November 08, 2015

Vintage Chair Makeover - DIY Reupholstering

Upholstery! Okay, this is hard to do step-by-step because, I'll be honest, it's like a level 4 DIY project. You know, if level 1 is gluing macaroni on paper plates and level 5 is the Sistine Chapel mural on your bathroom ceiling. It's one of those projects that takes some planning, a lot of guts, an eye for cutting fabric, and some tears. Even with all those items, my chair didn't turn out perfect (darn bunching in the front) but I still LOVE the result.

First, meet the before chair. This used to be my husbands grandparents chair. They had it covered in floral fabric and finished with some dangly cording many years ago, but it was not my taste. Here's how I turned things around.

Tools & Supplies I used:

- fabric (something without much stretch-upholstery fabric works best)
- decorative cording
- staple gun
- staples
- glue gun (ah, yeah)
- glue sticks
- pliers (for the random misplaced staple)
- tissues for the tears of frustration

1) I took a peek under the cording and saw the the current fabric was just stapled into place, there was enough wood underneath to put my own staples in, and that the cording was then just glued over the top (hello, lover.).

2) I took quick measurements of each area panel I would have to recover (back front, back back, seat, and two arms). I then guesstimated how many yards of fabric I would need, giving myself a large margin of error considering I'm not a pro (yet!). Your fabric store may be able to help you with this if you have the dimensions of each panel written down.

3) I also ran my fabric measure tape all along the outside of each fabric section to figure out how much cording I would need. DON'T skip this step! You'll never guess right at the fabric store and end up needing to go back.

4) FABRIC STORE! I knew this would be a special chair so I went to our local Mill End store to find designer fabric (at none designer prices).

5) The fun begins! I pulled off the cording and removed any extra old glue hanging off. 

6) Starting with the biggest piece you'll need, lay your fabric over the area and cut around the edge of the area leaving yourself at least an inch of slack. BE CAREFUL where you cut out the fabric from your yardage. You'll need to be strategic so you can get all the pieces out of the big piece you bought at the store (aka. Don't just cut the biggest piece awkwardly out of the middle of your fabric.). ALSO, give yourself a little extra room around tricky areas, like where an arm cuts into a cushion.

7) LET THE STAPLING COMMENCE! Is there anything more satisfying? Slow and steady. I usually start somewhere there is a long straight row of staples needed. It gives you a good anchor to start pulling the fabric tight and stapling. Go easy on yourself, this is the hardest part. I can't give you exact instructions on your particular piece, but good advice is not to hammer in any staples until you have the fabric EXACTLY HOW YOU WANT IT. Less tears.

8) Once all staples are placed use your small hammer to tap over your staples as the stapler doesn't always get them completely in.

9) Glue gun! Glue gun! Glue gun! Yay! Heat'er up. Lay the glue down on top of the staples, and then place the cording on top, holding it firmly in place one small area at a time while the glue cools. To camouflage the end I recommend starting the gluing at a point where the cording naturally stops so where. Like, where the cushion meets the back on this chair.

10) Enjoy your stylish new furniture!

This was one of my most satisfying and difficult projects in quite some time. Haven't had one like this since the great DIY Deer Taxidermy incident of 2011. Wine, please!

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