Upholstery Tutorial on Transformation Tuesday

If you have the time and determination, you can reupholster anything.  I promise you!  Now I understand that it’s not for everyone, but doing it yourself can save you hundreds, and even thousands, of dollars.  The easiest type of reupholstery project is a simple seat redo, like this one:

First, I took the seat off.  The seats are generally screwed in from the bottom, so just turn the chair upside down and unscrew the seat.  Save the screws for later.
I then proceeded to paint the chair.  I took a sample of the paint with me to the fabric store so I could find a coordinating fabric I liked.  Always bring a paint sample with you!!  It will save you lots of time and headaches later.

If you can wrap a present, you can reupholster a seat.

You will need 1/2 yard to 1 yard of fabric, depending on your seat size, and a staple gun.  I used the seat as my guide and simply laid it down on my new fabric, cut a piece that was much larger than the seat itself, folded it over on both sides, then stapled it tightly.  Then I proceeded with the other two ends by folding in the corners, and pulling the fabric up over the seat and stapling securely.  Just like a Christmas present!

I then set it back on top of my painted chair frame and screwed it back in place.  I simply went over the old red fabric with the new blue fabric.  You could certainly remove the old fabric and batting, replace the batting and recover the wood seat as described above, if you want.  It wasn’t necessary for this chair.

If you don’t know what upholstery batting is it is the fabric padding between two layers of upholstery covering and it is typically made from materials such as foam, cotton, or polyester.  I have not done a lot of reupholstery, but I haven’t had the need as of yet to replace batting entirely.  You will find any type of batting you may need near the upholstery fabrics at your local fabric store.
Now for a more complicated upholstery project, I recovered this French Baroque chair:

I found it at a local antique mall and thought “I can do that.”  It looked simple enough.  Slightly more complicated, but doable.

I began simply by carefully pulling off the old trim and fabric:

And lots of little upholstery tacks came off too:

I was not going to let this project intimidate me.  No way was this chair going to win.  Luckily, the batting underneath was in decent shape, but I can testify that this was about the 10th time this chair had been reupholstered.  There were layers of upholstery tack holes all the way around the chair.

Once I had all of the old fabric removed, which I saved to use as patterns to cut out my new fabric, I painted the chair (in Old White Chalk Paint), distressed it in all of the right places, and then coated it in Minwax Paste Wax.  The fabric I chose to recover this chair with is actually a drop cloth linen.  It looks a lot like the old feed sack material to me and I love it!  For the trim, I used an off white trim that I purchased from Hobby Lobby.

Once I had the fabric cut, I held it up to make sure it would fit before I began nailing it in.  It was okay that I had excess fabric.  I could always cut it later.  It’s better to have more than you need.  You don’t want to start nailing in the tacks to discover you’re almost done but just can’t quite get that last little section to stretch far enough.  You can always trim, but you can’t add, fabric.

This is what the front of the chair looked like after tacking and trimming.

Here is a close up shot of all of the little upholstery tacks it took to get the fabric on the back of the chair securely in place.  It is not difficult, but is tedious and time-consuming.

I’m sure there is a professional upholsterer out there who would see this and cringe.  It was very difficult to place the tacks in any sort of orderly fashion because, as I stated earlier, this chair was definitely not an upholstery virgin.  This chair is solid wood and very old.  It had been around the block a few times!

Once I was satisfied that I had placed enough tacks into the fabric and chair to hold it securely, I simply hot glued the trim carefully over the tacks and fabric edge to cover them nicely.  You can see a close up of the trim in the photo below.

The seat was no different than the back of the chair.  I had to add some extra batting to the seat in a few places to make it round again because some of the old batting was in rough shape.  Once I had the seat rounded to my liking, had the pattern for my fabric cut out, I placed it on the seat.  I nailed in North, South, East and West spots first to make sure the amount of fabric I had cut was going to work.  And it was perfect.  So I starting nailing in tack after tack after tack after tack.  There must be about 100 tacks on this seat bottom, but it’s securely in place, I can promise you that.  Once I had the fabric secure with all of those darn little tacks, I once again hot glued the trim around the perimeter of the seat.

Again, I’m sure a professional upholsterer would gasp if they looked at it, but I think it turned out really well for a stay-at-home DIY-er.  And you could do this too!  If you have any questions after reading this, please let me know.

Now I think I’m “all that” and I went and bought a French Provincial loveseat to recover.  What am I?  Crazy?  Yes, probably (I’ll bet my husband is reading this and nodding his head yes), but I’m going to try it and I promise to tell you all about it!

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  1. Wow! Great recovering jobs! Thanks for sharing!!

  2. I think both chairs came out beautifully! You are really good at this. I have a vanity seat to recover and this tutorial helps a lot! Thanks, Laura!

  3. WOW this is a wonderful transformtaion! thanks for linking!

  4. Very impressive. I think they both came out awesome. I found you over at the blog block party. I am your latest follower. I am hosting a leg of the blog block party. I’d love for you to stop by and say hi and consider following me back.

  5. I would say you did a good job . I like the color you painted it also. Anything painted white looks good to me


  6. Great job on the chairs and I especially love the Frenchy one! Can’t wait to see the loveseat.

  7. Great job explaining how to do this.
    And the chairs look wonderful!

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