Friday, May 18, 2012

Queen Anne Chairs Drab to Fab

My first project for Chrissy's new house was a set of Queen Anne chairs left by the former owners. They are great chairs, nice and big and comfortable, but the fabric was old, worn and not to her taste at all. But if you have a chair frame in good condition, it's easy to make a chair new again simply by reupholstering it.

Here is the chair before. The fabric is in serious need of some updating, am I right?

So Chrissy went to the fabric store with some yardage estimates and brought back not one, but two gorgeous coordinating fabrics for the chairs. A grey stripe for the front, seat and arms and a yellow lattice for the back.

So, I got to work. I started by stripping the old fabric off the chairs, beginning in the back. (Usually, I'd start with the bottom, but the fabric on these chairs doesn't wrap underneath anywhere, so I didn't need to undo the bottom.) I started on the bottom and sides and worked my way to the top.

This is what it looked like once the back fabric was totally removed.  Next, I pulled off the piping around the edge and the pieces of batting so that I could get to the staples underneath.  Once that was done, I found myself looking at a ton of staples in the front piece of fabric, especially around the top curves. This is one thing I despise about stripping newer commercially made furniture, the total overuse of staples. It can be very aggravating, so my advice here would be to put on your most patient cap and take as many breaks as you need in order to avoid injury. Or getting so irritated that you're tempted to light the furniture on fire.

I am not exaggerating, that is a ridiculous amount of staples.  But let's move on.....

Once the fabric is loose from the frame, I just pulled it gently from the front and the back is stripped.

Next I took the bottom piece off. It's important with this kind of chair to pull the staples out using the tack puller from the fabric side. If you brace the tack puller on the wooden frame, it will get damaged.

Last I removed the arm fabric. I worked from the bottom then from the back to the front. Way less staples here, so it was much easier.

And finally, I had a naked chair! I did a happy dance.

Now for the fun part. The new fabric! I started with the bottom. Since I was using a fabric with nice wide stripes, I marked the center of the chair seat and back on the batting with a yellow Sharpie. Then I found the center of my stripe and lined them up. ( For beginners, I'd recommend pinning the fabric in place with straight pins to help hold it in place once you start pulling it taut.)

I started by stapling in the center front about 4-5 staples on either side, then turned and started at the center back pulling the fabric nice and tight. I alternated this way, back and forth until I was about 2-3 inches from the corners, then I turned the chair and started on the sides. Again, I started with one side near the center, clipping the fabric to go around the arms and started stapling.

I added a small piece of grey fabric underneath the arm to continue the stripe. As I worked back and forth, I pulled the wrinkles out by pulling the fabric tightly. (This is where the pins in the center help. It's important that you don't pull the stripes to one side or the other as you're pulling the fabric nice and tight.)  Once all the stapling was done, I used a small, sharp utility knife to trim away the extra fabric right along the wood frame.

Front view

Side view

I would usually do the back next, but I noticed when I was taking this chair apart, that some of the arm fabric was tucked and stapled underneath the back, so I went on to the arms.  I chose to use the black/yellow/light grey stripe on the top center.  My apologies for not photographing this step. But here is the chair with one of the arms done.

Next, the front of the back. I lined up my stripes on the top with the stripes on the seat. And again, beginning with the center at the top, put a few staples in, then pulled the fabric through the frame at the bottom and alternated stapling top and bottom pulling the fabric taut.

I clipped around the arms again, and worked back and forth on the sides, being careful not to distort the stripes. The front almost finished.

For the back, I made a single row of piping in the coordinating fabric and stapled it along the back sides and top of the chair to add some detail along the edge.  Then, using the coordinating fabric, I cut out a rectangular piece slightly larger than the back of the chair. I centered one of the motifs with the center of my stripes, flipped it over the top so I had the wrong side edge facing the back and began stapling from the center out. Again, I did not get a photo of this step. Sorry!

Then, I flipped the fabric to the back and stapled along the bottom edge of the chair.

For the sides I used a combination of tack strips (for more details about them see this post) and some hand stitching to finish the back. ***side note, isn't this fabric fantastic?!*** When the edges were finished, I trimmed the extra fabric on the bottom.

For the finishing touch, I made some double piping out of the grey stripe fabric. Starting at the center back, I used hot glue to glue it in place along the lower edge of the chair all the way around the bottom. 

And here is one finished at her house. (cool rug too!) From the front.

From the back.

And together as a cool conversation area.

One of the coolest things about upholstery is how it changes the whole feel of a piece of furniture. Looking at the beginning photos of these chairs, they seemed dated and kind of tired. And now with a simple update of the fabric they seem so much more modern and interesting. Chrissy has good taste in fabric!

Keep checking back for more projects for Chrissy's New House!

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1 comment:

  1. Great job Heather, and I'm really impressed at how you did that!!


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