Sunday, September 13, 2009

First post, or recovering our dining room chairs

So I realize that the title of this blog promises refinishing of furniture, but as I am in the very beginning stages of trying in vain to refinish some bedside tables we have, I decided to begin with a project I actually completed successfully. That is, I single-handedly...okay Jarrod helped me screw the last chair in...changed the seat covers on our chairs Saturday afternoon.

Here is what the chairs looked like before. Not ugly but not really very exciting or inviting either. So, armed with a flat-head screwdriver, pliers and a manual staple gun, I began the task of recovering the chairs. It helped to have background noise in the background for most of this, as it does get pretty repetitive. In my case, I was watching the Notre Dame-Michigan game. I found the brown paisley fabric on sale at Hancock Fabrics for a steal. It was a two yard remnant, perfect for what I wanted to do with it!

First, you must remove the screws and seats from the base. Set aside the will need them later. Next, remove the staples with a screwdriver or pliers, depending on how difficult they are to remove. For the most part, screwdrivers are sufficient. Do not discard the fabric once it has been removed, as this will serve as a tracing template for the new fabric. You will end up with a bowl of staples, old fabric and seat cushions that look something like this:

I must admit, it was interesting to discover the color of the cushions beneath the navy blue fabric! One had a big stain on it--I can see why they covered them up!

Next you lay out your fabric on a flat surface to determine what you would like to be the center of the seat. It looks better if you are able to keep the pattern consistent throughout all of the chairs. I decided that the larger paisley in the pattern would be the center for each chair. Next, trace the outline with a pencil. I gave myself some extra wiggle room for each piece, in case my measurements were off. Cut and you are ready to reupholster.

I will warn you, however: I bruised my palm and wore down the skin on my index finger from the next part! First lay the pattern on top of the cushion, adjusting it as necessary to center it completely. Next, carefully flip it over and begin the process. At first, you must take care to pull and staple on opposite sides. Leave the corners loose until you get a bit further in the stapling. Once you tackle the corners, you will do many little folds and tucks, similar to wrapping a present, although there will be more folds than you would normally use for a present. The main idea here is that you end up with a smooth and rounded corner edge. I also flipped the cushion over occasionally to ensure that the edges weren't lumpy and uneven. The beauty of this project is that if you find that one corner looks off, it is easy to pop out the staples with the screwdriver and start again from scratch!

Lots of pulling, staple-ing and measuring later, you have a finished product that looks something like this:

So there you have it, recovered chairs!