How To Easily Upholster A Chair

How To Easily Upholster A Chair ~ Vintage Street DesignsHey everyone,  so glad you dropped by.  If you are anything like me, you are very busy and don’t have much time to spend sitting in front of the computer.  I’m hoping this tutorial makes your life a little easier when performing one of those DIY jobs such as upholstering a chair.  Please let me know if you have any questions along the way or if you think I’ve left out anything.  These chairs I just finished are for a client.  She and her husband commissioned me to makeover their master bedroom.  They have completely entrusted me with the design plan and I can’t wait for the big reveal next Thursday!

20131221_145328Here’s the before photo of both chairs.  Great condition, didn’t even need to paint.  That doesn’t happen very often.DSC_1611-428x640Here was my inspiration from Mustard Seed Interiors.

Supplies needed:

Needle Nose Pliers, Scissors, Sewing Machine, Hot Glue Gun, Staple Gun, Air Compressor, Upholstery Fabric, Cording or Decorative Trim

SAM_2855First thing I needed to do, rip off all the original cording (trim).  I try to save it and re-use but in this case it had double cording and was so tightly glued that it couldn’t be used.  It was still a good pattern though to check how many yards of new cording I would need.SAM_2854A close up.  This original fabric was really in “like new” condition so I didn’t remove it.  It’s also a light color so I knew it wouldn’t show through my new fabric.  If the original fabric needs to be removed, keep it as a pattern before throwing it away.SAM_2857Next, I cut a piece of fabric large enough to play with as I covered the seat cushion.  You need enough material to grab onto and pull tight as you staple your way around the chair.SAM_2858Begin stapling and stay as close to the edge as possible, it will make it easier to add the trim later.  I always copy whatever was previously done to fold around the corners.  If you remove the original fabric, make sure you take plenty of photos first before the removal.SAM_2868  These chairs have arms so I had to cut a slit in the material to fit around the arms and then I just tucked it down in the creases. SAM_2867 I then trimmed off all the excess fabric.  SAM_2860After the seat was done, I moved up to the back and just repeated.SAM_2861Wow…it’s looking like a new chair already!!!SAM_2865Next came the arms.SAM_2866It doesn’t have to look absolutely perfect ’cause the trim will cover it up.SAM_2893OK, out come the sewing machine for the next step.  This is my Bernina.  I’ve had her since my first year in Real Estate.  I treated myself to two big purchases when I first started selling properties, a beautiful keyboard to lead the youth band at church and this sewing machine.  I know longer have the keyboard but this Bernina has stood the test of time!20140113_163712I cut the fabric in strips wide enough to go around the cording.  20140113_163643Sewing tightly down the edge of the cording.  You will have to sew the strips together as needed for additional length to go completely around the chair.  This is where you can have some fun.  You can use a contrasting fabric if you wish to add character.  I wanted these chairs to remain neutral due to the fact that I will be introducing pattern and color in accessories.  To purchase the cording, go to the upholstery section of your fabric store.  It will have larger bolts of the cording and it will be less expensive.  Every penny helps.

Many Upholsterers choose to use decorative ribbon instead of going to the trouble of covering cording.  I LOVE how the cording looks and I also LOVE to sew it’s not a bother for me.  It’s easy to do, you just need to give yourself plenty of time.

SAM_2890Now comes the fun part, just don’t burn your fingers!  I think I went through half a jar of glue sticks for this project.SAM_2891Here’s a photo of the first layer of cording glued on.  Make sure you trim the covered fabric over the cording you sewed so not to have too much excess.  I kept the unfinished side down so the second layer of cording would cover it.  Glue the upper part of the cording tightly to the chair covering all the staples.SAM_2892When the seams meet, just fold over and glue.  I keep something close by to apply pressure to this area other than my fingers to prevent burning.  ( I just used the bottom of a small glass votive cup I had sitting on the table)  You could use the end of a pen, thimble or whatever works for you.SAM_2895Here I am going around the arm rest with the second layer.SAM_2896This gives you a better idea of layering.  The second layer is covering up the first rough edge.  You just snuggle them together as tight as you can.  I go back and fill in with glue where ever needed so there are no gaps and no raw edges showing.SAM_2897And another shot as I begin moving around the back of the upper section of the chair.SAM_2903It’s done!!!SAM_2904

SAM_2906I try to pick up as I go along but I usually end up with a big mess.  It’s just how I am.  It actually didn’t take that long to clean up with the help of my husband and are handy dandy vacuum cleaner!  You are seeing the finished product even before my clients.  What do you think?  Will the LOVE them?  They will be sitting at the end of their king size bed with an accent table in-between.  They have a TV in their room that they occasionally watch but don’t want to necessarily watch from bed.  It’s a large space so they will easily be able to see the TV from the comfort of these chairs and still have a good distance between them and the TV.SAM_3010For an added touch, I made pillows out of the fabric I used for their custom drapes.

Keep watch for the BIG reveal next week!  I’ll take lots of photos to share.

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  1. You are super talented! Those chairs are amazing!!!

    Have a great weekend!
    Angela @ Number Fifty-Three

  2. Thanks for this tutorial, Judy. I’ve done some basic upholstering, but didn’t know how they did the double cording. Now that I know it’s that easy, I’ll be doing my own upholstering from now on. I really thought double cording was a special cord and that you had to use a special foot, etc. I do cording all the time for cushions.

  3. Would be really interested in inventory and pricing for Ce Ce Caldwell paints. Thank you

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