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Thread: Upholstery Redo

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    The Gorge Area, Oregon
    Posts
    4,698

    Upholstery Redo

    Re-upholstered the Bargain Bin chair I rebuilt for lomls sewing room. The chair was all wobbly woo and had a horrible old cracked vinyl seat cover. Pulled it all apart, cleaned it up, glued it back together and put a couple coats of shellac on the wood. And.. there is sat for ~6 months. Finally got around to putting some upholstery back on the seat. We used bats of short wool for the stuffing (loml was carding fleeces and the trimmings and other short bits that were no good for spinning found a use here) and some upholstery leather I got onsale (bargain bin at theleatherguy.org) for the covering. I have enough leather left over for about 15 more chairs this size

    Tools of the trade top to bottom: tack hammer, nail puller/straightener and upholstery stretcher.
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    The seat. Yeah I know there are a couple of lumps in the front.. sigh. They really show up in a picture and actually aren't all THAT bad If I did it again I think I'd felt the top and bottom layers of the stuffing and then whip stitch them around some loose infill. Also how you fluff/lay the stuffing really matters as far as evenness . Live and learn, still works fine but improvement could be had. I'd probably pull it apart and redo but.. I already did that once because the stuffing had pulled back from the front when I stretched the cover (another vote for felting plus infill stitched for consistency) and I'm not sure how many re-tacking this old wood will take before I have to rebuild the whole seat assembly. We'll leave it for now
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    Finished chair.
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    Disclaimers: no I didn't make the chair just saved it from the trash heap, and I'm far from anything resembling a professional (or even really fully competent) upholster. I've done a few other similar seats with foam filling, this is my first with natural fiber. Overall I think I prefer the wool to foam for working with based on a sample size of one

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Delton, Michigan
    Posts
    17,471
    how does that tool stretch the upholstery ryan?
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    The Gorge Area, Oregon
    Posts
    4,698
    Bad picture on my part, I should have moved them to a different angle

    They are actually these ones:
    http://www.leevalley.com/US/wood/page.aspx?p=57630
    Basically you grab the fabric/leather with the wide jaws and the "hammer" like piece is used to lever the covering tight. Because of the angles once its stretched simply pushing down on the upper handle holds it all tight and in place.

    Similar to the same idea for webbing stretchers but they penetrate the material instead of just grabbing it so they're less desirable for leather .
    http://www.leevalley.com/US/wood/page.aspx?p=57629

    When putting on the covering I tack down the center of one end (between 3-5 tacks to establish a line), then stretch to the center on the opposing end. I then hand stretch the center of one side (over stretching here can misalign the leather/fabric) and tack and then plier stretch to the opposing side. If that all looks good (except of course the wrinkles heading towards the corners those are expected) I work out from the end centers to the corner alternating sides and then do the same for the sides. Once the sides and ends are done I trim the leather/fabric to the "right" size (or close enough ).. Finally I pull the corner over and taunt and tack it down (if you fold it correctly it turns out that you don't need to/want to trim it much) using three tacks (first in the middle and then one on each side). Now I don't know if that's how the pros do it since I've never watched one in practice (besides a couple of youtube videos of questionable veracity), but I get a nice clean covering so good enough.

    I've also used this plier type stretcher to stretch webbing ok. I don't have/have never used the webbing stretcher style but I can see how they might work better to get webbing tight as you don't have to worry about getting as good of a grip and webbing is often thicker/slipperier so in my experience the pliers don't grip as well on webbing as they do with fabric/leather.

    Also if you look close at the hammer you might notice a small silvery thing on the head by the handle. That's a hard drive magnet (high strength neodymium magnet salvaged from an old hard drive) stuck on there. Gives just enough power to pickup a tack with the hammer. That way I can stretch the covering with one hand and pickup tacks with the hammer, "whap" to get them started then finish driving them home. Credit due where it belongs; I actually stole the idea from here (http://www.leevalley.com/US/wood/page.aspx?p=57628), but I think I paid $5 for this hammer in the hardware store discount bin and the magnet was free
    http://www.leevalley.com/US/wood/page.aspx?p=57628

    The leevalley hammer has flatter heads and better curves though so if you don't have one its probably worth the price (I had gotten mine a number of years ago so haven't felt compelled to upgrade given the small amount of work I do - and the hammer certainly isn't the limiting factor in the quality of my work).

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Delton, Michigan
    Posts
    17,471
    thanks for a great explanation on the process ryan
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Amherst, New Hampshire
    Posts
    10,604
    The chair looks great

    I've never reupholstered before and have 6 dining room chairs to re-do. My wife has put this job on my short list Thanks for the tips
    Faith, Hope & Charity

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