(QUICK NOTE: This furniture redo is based on the theme “Inspired By”. Make sure to read my exciting news at the end of the post for more info and more furniture ideas.)
I work as a “creative consultant” for my salon/spa. It sounds fancy – because I totally made up the title for myself – but really just means I get to make cool stuff for their customers and for the salon space. (These hand-painted mugs are a project I’ve done for them.)
Several months ago they asked me to reupholster this chair from their lobby.
I don’t know anything about upholstery so of course I said, “yes, I can do that.”
I’m not gonna lie, that chair sat in my basement for a long, long time. I had no idea what to do with it. Every time I googled “how to upholster a parsons chair” I got confused. Every time I went to the fabric store I came home empty-handed.
Then the salon went through an amazing expansion. I could go on and on about it but all that really matters for this story is the slat wall in the new spa lobby. Guys, check this out.
Gorgeous, right? Can you believe one of the owners created it using upcycled fence pieces from her back yard? I can’t get over how much color and texture it adds.
Needless to say, I was inspired. I stormed the fabric store like Kanye during a Taylor Swift acceptance speech and came home with the most perfect material in the exact same color palette. Success! Now on to the upholstery job.
NOTE: This is NOT a tutorial. It’s more of a story about how a first-timer tackled an upholstery project with no clue what she was doing. Also, I should let you know that I went into this with basic sewing skills. I’ve made pillows and curtains and can follow a simple pattern but that’s the extent of it. Enough chatter already. Let’s do this.
TIP #1: Take tons and tons of photos BEFORE YOU START AND EVERY SINGLE STEP ALONG THE WAY. I cannot emphasize this enough. You’re getting ready to completely disassemble this piece of furniture and without photos you’ll have no idea how to put it back together. The pics don’t have to make sense to anyone else but you. Just take a lot. Then take more.
With my camera in hand I started “un-upholstering”. Staple by staple I removed the old pleather cover. Then, with it off the chair but still in one piece, I got out my Sharpie and marked things up.
TIP #2: Use a Sharpie to mark the old fabric you remove from the chair. I made notes about direction. I scribbled reminders about which side of the seat it came from. I drew arrows that would help me remember where seams connected. I marked anything that I thought might be helpful down the road when I was trying to put the puzzle back together. Again, the notes don’t need to make sense to anyone but you.
Next I “unstitched” all the seams with my seam ripper and voila! — I had the perfect pattern pieces to create my new chair cover. Now it was just a matter of basic cutting, pinning, and sewing like I would with any store-bought pattern.
TIP #3: Consider using scrap fabric (or an inexpensive flat sheet from Wal-Mart in my case) to sew a “test cover” before you start cutting your expensive upholstery fabric. This idea has its advantages and disadvantages. It did help me avoid some costly mistakes but, on the downside, the sheet was so cheap and flimsy that it was frustrating to work with.
(If you follow me on Facebook you already know there was a mishap involving a certain cat and this project. #eightlivesleft)
TIP #4: When cutting, add several extra inches of fabric on the edges that will be stapled to the chair frame. This will ensure you have plenty of room for pulling and stapling at the end of the project.
Oddly enough while this stage is where the pieces started coming together and the magic started to happen, there’s really not much to say about it. It was a lot of pin, sew, swear, repeat. Oh, and a lot of referencing the photos I took. They were invaluable when it came to figuring out how the back and seat pieces fit together.
One other thing I want to point out. Those tight curves at the top of the chair back were a beast! Thankfully a little google research revealed that cutting small slits along the curve helps the fabric lay flat and run through your machine without gaps or puckers.
Here are a couple of links that explain it much better than I can. They offer several solutions but for me a few simple slits or notches was enough to get the job done.
So with the sewing done it was finally time to put the new cover on and staple it in place. This was by far the easiest part of the whole project. I didn’t follow any specific rules or instructions – just pulled things taunt, made sure everything was smooth and stapled my heart out.
I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out! It was a challenge but definitely worth it. If you’re thinking about trying something like this don’t be intimidated like I was and let it sit in your basement for months. It’s really just about taking something apart and then putting it back together in reverse order.
Remember the news I mentioned waaaay back at the beginning of this post? Here it is – I’ve been invited to join a new group called Furniture Refresh.
Every month we’ll each be sharing a “refreshed” piece of furniture based on a changing theme. All of the projects will be shared across our blogs so it’s the perfect opportunity for you furniture lovers to find some great new ideas. This month’s theme is “Inspired By”. Enjoy!