My first major upholstery project.

So finally I got around to reupholstering my wing back chair! I have to say this is my very first time doing a chair this big. I have done a few kitchen chairs before with just one cushion, but I had never ventured into the living room stuff. So here it is!
I will go into detail to try and explain everything I did and things you should not do. Other blogs and places I went to find out the how to's, had little info and I had to check many posts to kind of have an idea of what I needed and such.
So be patient and I will explain.
First of all find yourself a cheap piece of furniture at your local thrift store or garage sale , wherever, the idea is get it cheap so it doesn't become an expensive thing.
I found this bad boy at Savers for $15, I checked that the frame was good and strong and that the chair looked fairly well taken care of, besides the fabric of course. I brought it home and I was so eager to start that I started to take it apart right away.
Well first piece of advice, take pictures !!!! I did take pics of the before but I was not very thorough with the pics, so when it was time to put it back together ( 3 weeks later after getting sick and all) I had a bit of hard time remembering details and that caused some delays. You can also video the process of taking it apart. Be carefull not to tear anything or pull too hard so that you can reuse the harware and you will need the pieces of fabric as they are so you can cut the new fabric.

Piece of advice number 2 buy yourself a few handy tools.
You will need a staple remover, I used a screwdriver and well I did get some cuts on my hands so this will be something you want to have.
Small pliers, I think they have specific ones for this kind of job, I used a small one I had to make jewelry and they worked fine.
A rubber mallet, if you use a hammer to pound the fabric, the fabric will tear.
A staple gun, I have an electric one and it works good, you have to put pressure on the gun before you fire so the staple goes in all the way. If you have an air compressor and want an air gun that's even better, I would not recommend the hand one or you will have tendonitis by the time you are done.
Staples, I used 3/8 inch 10 mm for most of the chair and 1/2 inch 12 mm for the thickest parts.

I used a butter knife to pull the tack strip, always start with the back since it's usually the last part they put on, so slowly put in the knife between the fabric and pull, you will see the little nails of the tack strip starting to come out , be carefull tack strip is sharp and bendy and you will poke yourself with it if you don't handle it carefully. If you are careful enough to pull it out you can reuse it and save some money there, if not Joann carries this type of strips.

My chair had these metal ones, there are different kinds, I find these easier to use.
Pay attention at how everything is done, so you can redo it the same way.

Once you have taken the back part, you will see the inside of the chair and the thousands of staples, here is where you need your staple remover, pliers and lots of patience.
Pull all the staples you see holding fabric, do not take off the ones holding the foam, place them in a plastic cup ( you don't want to step on these). Most chairs are assembled in similars ways so go with the wings, the arm rests and the front part. Always make sure you don't pull the fabric so it doesn't tear.
The last part will most likely be the bottom of the chair. This particular chair needed to have the legs removed before we could get all the fabric off. Save the cambric fabric (dustcover) from under it and from under the cushion to reuse if you like . Mine was in good condition so we reused it. Also you can save the piping cord ( decorative cord you see on the edges of the chair) buttons and such.
Once the chair is bare, check and see if you will need batting or foam to make it more cushy.
Check the springs in case you need to replace one. Vacuum it and set aside.
Now the fun part. For the fabric make sure you choose something easy to work with like a floral pattern, geometric patterns are harder to align, and if you are new at this you want to make it easier. Upholstery fabric can be quite expensive, I got this piece on ebay for $24 plus shipping, it was a good find because I got 8 yards, 54 inch wide and it was a Duralee piece ( they are quite expensive). So I was super happy. You can find nice fabric at Joann's and use a 50% off coupon and that will leave you at around $5 to $8 a yard, for their cheapest options, which is probably the best you are going to get these type of fabrics for. Or you can stalk fabrics on ebay but it is time consuming. Home Fabrics also has pretty good stuff on sale sometimes. If you do not mind spending
more, then by all means buy what you love and pay the price.
I cannot even remember how many websites and blogs I visited to have an idea of how much fabric a wing back chair will need. Some places said 5 yards other said 7 or 8 I was so lost I bought 8 yards just to be sure I will not be short.
Well here is the deal I only used 4 1/2 yards
( 54 inch wide) on this chair and that was because I used a geometric pattern which needs to go certain way, if I had used a floral one I would have used a little less.
One other piece of advice, if you use a cotton fabric ( like I did) they fray quite easily so be generous when you cut or you will suffer like I did. Especially generous on the pieces that cover the piping strips, because those are a pain to sew up when the fabric is short.
Mark all the little cuts the old fabric has with chalk, so you will know where to cut to make the fabric fit around the chair when you are putting it together.You will see the cuts are not even and that the people who make these chairs just cut as they go, but well since I am no pro I marked it all and went by their random cuts.
This chair required quite a bit of sewing, so since I am not a pro at this, I enlisted the help of the Sewing Queen, my Ma.
Here she is, Hi Ma!

So start with the last part you took off, here you see at the bottom right pic , I started with the front bottom part that goes under the cushion, we sewed the cambric fabric to the front part and put it on, if you have a geometric pattern, make sure you pull evenly so it doesnt look crooked and fasten the fabric to the bottom, here I made the mistake of stapling the cambric fabric to the back and then I had to take it apart to staple the other fabrics that come together once you get most of the pieces on , amateur mistake...but oh well, live and learn.
On the picture to the left I put on the big front part on, but I did not staple it until the end, then added the wings, these were a lot of work because unlike other chairs, these were sewn together with the piping in the middle and since we cut the fabric just right, it frayed, and I even had to stitch it up by hand to make sure it would not come apart. Again, live and learn.
This is when all those pictures you took at the beginning when you were taking the chair apart, will come in handy!
Little details like which piece of fabric covers which, are very important.
As I realized my piping strips were kind of short on the fabric ( that ones that go stapled between pieces) I used some of these tacks to keep them in place, since my staple gun barely got them.
Here I am doing some hand sewing and here is the chair with most of the fabric laid on it. The only piece that is stapled here is the bottom one, all the other ones are on, but not quite stapled yet.
Another hard part were the folds on the armrests and placing the buttons right in the middle to hold all the folds in. I reused the buttons the chair came with and I just covered them with new fabric and sewed them up tight around the nail.
Here is the chair almost done, here I had stapled all the pieces on the back and I was ready to do the back.
The back had all the tack strip and some arched piece of carboard to give it the nice form it originally had. I saved it all and reused it. This part was hard too since we had to put on the fabric, the piping strip and the cardboard together in one shot, so here I switched to my 1/2 inch staples. I found it was quite dificcult to hold all the pieces in place while stapling and get a nice clean result, so I cheated and I used some glue to hold the fabric to the carboard and the piping strip to the chair, when the glue was set I stapled and it was much easier.
After the top back part then came the time to finish the sides with the tack strip. Here you have to aling the fabric and poke the tacks through the fabric then when you turn it inwards, it sets in a straight line.
Here you use the rubber mallet to gently hammer the tacks down. I used a hammer with some fabric as a cushion to not rip the fabric. Once you are done with one side, do the other making sure you pull evenly and tight so it doesn't look baggy in the back. It takes time and a few pokes but it's worth it :O).
Then you are done! Now the easy part which is folding the fabric under the chair and placing the cambric fabric (dustcover) under the chair. I used the same one since it was in good condition.
For the cushion, check and see if you want to add batting before putting on the cover.  
Tadaaaaa!!!! Here it is ! I still have to paint the legs but I put them on for the picture.
Next time I will take more pictures of the process so you can see better. We had quite a bit of trouble with this chair so pics were few. But if you have any questions, ASK!


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