Monday, 19 August 2013

Upholstered Chair

For as long as I can remember I have had a fascination with chairs and a desire to learn upholstery. Over the years I have collected an assortment of chairs that I would love to refinish. When I went to the library I invariably borrowed books on how to upholster, I looked into classes teaching upholstery but found the prices prohibitive and so finally thought that I would 'have a go' and teach myself.

 I found this lovely chair about a year ago at auction and thought it would be perfect to one day finish. It came home and went into the shed, along with six or so others that had similar potential. This week I pulled it out.

 I loved the detail on the ladder back and the front legs.

I removed the seat which was a piece of covered solid plywood screwed on in four places...pretty easy! Then it received a quick sand down with the mouse sander and by hand around the curvy bits.

I then brought it inside, to avoid the non-stop heavy winter rain we've been having and started the paint job. Because I used Blake & Taylor furniture paint I didn't need to prime. This paint is so easy to apply. I chose French Blue as the colour, and it does have a very nice French provincial look to it. Do you know you always start on the back of a chair first when you paint it? It makes the job easier.

 First coat's always hard to get a photo showing the right colour inside a building, 
trust me it's French blue.
 I completed the second coat a few hours later and when it was dry I wiped it all over lightly with a piece of steel wool, dusted it off and then finished it off with a coat of natural beeswax.


I had borrowed this book from the Tasmanian State Library. I love this library and consider it one of the best things about living in Tasmania (but maybe that's a post for another time!)
The book was very helpful...and gave me the confidence to tackle the project myself.

I removed the top covering of the seating. I think it was some sort of vinyl. After removing the tacks and lifting the vinyl I found a very thin piece of foam which I discarded and a thin piece of rubber in good condition. Being a 'make do' sort of a person I decided to keep and reuse the rubber.

I had previously bought a piece of seating foam cut to size and some Dacron fibrefill which I bought by the metre. I used some spray adhesive to temporarily join them to each other and the plywood base with the rubber. I'd gotten so far but I didn't have any top fabric that matched my French blue chair and I was really trying to avoid buying anything new. The following morning at 3am I woke with a clear idea in my head of what I could use.

My family don't usually donate their denim to charity because I find that there is so much material that I can use for other projects like shopping bags etc. I remembered I had a few containers like this in the shed filled to the brim with old denim jeans. The idea formed to use the denim and I could hardly wait to get started when the clock reached a decent hour!

Because I had no piece of denim large enough to entirely cover the chair base, I chose to patchwork it together, this took about an hour and a half to complete.

The final steps included covering the foam and Dacron with a piece of calico (forgot to take a pic), to take the bulk of the strain from the upholstery tacks, then covering and tacking down the top denim cover with more tacks. I hammered them in part way at the centre of all four sides first, then worked my way around the cushion base using special care at the corners. When I was happy with how it looked, I drove all the tacks home.

The very final step was re-screwing the seat to the frame and attaching the bottom cloth to the underside of the chair...this stuff is quite cheap (around 85 cents a metre) but is so worth doing to give the chair that professional finish.


The front...

...and the back! I have to say that the chair is now so comfortable! The Dacron over the foam really made a big difference and was not that expensive given the difference it made to the comfort and look of the seat.

So here it is... the Before and After. I am so excited to have done this and it is amazing how much confidence it has given me to keep going with some more upholstery projects. I hope you like it too. Lisa xx
P.S. This chair is for sale here.


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    1. Haha...thanks Nettie! I actually like using the tacks and hammer. I do have an upholstery stapler now, and I might use it for different projects :)