Sunday, April 17, 2011

Vintage Blossom Wingback Chair

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Last month I became obsessed with finding a nice upholstered chair to put in my new home. Long story short... I couldn't find one I loved within my price range, so I decided to rescue a junkyard wingback chair and reupholster it myself. I must confess, if I had fully realized all the time, blisters and expense that goes into reupholstering, I would not have taken on such a huge project. That being said, I'm glad I did it and I love, love, LOVE my new chair.

Here is the chair I rescued. It was once owned by a old granny and her many cats. My husband is allergic to cats, which meant I had to strip this chair down to its bare wooden frame and replace all the foam and batting as well. Take note, new foam doubled the cost of this project. So, if you decide to rescue your own chair, it would be a bonus if the foam was still in good shape.

Believe it or not, taking apart the chair is the most tedious, dirtiest, time-consuming part of reupholstering. You will most definitely ruin your manicure, and will potentially need to get a tetanus booster shot in the process (you may want to figure that into the cost). Using a flat-head screwdriver and needlenose pliers, you have to pull out thousands of staples, removing your fabric pieces layer by layer. I wish I would have timed this part, but I'd estimate it took me about 15 hours to get the chair down to its frame:

Molly,the creative maven, gives an excellent tutorial that compares the chair pieces to layers of an onion. It's important to take notes on the order of your layers. She recommends numbering each piece as you remove it so you'll remember how to put it back together. And keep your old yucky pieces intact, so you can use them as your pattern. Here is my pile of pieces:

I fell in love with the dove fabric on Crate and Barrel's Carly Chair shown here:

This particular fabric is called Vintage Blossom, and was designed by Dwell Studio for Robert Allen Home Fabric. Although I loved the gray used in Crate and Barrel's chair, I decided to go with the jade because I think it'll survive the wrath of my children better.

Since I am no expert on reupholstering, I'm not going to make this a full tutorial. However, let me steer you to some excellent tutorials that helped me:

How to Reupholster a Wingback Chair by the creative maven

Back of Chair Video by diyupholsterysupply

Curve Ease Video by diyupholsterysupply

Foam Video by diyupholsterysupply

Cording Tutorial by Autum


Additional notes that you may find helpful:

Fabric: I used 6.5 yards of home decor fabric (fyi, fabric.com carries Dwell Studio home fabric)

Batting: 6 yards of 8 oz poly batting (about 1 inch thick)

Cording: 12 yards

Metal Tack Strips: 3 (1 cut to size for the outside of arm sides, 2 for back of chair)

Cardboard Tack Strip: 3 yards

Curve Ease: 4 feet (for outside of wings)

Staples: a lot, a lot, a lot

Medium or High Density Foam: 1 3/4 yard of 4-inch thick foam (24 inch wide) and 2 yards of 1-inch thick foam (24 inches wide)

Paint for the chair legs: Valspar high gloss latex enamel paint (Black)

If you're smarter than me, you would have found a chair with the foam intact and this would be your starting point (not to mention, saving yourself $100). OH! and springs... make sure none of the springs are broken. Bad springs or bad foam... just walk away. This picture also shows the new seat bottom and front. I cushioned the front with 1" foam and a layer of batting before putting on the front piece as shown. The seat cover sits directly on the springs and is composed of a layer of wool felt, a layer of batting, and the gray wool you see on top. Why did I use wool? Because that's what I happened to have in my fabric stash. Muslin would work equally as well.

*Note: The inside wings, inside arm and bottom front got 1" foam and the chair back and seat cushion got 4" foam.

Even if your foam is good, I recommend replacing your batting. The batting will add about $25 to your costs, but it gives your foam a nicer finished look and adds a flattering loft to your chair. At this stage, I put the batting everywhere except the back. Do not staple the batting on the outside arm piece to the bottom of your chair yet.

Here is my seat cushion, layered with batting on each side. Have you ever tried cutting 4-inch foam? Do yourself a favor and use an electric knife (yes, the one you use to carve the Thanksgiving Turkey).

After layering the batting on each side, I wrapped my cushion with another layer of batting. There is a special adhesive that you can use to apply the batting to the foam, but since this is my first and last reupholstering project, I decided to save the $10 and do a quick hand-stitching along the edges. Voila:

Next I prepped my cording using this fantastic tutorial. I almost had an aneurysm trying to wrap my brain around this concept, but once I figured it out, it changed my life forever. It takes the tediousness out of making bias tape and I'm very excited about that. Please refer to the same tutorial for guidance on making your seat cushion cover.

Each chair is a little different, but on my chair, the inside wing piece was sewed to the inside arm piece. The original chair covered the front of the arm as a separate piece, which was nailed in place. I opted to sew my arm front to my inside arm piece beforehand because I liked the look of it better. Use your old pieces as a pattern (you'll have to seam rip them apart first in this case). Once you have your new inside arm/wing pieces sewn together, center the arm/wing seam (mine has cording there) and start attaching from that point.

If you look at the wooden frame picture above, then you'll notice openings at the back, bottom and sides of the frame. This is where everything slides through. Tuck your excess fabric through those openings and those will be pulled taut and stapled last. First do the inside arm/wing sides and next do the chair back.

See all the excess fabric hanging out the back and side? Pull the heck out of it and staple them in place after you've stapled around everywhere else as shown.

After you've stapled the fabric to the back, bottom and sides of the frame, feel free to trim away the excess.

Next I stapled on my cording in one continuous strip along the sides and back.

And more cording along the front:

Next, watch this Curve Ease tutorial and use this technique to put on the outside wings. Staple your curve ease snug against your cording. I applied more batting as shown in the video (so my outside wings had double batting), crimped the curve ease along the wing, then stapled the sides to the back of the chair taut.

I didn't take a picture of applying the outside arm piece because at this point I could see the light at the end of the tunnel and I was too dang excited to take pictures. I used cardboard tack strip along the top of the outside arm (snug against the underarm rest). Then watch this video and use the same principle to apply a metal tack strip to the front arm side and staple along bottom and chair back. I had to cut my metal tack strip to size for this part.

Refer to the same video to put on your chair back. Turn your chair upside down and staple on a dust cover (really, you can use any fabric for this... muslin would work fine).

And there you have it... my total cost of reupholstering this wingback chair was about $225, plus 25 hours of hard labor (my poor blistered hands... it's a miracle they're not marred by staple holes). If I were to take this in to be professionally done, it would have cost at least $400 PLUS cost of fabric ($100) so $500 total. Before taking on this project, I would have thought that price was ridiculously high. Now it seems a bit low. Kudos to professional upholsterers.

81 comments:

A-me said...

w
o
w.

What a project!? It turned out brilliant!! Love the fabric and the finished product. Gorgeous.

Rachel said...

And kudos to you! It looks GORGEOUS! Hopefully your fingers heal quickly.

Reverse Clothing said...

That is amazing! You are a woman of many talens. Thanks for the info too. I may want to try that someday.

Philip, Melissa, & Summer said...

You never cease to amaze me Jodi. It looks fabulous.

Guy and Kat said...

Beautiful Chair! I love it! I felt the same way about a chair i did last year... love the result... not looking to do it again any time soon! I was so grossed out after stripping it down, I had to just walk away and let it sit for 2 months before moving on!

Great job - it is beautiful! We miss you guys!

Kat

Angie said...

This looks absolutely beautiful! I just purcahsed a wing back chair from craigslist for $50.00. I called many upholstery places and they are charging $750.00 + fabric. That's NYC for you. I will be doing it myself. Thank you so much for the tutorial and the links!

L said...

great job! I love this chair too. Its a vintage best of british pedigree Parker Knoll Penshurst Wingback. I'm looking for exactly the same chairs to attempt to reupholster also. May have to leave to the professionals though!

Pamela said...

I LOOOOOOOOOOVE this! Good job! How are you doing?!?

Fenja said...

OMG this is so great! You did such a great job, I really like that chair. Unfortunately I don't have one like this to remake but I'm not quite sure if I would even dare to try it. If I happen to find one on the next fleemarkets I will remember your tutorial!

Ashley said...

Found your site through Stumbleupon. Amazing job! This is something that I would've paid top dollar for.

Sandra said...

WOW! I just bought two wingback chairs and want to attempt to reupholster...thanks for posting this info - I REALLY need it!!

Nat said...

Just bought 3 wing back chairs with a view to reupholstering. Thank you for the hands up on the difficulties - your chair looks amazing and I only hope my 3 look half as good when I've finished with them!

Anonymous said...

you did a great job! & I like how you linked other tutorials, it really helps! I just bought 2 wingbacks that need some love....so here I go!

Stephanie of Gumdrop Pass said...

WOWZA.

What an AWESOME job you did. I have to THANK YOU so much because you TOOK PICTURES of your steps!

I've been wanting to reupholster a couch/loveseat combo that has seen better days, but I had so much trouble finding tutorials with pictures. So for that, you are AWESOME.

I really love the job you did, too! I'm terrified to tackle this project, and it will probably still be awhile before I do it, but I feel better knowing I have found a great example to follow :)

Marta said...

That is A-MAY-ZING!
I bought my chair to reupholster, but am scared to death of doing it. This gives me a lot to go on. Thanks!

Sparky14 said...

We bought two wingback chairs as a project just before Christmas, seeing your project and great links is a great confidence boost !

Many thanks ...

And I just LOVE that material !!!

Lyn said...

A fabulous job! The chair looks fantastic. I love that fabric - nice choice! I'm always on the hunt for a nice chair to try this type of project.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful, awesome job! Your chair looks great. I have upholstered some, but nothing like this. You have inspired me. (I tend to be a bit of an amateur editor, things jump out at me, and noticed that you used "taunt" where it should read "taut". To taunt is "To reproach in a mocking, insulting, or contemptuous manner." according to freedictionary.com.) Just thought you might want to know, because I would. Keep up the good work!

Jodell said...

@ Anonymous - Thanks! Just fixed it :)

One bolt short of a toolbox said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE it! i'm just about to do a chair and came across your website!

Thanks!!

door251.blogspot.com

clover18 said...

Thanks a lot! My friend is wanting to do a similar jo on a chair at her house. This really helped me have an idea of what to do (and what we are signing ourselves up for.) Love your blog btw.
Desirae

Mary said...

Great job. I have been browsing Craigslist for an appropriate chair for my bedroom. We already have several wing chairs, so I am looking for something a little more modern, but I love the fabric you used. This has helped me understand the scope of the project in time and expense. I just want to make sure I get a well built chair that justifies the effort.

Redelman Fabrics said...

Love your choice in fabric! Looks a treat!!

That is some hard work reupholstering.. sheesh...

Unknown said...

Wonderful Job! & thank you for the inspiration. I have a chair that belonged to my grandfather that is horribly in need of a make-over. Way to comfortable to throw away, to expensive (at this point in my life) to have a professional fix. Have had a blanket hiding the worst of it. That is going to Change!!!

Cindi @ Rustique Art said...

Now I'm inspired to try this. You've done a wonderful job with the chair and the tutorial. I'm excited to go back and visit all of the helpful links you added for referencing.

I have hope that can do this now, thanks to this post!

Anonymous said...

Instead of pliers and a screwdriver, spend the $5 for a real tack and staple puller.

Saves time, manicure, and sanity.

Anonymous said...

I work as an upholsterer, and notice a few things that could have been simplified.

Anyways, thank you for the shout out to the professionals. Most people don't understand how much work goes into this.

Fran Rossano said...

I have done quite a bit of reupholstering. I finally couldn't face any more-LOL! Also, I made a promise to myself to NEVER complain about the price of reupholstering anything again. Not to say I wouldn't tackle a very small simple task-like the seats of dining room chairs-but my days of pleated backs and tufting, and as you pointed out-removing a bazillion tacks and staples-well that is a thing of the past!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your tutorial. You did a beautiful job. As the wife of a professional upholster, I applaud your 'cudos' to the professionals at the end of your story. This is not an easy DIY project. More often than not, my husband gets a call from a well intentioned DIY'er who is in way over their head asking for him to take over and fix their mistakes. To re-upholster a quality, or antique piece is a great investment but most often best left to professional.

Patti G. said...

Saw this on Pinterest, it is absolutely and completely fantastic!!!!!!!!!! Great job!
:Patti

vintage57 said...

I do this day in day out....you want to see my hands.......well done

Susan Kaveny said...

Here are a couple of tips to speed up this job by 1/2. First of all, not all of the old upholstery has to come off unless:
1. There are several layers of it or
2. They used way too many staples or tacks to attach it or
3. It is dirty or smelly.
Take a box knife to the welting and take it off.
Wrap the area with thin batting (quilt, not comforter batting) and attach it down with spray adhesive. Use spray adhesive from a good store. The discount store stuff can be formulated different, though in the same can.
Do the inside arms first and just upholster right over all this. Then add in the outside arms.
On the inside back, you will have to loosen the fabric where it attaches to the frame on the sides, but can just cut it loose. Wrap it with the new fabric. Leave plenty at the top of the arm for folding to hide any imperfections there. Add the new outside back panel.
The technique for the seat base is about the same as the inside back.

Anonymous said...

I found a chair on the curb by my house. I was so excited to have a FREE chair. I took it home and decided to reupholster it. My free chair cost me almost $150.

Alexandra @ In Designer Jeans said...

THat turned out great! Thank you for all of your pictures! I have an antique tufted love seat that was a steal on craigslist BUT it needs to be completely reupholstered with new foam and everything. Quotes to have it done were anywhere between $800-$1500. Its a small love seat - i think i am going to tackle it myself!

Ashley said...

Oh my gosh - I discovered this fabric today and thought it would be perfect for a wingback chair I need to reupholster. Apparently I was right! I love this piece.

jill said...

Just found your suite tonight, wish I had seen it bach in March. Had a chair that looked a lot like the one you have and HATED the hunter green filthy dirty upholstery. Found the perfect fabric for the re-do of my living room for the bonus price of $2.50a yard!! You are right about the pulling the old staples out being the worse part. I took notes and photos with each step since I was totally winging the entire process. Fortunatly the foam was in good shape and I happen to have some batting left from another project and I decided to not use the cording to give the chair a more contempoary feel. After about 40 hours worth of work (because of my trial and error method) I ended up with a beautiful new chair for about $25. worth of materials.

Silvia 66 said...

Complimenti per l'idea adoro il riciclo, parola d'ordine non buttare nulla. Un saluto e grazie per il passo passo

Enggar Kusuma Hapsari said...

wow amazing, absolutely i would try it. thanks

Anonymous said...

i shopped the bargain bin at my fabric store and scored my fabric to reupholster my chair for $16. I did the whole chair in about 4 hours! its easy once you get the hang of it (& you can amaze people when you tell them it was a DIY!)

C-K said...

Your chair turned out beautifully. You did a wonderful job. I absolutely love the material and pattern you chose. I wish I had your talent. Great Job!

Courtney Courville said...

Wow!! Fantastic job! I actually just got rid of an outdated wing-back that was my grandmother's because I didn't want to pay for the cost of reupholstering it. Now I want it back!!! The fabric is so beautiful and you did a fantastic job! Kudos! Are you for hire?? ;-)

Anonymous said...

Yours looks flippin' awesome. I had the same good intentions, but after getting the billions of old staples out and stripping it back, all inspiration had left me. So it's gone into the garage until I have more time to muster the creative will... Your links looks really helpful. Thanks.

MarLeigh said...

I have a simple chair (not a wing back) that my boxer used to teeth on. :"( I love western decor and have several catalogs of very expensive furniture shown in them. I have several great "western" fabrics that a friend gave me. I am planning on using a mixture of fabrics much like those pictured in the high dollar magazines! Thanks for the tutorial! May just have to take pictures of my $10 auction chair and free fabrics to show off as well! : ) thanks!

Karen Boland said...

Wow. You did an amazing job.

Anonymous said...

I love your work. Thank you for sharing. I have two of these in a very bad condition and now I know that doing them myself is not so overwhelming! Thanks again.
Mel

Roxanne said...

Okay you have inspired me.. I have a double recliner, love seat, and no one will recover it because of the "working" of the chair... so we are going to do it ourselves.. thank you and ........... wonderful job!!!!!! be proud...

Emily R. said...

I know this post is from forever ago, but I was doing some quick research on reupholstering a wingback chair and came upon your entry. HOLY MOLY does that chair look awesome! I love the fabric choice, and you did an amazing job on it. Thanks for the inspiration (even if I end up asking a pro to do it for me)! ;)

Vp Ahmed said...

Wonderful lady, you are highly encouraging.

Anonymous said...

Great work!

Anonymous said...

OK WOW! I have re-upholstered before before -even a large sofa -but even though I have thought many times of doing a wingback chair I knew how hard it would be and wasn't confident it would turn out! Congrats -it looks AMAZING.
Thanks for sharing,
Julie
p.s. I have a blog too: julieloveshome.wordpress.com

Anonymous said...

Love your completed chair! Thank you for posting pictures and step by step instructions. I have a similar old chair I hope to cover but can see it will take time and patience!! Your instructions will be a great help

Jenni said...

You did a wonderful job, I feel I could manage myself after reading your steps. Thankyou. Love the fabric.
Jenni

Anonymous said...

You did an amazing job! But, after reading your tutorial, I have decided NOT to reupholster my grandmother's chair DIY. I would rather pay the $250 over and above what it cost you, and not have to go through all of that! Really nice to have some idea of what all goes into this project though - I'll feel more prepared when I hire a reupholsterer. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

what kind of staple gun did you use, and where did you find it?

Jodell said...

@ Anonymous - For the staple gun, I used just a manual heavy duty staple gun (the silver Stanley one)... My palms hurt and had blisters from using it for such a big project. An air staple gun would be the best, but they're expensive. I've since purchased an electric staple gun for $30 from Home Depot... while it's no where near as powerful as an air gun, it's a step up from the manual stapler. Some of my staples wouldn't go in deep, so I had to either pull them out and redo them, or hammer them in the rest of the way. I hope this helps! Best of luck on your project!

igo said...

You did a beautiful job! And you will be glad to know that I just took my old high-back chair, just like yours (except that it was passed on to me 20 years ago) to a local upholstery shop in the Bronx, NY, and they were willing to do the job for $2,500! Let me tell you: I am going to follow your steps and view all those tutorials!

Sarah said...

Thank you for this awesome tutorial! I bought awful pink twins of this chair off Craigslist for $5 each with the intention of doing this (over a year ago). I saw this on Pinterest and considered it the boost I needed to actually do what I consider to be an intimidating project. Since pinning this two days ago I have done a LOT of research on upholstery and feel confident I could tackle this!

Again, thanks so much for sharing and I LOVE how your chair came out! Great job!

Anonymous said...

Very nice and thorough job on the upholstery! Having done a few projects like this myself, I have found that actually yanking off the old fabric getting a good grip with pliers, allows me to get the old fabric off much faster. There may be some staples left, but most likely you'll at least bring them out from being embedded and can pick them off easily. Personally, I don't even have a problem leaving them in...

Harry Lennard said...

Very nice work. Your detailed explanation is excellent

Foam-By-Mail said...

Spectacular upholstery job. It has no real bearing on anything since foam coloring is pretty arbitrary, but it would give me a little smile sitting on that chair, knowing the foam under the cover matches the exterior fabric too!

Anonymous said...

Thanks! I did my whole chair then gave in and took the seat cushion to professional... Paid $98 but it made a world of difference!

Anonymous said...

Fantastic effort! It looks beautiful. My father is an upholster in San Diego and I agree with the other professional who commented here, that your tip of the hat to professional upholsterers is appreciated. My dad has really low prices and clients still complain about the cost. But you point out the part that most clients fail to see: ITS HARD LABOR TO REUPHOLSTER furniture. Imagine a sofa or love seat or even a car?

TIP: for an ultra detailed look, if you are using a PATTERN or STRIPED fabric, buy an extra yard of fabric so that you are able to "line up" the pattern/stripes on the front portion of the chair with the seat cushion and the front of the chairback. Some clients demand that there is a flawless continuity with the fabric. and make sure the stripes run the same direction.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to follow your blog but I don't do google 'whatever' and I am not a fan of Yahoo.

That having been said, I have a wing back style recliner that the back comes off of.

Being fairly new, I'd love to fix the damage my husband did to the foot part of it but I can't find the fabric so it needs to be a complete re-do. (and I told him every-time to not sit in the chair with his crocs.)

Do you think I could use the same basic rules to do this chair?

Joellen

Jodell said...

@Joellen - I'm not sure how much mechanics goes into the recliner function, so just be sure to take lots of pictures as you "disassemble" to remove your upholstery, so you can put it back together the right way when you reupholster. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Great job...thanks for sharing!

boofsmom said...

I 'inherited' a chair from my mother-in-law. However, before it got to me, she tried to recover it herself, and failed badly (It's now lumpy and quite misshapen). So...I have NO pattern pieces to use, and it's not really a traditional-shaped chair. I have reupholstered before, but always with the old upholstery to guide me. Any ideas or tips for me? THANK YOU!

Jodell said...

@boofsmom - Perhaps you could use some inexpensive muslin to draft your pieces. Remember to cut to allow a lot of extra give... tack each piece temporarily to your chair and trim around. Then remove, and use as your pattern. Also, I would draw arrows on your muslin pattern pieces, in order to help you when cutting your upholstery fabric (this is important if your upholstery print has a directional pattern). Good luck!

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Anonymous said...

You are so brave.!! I've been wanting to redo a small lounge thats been on my porch for years. You must have 'the touch', your chair is beautiful. I hope my urge lasts...lol thanks so much for your post!

Sevgi Ates said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Su said...

Thanks so much for sharing the costs. Where I am it costs $275 plus the cost of material. So I may just go have it done. . .instead of trying to tackle this on my own. I am so proud of your work though. You did a beautiful job! BTW, found you on Pinterest.

Annette Fowler said...

Loved reading your post. Found this on the internet and thought you would like to see it. It's the same fabric isn't it? http://img4.wfrcdn.com/lf/79/hash/2217/6992155/1/Kenly+Exposed+Armchair.jpg

Jodell said...

@Annette- Yes, that's totally the same fabric! How fun! Thanks for sharing :)

Mary Ruth said...

thank you so much for sharing and covering step by step! Adding the video links is wonderful too!
I am sharing with my frieds!

constanza said...

Great job! i like it!!!

Lexi Foster said...

Great post! I wanted to ask you for someone who has never sown before would this be a bad project to attempt?

Thank you!

Jodell said...

@Lexi Foster - There is minimal sewing involved... only for the seat cushion, which does require sewing experience to install a zipper and cording. However, the rest of the chair only requires a lot of pulling the fabric tight and stapling it into place. It's definitely not a beginner upholstery project due to the curves of the wingbacks and arm rests. Perhaps you can find a simple dining room chair at a thrift store and reupholster it for practice before attempting a wingback chair (you know the dinning room chairs that are upholstered on the back and seat?). Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Love your finished chair! Thank you for posting such a comprehensive tutorial with links and estimates for fabrics,tools and resources. I wish I had it last July when I did mine.It looked great when I finished However hubby's constant use and my not having put it together as securely as outlined here I'm going to re-do it using this as a guide.
Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

I'm a little weirded out... that is the EXACT chair I have. Down to the ivory fabric, and that it was rescued from a cat-lady. Too funny!

To boot,the fabric you chose is pretty spot-on as to what I like.

Kudos on your great job! It is gorgeous! After reading your post, I am considering having mine professionally done. Getting fabric crazy cheap at textile factory.

Anonymous said...

FYI - professional upholsterers do NOT cut fabric on the bias for cording. They cut straight strips of fabric. SO much easier and doesn't waste fabric. I've reupholstered tons of stuff and have never noticed a difference. You have plenty of give with cording made this way; in fact I think the pros would say that using fabric cut on the bias makes the cording TOO loose.

Anonymous said...

What advice do you have for wing back chairs without the remove seat cushions? The seat and inside back are tufted with many covered buttons. Brass tacks outline the front arms. Could I not put the buttons back in? I have 2 of these queen Ann style chairs and love them. The brocade has seen better day however.