Saturday, June 9, 2012

Chairs with Personality

I spent this week working on 2 chairs. I didn't write a tutorial for these, but I wanted to show you some process photos and share the before and after anyway.  The chairs themselves are a really interesting barrel shape, with a side-swoop on one side and an arm on the other.  And when I picked them up at Chrissy's they were really, really red.

Oh yes, we're back at my friend Chrissy's house this week, did I mention that?

Here's a before of the chairs.  Front view.

And side/back view.

Really cool chairs, right? And really red, which didn't work for her new house but since the chairs are fantastic, she (wisely, in my opinion) chose to go with reupholstering them. She chose some neutral fabric in a mid-grey for the front of the chairs and added a contrasting fabric for the back. Which we'll get to in a moment.

I spent about 2 days stripping them down to the frame, which turned out to be plywood. That certainly explained why they were so heavy.

Not much to them really, lots of cardboard in there too. Not a crazy amount of staples either, which always makes me happy.

Now, if you look back at the first two pictures you'll see that instead of one continuous piece of fabric these chairs have different pieces sewn together to form to the shape of the chair. So, once I got the fabric off the chairs, I took the pieces apart at the seams so I could use them as patterns for the new fabric. I actually only took one chair apart so I could use the other pieces for reference while sewing the new ones. (I took no pictures of the cutting and sewing, my apologies. I promise to do another piece of furniture with a fitted cover and photograph everything.)  My best advice for cutting and sewing the fabric on fitted furniture is to take your time. That's the key, in fact, I'm going to say it again. Work slowly, take your time, and remember to try the pieces on the chair as you finish them. It's much easier to make adjustments as you go rather than after everything is put together.

Once I had all my pieces sewn together, it was time to reupholster! I admit that no matter how many times I do this, and how well I follow my own advice about working slowly and carefully, I always hold my breath and say a small prayer to the upholstery gods right before I put the first section of fabric on.

YES!! It's always a confidence booster (not to mention a huge relief) when the fabric fits just like it should.  So I started with the seat, upholstering as normal.  Once that was done, I started on the top.

Here's where the care and patience while sewing pays off, because this top is tricky. There are a bunch of curves in this chair, so you're trying to get the fabric smooth and tight in a a lot of different directions. Again, moving slowly and carefully (and a little mantra of "I think I can, I think I can...") will be the best way to get it done. 

And it can be done. This the front of the chair finished. But wait, there's more, the back still looks like this---

And here's the fabric twist I mentioned earlier. Instead of plain grey, she chose a fun print with grey as an accent. So the back is still neutral colors, but it really pops visually.

They look so amazing and modern, what a change from the red! They almost seem like different chairs. It never fails to amaze me how simply changing the fabric on a piece of furniture not only gives it a new and longer life, but also can change its whole personality. 

I feel like I've said that before, but it's still true. Give it a try, it's amazing when it all comes together!

And with these done, I am off for a week of wonderful, relaxing family vacation!! But check back, I have some great things planned for later this month!!


  1. I am totally amazed! Those chairs had to be a huge challenge, love the use of 2 different fabrics. Congratulations to both you & Chrissy.
    Chrissy's mother-in-law.

  2. Great job! they are beautiful!!


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