Saturday, June 11, 2011

Re-Upholstering Furniture Part 2: Upholstering

Materials:

- Old piece of furniture
- butter knife (totally professional tool I know - but it works!)
- flat-head screw driver
- pliers
- staple gun
- hammer
- sewing machine
- regular and zipper foot

- seam ripper
- upholstery fabric
- plastic piping
- iron

I'm not a pro at this by any means (in fact this was my first attempt), but here's what worked:

The basic rule of thumb is that you work one section at a time, take off the old fabric in whole pieces, then use those pieces as a pattern for your new pieces. Pay attention to how things come off - because you'll put the new pieces back on the same way.


1) Remove Staples:
Starting from the bottom of the furniture, remove the staples using your butter knife, flat-head screw driver, and pliers (safety goggles are a good idea). Remove bottom covering (keep aside until later), and release the rest of the fabric from the bottom of the furniture frame.


2) Remove Fabric Section:
In this case I began by loosening the side sections and removed the back piece of fabric from the chair frame (put aside with metal stretchers), and then removed the lower-front section of fabric, saving any pieces of piping that also had to come off. If any piece is sewn directly onto the furniture, you may need a seam ripper to release it.

3) Iron Out Old Fabric Section & Trace:
Once I had the fabric piece removed I ironed it flat, and then traced it out exactly onto my new fabric. Cut out new fabric piece. (If you're using patterned fabric - make sure you have your piece in line with the direction of the fabric pattern before cutting it out)


4) Attach New Fabric Piece:
Place new fabric piece on furniture frame in place of the old one and sew/ staple to frame in the same manner as the old one.



5) Repeat with other sections:After replacing the lower-front piece, I worked on the sides next. In this case the side pieces consisted of 1 whole jacket composed of several pieces sewn together. I removed the entire jacket and used my seam-ripper to detatch the pieces from one another.

Then I ironed each piece out, traced it out onto my new fabric, sewed them back together in the same way, replaced the jacket onto the side of the chair and stapled into position on the frame.

**************************************************

Piping:


To make piping:

1) Remove plastic piping from old fabric sleeve (if piping cannot be re-used, cut a new piece of piping to the same size).

2) Cut a piece of new fabric long and wide enough to make a new sleeve for the piece of piping. Fold in half lengthwise and iron to crease. Sew sleeve just narrow enough to fit piping snuggly.


3) Insert piping.


4) Sandwich between right sides of fabric pieces with piping on the inside - raw edge to the outside and pin in place.


5) Sew pieces together using a zipper-foot on your sewing machine.


*********************************************************

After I completed the sides, I repeated the process with the upper-front section, and then the back piece.

*************************************************************

Using Fabric Stretchers:


Again the rule here is put it back on the way it was, so take careful note when you pull it off. Position fabric stretchers on back side of fabric pointy side down, and poke through material.

Fold fabric over, position on frame firmly (right side up) and hammer in, stretching fabric across the back.


***********************************************************


6) Replace Bottom Covering:


Staple bottom covering onto furniture frame the way it was - tucking in any loose ends.


7) Enjoy your "new" furniture!




If you liked this post - check out this one too for more details and better pictures on the reupholstering process:  




73 comments:

  1. you make it look so easy! now i want to buy a chair and re-upholster it!

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  2. This is great! I have a wingback chair that needs a desperate makeover.

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  3. How many yards of replacement fabric would you suggest on getting?

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    Replies
    1. It really depends on your furniture piece. This particular chair took about 6 meters.

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  4. Did you add new foam backing to the chair? I have a killer chair that needs a new face but the cushion is about as flat as a pancake as well...any suggestions there?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Jessica,

      I didn't need to replace or add foam to this particular chair, but I have on other pieces of furniture. You can typically purchase foam, or other types of padding at fabric stores and cut it to shape - or, better yet, go to a business that specializes in furniture foam. Here in Lethbridge, AB I use Ducan Industries who will custom cut pieces of foam of whatever width and density you want. You can even take them the old piece and they can use it as a template to make you a new one - and all at a very reasonable price! I would do some looking around in your community to see if there is a business that offers a similar service. Good luck!

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  5. Hi....so pleased to have found this step-by-step demo. I have a wing-back, very much like this one, that holds sentimental value for me. However, it is so showing its years. Now, I almost feel brave enough to try to re-cover it myself!

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  6. Amazing. I have piece that I need to Reupholstering but I'm so afraid. But after your tutorial I'm going to give me a chance.
    Thanks great tutorial!

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  7. Great tutorial but I am still having trouble getting up the courage to pull of all the old fabric. I got a chair from my friends mother as a wedding gift that already needed some tlc. I have had it for over 6 years in need of repair and can't get the courage to do it. Love the new fabric you used! It's beautiful!

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    Replies
    1. I agree... I would love to take on a project like this.. but the failure-factor keeps me from trying... that and I am curious how many labor hours were committed to this project?

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  8. Love your step by step instructions. I would love to tackle a harder re-upholstery project, but I have a suggestion: I've sewn HUNDREDS of yards of welting, and it is MUCH easier to cut the strips 2" wide, fold over welting and sew with a zipper foot, creating it as you go.....Yo

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    Replies
    1. Yes! I've actually switched to using thick venetian blind cording for upholstery piping (much more flexible than the plastic stuff) - don't know if that's the same as welting, but it is much better to sew it just as you described!

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  9. How long did this project take? I am wondering if I can get the project done in a day or if I need to give myself more time.

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    Replies
    1. You might be able to get it done in one very long day, but I would suggest breaking it up into a couple days (more if you're also refinishing the wood). Pulling the staples and releasing the fabric is the most tedious/time-consuming part - once that's done, it goes fairly quickly.

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  10. I just ran across this Renaissance wax tonight. He is using it on a pistol, but it is sold and imported from England by a furniture restoration company. It is used by museums around the world.
    Here http://tinyurl.com/ctgb3yr
    Here http://tinyurl.com/d2nh8aq

    Enjoy
    Jim

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  11. Have you tried a channel back chair yet? I have two that I would love to attempt, but am a little bit unsure if I should tackle it.

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    Replies
    1. No, I have not as of yet attempted to re-upholster a channel back chair. Some types of upholstery are a little more advanced, like the channel back, or even a really deep, folded tufting. I would be tempted to practice on something else before taking it on.

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  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  13. Olá, estou te seguindo... Amei este post, já vou reformar meu sofá!!!! venha nos visitar!!!! tchau!!

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  14. About how many yards of fabric did this chair require?

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  15. thank you very much for this tutorial! i was given 2 chairs i really like, but they're lime green. nobody will let me bring them into the house. now i can make them a pretty color and won't let anyone (all those snobs that made me keep them in the garage) sit in them.

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  16. ... Thankyou for the Best info on recovering furniture ... I am going to be busy finishing many projects now that I understand better the process... Many Thanks from Magrath...

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  17. I'm a little confused about the zipper foot & piping. Is the zipper foot a sewing option on your sewing machine? Also the fabric stretchers, are those already in the furniture & you just have to take them out & put them back?

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    Replies
    1. A zipper foot is a separate attachment for your sewing machine. It comes standard with most sewing machines and looks a little different from your regular foot. learn more here: http://sewing.about.com/od/machinefeet/p/zipperfoot.htm

      The fabric stretchers I use are already in the furniture and I did just take them out and put them back on. Hope that's helpful!

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  18. I'm so glad I found you. I have been trying to redo a chair for a year now and you have just put me in the the right place. Thank you

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  19. thank you for tutorial - we have a chair exactly like that!

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  20. Lovely clear instructions want to do this one day!

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  21. Sigh, I just paid to have someone do this exact wing-back chair. I wish I had seen this last week! BTW - there is a piping foot that can be bought and using it you could do the piping in one or 2 steps and wouldn't have to push it through. Just a thought.

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  22. I'm so glad you posted this tutorial. I've had a chair that needs recovering, but too scared to try it myself. I was always afraid I'd wreck it. Now, I just may have some courage to try it on my own or at least with a helper. Thanks so much for the post!

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  23. You show us all the easy parts, we already know how to cut, iron and sew or we wouldn't be considering this. How about some details on the stretchers, and what exactly DID you do if the piece was originally sewed directly to the chair. And how exactly did you get fabric tucked down and attached deep in the arm and back attachments? And where did you get the stretchers and exactly how do they work?

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    Replies
    1. Not sure how you read bitterness into this. Doing this for her first time Abby has a perfect opportunity to give us some real insight to the problems and solutions and how to deal with the things we have never seen before. I am asking specific questions with hope that she will address them.

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    2. Hi Sharon,

      The specifics for every piece of furniture will be just a little bit different, but the most important rule is just to pay very close attention to how the old pieces come off - and make sure the new pieces go back on in exactly the same way. As for your specific questions: for fabric that is sewn directly onto the piece - use a seam ripper to take it off and hand-sew the new piece back on the best you can. The stretchers are a little tricky to get the hang of (I re-used the same ones that came off the chair and just put them back on the same way they came off). As far as getting the fabric tucked down and attached - you just have to wrestle with it and find a way to make it work! Re-upholstering is labour intensive hard work - don't be surprised if you break a sweat! As long as you remember to put the new pieces back on the same way the old ones came off, you should be just fine. I have a couple of pieces that I'm hoping to re-upholster for my living room soon, so maybe I'll try to do another post on re-upholstering including more detail and maybe some videos to help show the process more clearly and in more detail. Good luck!

      Delete
  24. YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY AWESOME! Timing is perfect. I just found this on Pinterest and recently reupholstered 6 dining room chair seats for grandma. Now she wants her rocking arm chair covered also. We all ran away from it because it seemed too hard but now I have the courage to try. THANK YOU SOOO MUCH FOR SHARING!

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  25. You did a nice job! Just a tip, you can make cording by folding your narrow piece of fabric over the cord and stitching close using the zipper foot. Saves a step and you can make all your cording at once, cut to length, and just remove some of the cord when it needs to be in a continuous loop.

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  26. Not all upholstery projects lend themselves to removing and replacing one section at a time. This is true especially if you have to replace old foam, mend springs etc. Relying on my aging memory is another reason I have resorted to documenting step by step removal of fabric sections with digital photos that include closeups of tricky areas. I review the photos on my computer for reminders but you could also leave them in your camera for quick onsite reviews. Label the old sections with a Sharpie marker as you remove them - ie. where they belong and use arrows to indicate up, down, back or front edge of each piece. These extra steps can save you big in time, labor, materials and unnecessary frustration.

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  27. I'd like to know how to reupholster a chair with wooden hand pieces and wooden wing pieces. Its annoying to look at our ugly orange chair and not know how to upholster around those pieces!

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    Replies
    1. Stay tuned! I'm just about to re-do some chairs for my living room that have that exact same dilemna, and will be posting a tutorial on it as soon as I finish!

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  28. where can you buy new fa love fabric stretchers?

    great tutorial. very easy to follow.

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  29. what a good job you have done, the chair looks so different now. I will definately try this, i have just the chair waiting for an update like this

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  30. WOW! I have 2 chairs that I could totally do. HMMM...I think I may round up the supplies and TRY!

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  31. Thank you for sharing this! I wonder if there are any places that do furniture upholstery in Phoenix? Do you have any suggestions?

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  32. Can you tell me how to get buttons off and replace them? I have a piece that I have wanted to redo but removing the buttons has me reluctant to do it.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Sharon,

      To remove a button usually you would just yank on the button until the cord is exposed and then snip it. If it is a fabric covered button, you will have to purchase a fabric covered button kit (available at any fabric store) with enough buttons to replace the old ones. Once you have created your new buttons, you will need some upholstery thread, and an extra long needle to re-attach the buttons (just put them back exactly where and how they were attached before you removed them). Usually they are attached to a series of woven straps inside the back of the furniture. I will be illustrating this process soon on a couch that I am currently working on.

      Delete
  33. Intriguing! I have two vintage Eames pod chairs that desperately need face lift. I'm wondering if it's even possible by these more conventional methods.

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  34. There is certainly a lot to find out about this subject. I like all the points you made.

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    ReplyDelete
  35. I have a wing back rocker that I want to re-upholster. Please do a tut on that!!!

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  36. I have a sectional couch and my husband wants to get rid of it, but I love the unique structure! Do you think it is too big of a project to do a sectional? Have you done one?

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    Replies
    1. I am currently working on a couch - but I haven't done a sectional. It would be a big project - but if you love the couch it might be worth it! The nice thing with a sectional, is that depending on how it splits up you may be able to take it one section at a time which would help to split up the work. I would probably shop around first, and see if there's something new that you really love. If you can't find something new that you like more, than it might be worth tackling it!

      Delete
  37. Nice post with great details. I really appreciate your job. Thanks for sharing this great idea. hospitality furniture manufacturers

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  38. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  39. Thanks for this post, I have two armchairs exactly like this,they are only two years old but between 4 cats and a new puppy there are some sections of the fabric that need to be replaced. I was really nervous about trying to do it ourselves but this has inspired me to give it a go.

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  40. Great . I have one waiting for me. I stripped the old fabric and now I just need the time to do it. Thanks for the tips.

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  41. I really wanted to go back in doing upholstery! But I am still afraid of the staple gun after my hand injury because I bought a cheap one. You really need to invest with your tools.

    ReplyDelete
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  43. Would you please provide the link to Part 1? This is an excellent tutorial.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. http://do-it-yourselfdesign.blogspot.ca/2011/06/re-uphostering-furniture-part-1.html

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    ReplyDelete
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