Sunday, January 20, 2013

Now I know why upholstery work is pricey!

I decided on this beautiful orange and cream upholstery fabric to re-do the fabric on this antique oak office chair.  I can use the fabric on either side but prefer the brighter orange dominant side on this orangey toned red oak chair. 

I stripped the old fabric off (lots of tiny little nails). It took a little time but not too bad!  I bought the chair at auction simply to learn how to do the fabric re-upholstery.  While it is really a simple project in terms of re-upholstering, I think a number of the skills are the same and I like a challenge!
Once I stripped the fabric I decided how much fabric I would need and it was only one yard. I purchased the fabric on sale at about $12.00 a yard.  Great buy for a beautiful upholstery weight fabric. 
I then used the fabric I took off as a template to measure for new fabric.  I did the same thing with the old foam.  I bought a 22 x 22 piece of foam for the seat as that was the only foam that needed to be replaced.  Lesson learned: don't buy 2 inch thick foam.  It is difficult to cut through.  Next time I would repeat what was on this chair originally.  That was two pieces of 1 inch foam on the seats so it still equaled 2 inches thick but just much easier to work with. 

I then tucked a hem on all sides of the pieces of fabric before I was to put them on the chairs.  I do have to adjust hem width as I go around some parts of the chair.  I am also trying to get the decorative nail heads in the same holes where the old nails were, it is much easier to nail them in that way and the nails do not tend to bend as much going in to the hard wood. 

It is indeed time consuming though I am enjoying it.  I think now I realize how upholstery work, such as re-doing a sofa or chair can be rather pricey!  It is a LOT of work!
To me, as in any craft, you have to enjoy what you are doing or it is not worth the time invested.  When I do sell items I am never looking to make a lot of money.  A lot of time goes into each piece and I do not always calculate that into the prices of the piece.  I love being creative though so it is all good!

The corners below are a little challenging. I may need to put a nail directly in the corner to hold the fabric firmly but was trying to avoid that and keep the nails a little more uniformly around the edges.  I am not measuring for now how far apart the nails are from one another.  I think that will work but can revise if I need to as I am just starting the nailing of the fabric to the wood.

I had thought about doing a trim like the one below in cream around the edges.  I decided however that the chair is rather masculine in it's frame and a more industrial looking decorative nail head would look better.  They are Dritz brand decorative nail heads in antique brass.  

It may be a little while til it is all done but I will definitely show a pic!  I find lately I am only working on new pieces, painting or otherwise, here and there.  Lots of other things going on!


  1. Elaine, this is fabulous. I haven't been brave enough to tacke an upholstery project. Can't wait to read your tips and see how it comes out!

  2. Thanks Danielle. It is a challenge but pretty fun and an easy one to start with...just a little chair! I think you would like it. e

  3. You are brave to tackle this...looks wonderful so far!

    1. thanks ann. it is fun but not easy! live and learn!