These beautiful dining chairs were a rare find. A member of our local BUY Nothing Group spotted them on the curb ready for junk pick up and sent an alert in the group chat. I managed to rescue them. I was excited to try my hand at upholstery again after I working on my French dining settee last year. The structure of the chairs was sound but the fabric was terribly stained with big water marks.
First chair successfully finished – looks pretty amazing! I promised a walk through the process, so here we go! Warning in advance, it looks easy on pictures and videos but it took me almost two days to finish it.
I picked a linen looking vinyl fabric instead of the original linen fabric. Highly recommend it for families with young kids and pets. You forget about stains and fabric damage yet you’re keeping the same original look of the chairs.
I don’t have any fancy upholstery tools for this. I used regular staple gun, flat screwdriver, regular pliers and needle nose pliers, scissors, upholstery nails, hammer, hot glue gun.
First step in every upholstery project is removing the old fabric. I started with pulling out the trim with some needle nose pliers and flat screw driver. Don’t try to rip too hard, too fast. You want to keep the fabric and trim intact. Mark the two pieces that you take from the back of the chair “back and Front” so you know later which one you are cutting out.
Some of the staples will come out with the fabric but most actually will stay stuck.
Here is what the chair looks like when the fabric is removed.
The most tedious part of the process is pulling out the remaining staples. There were so many of them.
I just used a screwdriver and pliers. Try to remove all the staples so you have a clean area when you start stapling the new fabric.
Here is where you get to use the old fabric that you removed from the chair. Lay out the old pieces on the new fabric. Always give yourself a little wiggle room and cut around the pieces about half an inch.
The Back of the chair has two pieces so you can mark piece 1 and 2. It’s good to know which one goes in the front and which on the back. They look almost identical but one is smaller and you don’t want to mix them up.
I stapled the seat first and then the back. Stapling the seat looked easier especially if you managed to remove all of the old staples. The key here is to figure out how to stitch the front corners. I flipped the fabric upside down and pin or mark the fabric around the corners and then stitch it along. Once you mapped out your corners you can stich them by hand or sewing machine. I preferred by hand since preparing my sawing machine that I haven’t used in years would have been twice longer.
I kept the existing padding and the sandwich piece for the back of the chair since they were in a good condition. Once the fabric pieces were cut, I started stapling the back piece first. Make sure you stretch it really well so it doesn’t have any ripples. Trim the excess fabric. Then you put the sandwich piece on top the way it was originally placed. When you have everything in place, staple the top piece. There will be areas where the staple gun could reach well so I used some upholstery nails and hammer them down.
When all stapling is finished it’s time to trim off any excess fabric with some sharp sewing scissors. Then it’s time for the trim. I managed to successfully pull out the trim intact but it had a lot of glue on it. So, I soaked it in boiling hot water to remove the glue so I can reuse it. If you are skillful with the sawing machine you can make a new trim. But there is something with me and sewing. I have no patience for it and always find an alternative way. In this case I reused the old one but you can also use hemp rope.
I added the trim with hot glue gun. I like to apply the glue to the trim and then gently push it to the frame. You don’t want to pull the trim tight, but keep it loose so you can maneuver it into corners. If you haven’t used hot glue gun before keep in mind it can cause some second-degree burn. There is probably protection you can wear or just keep your fingers off the working area!
I have no professional upholstery skills but when you are a DIY-er you learn things on the go. I’ve done enough DIY projects to know that everything you create with your own hands is a rewarding and transformational experience.
Remember: Always have fun with your projects! The essence of DIY is not being perfect but learning new things and valuing the progress you are making!
Thanks for following along with me!