Home » crafting » projects » I ♥ reupholstery class: layers upon layers

I ♥ reupholstery class: layers upon layers

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I’m getting closer! By the end of this post, there is actually real fabric on my chair! Well… just the top side of the seat though… but it’s a start. In the picture above from the previous post I had gotten as far as covering the wood-wool seat cushion with another burlap-like fabric.

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Here my teacher is showing how to stuff the sides of the chair seat with wood-wool, to help create shape and stability. The fabric on the sides gets stapled to the wool, while the front gets folded and sewn in place.

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Next comes the step that makes the seat look all fancy and professional! There are three rounds of a sort of blanket-stitch, which define the edges into those sausage-looking rolls, and keeps the seat from sagging and sliding sidewards. All this work with sewing with twine through tough materials is absolute murder on your hands! I was getting cuts and rugburns on my fingers from pulling on the twine to get it all taut enough.

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Look, look! It’s a chair! It is really exciting to get to this point, since you’re really seeing the end product being just a few steps away. The greyish mass is wool shoddy, which basically is shredded wool. There are companies that are sent discarded clothes and fabric, who produce this stuff. It makes a lot of dust. Next time I do this I think I might use a mask for this step, since you have to tear and fluff the shoddy before putting it down. Lots of dust.

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Distributing the wool shoddy to create a smooth and even surface is *hard*. I think it’s the most frustrating part of the entire process! The only other thing going over this muslin fabric is the final fabric itself, so any flaws and bumps and dips at this stage, will most certainly still be there with just a thin layer of fabric on top. I think I spent two whole course nights filling and rearranging the shoddy before sewing and stapling the muslin in place. It’s a test of patience, but at the same time you really want to make sure you do this step well!

In the top picture there is a hide of leather being cut – one of my coursemates is recovering his rocking chair with leather, and it’s looking really good. In the bottom picture, to the left, a dining room chair is being recovered. It will have a textured grey fabric for the seat and back, but with a contrasting striped fabric for the outside back of the chair. She has also sanded and re-lacquered the woodwork, so these chairs are looking all modern and in good shape again.

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I haven’t shown my fabric before, but here it is! It’s a tweedy and subtle plaid wool blend fabric. In the fabric store I kept gravitating towards the wool-type fabrics and a vision of a British country home library setting. So I went with it. The fabric is soft and just a little hazy, and I really like that there is a subtle pattern to the fabric so it’s not to plain. The seat cover is sewn to the layers underneath with a simple running stitch, with a small inverted pleat tacked in place at the front corners.

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The bottom fabric is just pinned in place here, but that’s the next step – to staple down the side fabric to the wood, and sew the bottom to the top. Here I’ve also (finally!) stripped the old red fabric from the chair back, so I can start working on that. Initially I was keeping the old wool shoddy that is in ok shape – it’s not pushed down too much – but it’s actually quite sticky and gross to the touch, so out it goes. That means I’m keeping all the burlap layers and wood-wool and springs underneath, but they’re not as icky. I’m excited to get the last of the seat fabric in place and nail in some decorative nails – it’ll look nearly done! If you don’t look at the seat back of course. But that’s next!

  • What an interesting process, thanks for sharing! Your chair is looking amazing already, can’t wait to see the finished product!

    • indigorchid

      Thank you Emily! I am enjoying the process so much!

  • Cool, thanks for the in-progress photos!

    • indigorchid

      My pleasure! I like seeing progress pictures myself, and not least it might be helpful next time I work on a chair – or someone else!