Monday, August 11, 2014

Upholstery 101

As many of you know, a few months ago I purchased this old sofa on craigslist. The idea was that I was going to reupholster it then resell it for a profit.

That was when I was contemplating hiring an editor for my recent work in progress, (my novel). Everything is on hold for a bit while I am waiting on responses to submissions, so that means no professional edits for now.

After my sister and I finished the sofa, a friend of mine dropped by and told me, rather forcibly, that I needed to keep this sofa. It does fit in perfectly with my living room decor…. and who was I kidding, it was going to be imposable to part with the thing.
See, I had to keep it. 

Many people have expressed interest in learning how to reupholster. It really isn't hard, at least the way I do it. I am self taught so this is just my way. I am sure if you asked a professional you would probably do a few things differently.

So, for those of you who would like to get your feet wet, here is what I recommend.

#1 Start with something free. If you don't have a lot of money invested into the project and it doesn't turn out it won't freak you out, though of course it is going to turn out awesome. I recommend doing that chair you contemplated throwing away, or bench, ottoman or sofa.

#2 Whether it's a chair or something large like a sofa, for your first time pick a simple piece. Avoid tufting, (only at first, I LOVE tufting), or something with a lot of trim work, pleating or piping .

#3 If you don't like to sew, or don't know how, find a nice friend or hire someone to cover the cushions.  I have done both, but if I am good on budget I hiring it out. I can sew but I don't like messing with it.

#4 Buy fabric when you find it on sale. Fabric is EXPENSIVE. If you are not careful, it could cost you the same to recover a sofa as it does to buy a new one. Or, if you are careful it can cost you under $100.

#5 As far as fabric goes, your first time, pic a solid fabric that is sturdy and doesn't fray easily.

#6 for your first time go ahead and use a hand powered stapler, but if you want to continue, invest in an electric or air staple gun.

Now that you are ready, how do you get started?

#1 The removal. This is the part that I do not like. I don't care how nice the sofa was, when you take off the fabric it is going to be gross, dusting, yucky.

You can use a flat screwdriver and needle-nose-pliers to remove the staples or you can buy specialty tools for this at your local reupholster store.  Wear gloves or you will cut up your hands. I have man hands so I no longer care.

  • Remove the legs and the underlining. 
  • The back piece is next. Take a Sharpie and write the number 1 on the outer back. Then I label the top and bottom. 
  • Next is the outer sides. Then I write two. On these pieces I label left and right, top and bottom. 
  • I move on to the inner sides and back, then finally the bottom front. I continue to label the number in which I removed it. 
So, why do I number the fabric? Well, I number it because when I reupholster, I do it in the opposite order of how I removed it.  So lets say I numbered from 1-8, when I recover it I would start with number 8 first then go back to one.

Be very mindful as you remove the fabric, of how it was originally assembled. Every piece is different and so it will save you a lot of heart ache if you try to put it together the same way.

#2 The cut.  I then use the nastily fabric that I have just removed as a template to cut the new fabric. 

#3. The fun part. When stapling the new fabric on, make sure you pull the fabric extra tight because over time, like all fabric, it will relax. 

Lastly, give yourself a break. You will see flaws, there will be flaws at first. BUT, most likely only you will see them.  

Here are some pictures of my latest project. SO FUN!!!

Notice the nails? Yep you can tell this is hard work.

It matches my dinning room perfectly!!!! 

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