Adventures in Upholstering

Before I go into all the upholstering I’ve been doing, I have a very important announcement about a new addition to my family.

We got a cat. His name is Bubba, and he’s awesome. Here are some pictures to prove how awesome he is.


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OK, on to other things….

I like to think that I’m a relatively talented person in the fabric and sewing department. I mean, I have a degree in Fashion Design, for christsakes. But for all my ample talents, I’ve never tried my hand at upholstery. So I gave it a try (over several weeks, spanning different levels of difficulty), and here are the results in order of difficulty.

Project One: I’ve had this chair for a few years. It was my grandmother’s. Generally I love my grandmother’s slightly offbeat sense of decor, but the seat of this chair just wasn’t doing it for me.


So I started by ripping off the faded pink fabric. Side note: I highly recommend buying one of those staple remover jobbies. It makes the job a hell of a lot easier.


under the pink fabric, I found this:


WHAT?!? How many mother-effing layers of fabric are on this thing!?! Also, what is that? Is that a TOWEL!?!?!


At this point, I sort of just threw my hands up. The green fabric and the towel (*shudder*) was tacked down with little baby nails, and I didn’t feel like ripping off a whole other layer of fabric… and a gross towel. So I just used the green fabric as my base point and put new fabric over it. I chose a blue and black buffalo check that I had in my stash.

Covering a seat is pretty easy:

  1. remove seat, rip off old fabric
  2. iron new fabric
  3. staple

Here is the final result.

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Project 2:


Inspired by the success of project one, I bought these chairs from my new favorite internet space, Everything but the House ( The chairs are a good size, and have really cool detailing on the back. However the seats came from some terrible hellhole of fabric from the past. So it had to go.


I had some fabric in my stash that would work, but not enough of it to cover all 4 of the chairs, so I decided to mix and match. This is a flat weave poly with a water resistant coating on it, so I’m hoping that it’s easy to wipe down and care for, etc. (Update: so far so good). These cushions had a little bit more detail (sides and piping) that would require some sewing.

My process was slightly different for this project:

  1. remove seat from chair in order to measure out for new pattern
  2. determine that I didn’t want to stop watching Gilmore Girls, meaning that I didn’t actually want to do any sewing.
  3. decide not to rip off old fabric, and not care about silly details like piping or cushion sides.
  4. iron, cover, staple.





So yeah, I got a little lazy and decided to just cover the whole thing instead of making the pattern and piping. Now that I think of it, I might not have had enough fabric to make the piping. Anyway, the piping that is covered can’t be felt when sitting on the chairs, and they look pretty baller, AND I was able to watch Gilmore Girls whilst crafting, so that’s always a plus.

Project 3:


This office chair was another great find from Everything but the House. I like the brushed chrome accents and the short back, AND the fact that it doesn’t look like a corporate drone chair. But the fabric, youch. What was it about this green fabric in the ‘60s-‘70s? Did it hypnotize people into thinking it was stylish?


I started ripping the fabric off. I knew going in that this wasn’t going to be an easy peasy job like covering a chair seat, but I soldiered on. I was prepared for the sewing and the gluing, but not the sheer amount of hulking strength I needed to get out all the staples. This was before I bought the staple getter outer, and the flat head screwdriver was NOT cutting it. I also broke a seam ripper on this chair.




The basic process goes like this:

  1. remove staples (this actually took me 3 days)
  2. rip apart seams with seam ripper
  3. iron new fabric and add interfacing. I only used interfacing on a few pattern pieces to be sure the fabric would be stable.
  4. lay old pattern pieces on new fabric. I used a black stretchy corduroy, and a red and black buffalo check flannel.
  5. sew pieces together that need to be sewn. In this case that’s the arms, the side panels on the chair, etc.
  6. start stapling

Now it’s a fabulous new chair!







I also made a pillow out of some left over blue buffalo check from project 1.

Bonus round: In case you were wondering what my grandmother’s off beat sense of decor means, see the below photos of these bad boys. This is my inheritance. I chose these things, so I suppose I share the off beat sensibility.

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