Tips for a (mostly) No Sew Reupholstered Chair

I love a project that improves upon something that is important to me.  I have this chair.  It’s a very comfy little wing back chair. It was a hand me down from my husband’s great aunt Pal (that was her name, Pal.  Awesome, right?) who passed away several years ago.  Wait, more than several.  In fact, I’ve had this chair for at least a couple of years before my daughter was born and she’s 10!  It first came to live in my husbands apartment, moved with us to our first home, our second home and our third home.  It’s the chair I nursed my baby girl in when she was a baby. I spent many sleepless nights in that chair in the summer of 2004 watching the Olympics.  Live from Athens, cause babies don’t know about time zones.  I swear I saw every event of that Olympics.  So, tons of sentimental value packed into this cozy chair.  The only problem was that the upholstery was not my favorite.  I’ve used a Surefit  cover in white on it for years, but I’ve been itching to try upholstering it.  So guess what I did? I upholstered it!

Tips for a (mostly) No Sew Reupholstered Chair

Now, I’m not going to tell you that I can write you a tutorial on how to this.  But, I do have a few tips to share.  If you want a full tutorial, I would strongly suggest checking this one out from Four Generations One Roof.  It was really helpful and it gave me the courage to try this project!

Before and After No Sew Reupholstered Chair

Tips for a (mostly) No Sew Reupholstered Chair

1.  Pick the right chair – My chair is probably not the easiest chair to pick for this project.  If I were to go scavenging for a chair to reupholster, I would check the likely spots that I would be stapling fabric to to make sure there was some wood in that spot for the staple to grab on to. The back cushion of my chair is, well, cushiony and it was tough to find places to staple into.

2.  Speaking of staples, get a good staple gun.  I started with a  mechanical one.  Forget it.  It’s not worth the pain and effort.  I bought an electric staple gun from Home Depot and it did the trick, however, it petered out at the end of the project and I had to suffer through with the mechanical stapler for a few spots.  The electric will be getting returned.

3.  Pick the right pattern – I would strongly advise against using anything that is geometric or would otherwise require matching up patterns.  Unless you’re some kind of math wizard. I’m not, in case you are wondering.  The bird pattern I used (which you might remember from my DIY Curtains.  They aren’t curtains anymore.  A girl can change her mind, right?  Actually, that’s a post for another day) is sort of random.  Well, not random exactly, but there is no up or down or any straight lines to match up.  Also, I used maybe 8 yards of fabric.  And I had a lot of scrap left over.

4.  If you’re chair has a skirt, cut it off.  Show off those beautiful legs!

5. Start with the small curves – I started with the front facing, curved portion of the arm.  Basically, I held a piece of fabric up to that part, added a bunch of staples and then trimmed off the excess.  I then did the actual arm rest portion of the arm, then the wingback parts of the chair. The trick to smooth fabric on these curvy parts of the chair is to deal with small, flat surfaces. So for instance, on the wingback portion of the chair, I did the two sides of the chair first, and then went back and did the front facing portion with nice folded edges.  These were the toughest and once they were done, things moved much more quickly.

6.  Strategically hide your staples.  There are a couple of ways to do this.  Any time it’s possible, hide them on an underside part of the chair.  The other thing I did was hide the staples in the folded seams.  In order to get a clean looking seam in conspicuous spots on the chair, like that front facing part of the arm, you will fold the fabric in about an inch or two, lay the fold down on the chair, but wrong side up, so that you have only the fold on the chair, all the other fabric is  unfolded and off of the chair and then staple the fold so that you can then fold the fabric back over the arm and you won’t see the staples when you are done.

7.  Don’t be afraid of the glue gun. – Ok, before you have a crafting heart attack, I didn’t use the glue gun to replace staples.  All of the fabric is secured to the chair with staples.  But, if a I had a folded seam that wasn’t in a high traffic area, I used a little hot glue to seal those seams.  Strictly cosmetic, I swear.  Time will tell if the glue will hold up.

8.  One little bit of sewing – I don’t sew.  I took a sewing class in 7th grade.  I made a stuffed animal and a  pillow. I had no idea how I was going to get the seat cushion covered without asking for help from my mother.  Which is lame when you are 40.  Then I had a stroke of genius and decided to just sew the fabric directly onto the cushion.  I basically did a whip stitch around the perimeter of the cushion where there is a little bit of a corded detail.

DIY mostly No Sew Reupholstered ChairThar she is!  The take away from this post, is I hope, sometimes you can just kind of jump into a project and learn as you go!



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