I love reupholstering and refinishing furniture that have a story. And of course, working on a piece for a family member makes it even more fun.
My aunt asked me to reupholster a chair she inherited from her mother in law Chris. She had passed away just a few years ago and was quite the lady. She may have been short in stature but she had a personality that was large in life. The chair had been purchased after Chris and her husband married back in 1940. It was a cute, low chair. Perfect for Chris. 😉
Over time the little chair was recovered and well loved. Once I started working on it, I found four layers of fabric! Lots of work and love went into the chair over the years.
I started to take the first layer of fabric off and noticed that the stuffing and some of the fabric was easily falling apart. Its amazing how long everything held together. There was a manufacturing label on the chair from May 1940!
I had a messy job ahead. I removed the fabric, hay stuffing, padding and old batting. And a million old nails, tacks and staples.
After the chair was down to the bare bones, I sanded down the chair legs. They had been scratched up over time and lost their luster. A couple coats of Minwax dark walnut stain and General Finishes top coat, the legs looked fantastic!
Before reupholstering the seat, I did some research and watched a few youtube videos to get some tips and tricks. I’ve done a few chairs previously but I try to check out what the professionals use for tools and materials. I’m always trying to learn more! Here are some great videos that I found helpful (here & here).
The chair seat had old zig zag springs that were in great shape, not bent or broken. To make sure that the chair didn’t sink m too low, I stapled burlap binding underneath the springs. I also tied the springs with strips of fabric remnants to make sure they didn’t shift. I stapled a piece of fabric remnant over the springs to make sure there were no squeaks and to allow the foam padding to sit on something ‘solid’. I cut the 2″ padding to size and shaped it to fit the seat shape (cutting the edges to make it not as square or cube shaped). I covered that with a couple layers of batting and stapled that down.
The chair back was a little easier, as it didn’t have springs and had a solid back. I cut foam to fit and covered it with a couple layers of batting.
Now the fun begins!! I started with the seat, cutting the piece of fabric a few inches larger than needed. Since I had to cut the fabric to fit around the chair back supports I wanted some leeway in case I made mistakes. Luckily my aunt found a great deal on fabric and I had lots of room for error!
After reupholstering similar chairs I’ve learned a few things. Here are some tips: Take your time. Staples can always be taken out as long as you are careful with the fabric and wood. Always cut around chair arms in small snips,don’t be too snip happy and avoid cutting too much around the arms. Make sure the staples are somewhat in a straight line so if you are using piping or gimp as trim, you can make a straight trim line. Don’t pull the fabric too tightly as you staple, it will look bumpy. Hope this post helps, upholstery is fun to do!
Here she is in all her glory! My aunt was happy with her little chair. I think Chris would have loved the chair redo too. Now the chair will be ready for another 90+ years 😉
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