Reupholstering It Yourself Saves Money

Ok, so what does reupholstering have to do with penny pinching or saving money. It saves money by avoiding unnecessary replacement, extends the life of existing furniture and will give you a fresher look to match your changing decor. It also will give new life to that just found treasure.

You have been to the yard sale, thrift store or your friend has a couch or a chair that you absolutely love, BUT the fabric on the piece is not exactly one that you can live with, or want to for that matter. Your first thought is, I would sure love to have the piece, but if I take it to the upholstery shop it will cost a small fortune to have it reupholstered to suit my taste, so you pass it up.

Gosh, maybe I could reupholster it myself, but I CAN’T!!!

My answer to that is YES, YOU CAN. IF I CAN DO IT, SO CAN YOU!!! Can’t is not a word in my vocabulary.

I am not going to say it is a snap, because it isn’t, but if you follow some simple direction, your furniture will be lovely and you will be proud of yourself and not embarrassed to tell people, I reupholstered it myself.

My first “teacher piece” was a barrel chair that my neighbor was discarding. Being a Navy wife and living on a very limited income, buying new furniture was virtually impossible. We really needed a chair for our living room, so I figured with a little patience and perseverance I could make this chair work.

As I found out and so will you, every piece of furniture will talk to you. Sound silly? Maybe it is, but it is true. It will tell you which piece to take off first and which piece to take off last. Not having much money, I decided to use an inexpensive piece of drapery fabric. To make a long story short, the chair turned out fantastic and lived with us for a very long time.

I have graduated some from using cast off furniture, but only a little bit. I have a definite love of antiques and at one time was looking for a “new” sofa. A friend came to me and asked if I would be interested in seeing a sofa that his Great Aunt gave to him and since his taste ran to chrome and glass this old piece of furniture did not exactly fit into his home.

When I saw this “old piece”, I almost had a heart attack, it was a very rare 5 legged Queen Anne and worth a small fortune. Unfortunately it had been recovered in a pink frieze and the original one piece cushion had been cut into two. But he was giving it to me and it was definitely love at first sight. If you come into my home today, you will see that sofa; I still love it and have reupholstered it twice in the last 35 years. Also put the cushion back to the original one piece.

You can start out on something simple like:

Reupholstering Your Dining Seats   

Let’s reupholster your dining seats.

Chair seat beforeChair seat after

First of all you need to remove all of the old material and worn padding from the dining seat.

To remove the old material, simply unscrew the seats from the frame or lift them out as the case may be. You want to carefully remove the material as it can be used for a basic pattern for your new seat covers. The tacks or staples on the underside of the seat can be removed with a small flathead screwdriver and a pair of pliers.

If the padding is attached to the seat board it can be removed, or if it is still in good condition it can be reused. You can add a little new padding, such as cotton felt, batting or foam rubber.

Chair seat partsThe padding may be glued down, if so you can tear it away with your hands and scrape the remaining bits off, if it’s not in good condition. First you will need to put the new padding on. You will probably need 1-2 inch foam of your desired firmness (soft to hard). Lay your board on top of your foam and trace an outline of it, be sure to leave about 1/4″ all around. Now you can cut the foam out with a pair of scissors or that electric carving knife, which seldom gets used anymore. Now glue the foam to the board with good adhesive glue, centering the board on the foam.

As an option, for extra padding, you can add a layer of batting or cotton padding. This adds to the thickness and pushiness of the seat, but it is optional. This padding is lightly glued to the foam, using only enough glue to keep the padding from moving around; too much glue will gum up the padding and make it lumpy.

Now you are ready for the material. Look for a good quality upholstery fabric. But look in the discounted bin. Chances are you will find matching pieces and be able to use them instead of paying the price for yardage on the bolt. For four (4) average dining seats you will need between 1 1/2 to 2 yards of material. If you are using a fabric with a stripe, it will take a little more yardage, you want your chair seats to be the same. This gives you enough excess to allow you to attach the material with some margin of error. Using the old seat covers as a pattern cut out the new ones, leaving about 1 1/2″ of fabric all around depending on how much thicker you made the padding.

Attaching the material, using a staple gun is easiest, you start from back to front first by stapling the fabric at the center of the back of the seat, and then stapling at exactly the same point on the front of the seat. Be sure to make the fabric tight enough so that there are no wrinkles forming, but do not over tighten or you will pull the material out of shape.

Now repeat this with either side of the seat. For the corners, simply pull the material over the corners and staple, checking for tightness, and watching for wrinkles. Start with the front corners, and then do the back.

Once the corners are done to your satisfaction, staple the remaining fabric to the board working your way from the corners to the center. Again watching for tightness and wrinkles.

If you are not satisfied with the look just pull the staple or staples and try again.

Now that you have the fabric on, cut away the excess material. You can cover the rough underside with a piece of material or cardboard, or a dustcover. Just cut a piece of material to cover it and staple directly over the exposed edges.

All that is left now is to fasten your seats back to the chair frames and your reupholstered chairs look fresh and new.

Ready for a new challenge, how about reupholstering a chair or couch, or you might want to try bolster pillows they are easy and economical to make with fabric and upholstery foam.