Blue and white stripe chair-1Today I am going to share with you the behind the scenes of the Ticking Chair Makeover aka the Oma Chair. I am not an expert, this is is truly the first upholstery project I have completed. In some ways it shows, and in others I am surprisingly pleased with how it turned out. The key for this project I think was using a staple gun with a compressor- no hand tools. I have attempted other chairs using hand tools- eventually I would get frustrated because the staples didn’t end up where they should, my hand would get sore and in the end I didn’t finish. I am thinking about investing in a proper sized staple gun intended for upholstery- but I was able to make do with what we have for this project. OMA Chair Before-1Button Tufting, white and navy striped chair-4 You can see the before and after, now let’s talk about the process! It started with assessing the finish of the wood. It was quite beat up. I also decided to change the way the upholstery finished. You may notice that originally it wrapped all the way around the seat frame on the sides and back- but I really like the rough wood underneath and decided to leave it exposed. Removing the original fabric admittedly was much more tedious then I would have liked. There were SO many staples. To remove them I used needle nosed pliers and my favorite tool for getting under staple heads- the edge of a utility knife.
Oma Chair Makeover-2Oma Chair Makeover-3Oma Chair Makeover-5Oma Chair Makeover-6Once I removed the fabric, I could see that the foam and batting was in pretty good shape. I had to do a bit of surgery to the wobbly leg with screws and wood glue. Once it had dried I brushed the frame in 2 coats of leftover simply white, then lightly distressed it with a sanding sponge. I know why I don’t have any pictures of that part- I was too excited to start upholstering once the paint dried! Oma Chair Makeover-7

Originally I didn’t think I would be able to duplicate the button tufting, but I kind of lucked out! They weren’t true buttons- they had little metal ends- so I carefully popped them all out and then hot glued my new fabric right over top. They aren’t perfect, but once they were on the chair you couldn’t see that backs, so it worked out wonderfully!Oma Chair Makeover-8Oma Chair Makeover-13Oma Chair Makeover-16I draped my fabric over the chair, and started with the button tufts. My pleats aren’t uniform, but the lines are more or less straight. As much as possible I tried to line up the lines on the buttons with the fabric. Let’s just say I got more then a little giddy at this point.Oma Chair Makeover-10Oma Chair Makeover-11Oma Chair Makeover-12I would poke the fabric into the hole with my finger, then pop the buttons through. I continued in this fashion until I liked the look- being sure to keep my lines as straight as possible! It made sense to me to start in the middle and work my way up, down and out!Oma Chair Makeover-10Oma Chair Makeover-20I would guide the pleats to fold downwards as much as I could. Initially I though I wood do less button tufts, but as I kept going  I quite liked the look! In the end I didn’t do the very bottom row that was originally on the chair.Oma Chair Makeover-15While I didn’t use the old upholstery as a pattern, I did use it as a reference of how to layer my pieces. I would pull and staple- I started at the edge and tried to go opposite side to side- if that makes sense? So that I would pull the fabric tight across a single plane and staple each side. Once I got to the seat bottom I trimmed the fabric then folded the raw edge under before I stapled it in place.

I did made a mistake which I was able to fix. In the photo below you can see that I mixed up the order of the pieces to cover where the arms are. I was able to tuck the 2 small fabric panels under and fix it. phew!Oma Chair Makeover-19Here is the back all trimmed and ready to be closed up. This was scary! I had issues with finding something to staple to for the seat front… so I wasn’t really pleased with the bunching. I tried pulling it out and redoing it… and I just couldn’t seem to get it to lay properly. Oh well! It’s not my ideal, but hopefully I will have better luck next time! Once I closed the back it meant I was committing to my upholstery work!Oma Chair Makeover-23The one piece I did save to use as a pattern was the back panel. Oma Chair Makeover-21Oma Chair Makeover-22I was also able to reuse the cardboard and batting. I tipped the chair on it’s side so that I didn’t have to work against gravity. I would fold the edge under the batting and just went nuts with staples! Working from the top around… pulling the fabric tight and stapling! Yes I did this project in my bedroom {so I could close the door and the baby wouldn’t get into anything!} And Yes I propped the chair against a basket of clean laundry.Oma Chair Makeover-24Oma Chair Makeover-25You might remember this post about Gimp Trim. It is amazing what covering up all the staples will do. It instantly started to pull this chair together giving it the finished look it needed! Plus, the trim was 50% off the day I went to the fabric store #winning

You may notice a green lighter sitting on the chair- I melted all of the ends of the gimp so they wouldn’t fray, folded them under and kept them in place with a dab of glue. I simply hot glued the trim too the chair.Oma Chair Makeover-18Oma Chair Makeover-17For the little arm patches I decided to switch the direction of the fabric. It would be more visually appealing to run the lines that way, because they had to curve slightly around the arm. I cut a rectangle, stapled it in place then trimmed the excess with sharp scissors after it was attached.Arm detail, gimp trim-1Oma Chair Makeover-4Chair Back, Gimp Trim 2-1Button Tufting, white and navy striped chair-3And that is how I reupholstered my first chair! I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed it, and have since been scouring Kijiji for more chairs. The transformation is so rewarding. In this project the only thing I had to buy was staples and gimp trim. Not bad! It was pretty easy to tackle knowing I was working on a free chair using free fabric. {Even though I loved the fabric and didn’t want it to go to waste!} I hope this encourages you to look at furniture pieces for their potential and not just what they are. I’d love to see photos if you decide to tackle a chair. 🙂 I hope this was helpful in showing you what it all entails. Because I worked on this during nap times- it took me around 4-5 days to complete. Nap times usually gave me a maximum of 1.5 hrs to work- so I would think it took about 6-8 hrs to complete from start to finish, including stripping old fabric and painting!

-Miss Ash

fff fix button

10 thoughts on “The Reupholstery Process: A Beginner’s How to Guide”

  1. Beautiful. Your story is encouraging me to start an upholstery project of my own. A sample sofa my grandfather had reupholstered for me as a little girl, I recently found it in his home, he had started to reupholster for my girls. I need to finish it before they are too big to enjoy it.

  2. I bow down to all those who can re-upholster. 🙂 It’s not my strong suit, but I feel like now that I’ve seen your tutorial, I might want to take a stab at it! I’m sharing this project at Friday’s Furniture Fix tomorrow night. I hope you’ll join us again really soon!… Have a great week! Carrie, Thirty Eighth Street

  3. What a great tutorial! I really want to try this but always felt it would be way to hard. Your post makes me feel like I could attempt it now! Great job!

  4. I have had two chairs in this style for some years,but was afraid to reupholster,not knowing how. Thank you for showing us that it’s not the complicated ordeal we feared it would be! Not everybody can afford a professional company to do it for us. Mistakes can be corrected and our favorite pieces can be saved and enjoyed. If you could do that so beautifully for the first time,we can find confidence to get it done,too! Thank you very much for saving my chairs.

  5. It’s a great tutorial! Amazing transformation . Any idea how much time you put into the effort? Realize it’s your first, but good for any of us that attempt to do this for first time. Lol, I still have a beautiful metal chair I spent hours sanding, and still need to put on the gold leaf finish and finish actually stabling the material to the seat! Also, did you sand the wood before painting? And did you do primer before putting on white paint? Thanks again for great step by step.

    1. Hi Ingrid- thank you for your kind words. Sorry to say I don’t remember how long this took me. I did not prime the wood prior to painting- as I was planning on a distressed look. Hope you find the motivation to finish up your chair project- I am sure you will enjoy it when it’s complete. I have completed additional upholstered chairs since this one, and it does seem to get easier the more you do it.

      1. Thanks for letting me know. Sounds like priming might make sense if not seeking distressed, otherwise fine to just paint. I really do want to finish…hopefully after I get all the garden and containers done outside!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *