Sunday, February 3, 2013

Armchair Reupholster

This is my first major furniture reupholster and it has been a long time in the making.  About three years ago back in wonderful South Pasadena (California) I was driving down the street with my husband and visiting brother and sister-in-law when we saw this beauty on the street corner (ooh-la-la) with a ‘for free’ sign on her seat.

I instantly fell in love and had to have her.  We came back from breakfast and she was still there, so we loaded her up somehow in the trunk of our little car and took her to her new home.

Where she sat in our garage for two years.  Then we moved her to her new home in ABQ.  Where she sat in the garage for another few months, suffering all sorts of injustices, such as being run into by the husband and breaking the arm.  After that incident I knew it was finally time to bring this beauty back to glory. 

I started way back in November, but I finally finished! Here she is boys:

Beautiful!  Wonderful!  I love how it turned out, and for my first time reupholstering, with surprisingly few mistakes.  Here’s a side by side so you can see the transformation:

Here is a blurry close up of the pattern, it is called rustic living.

I also painted the feet of the chair a bright blue for a nice pop of color.

It is the comfiest chair too!  Perfect to kick back and knit in.  Oh, how it has made me miss South Pas.  People there put out perfectly good free furniture out in the alleys all the time!  I have at least 5 other pieces of furniture I’ve saved and remade for my house that I found abandoned in alleys.  Folks in ABQ don’t seem to do that, or maybe I just don’t drive around enough.

But anyway, back to the chair.  I’m not going to give a step-by-step tutorial on furniture reupholster, because there are lots of tutorials already out there.  I will just share my tips and suggestions that I learned along the way.

Poor broken arm after the hit and run.

Tip #1: Take pictures of every single step!!!  This is the most important tip!  When you reupholster a chair, basically you are taking off the pieces of fabric, using those as templates to cut out new fabric, and then putting the new fabric back on in the same way.  If you don’t take pictures, you will quickly become confused on how to put it all back together.  Especially if you’re like me and you take three months from start to finish. 

Tip #2:  If you come across something unusual, write it out or take a video.  This goes along with tip #1, but this is for when you are pulling off fabric and all of a sudden you are confronted with a funky metal thing with sharp teeth, and you are thinking, “how the heck did this get on there?”  Slow down, and take notes on how that part fit together.  Because, trust me, you will not remember when it’s time to put it all back together.

Check out this video on You Tube to see how the metal teeth go back on the back frame of a chair.  This really helped me out.  It also made me really wish I had an power staple gun like the dude in the video.

Tip #3:  Take the whole chair apart.  If you are able to, unscrew everything and take the whole chair apart, like so:

I didn’t figure this out until after I had pulled all the old fabric off.  Would have made it much easier, and it would have been near impossible to get the new fabric on if I didn’t take it apart.  This also made it easier to fix that broken arm.

Tip #4:  Have a helper, preferably a big strong sexy man (or woman).  This is definitely a two person job.  When you are stapling the fabric back on it needs to be pulled taut so that the fabric lays nice and flat.  My husband helped me put the whole thing together, and it would not have looked so nice without his help.

Tip #5:  Have all the right supplies on hand.  Buy more fabric than you think you need, especially if you're a fool like me and you chose fabric with a specific pattern than could only go one way.  Have a staple gun and plenty of staples.  I reused all the cotton batting in my chair since it was still in good shape, but if yours is gross than have plenty of that on hand.  Most chairs will require some sewing as well to get the right shape.

Tip #6:  Patience!  Pulling out staples, putting in staples, messing up and starting over, cutting your fabric in the wrong orientation, running out of fabric and making an emergency trip to the fabric store praying the whole way they still have the same fabric in stock.  Yeah, fun stuff.  This isn’t an easy project, so if you’re wanting to take on a reupholster job, brace yourself for frustration.  Just take it slow, relax, and soon you’ll have an awesome new chair.

I think that’s all my tips.  This was a cool project to do, but it was a lot of work.  Hopefully some of these tips will help you out if you tackle a reupholster job!

And now it’s time to go relax and do some knitting in my awesome new chair!  Thanks for reading!

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