craftiness · decorating / homefront · it's all about me

Adventures into upholstery #1

Being fifty-something means I’ve spent half my life not knowing how to upholster.

I’ve got an upholstery itch I need to scratch.

My planned upholstery course (yes, it’s on my Bucket List) has been cancelled for the second time.

Sad face.

So, I’m grabbing the stapler gun by the horns and teaching myself. (Holy button-back chesterfield!)

What could possibly go wrong?

Don’t answer that. I’m giving it a go anyway.

I present my first project. We bought this chair around a decade ago (that’s at least how long I’ve been procrastinating about upholstery), had it stripped back and re-glued.

Then we stuck it under the house while I went in search of an upholstery course. As you do.

We all know how that turned out.

Fast-forward to last weekend. I dragged it out from its dusty hidey hole and thrust it front and centre into my first adventure in upholstery.

My initial step was to refinish the frame … and what a stunning old oak frame it is. Luckily, Mr P is an expert of sorts in French polishing and he agreed to supervise my first foray into applying a shellac finish.

Lots of sanding, lots of shaking and five coats later, I’d achieved the glossy finish I craved. Too excited to snap pic’s at this stage. Sorry.

Now for the fabric. Keep in mind that we hadn’t kept the springs or webbing or drop-in seat for this one (if there ever was one) … though there were thirty or so salvaged upholstery tacks captured in a tiny plastic bag strung to the chair leg.

I had no idea where to start with the upholstery elements.  So where did I turn? YouTube, of course. (What did we do before YouTube?)

There I found hundreds of DIY upholstery tutorials carefully explaining the ins and outs, the tools, the tips, the tricks of the trade and the traps for young players.

It feels like I’ve already gleaned a bucketload of upholstery wisdom.

I have no intention of turning this blogpost into an upholstery tutorial. That would be presumptuous.

What I am going to do is show you what’s possible with a few hours of curious and furious YouTube viewing.

I learnt how to measure a pattern, cut plyboard, apply batting and even how to use one of those super high-powered staple guns. Turns out we already had one of those in the shed. I’d been too scared to use it (it makes a helluva noise and you’re talking to someone who may or may not have sewn right through her finger with a sewing machine. Twice. You get the picture.)

It was just one of many fears I faced up to on the journey:

  • braving the big box craft mega-store for supplies
  • courageously selecting a fabric that goes with nothing else in our home
  • sharing the man-cave space with Mr P.

There was no looking back.

Here’s the finished result:

I think it turned out not too bad (notice the original upholstery tacks) … for my first late-blooming adventure in upholstery.

I have a loooooong way to go. It’s far from perfect. There are plenty of things I could have done better and differently, but I’ve got my initial journey under my belt and it feels pretty damned good.

I’m already planning my next upholstery adventure; it will take me into entirely new territory (via Air YouTube, of course).

I’m heading into the wild for adventure #2, exploring a more rustic aesthetic.


Don’t worry. I’ll send you a postcard and let you know how it goes.

Wish you were here.

11 thoughts on “Adventures into upholstery #1

  1. Gorgeous! I can’t see any mistakes…but I’m like that with my knitting. Only I know where I messed up. Oh, and you’re not the only one with that particular sewing machine issue. 🙂

  2. Would not have guessed that was your first job at upholstering! I really like the original tacks added on the back. It kept the character. Great job!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s