MAKE

How to reupholster a chair

January 3, 2010

This month Nicky Sherwood tries out a beginner’s upholstery course at Les Tuileries, an interior design studio in Dorking offering a range of  craft, interiors and fashion workshops. She learns how to reupholster a chair armed with a tired looking old find from ebay and some beautiful linen fabric from Sarah Hardaker (listed in our directory here)

sarah hardaker star fabric sarah hardaker star fabric

Upholstery is something I’ve always wanted to have a go at. While rummaging at car boot sales and junk shops, I’ve often spied skeletal chair frames with great potential and wondered what it would take to restore them to their former glory. Up until now my upholstering skills have been limited to a chunk of foam and a staple gun, so I was very keen to learn the traditional craft of webbing a seat cushion. I saw this child’s rocking chair on ebay. It’s in serious need of some TLC, cost very little and I decided this would be my project.

Before

how to upholster a rocking chair

I arrived at the studio just as Simon was giving a demonstration of the tools that we would be using. There’s something exciting about being introduced to the tools of a new craft – a promise of discoveries to come (or maybe I’m just odd!). I love the kind of old tools and machinery that you find in antique shops, worn down by years of hard graft. They’re somehow more honest and real than the plasticky computers and keyboards of modern day life.

how to upholster a chairhow to upholster a chair

Stripping off the old fabric and webbing the seat base

Before we could get started, I first had to strip the old leatherette fabric off my chair. Then it was time to start webbing the seat base – the first of what I soon discovered would be many layers. The first strip of webbing is tacked onto the chair frame and pulled taught using a wooden web stretcher, before the other strips are added and woven in an interlaced pattern.

how to upholster a chair

Adding a layer of hessian

On top of the webbing, we tacked a layer of hessian which helps to support the stuffing. After that we sewed stuffing ties into the hessian, leaving large open loops to accommodate the stuffing layer which would come next.

how to upholster a chair

how to upholster a chair

Adding the layers of stuffing

The stuffing, which is made of hair or fibre, was rolled into balls and placed under the ties until it was quite firm and secure. A layer of lighter weight hessian was then laid over the stuffing, tacked to the chair frame and trimmed (this is layer number four).

how to upholster a chair

Next we used nylon twine to stitch through the hessian and stuffing and pull it down to create a firm base. On top of this we added a fine layer of pig hair for extra softness, followed by a layer of cotton felt, and then a layer of skin wadding to give a smooth finish (layer number seven!).

how to upholster a chair

how to upholster a chairhow to upholster a chair

how to upholster a chair

how to upholster a chair

Lunch and calico

It’s surprisingly physical work so we were glad to sit down to a delicious lunch of cold meats, warm tarts and homemade salads, accompanied by a much needed glass of wine. Suitably refreshed, we headed back to our workstations to tackle the final stages of our transformations. The eighth and penultimate layer is the calico, which is pulled taught and secured with tacks.

how to upholster a chair

how to upholster a chair

Starry fabric

Then it was time for the final fabric layer to be applied. This beautiful starry linen is designed in England, woven in Scotland and printed in Wales; and was very kindly donated by Cotswolds based fabric designer Sarah Hardaker, from her new collection of children’s fabrics and wallcoverings. Using temporary tacks, we stretched the fabric into place, pulling it firmly in both directions to ensure a smooth finish, before tacking it onto the frame, using ‘invisible’ white tacks.

how to upholster a chair

After nine layers of material and stuffing, we could finally stand back and admire our very professional looking, and totally transformed chairs.

After

how to upholster a chair

Upholstery Course

Behold the before and the after… The final test was whether my three year old son would approve of his revamped rocking chair. With squeals of delight he launched himself into it like a rocket and declared it his favourite chair in the whole world. Well, who am I to argue with that kind of expert opinion?

Once I’d cracked the basics of upholstery, I am itching to have a go at more projects and to be more adventurous. I’ve been browsing for some new ideas and wanted to share these with you.

Love these upholstered chairs covered in beautiful Vanessa Arbuthnott natural and organic fabrics all ethically made in the UK (listed in our directory here)

love this pretty fabric covered upholstered chair by Vanessa Arbuthnott in May Blossom linen fabric. Click through to get easy step by steps to reupholstering your own chair - a great way to upcycle a vintage find. I share other beautiful fabric ideas all ethically made in the UK that you'll lovelove this vanessa arbuthnott armchair french ticking blue linen fabric. Click through to get easy step by step DIY tutorial on how to upholster or upcyle your own chair and to find out more about this ethically produced fabric made in Britain as well as other beautiful fabrics you'll lovelove this vanessa arbuthnott armchair simple ticking charcoal grey and natural linen fabric. Click through to get easy step by step DIY tutorial on how to upholster or upcyle your own chair and to find out more about this ethically produced fabric made in Britain as well as other beautiful fabrics you'll lovelove this vanessa arbuthnott desk chair upholstered in Bird Hop Tomato red linen fabric. Click through to get easy step by step DIY tutorial on how to upholster or upcyle your own chair and to find out more about this ethically produced fabric made in Britain as well as other beautiful fabrics you'll lovelove this vanessa arbuthnott upholstered armchair in duck egg blue Lapland Stripe natural linen fabric. Click through to get easy step by step DIY tutorial on how to upholster or upcyle your own chair and to find out more about this ethically produced fabric made in Britain as well as other beautiful fabrics you'll lovelove this vanessa arbuthnott armchair upholstered in soft green Grass Harris Tweed wool fabric. Click through to get easy step by step DIY tutorial on how to upholster or upcyle your own chair and to find out more about this ethically produced fabric made in Britain as well as other beautiful fabrics you'll love

Ian Mankin (listed in our directory here) is another great source of beautiful, ethically produced fabrics made in the UK:

love this nautical blue and white stripe linen covered chair by ian mankin. Click through to get easy step by step DIY tutorial on how to upholster or upcyle your own chair and to find out more about this ethically produced fabric made in Britain as well as other beautiful fabrics you'll lovelove this grey stripe ashfield wool fabric covered chair by ian mankin. Click through to get easy step by step DIY tutorial on how to upholster or upcyle your own chair and to find out more about this ethically produced fabric made in Britain as well as other beautiful fabrics you'll lovelove this wooden midcentury armchair reupholstered in Ian Mankin Acton Navy and Arran Blue linen fabrics. Click through to get easy step by step DIY tutorial on how to upholster or upcyle your own chair and to find out more about this ethically produced fabric made in Britain as well as other beautiful fabrics you'll lovelove this nautical blue and white stripe linen covered chair by ian mankin. Click through to get easy step by step DIY tutorial on how to upholster or upcyle your own chair and to find out more about this ethically produced fabric made in Britain as well as other beautiful fabrics you'll lovelove this perth mauve linen covered chair by ian mankin. Click through to get easy step by step DIY tutorial on how to upholster or upcyle your own chair and to find out more about this ethically produced fabric made in Britain as well as other beautiful fabrics you'll lovehow to upholster an armchair love this blue velvet mixed with blue and white stripe fabric by Ian Mankin. Click through to get easy step by step DIY tutorial on how to upholster or upcyle your own chair and to find out more about this ethically produced fabric made in Britain as well as other beautiful fabrics you'll lovelove this combination of deep red velvet and red ticking stripe upholstery fabric ethically made in Britain by Ian Mankin. Click through to get easy step by step DIY tutorial on how to upholster or upcyle your own chair and to find out more about this ethically produced fabric made in Britain as well as other beautiful fabrics you'll lovehow to upholster an armchair love this blue velvet mixed with blue and white stripe fabric by Ian Mankin. Click through to get easy step by step DIY tutorial on how to upholster or upcyle your own chair and to find out more about this ethically produced fabric made in Britain as well as other beautiful fabrics you'll love love this combination of tomato red linen and red ticking stripe upholstery fabric ethically made in Britain by Ian Mankin. Click through to get easy step by step DIY tutorial on how to upholster or upcyle your own chair and to find out more about this ethically produced fabric made in Britain as well as other beautiful fabrics you'll love

I love this chair covered in Blue Achillea fabric hand printed by Madder Cutch & Co (listed in our directory here) with a hand-made Woad cushion.

love this pretty floral achillea print blue linen covered chair by Madder Cutch and co using vegetable inks and pure linen. Click through to get easy step by step DIY tutorial on how to upholster or upcyle your own chair and to find out more about this ethically produced fabric made in Britain as well as other beautiful fabrics you'll love

Abigail Borg (listed in our directory here) designs and makes a unique collection of bold florals that work really well with midcentury chair shapes in particular. Here are a couple of my favourites:

love this ercol chair reupholstered with bold floral linen fabric by Abigail Borg. Click through to get easy step by step DIY tutorial on how to upholster or upcyle your own chair and to find out more about this ethically produced fabric made in Britain as well as other beautiful fabrics you'll lovelove this simple chair reupholstered with bold floral linen fabric by Abigail Borg. Click through to get easy step by step DIY tutorial on how to upholster or upcyle your own chair and to find out more about this ethically produced fabric made in Britain as well as other beautiful fabrics you'll love

Cabbages & Roses (listed in our directory here) is another great source of fabrics. Particularly if it’s faded country florals you’re after. Love these ideas:

love this faded floral roses linen upholstered armchair slip cover by Cabbages & Roses. Click through to get easy step by step DIY tutorial on how to upholster or upcyle your own chair and to find out more about this ethically produced fabric made in Britain as well as other beautiful fabrics you'll lovelove this simple white linen upholstered armchair by Cabbages & Roses. Click through to get easy step by step DIY tutorial on how to upholster or upcyle your own chair and to find out more about this ethically produced fabric made in Britain as well as other beautiful fabrics you'll lovelove this simple white linen upholstered armchair by Cabbages & Roses. Click through to get easy step by step DIY tutorial on how to upholster or upcyle your own chair and to find out more about this ethically produced fabric made in Britain as well as other beautiful fabrics you'll lovelove this simple white linen upholstered french armchair by cabbages and roses. Click through to get easy step by step DIY tutorial on how to upholster or upcyle your own chair and to find out more about this ethically produced fabric made in Britain as well as other beautiful fabrics you'll love

If you love dogs and pretty fabrics, you’ll love Olive + Daisy (listed in our directory here). Find the most beautiful collection of fabrics and linens, including the signature Olive + Daisy design used to cover this chair in Cornish Blue.

love this idea - how to reupholster and armchair using labrador print Olive + Daisy blue and natural linen. Click through to get easy step by step DIY tutorial on how to upholster or upcyle your own chair and to find out more about this ethically produced fabric made in Britain as well as other beautiful fabrics you'll lovelove this idea - how to reupholster and armchair using labrador print Olive + Daisy blue and natural linen with blue and white stripe. Click through to get easy step by step DIY tutorial on how to upholster or upcyle your own chair and to find out more about this ethically produced fabric made in Britain as well as other beautiful fabrics you'll lovelove this idea - how to reupholster and armchair using labrador print Olive + Daisy blue and natural linen with blue and white stripe. Click through to get easy step by step DIY tutorial on how to upholster or upcyle your own chair and to find out more about this ethically produced fabric made in Britain as well as other beautiful fabrics you'll love

And how beautiful is this armchair covered in soft, grey velvet as pictured in Selina Lake’s wonderful book Winter Living?

love this soft pale grey velvet covered reupholstered upcycled armchair from Selina Lake's beautiful book Winter Living. Click through to find out more and to get easy step by step DIY tutorial on how to upholster or upcyle your own chair and to find out more about this ethically produced fabric made in Britain as well as other beautiful fabrics you'll love

INFORMATION


Sarah Hardaker is listed in the From Britain with Love directory

Get all the info you need to connect with Sarah Hardaker from the listing >>

Feeling inspired? Take a look at the Creative Workshops category in our Directory, where you’ll find a variety of inspiring courses, from art and crafts to fashion and beautyinteriorscooking and flower & gardening.

If you run a creative course that would interest our readers, please get in touch. Email us at editor@frombritainwithlove.com


A pin to share to Pinterest

how to upholster or upcycle a chair. click through for step by step DIY tutorial as well as lots of beautiful ethically made fabric ideas you'll love

 


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