The Chair — A Reupholstering Journey

I have vivid memories of a chair growing up; it sat in the corner of the room and just asked to be laid in sideways while waiting for my mom to come home from work, or falling asleep during a family movie night or watching boys from the front window during the early teen years.

I recently inherited this chair and it was no longer the image I pull from memory..this thing smells horrible, it’s scratched up and honestly I didn’t want to sit in it while draped in a blanket. No wonder nobody wanted it anymore!! It hasn’t been reupholstered in over 30 years and it literally went to the dogs in the last decade.

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The Before Photo

Well for the health of my family this chair could not stay in the house in this condition…I seriously can not tell you enough about the smell.

I must be sentimental because I decided I had to reupholster this thing. I suppose there is a bit of a stubborn side to me that refuses to admit anything is too big of a job, so I went to pinterist for a little diy confidence and went to work. I’ll cut to the chase  (sparing all the gory details for down below) and just give up the after picture.

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The After Photo

First I went to find the fabric, a combination of Walmart material and the super clearance rack at Joanne’s. Because I skimmed on quality I don’t expect this upholstery to last another 30 years, but it will suit our needs and keep this truly beautiful piece of furniture out of the dump, which is where it was headed, I’m sure. I made an educated guess about the yardage, 6 yards of the blue and 4 yards of the gold (extending to 4.5 yds on impulse at the cutting counter); I was spot on, I have no remnants left to speak of.

The physical process of reupholstering started by taking the chair outside and casually calling out that I was just going to look at it, however in a fit of mania I found myself in a pile of staples and old fabric about 40 minutes later.

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Pulling staples was the easy part. It was also handy to label a few of the right & left fabric panels.

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Bare bones- I let it air out in this state for a few days.

I did have a mind to take a lot of photos so that I could put it all back together in the same order. That is key!! In order to hide all the seams you have to put it together in the correct order. WP_20151008_13_52_45_Pro

I stapled for 2 days, cutting the new pieces and panels directly off the old fabric and attaching them with a manual staple gun. I had to take a lot of breaks for fear of spraining my wrist, and for a short time I had to become left handed to finish all the stapling — but I finished it.This is the only picture I took during the process since I only had time after the kids went to bed and during a short 1 hour nap mid day. There was minimal sewing up to this point (see the bottom corners) and what I did have to work on my machine was very awkward. Also the gold fabric has glue on the underside so it gummed up my machine and I was too scarred to iron the material, hence the giant crease in the front.

I did sew the cushions and include pipping which used up so much of the fabric that it seemed to disappear before my eyes.

These were pretty straight forward, the zipper is of a heavy duty gauge.

These were pretty straight forward, the zipper is of a heavy duty gauge.

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The padding is all polyester which doesn’t give the chair the stiff feel I was hoping for; however that makes it more of a cozy, snuggle-in kind of experience. The back cushion is actually just a king sized pillow since I was too frustrated finding gaps with the regular batting.

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My daughter quickly developed an obsession with this chair and would hardly leave it alone…especially when she saw me go through the trouble of dragging it outside.

This was a big project but I just pushed through it. It probably took around 12 hours in total. With fabric and padding the cost came to $80. It was worth it because I could never afford something this nice or special at the present moment. I also heard a rumor that it may have belonged to by Great Grandmother so that is an extra connection I can keep with help of a little elbow grease and a whole lot of staples (about 600 to be more precise).

I found that Reupholstering is worth it…but you have to REALLY want it!

Now this is not the end of the post. There is a Part 2:

After all that hard work there was now way I could sit back and watch my kids spill endless gallons of chocolate milk, so to keep the peace I immediately made a slip cover, (having quickly priced covers at about $100 I knew I would just make my own).

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I went with a totally different look, wanting the room to have a more relaxed feel. These squares on the fabric remind me of impressionist paintings I always love to get lost in, but without any actual images to push you towards. It works really well in our space.

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A good tip I came across was to lay the material on the chair wrong side up and pin it right there, then take it off and sew. That’s what I did and in 2 hours I had something that looked great. No not all the corners are perfect, but I was getting a little tired of this project. I can just unVelcro the back and throw the whole thing in the washer if its dirty.

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Another happy generation on this chair!

Have you come across any old relics worth saving? Ever tried to upholster something? I’d love to hear about it!

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8 thoughts on “The Chair — A Reupholstering Journey

  1. Holy cow Laura!! You just blew my mind. I’m so impressed that you took on that ginormous project and even made a slip cover to boot! Wow. I want to come to your house to sit on the chair and then you need to come to MY house and teach me how to reupholster our hideous dining table chairs.

    • Thanks Wendy! I would love to come to your house and help with projects….but I’ll probably just supervise upholstery, hahaha. Sometimes its best NOT to know how hard a project will be 🙂

  2. It’s a beautiful chair, definitely worth reupholstering, you did a great job! I’ve got two wing back chairs to recover, I did a course about 15 years ago, but nothing since! I bought the material & looking at yours has made me think I really must get my finger out after Christmas

    • Thank you and I’m glad to hear my old chair is inspiring. Sometimes I like to let my my project ideas sit on the back burner and if I can’t shake them then I know its time to tackle it 🙂 Good luck on your chairs!

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