Today, I get to show you how my chair has turned out. Not totally perfect, I grant you, but for someone who’s never trained in upholstery it’s altogether passable and, most of all I enjoyed doing it.
I’m not really taking the credit here, I simply followed step by step the advice of Mr Desmond Gaston (what a splendid name) whose book I bought years ago. So this is not a tutorial, simply wanted to show you how simple this can be.
Here’s the before and after, I found these two ‘cousin’ chairs a few weeks back, both upholstered in the pink material. Both rather tired, but I liked their shape, known here as ‘Napoleon III’
The first step is undressing the chair. This gets messy – be warned, – definitely a good job to do outside. I had no intention of re-doing the stuffing of the chair, I simply wanted to replace the fabric cover.
Once the chair was undressed I realised I was gong to have to replace the webbing straps supporting the springs in the seat and back.
With Desmond perched beside me and the right tool in my hand it was easy to stretch the straps tight and the seat magically raised itself back into the right position.
All the tools I needed are here, you probably already have most of them at home. Essential are the tack lifter (5) and the web stretcher (2).
1. THE book! 2.web stretcher; 3.curved needle; 4.scissors; 5.tack lifter;
6. webbing; 7. tacks; 8. pins and large upholsterer pins; 9. stapler and 10. hammer.
Once I was happy with the spring support I could start re-covering, I used the pieces of material I had stripped off the chair as a pattern, and cut around them leaving an extra 2″ in all directions to allow for my inexperience and give me plenty to pull on.
As you can see I love to work outside, whenever the weather allows. The picture below show one of the most fiddly bits, adjusting the pleats around the arm. These big upholstery pins are really useful.
Reupholstering a chair in this manner is far easier than making a fitted slip cover because each piece is adjusted individually. Get one piece right then move on. Start with the seat, then the inside back; inside arms; outside arms then outside back, followed by a skirt if necessary.
I used one of my antique sheets for this project but bought some ticking for the seat. I used a strip of the ticking to cover the piping around the little skirt. Desmond approved of this idea!
The sheet I used was discoloured on one side so could no longer be used as a bed sheet. The material was still strong and the small monogram rather pretty. When the seat was finished I applied the monogram to the head of the chair with small hand stitches.
Voila! Now I just have to do the other one, probably in matching materials. Then I’ll move onto the sofa. For that I may well used this totally wonderful vintage ticking that I bought at a brocante sale recently. Just love this dark dark grey and white stripe, and love the ticking theme continued. Next instalment soon … ish!