Upholstering 2 Chairs For My Living Room #8: Upholstering the seat

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Blog entry by MarkTheFiddler posted 01-26-2014 11:08 PM 1229 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 7: Preparing the seat. Part 8 of Upholstering 2 Chairs For My Living Room series Part 9: Upholstering the Seat - A bit more »

Finally!!! We get to do some upholstery!!!

45% preparation – 45% finishing 10% upholstery.

You will need cotton which can be bought at an upholster supply company for about $30. Mine is 30 inches wide which is just right for upholstery.

I walked over to my roll and literally tore off about a 25 inch length. I’m going to say my magic words again. This isn’t wood working. You measure precisely and cut with scissors. There is no benefit except for saving a few inches of cotton in the end of your cutting and measuring ordeal. Once again – I’ll say relax.

Anyhow, I flopped the cotton right down on top of the deck.

Now I’m going to tuck the cotton under the back and arms of the chair. That will leave me all the extra right up front. I need to make this cotton reach to within 1/2 inch of the chalk line I marked in the last Blog. It’s to long so I can cut it, OR (You guessed it) Tear it. I just put my left hand on the cotton so I could hold it close to the line then tore away excess with the right hand.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

9 comments so far

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2068 posts in 2185 days

#1 posted 01-26-2014 11:58 PM

Here is what it looks like after I tore it and tucked it under.

The following picture shows a big wad of cotton sticking out the back of the chair. That cotton is also right on top of where I’m going to put staples. You want it out of the way and you don’t want to put staples through it if you can avoid it. Guess how I removed the excess. ;)

Now – Grab the seat of the chair. That’s the deck and the front we carefully stitch together. Lay it down on top of the cotton. Only the deck will be covering the cotton, The front of the chair will be folded back and out of the way. While your at it, line up those two center marks you chalked in earlier. Look down this blog for context pictures – because – I forgot…

Now you need a big curved needle and some tough nylon twine.

The needle – you can buy at one of those artsy craftsy stores – OR – pick one up at the upholstery supply while you’re buying the cotton.

Now the twine. Button twine is the best. Unless the upholstery supply store sells tiny spools – It’s going to cost over $50. Let’s go to Walmart instead. Don’t buy kite string and thread just won’t cut it. Pick one of these spools up for 97 cents and you’ll meet your needs nicely.

Cut the string at 1.5 times the width of the deck. Thread the needle. Line up your center and hold it down with your left hand. Gently pull the seam to the right with your right hand without loosing the center. Remember that the half inch seam is meeting the horizontal chalk line. Press down with your right hand to secure where your first stitch goes. You can let go of your left hand and take over the job of holding the fabric that your right hand is doing. With your right hand, make a small stitch with the curved needle that goes front to back. Tie it in a knot.

Let’s see if this picture helps.

Now start stitching right to left. Get that needle really close to the hem as you’re doing so.

Alrighty then. All that amounts to is you just centered your seat, found your start point to the right and stitched it down. Then you started sewing. If you are left handed. Flip all of my directions.

Check your center. If you have to tug kind of hard or you jumped past it. Start over. It’s all good. If you allow yourself to be off center, no matter what fabric you are using, you will pay dearly with time spent trying to correct the mistake.

Another alrigthy and I’m at the center.

Yet another alrighty and I’m at the end and tying it down. Except I cheated and stapled the twine to the wood. I did not pull hard to the wood! I just took out the slack and stapled it.

This is what it will look like.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

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2068 posts in 2185 days

#2 posted 01-27-2014 12:08 AM

WARNING!! If your stiches catch the springs – It’s going to look lumpy and the spring action will eventually wear through the twine. Don’t do that. Just catch the burlap with the curved needle.

Now tuck the deck in – No staples, no sniping just tucking.

Here is what it looked like on the back side after I tucked it in.

Can you see my fabric? It’s about two inches from the wood at the back.
If you have ever found a board stretcher – you can use it to fix my big FAT mistake.

LMAO – I had to take the deck off – sew some extra pieces on at the sewing machine. RE-Hand sew the deck down and one quick picture later I get——-

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

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2068 posts in 2185 days

#3 posted 01-27-2014 12:30 AM

A quick thought – The one layer of cotton we put under the deck is not enough for comfort. A thick cushion will be going on top of it.

Alright now. Let’s pad the front. I just ripped a short width of cotton off the roll and laid it right down on the front. Using my left hand hold down and right hand tearing technique, I fitted my cotton so it lays on top of the half inch seam we sewed down and it just peeks over the edge roll. Since I have sides on the front of my chair, (Oxymoron) I picked a scrap of cotton off the floor and laid it down on those little sides. With a few quick rips it did the trick.

Nice! but we need more!! Another layer of cotton should do the trick – But wait just a moment…. This chair used to have a skirt and the new skirt will be stapled on. I don’t want to have to staple that skirt on through a bunch of lumpy cotton. I think I’ll put a chalk line across the front of the chair. That’s the spot with all the old staple holes from the original skirt.

Now I’ll add my second layer of cotton on top of my first and I’ll wrap down the front. I’ll tear it off just above the chalk line.

You know we are just about ready to do some fabric snipping and stapling but let’s do ourselves a little favor and mark a few more centers. This is the bottom center of the front of the chair.

Apparently – the back side has no center because I forgot to take a picture of it. Picture or no – I’d mark that center now.

Once again – Precision is not a must here – The more precise your try to be when laying down the cotton, the more you mess with it. The truth is – tearing the cotton is like beveling the thickness. That’s a lot easier to work with than a straight scissor cut.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

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2068 posts in 2185 days

#4 posted 01-27-2014 01:05 AM

Ok – I’m about to have a really tough time putting this next part into words. I’ll try. Pull the front fabric over the cotton and place one staple dead center. Add a couple more to either side.

Pull the fabric down on the right hand side and add look ay your stripe. Is it straight up and down. Since the front is wider at the top than the bottom, your stripe may not be perfect. Still, You want to pull downward firmly and gently to the right all at the same time. Add a couple of staples.

Now work the left side. Pull down firmly and left gently. Staple it twice.
A thought. When I say staple it twice, don’t just pull the trigger twice. Space the staples out about half an inch or so.

Warning! The front of my chair is firm. If is made out of wood and edge roll. If there were springs that I could compress that would be a soft edge. Let me know and I’ll add some detail to this blog thread. There is more you to consider.

Fun Fun fun – Now we get to staple in between our holding staples. If you just tug down the fabric and staple; you will get ripples. That is major yuck. I’m going to use a left hand smoothing technique to prevent that.

I started with my hand at the seam where the deck and front are sewn together. That’s all the way on the top side of the front. I firmly slid my hand over the edge and down almost to the bottom. It’s like you are petting an animal in one stroke. When my hand got close to the bottom, I stopped it but kept my thumb going until it was on the underside of the chair. I placed about 3 staples between where my thumb and index finger are separated. This make s a very nice and smooth finish. Practice a few times before adding staples. Even though it doesn’t seem like it – You are pulling the fabric. Make sure you hand travels straight down to the bottom without side to side drift.

Looks nice. – That one is a huge trick. You will be using it over and over.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

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2068 posts in 2185 days

#5 posted 01-27-2014 01:47 AM

This next section is full of fitting techniques and I took a lot of pictures. I don’t know if I can describe what I do but – again – I will try.

I’m jumping ahead to a finished picture so you can see where we are going.

My picture is pointing to three places we have to make very careful cuts to navigate around the board that is the front of the arm.

I advise you to nibble away at your snips and keep double checking. Do it very patiently and slowly.
First – look at the following two images.

I have a front of arm, arm brace and the seat in front of the arm. I’m looking at it from where the cushion would be.

You should now have a reference for one of the cuts. Take a look at the following.

The excess fabric has been pulled toward the center of the chair and you are snipping toward the back side of the front board. Make sure you are cutting at the blue angle. The red angle will ruin the deck.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

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2068 posts in 2185 days

#6 posted 01-27-2014 01:57 AM

Ok – I’m tired so I’ll quit till tomorrow night.

I’ll answer a question that I may be popping up in your minds.

Why is there a good cut line and a bad cut line.

Let’s take a look shall we?

Good cut line.

Bad cut line.

See you tomorrow.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

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1281 posts in 1670 days

#7 posted 01-27-2014 02:39 AM

Still following.

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

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3111 posts in 2930 days

#8 posted 01-27-2014 04:19 AM

I am going to save all these blogs Mark.
These are a treasure.


-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

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1650 posts in 2269 days

#9 posted 01-27-2014 04:46 PM

The text is easy to follow when accompanied by all the photos and visual aids. So far so good.
My right brain is humming happily, while my left brain is more curiously cautious and my mind’s eye, in reallity, sees an image a little more Picasso-esque. :-/

...remembering years ago of my first attempt at dovetailling 4 corners of a box, it fit fairly well till I tried to mate up the forth corner, ...poof, ...Picasso.

...hands on and practice.

Totally enjoying this blog. – Len

-- 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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