it into something that you absolutely love and can get a ton of use out of.  Beckie and I have been talking throughout this past week, and in reading through the comments that were left on her and my blog, most people love the idea of reupholstering something, but they are afraid to try it.  Afraid they might make a mistake.


Miss 90’s


I been reupholstering things since I got married – almost 13 years ago.  The best way to learn how to reupholster is to is just to try it.  I bought a book on upholstering that had great pictures and got started.  Most things I have learned by trial and error.  When I really get stuck, I’ll ask a professional.  Most of the time, if you call and tell them you are working on a project for your home and have run into a snag, they will give you some tips to help you out. 


Deployment Project #4


The most important thing to remember when working on a project, is to take pictures as you go, so you have a reference point when you put things back together AND remember, you are going to put your piece back together in the opposite order that you take the fabric off.  For example - - on a fully upholstered chair or couch, the first piece you will take off in your deconstruction phase is the back, so when you are upholstering the piece - the last piece that you will finish with is the back.


Reupholstered Chair


That prompted me to do Reupholstery 101. 


This week, I am going to walk you through, step by step the entire process for a simple, first time, confidence building reupholstery project!


Craigslist Couch


We are going to be doing a very simple chair - - -the easiest thing there is out there, besides a kitchen chair - - to reupholster.  There is very minimal sewing involved and in fact, I will show you how you can do this project without sewing at all.


So, first off…you have to pick your piece of furniture.  This chair is a simple side chair, with wooden arms, an upholstered seat, and upholstered arm cushions.  This is a simple chair to do because there is no separate cushion, no back that you have to worry about, and no awkward curves or angles.  We will get to back, curves and cushions in a series later on - - maybe a future Reupholstery 201.IMG_4488

I found a set of these chairs on craigslist for $50.  So, $25 each.  They are covered in green.  Green paint on the wood, green tone on tone fern on the seat.  They were in fantastic condition, so I knew I wasn’t going to run into any surprises when I took them apart.  My plan was to offer less when I went to pick them up, but once I got to the lady’s house, she was so sweet and kind, I couldn’t do it!  They were worth the $50 easily, so I paid her and loaded up my chairs!!  These chairs had already been reupholstered once, but unfortunately it wasn’t all done correctly - - I will point that out as we go along - -just so you know the right and wrong way to do things!


Next, you are going to have to choose you fabric.  Most stores will have a decorator fabric section.  You are going to want a fairly heavy fabric with just a slight bit of stretch to it.  Anything too heavy and you will not be able to work with it easily and it will not be forgiving around your chairs curves.  Too light of a fabric and you will have a pretty looking piece - - for the first day.  A thin fabric will not have the longevity that an upholstery weight fabric will, nor will it have the weight needed to keep the form or shape of your furniture piece.


Here’s the fabric I chose - - now, I have to put a disclaimer in here…. I just told you all about what type of fabric you should use, and I did not follow the rules here (yikes!)  I fell in love with this fabric when I saw it, and I knew I had to make it work.  It is a 100% cotton quilting fabric.  The fabric is Fresh Fusion, “Large Spring Floral”  by Legacy Studio.  Here’s what I did - - I didn’t take pictures of this, because honestly, I wouldn’t recommend it (I’m just not sure how long this fabric will last - -I’ll let you know in time!).  I took a very heavy weight fusible interfacing and ironed it on to the back of my entire piece of fabric, so now it does have the weight of upholstery fabric.

For this project I needed just under 1 yard of fabric per chair.  The easiest way to know how much fabric you need, is to use an upholstery yardage chart like this one on  They also are a great source for fabric - - I have worked with a lot of their fabrics and they are high quality at a fantastic price!!

The last step we are going to take today is to decide if you want to change the color of the wooden frame of your piece.

IMG_4490The frame of my piece is currently a grey green flecked faux finish.  I knew I wanted something big and bold to go with my fabulous fabric.  Most of the pieces that I have been doing lately have been white.  I’ve gone through a ton of heirloom white in the past couple of months - - I love it, but I wanted something different.  Something bolder, something brighter, and definitely some color!

Here’s what I chose:


Oh yeah!  It is going to be a statement!!

Now that we have our fabric and decided on a color for the wooden frame, we are ready to begin!  So, grab your tools and get ready for the destruction to begin!  Come back tomorrow as I walk you through the start of our Reupholstery 101 project!






Kristi H. said...

Thank you for posting this great tutorial, Amy. I'm feeling VERY inspired already, and might even get brave enough to try my own hand at reupholstery! Now if I could only find the perfect chair.

Anita @ GoingALittleCoastal said...

Hi! Just came across your tutorial. I need to just jump in and try to upholster something. I saw 2 chairs at the base thrift shop very similar to that one but with a fabric back. Same price too! I will see if they are still there. They have weird hours. How much harder will the back piece be?

SpecificallyRandom said...

I just recently found your blog and am loving your tutorials. I'm feeling very inspired, and ready to take the upholstery plunge myself! Thanks!

Ells said...

Oh! Can't wait! Love the color you chose for the wood. :) Wish I were there to take pictures for you and make you take pomtini breaks!

simplyroses2 said...

I was wondering if you had any good places to buy your fabric and trims at really good prices? I'd also like to know what sewing machine you use?( I use a Industrial Phaff walking foot) and last but not least can you do a step by step tutorial on how to do channel back and diamond tucking.

simplyroses2 said...

I was wondering if you had any good places to buy your fabric and trims at really good prices? I'd also like to know what sewing machine you use?( I use a Industrial Phaff walking foot) and last but not least can you do a step by step tutorial on how to do channel back and diamond tucking.

Anonymous said...

I am so excited to see your tutorial. Thanks for helping us that have no clue what we are doing!!! :)

Unknown said...

wow! you are amazing. in the middle of my own reupholstery project and am in WAY over my head. about 1/3 of the way through and totally overwhelmed so my chair is sitting in the garage keeping the bikes company! you have a new follower! your furniture projects are gorg!!!

Destination Seaborn said...

All your projects look great! I enjoyed watching the upholstery job on infarrantly creative. You girls are such an inspiration. I've been putting off a reupholstery job because I was afraid to mess up. But your tutorial gave me the courage I needed to jump right in. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I got 2 free chairs off of craigslist! I love the shape and style but the material is in bad shape plus cat hair = husband allergic and they are sitting in my basement and I am terrified to do anything with them!!

you do such great work!

Andrea Forker said...

How is the fabric working with the fusible interfacing? I am thinking of fusing a back onto some light-weight upholstery fabric I bought, to make it heavy duty for a living room sofa. People on Apartment Therapy recommended against using a fusible interfacing on upholstery projects--saying the layers will separate. Which is why I ask....

Amy {Design Intervention} said...

Andrea - -
It seems to be working out well, but the chairs that I have it on are not high traffic chairs - - -they do not get sat on very often. I'm not sure how well it would work on a sofa that got lots of traffic. I don't think I would do it on a piece of mine if I wanted it to be long lasting. One thing I have done with lighter weight fabric is to just use if for a slipcover. I know it will still get a lot of traffic, but it will not pull and rip in the areas where it is stapled to the piece, or on the edges where it will rub. A slipcover moves more and allows for a lighter weight fabric to still work. HOpe that helps!!

Good Time Charlie said...

I am so excited I found you!! I jumped here from Miss Penny Wenny. Wow, the timing could not be better. I have had a little furniture "redoux" business for a few years now, and I am slowly incorporating upholstery. Have two projects waiting in the workshop as I type.....Thank you so, so much for sharing. Can't wait to see what else you are up to!

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sunshine said...

We keep getting questions at our store about using 100% quilting fabric for re-upholstery. I am very curious how the fabric is doing on the chairs, 3 years later

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