How to Reupholster a Chair – Today is all about Sewing
Hello, if your following along from my last post you know that I have already assessed what will need to be done, took photo notes, cut the new fabric and pinned it to the existing pieces, refinished the legs, gave the fiber a quick recovering, and made a new cushion insert.
In today’s post, we’re going to start sewing.
Here are all Three Links to the Chair Project Including Today’s Post
Measure the length of the existing piping on the cushion, add a foot and cut your piping cord.
Next, measure two inches along the width of your fabric and cut it into two-inch strips. For my piping I needed two strips, if your fabric is narrow, you may need three. Just cut strips until you have enough fabric to cover the piping.
Place one piece of fabric at a 90-degree angle from the other. One piece good side down, the other good side up.
Sew on the diagonal, trim the excess and iron flat. Continue with another piece if necessary. I only needed two pieces. made into one long strip. I still needed to iron it smooth in this photo.
Take the long strip good size down, place your piping along the middle of your fabric. and using a zipper foot sew along the edge of your piping as close to the piping as possible.
Trim your piping edge so that it’s even and sew along the seam edge to prevent unraveling. Sealing the seam edge is optional but I like to do it because it keeps my work tidy and I find it easier to see what I am doing without the little threads.y
It is finally time to start putting the chair back together. As I finished with one piece of the old material, I put it aside in a plastic bag but held on to it until the chair was finished, so if I needed to I could still refer to it.
Adding Upholstery to the Bottom of the Chair
This chair is more challenging than other chairs I have worked on because it has the cushion sitting on top of the chair base. In this portion, we are working on the chair base only. The pillow portion will be done later.
Using the existing cushion as a pattern and starting at the back corner, work around the chair, creating the four corner seams.
Start by pinning the fabric to the chair where it was originally. Line up using the old seams at the top of the fabric. Make sure the corners fit against one another and that there is enough fabric to fold underneath. Then just plunge lots of pins along the top of the chair to hold the material in place. Once your fabric is secure, start pinning the corner seams.
Fold back and pin the existing fabric back and use the edges of the existing fabric as a guide for where your new fabrics seams should be.
Fold the fabric under and pin the two seams together for sewing, or if you prefer you can hand stitch them together with a dark thread, to mark the seam. Then you sew it on the machine and pull the dark thread out.
It sounds more complicated than it is. The picture shows you what I am referring to.
It’s up to you if you find it easier to pin the first three corners and then sew. Or pin and then sew one at a time. I did mine one at a time so I was certain of the seams before proceeding.
When you get to the last seam, don’t sew it. Leaving it open makes sewing the cushion on easier. You will stitch it by hand at the end.
Once you have the three corners sewn with the bottom piece fit together and attached, leave the fabric on the chair as you will be fitting the bottom of the pillow to it.
Let me tell you the original cushion was a disgusting hot mess.
This picture is with the cushion fabric turned inside out. It shows me a few things.
Where the seams need to be attached to the bottom.
That originally they sewed the whole thing together and then ripped the middle to put the cushion inside.
That this is what unfinished seams look like on upholstery if you don’t finish the seams.
Sewing the Cushion to the Bottom of the Chair
Tear your cushion apart, including the side seams, and the old piping. Once again use the old fabric as a pattern and cut out your new fabric with an inch of seam allowance. Make sure to cut out the corners as well.
As this portion is sewn and not stapled, seal all your fabric edges using a zig-zag stitch.
The next step is to sew the four corners of the cushion.
Place your fabric good side down, cover it with the bottom of the cushion cover, and fold over the corners pinning to make the side seams square.
Fold the two side corner together, remove the old fabric and sew the corner closed as close to the edge as possible. Repeat this for all four corners.
Place your sewn chair bottom on the chair. Line up the four corner seams with the ones on the chair bottom. Pin to hold the pillow bottom in place. You will be turning up the edges.
When we pinned the chair bottom to the chair, we used the seam marks on the original fabric to line up our chair bottom pieces. Now we are going to mark where the original seam was so we can align it with the cushion bottom.
Lift up the existing fabric, and using a quilter’s pencil mark along the seams where the original cushion was sewn to the fabric. Pin everything securely in place and then sew along the quilt pencil marking, attaching the cushion bottom to the chair bottom. I know the original sewing mark isn’t easy to see in the photograph, but it was easy for me to see where the original fabric had been punctured by the needle while sewing.
Sewing the Chair Cushion Together
Using the top of the cushion, cut your material and zig zag seal the edges. Then just like the bottom of the cushion pin and then sew the four corners.
You need to attach the new piping to the new fabric, and as always your original fabric will be your guide.
Place the old fabric on top of the new fabric, then line up the new piping with the old, and pin together. It’s much more important to align the piping than the material edges. If you find the material edges don’t match exactly it doesn’t matter. The seam allowance will cover that, but you want the piping as even and straight as possible. Work all the way around your cushion top.
As you originally cut your piping a foot longer than your measurement, you can trim any excess you have now. You want to have about 3″ extra at the end of the piping. You can also see how the old fabric will show you where to place your buttons once put back together.
Line up the top cushion and the bottom cushion starting with the front corners. Sew starting at the front of your cushion. Once that is done and you like it. Then go ahead and do both sides, one at a time. Do not sew the back of the cushion. Once the cushion is back on the chair, we will place the insert inside the cushion cover and then close the back.
The machine sewing part of the tutorial is finished.
I will post the final part of the tutorial on Friday. Everything is ready now, all you need to do is attach the fabric back on to the chair frame, and make final touches.
I am very hopeful that the step by step tutorial is not only helpful but encouraging.
I would love you to comment and let me know if you would tackle this project now that you have seen it in tiny steps.