At the end of my The Couch Re-covery Progression blog, I mentioned that I might move on to something a little simpler. And that’s exactly what I did.
I’m not sure exactly how or why we inherited these lovely chartreuse, crushed velvet chairs, but we ended up with two of them. There was an orange one. I think we sold it. The other is the lovely green you see pictured here:
Now, we’ve made the best of this chair for some time now. And I’m sure in some other setting it would be lovely just the way it is. But my mother simply couldn’t take it anymore, and rightly so. Emboldened by my previous success, she declared that the green chair needed to be re-covered.
I love my mother, she is my best friend and most sage adviser. However, she as a thing about not finishing projects. Luckily for her, I have a thing about finishing projects.
Long before we actually started on the chair, she went on a pretty intense search for the ideal material that she had in mind. As we all know, once we have something in mind, it’s almost impossible to find. But she did! At Walmart, I believe.
She had the fabric for probably about a year. However, she didn’t have her own sewing machine. We needed to wait until she got a sewing machine. I found a great deal on one on Amazon! Yay! So she got a sewing machine. But she didn’t have time to sit down and learn how to use it because she was working. So she retired. About 3 months after retirement (it’s an emotionally exhausting thing. I’m currently using the think system to prepare a blog on that subject) she sat down and learned to use her sewing machine. Excellent!
Yet still, no mention of re-covering the chair, even though we had pretty much everything we needed. Enter me, the project finisher and general ramrod. 🙂 My winter break from work was approaching, so I announced to her that we would be re-covering the chair during my break. I sent her some Amazon links for spikenards (my family’s fun and biblical terminology for tack strips though the biblical term has nothing at all to do with anything spiky) because that’s all we really needed to get the show on the road.
The weekend before I officially started break, (because who wants to wait to start finishing a project?!) I tossed down a drop cloth and got down to deconstructing the chair.
Let me tell ya folks, that chair was old and icky on the inside. I think at one point it was probably a well-constructed piece of furniture. But it had aged. And its innards had aged too. I’m also pretty sure that the covering I was removing was not its original covering.
While jumping into the deep end and re-covering a well-built couch does not me an upholstery expert make, I feel that some of the techniques used to cover this chair were… questionable. As in, “What IS this?!” I found the small pieces of cardboard wrapped in material and nailed to the front of the arms particularly puzzling.
It was then that we decided that we might not put it back together exactly as it was. To make the chair fit the room that it lives in, we decided a more sleek, streamlined look was best. Translation: without buttons, cording and a skirt it would be EASIER.
I must note that one reason why I can be the ramrod on a project such as this is because I know how to do the easy stuff. It’s pretty easy to pull staples and then staple stuff back on. But the truth is if you’re going to upholster, you have to sew. Or know someone who is willing to sew.
I have a couple of seamstresses in my family, my mother and sister. My mother and sister, the seamstresses? They HATE cushions. H-A-T-E, hate them. I, the non-seamstress, say, “Can’t you just take the front piece and sew it to the back piece, leave the bottom open, stuff it, and then sew up the bottom?” This question is met with steely-eyed glares. So, apparently, cushions are more difficult to sew than they appear.
Also, in my two upholstery experiences, top cushions need a ruffle on the back for wrapping over the top and possibly sides. My seamstresses aren’t a fan of ruffles either. But they find a way to do it, because the reward is just SO sweet!
Before I give you a quick rundown of our process, let me just say:
Chair-so much smaller and therefore easier and faster than a couch! I cannot believe I started with a couch! But, it does seem to make all following projects pretty simple!
- Remove old, gross fabric (it’s not gross until you admit you hate it, and then it’s the worst thing ever and you can’t believe you ever had it in your house or allowed people to see it in your house!)
- Cut new pieces of fabric by using old, recently removed pieces as a pattern.
- Stitch bottom-front piece of chair fabric to muslin (left over from the couch project).
- Attach bottom-front to the front of the chair by wrapping under and stapling. The muslin bit goes across the seat area and is pulled tight and stapled in the back and on the sides.
- We made some new arm covers from scratch – because the original didn’t have arm covers. Things were wrapped around and cardboard and nails… it was weird. I was worried that creating arm covers out of thin air would be hard. But in the world of seamstresses, apparently that’s a piece of cake. No issue. I still don’t understand what’s hard about cushions.
- Attach arm covers by wrapping short edges under the outside of the chair arms and long edges down inside the chair and stapled to the sides.
- Attach side panels: Staple top edge right under the outside of the arms, covering the arm piece wrapping. Use cardboard (we use poster board) when stapling so that it will make an even edge to fold over. Fold over and use spikenards, er.. tack strips to attach the front edges of the side panels to the chair. Then pull down to the bottom of the chair and wrap under bottom and staple, and around the back and staple.
- Attach “wing covers”: this chair has a bit of a wing back, so we made some covers for the wings that staple around back and around the inside back of the chair. Kind of like kitten ears. 🙂
- Attach back seat cushion: Yes the dreaded cushion with the ruffle. Top ruffle covers the space between the wings and is stapled to the back. Bottom and side ruffle are tucked inside and stapled to the back-bottom and back-sides of the chair.
- Attach the back! Like the side covers, staple the top edge of the fabric and include a strip of cardboard or poster board and fold over. Tack strip the sides and wrap under the bottom and staple.
It looks a little somethin’ like this: