Upholstering 2 Chairs For My Living Room #5: A little body stitching.

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Blog entry by MarkTheFiddler posted 01-26-2014 02:19 AM 1736 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Cutting the body Part 5 of Upholstering 2 Chairs For My Living Room series Part 6: Striping the old fabric and padding off »

There is very little on these chairs that I need to sew on the body. Still, a little might be just enough of an example for some of you.

The front of the chair and deck need a bit of sewing. Take a look at this rounded front edge and the old stiches.

There are several ways to skin this cat. One is to take off the fabric, undo the stitches then trace the cutouts onto you new fabric. I have to do that sometimes. Let’s get a little adventurous.

Since I have a pattern with a center, measure the old fabric on the chair and mark the center.

Get your front piece that you already clearly marked and line it up to that center mark.

Now slide the fabric over that old seam about 1/2 inch because that’s how thick your seam will be. If you need to remark you center on the old fabric – go for it.

You might want to pin the new fabric to the old so you can work on you markings without fear of slippage. Me, I just wrapped that fabric around the front. I had to line it up with that half inch seam and make sure I wasn’t losing any length. The I almost let the fabric fold up the way it felt like doing. A couple of loose pleats and I got this.

You may notice that I marked the tip of the pleat with chalk. It tells me – THE PLEAT ENDS HERE. Oh, that must have been some incorporeal booming voice. I’ll ask it to quiet down.

Let’s do some more chalking.

I just marked a shadow of where the seam will be. It will touch the edges of the chalk but not go into the chalk. If I take that front to my cutting board and lay it out, I see a crooked M for MARK the Fiddler. I used blue chalk to show you where I plan on cutting the fabric which near to 1/2 inch inside the white chalk shadow. I fudged it a little bit but you won’t need to.

Cut out your M by following the blue chalk.

Fold your fabric over on your center and trace out the opposite side.

Cut it out!

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

9 comments so far

View MarkTheFiddler's profile


2068 posts in 2154 days

#1 posted 01-26-2014 02:27 AM

Stitching time.

I am so sorry I can’t teach you how to sew in this blog. I’ll see what I can come up with. If you follow my id to home refurbers, you can find some sewing vids there.

I started by taking the inner angle of the M cutout and folding it very carefully with the top of the M as the apex. I didn’t allow any shifting of the fabric.

I Stitched that up.

I folded the second angle of the M the same way and stitched it up.
Here is the result.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

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2068 posts in 2154 days

#2 posted 01-26-2014 02:29 AM

A quick check on the chair…

Stitch the other side the same way and check that on the chair.

Next – we need to attach the front to the deck. But I’m taking a break – See you soon!!

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

View lanwater's profile


3111 posts in 2900 days

#3 posted 01-26-2014 05:45 AM

I wish I could do That Mark.

You are really good at it.
Nice blog.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View Texcaster's profile


1273 posts in 1639 days

#4 posted 01-26-2014 06:06 AM

Thanks for all your time and info Mark. This is really interesting to me. Off & on I make wing chair upholstery frames for an antique dealer. I only see the finished chair. On the real chair the arm is 90* to the position in the photo.

My wife is very interested in this as well, she is in the rag trade and is very good at men’s & women’s tailoring but mostly coordinats overseas work. I have a couple nice vests, still waiting for my tweed riding coat.

By the look of those cigs we have more in common than just sawing away on fiddles.

-- Mama calls me Texcaster but my real name is Mr. Earl.

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3235 posts in 3678 days

#5 posted 01-26-2014 06:47 AM


I’m finding out that I haven’t done anything right! I never cut the excess out of the darts or pleats and I’ve never sewn them. ;-( I’ve just tucked it as I stapled, but I’ve never had a deck quite like that one either. Also, I’ve never measured the parts . . . just taken the old upholstery off and cut around it, adding a little excess to the edges.

Live and learn. Thanks for your teaching.


-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View MarkTheFiddler's profile


2068 posts in 2154 days

#6 posted 01-26-2014 01:22 PM


Lan – I have seen your woodworking. I really believe you can do this. One step at a time my friend.

Tex – I really like what I see. I have the feeling that I’ll be seeing some upholstery coming from your neck of the woods. When you get a chance, please show me more of the chairs.

L/W – Wrong/Right? If it looks good and keeps it’s shape – it’s right. It really sounds like you have been into this adventure for a while. For you, this will merely be a few new techniques to add to your toolbox. Maybe this blog will make something easier in the future. Feel free to ask away. On the flip side, feel free to share your techniques. They are going to help someone.

I have forgotten why I do some things and I’m trying to ask myself those questions as I upholster the chairs. Why did I do that? My biggest fear is I’ll gloss over something major. You can be a big help by pointing something out. I would really appreciate it. I think anyone interested in upholstering their work will appreciate it as well.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

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2068 posts in 2154 days

#7 posted 01-26-2014 01:58 PM

Now that the front of the chair is stitched, we need to attach it to the deck. Normally, I wouldn’t use the same fabric on the deck, if I needed to conserve fabric. I suppose I can elaborate on that in a different post but I’ll give a short reason why you would use a different fabric on the deck.

$50 a yard vs. $2 a yard.

I flopped my front and deck pieces on the sewing machine table to look at how I want them to line up.

Then I flipped the Front onto the deck.

You’ll notice that I can see the pattern on the backside. It will really make matching a lot easier. I just have to make sure that what I see on the back side is what I get on the front side. Look at front on the same piece of fabric very carefully. Does the gold strip on the back represent the gold stripe on the front? In my case, the back matches the front perfectly.

Ok, pictures and words are going to fail me here. I’ll try. I know the front will be sewn onto the deck in an L shape at both ends. I’m going to disregard the “L” for the moment and just sew the longest part of the front to the deck.

It’s hard to tell but I’m targeting the seam to start 1/2 inch into the L. I had to carefully position the L so I wouldn’t catch any fabric underneath. I set the sewing machine arm down and started stitching. I made the machine run backwards (Backed up) to reinforce my starting spot.

You have just connected 2 pieces of fabric but before you stitch the whole thing, take a quick peek to see if you are matching the fabric.

If no – carefully undo and start over. I don’t recommend fudging. You will get unexpected puckers and ripples than translate badly into the upholstery and cause you 10 times the work in the end.

If yes.
Sew all the way through and 1/2 inch past the “L” shape on the other side.

Back up your stitch to reinforce the take a look at your work.

Nice Match!

We need to secure the “L” shapes down at the ends of the deck.
Here is what it looks like on the underside right by a future L shape.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

View MarkTheFiddler's profile


2068 posts in 2154 days

#8 posted 01-26-2014 02:17 PM

I need to snip a little piece of fabric so I can stich a right hand turn.

Do not snip over 1/2 inch into the fabric. That is your margin. However, added the little snip keeps the fabric from curling up when you turn it 90 degrees. Curls are hard to work with. ;)

Ok, Lay the front down at a right angle to the deck and drop a few stitches. Adjust a little bit if necessary and sew a little more. We’ll have to come back to that word adjust. If I miss the boat, remind me. It’s important.

You may noticed that I flipped the end of my fabric over before I stitched off into never land? That 1/2 inch fold just hid the ragged edge.

Take a peek at the top side.

Not bad. Not perfect either. It is very good for something that will be covered with a cushion. Making that right hand turn can get a little tricky. This is an excellent place to try a tricky bit of stitchery because it is under the cushion and just about anything you do will look better than what the factory did.

While I’m at it, I’ll throw in an optional top stitch just to add a chance to practice some tricky stuff. (I’m way out of practice.)

Not bad – not perfect. It’s going to look great.

Let’s throw the deck and front onto the chair and see what we have.

Ah ha! The main body of the chairs have been cut and sewn – It’s time to get out the stapler.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

View GrandpaLen's profile


1650 posts in 2238 days

#9 posted 01-26-2014 03:58 PM

...blurry eyed, but the caffine is kicking in.

BTW, the geometric pattern that you choose, helps to follow the match ups as opposed to a solid color material, on the twisty, turny sewed down parts.

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

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