Ok, first thing is first, you’ve inherited a chair from your Nan which you love and your all sentimental about and blah blah blah blah…………… but looks bat shit crazy in your monochrome hygge trendy home?
SO WHAT DO YOU DO?
Well lets get one thing I need to say out of the way straight off, this blog ‘aint for the perfectionists and its not for those who are too scared to try something because they are afraid of ruining a a family heirloom that everyone hates! This is for the fearless and to celebrate the PERFECTION OF IMPERFECTION!!!!!!! On that note lets get that stinky pee stained fabric off of what will be soon your pride and joy.
Now, for me this is the disgusting part, so a couple of ways to make it easier are
* Take it outside
* Wear a mask, scarf, balaclava
* Make sure your up to date on your tetanus injections!!!!
* If your really up together do it on a sheet to catch all the shit that falls out!
Failing that, beg a boyfriend or passerby to help……..I have been guilty of this one many time……sorry Paul ……I do love you xxxx
* Purchase an upholstery tack remover … they cost about about 3 quid and you will save yourself some major injuries! Trust me, I’ve been there with a hammer, flat head screwdriver and pliers too many times to count and I don’t want to put you through that torture. However if thats your chosen system…..may the force be with you.
* You will need a staple gun and staples…. between 6mm and 8mm…sometimes its best just to buy a mixed box if your only doing one.
* Obviously fabric…. depending on size of pattern repeat and chair , it could be between 5-6 metres
Always start with the base and back piece, which may entail a bit of drag and roll with your pliers, but you don’t have to be to careful with the bottom. From then on you will literally take it off bit by bit. At this point you will come to realise that upholstering a chair is like layering…some describe it as an onion, but the best way I can describe it as, is…….You know that way to close a cardboard box? Where one section has to be under another one before it all slots together? Well, its like that in terms of fabric!
As well as sweating, swearing and generally feeling like poo at this point I’m loath to add extra to your work load, but this is …..A VERY IMPORTANT POINT.
I KNOW TAKING PICTURES IS BORING AND GOES AGAINST ALL YOUR CREATIVE INSTINCTS BUT TRUST ME, IF I ONLY GET YOU TO DO THIS ONE THING ITS BEEN WORTH IT!
Even if you never refer back to them, taking pictures of how each seam folds in on itself and where they go slows you down and lets your brain process more.
LABEL EVERY SECTION
Not just with LB (left back) which I do now, but with arrows of up or down, what section it is and explicitly where it goes.
Do not be fooled by your brain saying “oh, I don’t have to do that, LB will suffice,I will remember” ,trust me……..your brain won’t!
Next up the fun scary part
CUTTING THE FABRIC
This is the part I love and loath and can also take me far to long as I tend to be fussy about pattern repeats etc
But you don’t have to be……for example with this chair I didnt have enough fabric so I went in another direction for the cushion as a contrast…..if you can’t hide it make a feature of it I say. The fabric came from an ikea sale and had been in my stash for a while. As you can imagine my stash is BIG!
For the bias binding on the chunky piping I used Herring bone webbing which is cheap as chips and normally used to edge aprons etc….I also happen to like the texture.
Obviously you can make your own and I urge you too watch youtube tutorials of how to make a continuos piece of binding out of a small bit of fabric……..it feels like your making a wind sock but its genius!
At this point I’m making a massive assumption
YOU CAN SEW?
If you can’t, well clearly you need to learn or else you need to kidnap someone who can in order to do the next part……..SEW EVERTHING TOGETHER.
* I always sew the cushion together first as I hate doing it but it helps to line up any pattern on the back rest.
* Next the arms……can be a little tricky
* Then the wings
* And any other bits…..all chairs are a little different but this is the general sewing you will have to do for a wing back.
A word of advice here is to make sure your chunky piping is as neat and even as you can get it, This sorts out the shit from the shovel in my eyes ….Im not sure what that expression means but you get my drift.
NOW PUT IT TOGETHER
This part takes a lot of stretching, pushing, manoeuvring and nipping of fabric……sometimes you may even despair…..but you’ve got this far and in the immortal words of KATE BUSH AND PETER GABRIEL…….
DON’T GIVE UP
You’ve come through the worse part and your on the home run now.
This is where you now refer to all those helpful pictures you took (unless of course you deleted them because you needed more space for Instagram!) and your old bits of fabric for referencing.
* I like to position the back rest on first (but not staple) just to get a sense of what it looks like.
* Then the section under the seat…pull it through to the back and sides
* Then slide the arms on and start stretching and pulling them along
* The wings
* Each section will be layered under or over another to hide raw edges
There are many techniques for fitting fabric to a frame, but the most important one if your only going to upholster one chair in all your life is THE Y CUT, it is literally as it sounds……you use this cut on corners and sections where your like WTF, how is the fabric going to get around there! Well the Y cut is your answer.
The other thing you need isn’t a technique but is probably more important…..just sheer will and determination to see this project through to the end!
BE PREPARED TO GO WRONG AND HAVE TO TAKE STAPLES OUT BUT AS THE HUGELY TALENTED BOB ROSS ALWAYS DECLARED…..THERE ARE NO MISTAKES JUST HAPPY ACCIDENTS ( ONLY 70’S GEEKS AND DONNA KELLDON WILL GET THIS)
THE FINAL LEG
If by this point you haven’t used your chair as an in pronto bonfire in the garden, then all I can say is WELL DONE
You are on the final part of nipping, tucking, pulling, stretching and stapling fabric under other bits of fabric and putting layers on layers
…..SO LETS PUT THIS BABY TO BED!!
The back section when you took it off may have had strips of metal teeth down the side…..now if you saved these or managed to not damage them great….as they give a lovely hidden seam. However for the purpose of this post lets pretend you ruined them or can’t be bothered to wait for more
* cut a strip of cardboard not quite the width of the top back of the chair
* place your fabric with the cardboard on it right sides facing but upside down
* staple along the cardboard strip
* flip the fabric over and you will have a perfect straight edge
* stretch and staple underneath the back
* now fold the sides under
* you can either staple neatly along here and hide with some wiggly trim or glue down the edges and hammer some studs along….I love both those looks….I also put studs on the front folds by the legs for a neat look.
NOW TO SIT IN YOUR CHAIR AND EVEN THOUGH YOU SWORE YOU WOULD NEVER EVER DO THIS AGAIN YOUR EYES WILL START LOOKING FOR YOUR NEXT UPHOLSTERY PROJECT