Chair Reupholstering DIY Tutorial
Thanks all for your love for my mailbag chair. I thought you might like to look at it one more time. This is the proverbial ‘after’ glamour shot. Enjoy it because the rest of this post contains a lot less glamorous pictures, but I will give the answer to the riddle what a postal bag is. (If you want to see more glamour shots of the final project, including close-ups of the little bag I added you can find them in yesterday’s post Here)
Not many of you asked how I had reupholstered this chair, but I am going to show you anyway. To be brutally honest that is actually more for my own benefit than yours. I have four more chairs almost like this one and if I don’t make a log of how I did this I will have forgotten by the time I get around to tackling the other guys.
But feel free to follow along and use my experience for your own benefit
I just hope you will not get bored because there is quite a lot of detail in my description.
Ok just a reminder this is how the chair looked like before I started messing with it.
First order of business was removing the old fabric. And that sounds so easy…
It was hell. A deep, dark and rather painful hell. Besides the obvious decorative upholstery nails you can see here, there were about a million little nails stuck deep into the wood. I used a screwdriver to get them out, but for the next chair I will invest in a specialty tool, because the screwdriver worked, but barely.
It took me about half a day working non-stop to get the chair to this point:
I had a very vague recollection of the chairs being red once, but I am sure it will be a familiar sight for my siblings. This old fabric was not attached anymore (thank goodness) but it still worked to keep the innards of the chair in their place.
And the inside was quite impressive:
The stuffing was some kind of sea grass, and underneath I found a little surprise from the reupholsterer before me.
The burlap that covered the springs apparently was torn even then so he put a piece of carpet over it to cover it. But even with the carpet that burlap was beyond rescue. So it had to come off.
Which meant more nails…
A lot more nails…
But I got angry and I got them out. All of them. And I removed the cardboard that covered the back too, but saving it so I could reuse it again.
And then I could finally start with nicer work. Filling all the little holes with liquid wood, sanding and painting.
Here is she is totally naked but painted.
I found a professional reupholster that was willing to sell me all the supplies I needed to make her beautiful again and who was kind enough to tell me exactly how to do it and who even drew me a little sketch and gave me lots of tips.
Ok first I had to cover those springs again with new burlap. I used the old seat fabric as a template to cut it so size.
With a little seam we (or I should say My Love) stapled the burlap to the chair. Taking care that it was tight and that there was a little wood left on the outside.
Next step was cutting some very thick foam rubber. First I cut it roughly to size (again using the old fabric as template). Then I put it on the chair to make markings for the precision cuts.
The tip of the professional was to use a big marker and run it along the outside of the chair. This way the cutting line would be about half an inch wider than the chair itself which meant that there was a perfect allowance for the curved seat added.
Luckily enough I had not thrown out my mother’s old electric knife, because it was perfect for cutting this thick foam.
I used spray adhesive to attach the foam to the burlap seat. But not after I had used the foam to draw the template for the next layer, a thinner and more pliable foam.
This layer was cut a small half inch bigger than the big foam and also attached with spray glue.
I forgot to take a picture of the last layer before the outer fabric but it was fiberfill, and I guess you all know how that looks like. The fiberfill was actually glued just on the edge of the chair, almost over it.
I knew I wanted the outer fabric to go over the edge (originally it covered all the wood on the seat, as you can see in the before picture but I wanted to show more wood).
So I taped off the edge with adhesive tape to make sure I would have a straight line to follow.
You can see it shine here.
The back of the chair was a lot easier. The back of the back got only covered with fabric, so after painting it I just reattached the cardboard.
The front of the back got one layer of the middle (whitish) foam cut the same size as the cardboard and glued on.
And then finally it was time to cut the mailbags.
To resolve any confusion of the non-Dutch readers of this blog.
This is what I mean with a mail bag:
It is not the bag that is used to deliver the mail to my house, but it are bags that are used to collect the mail from the public mail boxes and to transport it to the distribution centers. The one you see here is another vintage mail bag I have and intend to use on another chair.
The material of these old bags is kind off a crossover between very sturdy linen and softish burlap. I imagine it is like your canvas drop cloth.
I washed it twice before using it and I needed two bags to cover my chair.
We first stapled the seat cover.
This picture is obviously taken later, but it shows how I simply used some pleats to round the corners. I folded the edge in and stapled really close to the edge.
When stapling the seat this is the order to follow:
And then fill all the gaps with lots of staples. Lots of staples! You really will need an electric stapler for this. Stapling through several layers of fabric into the wood is tough and hard work. But I had My Love to help me…
The order to staple the fabric to the back is different because the back is curved and you want your fabric to follow that curve. So here is the diagram for stapling the fabric to the back, working top to bottom.
After that the real fun began. I used a very thick twine to cover the edges and I used fabric glue to attach it. I went around twice.
I sanded all the edges and that was that. She was finished!
And so from this she became this.
Not perfect but beautiful none the less.
I think it will take me at least another year before I have the courage to tackle another one. But with hindsight it was nice to challenge myself with this project and learn something new again.
So are you still here? Bored to death? Or are you thinking “if she can do this, so can I”.
I hope it is the last one….
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