So, I upholstered an armchair

January 02, 2015

2014 ended in a mess. Well I felt like it was a mess. Maybe that has just been the story of the whole year anyway. I was shattered, I was exhausted, I hadn't felt that sick in ages, I was over it all. The worse I felt, the worse I looked after myself and then I felt even worse. I feel this is a bit of a vicious cycle when it comes to CFS.
So, with much excitement I began my 19 days of holidays. I don't think I have had this much time off since I was a classroom teacher. I had 19 days and nothing planned. Except a project that had been lingering around for months. A project that I knew would cripple me if I attempted to do it on a weekend. So here is my story of THE ARMCHAIR, my holiday project! 
I am not going to give you a blow by blow description of how to upcycle an armchair. Or the ins and outs of upholstery. Because if you have read any of my blog posts to date, or even the title of this blog, you will have gathered that technique and precision are not strong points of mine. I do things, I make things up and go with the flow. And, still to my surprise, they work out. And even look half decent!!
This lonely sad old chair was a jackpot find one afternoon. Out with the hard rubbish a couple of blocks over. I had finally found it. The chair I had been browsing Gum Tree for. A wingback of sorts armchair. Free! With a daggy brown slip cover and a horrid brown upholstery underneath. A solid base and good foam.
The hardest bit when reupholstering I feel is pulling the whole chair a part phase. A few attempts were made over various weekends to strip back the covers and to see what was left. It is a good idea to save the pieces you pull off to make patterns for the new chair. However, the only bits I really managed to salvage were the fabric for the wings. A good set of pliers, an excellent pair of scissors and Stanley knife, a lot of elbow grease and a whole ton of determination will get you to where you need to be.
The chair frame and fabric awaiting the magic to happen.

Next came the part I was most scared of. Learning to sew piping!

I had found a couple of screws that separated the wings from the chair, and so it was useful to be able to remove the wings completely. Thankfully, I had the old fabric from the wings, and so was able to trace to get a fairly accurate size. Everything was pinned back to front and I was able to pin the piping inside the pieces. I sewed it all using the zipper foot on my sewing machine. It worked surprisingly well. I went back over one or two places where the piping was a bit loose, but apart from that it was actually quite easy.

Piping completed on the wings.
Attaching the fabric back and base came next. The back was reasonably easy. However, a partner in crime would have been helpful to help get the tension correct.
The base also pretty straight forward to staple in place. I would have been a bit more careful with the cuts at the joins as a couple of them reveal a bit of calico. At the corners I generally folded the fabric inside itself to make a neat edge. I also left parts of the base unstapled until I had sorted out the arms.

Base and back done. Wings resting on the arms.
The buttons on the back were tricky. I didn't have a long enough needle and so I tried skewers. I sort of had success. Actually I lie, it was a bit of a higgledy piggledy mess! However, I had put on some black buttons that after discussion with my creative consultant, Bridge (check out her blog-, we decided that colour might be a go. Hence the pink buttons. She also kindly lent me some dolls needles, which were long enough and strong enough to make it through the foam.
The next challenge was the arms. I traced a shape I wanted for the front panels and then stuck on some thin iron-able wadding, I pinned everything backwards included the piping and then set about sewing. Don't forget to do them inside out on the opposite arm to which they will be attached to. If I did it over I would spend some more time making the top gathered parts a bit neater.
I staple gunned them and some wadding in place.
Attaching the wings... the next challenge. Also a challenge that would be best completed with a friend. However, I have had the house to myself this week and so I had to make do with a couple of vice type implements that I had inherited/picked up/borrowed indefinitely from my dad. I drilled the screws back in place.
Finally the back of the back. A nice stapled seam at the top, a  handy bit of tucking into the back of the wings and a firmly stapled base and we are almost there. I stapled a piece of fabric over the mess of the underside and I am done!

My upcycled armchair. So comfy!!!
So comfy! I have spent parts of today in it reading. All it needs now is a foot stool...
Holiday project no 2 coming up soon!!

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  1. I think you are amazing to push yourself to make things. Reupholstery is a big undertaking! I did a whole lounge a long time prior to my CFS. Congratulations on a great job.



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