Tuesday, April 9, 2013

My maiden voyage into upholstering: a pictorial guide.

If it's possible to have an addiction to chairs, I think I could be diagnosable.  When it comes to chairs, shoes and crunchy peanut butter (in no particular order), I cannot get enough.

We found this great antique desk and chair set at a downtown antique shop, and it was (I say "was" as in past tense, because that's just the truth about furniture in a house with three kids and two dogs) in phenomenal shape and not very much money at all.

I negotiated a lower price, because that's how I roll.  My husband sometimes wants to leave the room when we go to purchase things - be it vehicles or antiques or even yard sale junk - because I am from a strong Yankee stock of people who just don't feel pleased about paying full-price, ok?!  My sweet husband, he just wishes I would agreeably pay sticker price, but friends, I cannot.
(He's wild about me anyway.)

So, I dis-love the fabric on this chair, and after a mere 4 years of living with it this way, my friend gave me a crash course on upholstering!!!  It's been on my 'to-do' list forever.  

Cool thing: When I wrote down that goal, "Learn to reupholster chairs," and posted it out there on Facebook, I had someone step in and say, "I can teach you!"  So there really is something to the whole "write down your goals" idea. 
This is my extremely unprofessional and inexperienced attempt to put new fabric on a chair.  
I'm sharing it because:
*It may amuse you.
*You may actually find it helpful.
*It turned out to be pretty darn cute, if I do say so myself, and I do.

Ok, off we go:

Find your fabric.  I hit Marden's, because I'm frugal and highly likely to ruin this project before it's all said and done, and I would be very irritated to have spent more than $2.99/yard if that's the case.

Wash, dry and iron the fabric. I chose a very subtle animal print, because I have a lot of pattern in my living room, so I didn't want it to be too "graphic" (as in having too strong a line, not as in being inappropriate for children to see).

Plus I love animal print.  I realize that puts me in a position of always having to ask myself, "Is this cute or tacky?" but this time, definitely cute.

And animal print is a contemporary element to add to the antique piece, which makes it feel more modern.  

Turn the chair over, and remove screws. Take off the seat.  My 85-year old grandmother came over with her own high-tech screwdriver to help me do this.  I hope when I'm 85, I am that fierce!

After the screws are out, your chair frame will look sort of like this:

You will now need:
*Staples that are not too long (so they don't poke you in the butt when you sit) but long enough to go into the wood.  
*Stapler or staple gun.  After taking a pistol class a few weeks ago, I found myself not-terrified of the staple gun, and I was able to figure out unloading and loading it as well as firing it without my husband home. He'll be very impressed, I think.  So it's safe to say the gun class was a tremendous success.
*Your fabric & scissors
*Seat of the chair
*Work surface (I used the kitchen counter)

Place the fabric upside down on your surface, and set the seat upside down on top.  (please ignore the one stray sock, the hackeysack and the coffee mug in the background)

Leave several inches on all sides, and cut the fabric. (I was a smidge generous with my borders.... AND you'll see I did not take off the old fabric.  This is because my grandmother said leaving it would "give it body" and also because it looked like a ton of work.... to be honest. The "right way" is to take off the fabric.) 

Work on opposing sides (front to back, side to side).  Start with a front or back piece, pull the fabric and staple in the center.  I remembered the part about the "center" after having stapled an edge.  Oops. 

As you staple on one side, move to the opposite side. Use a lot of pulling so it's not going to look saggy after people sit on the chair a few times.  This fabric doesn't stretch much, which I think may be good for me and my skill level.

Do not staple all the way to the outside edges, in order to create a corner. 
My corner fold defies description, so I'll show you. The important thing to remember is that you will be happiest if the corners match each other.  Also, think about how the corner will LOOK from the other side, when it's on the chair.  Do you want to have a fold showing? Do you want crisp lines? Do you prefer gathers or a pleat?

You will not hurt my feelings if you laugh.  There is a reason people put that black fabric-stuff on the underside of chairs!  For crying out loud, I don't know what on earth to do with that corner fabric.... I tried trimming it.  It's not super-cute.  I know this.

Now you're ready to re-attach your seat to the chair!!!!!!

(I did not consider where the fabric was in relation to having to use screws to go down into the seat, but I fired up the power-drill and the rest is history.)

Oh for heaven's sake... there's a little light on this thing!  Adorbs.

After much exploration, I discovered that the Phillip's Head (is that a proper noun?) end is on the other side of the flat one.  So precious.  They've thought of everything. 

And voila...

The finished product!  DIY-licious.

Now there'll be no stopping me.... 

Do you have a favorite DIY project?  Have you done any upholstery?  I'd love to know what you're working on.

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