Getting back into the swing of things has been much harder than I had expected. After I wrote the personal update last Monday, I really did intend to jump right into some projects and blogging. I quickly found out that DIYing is like a muscle. If you don’t use it regularly, it begins to atrophy.
I kid you not. Everything I tried last week had to be undone. Everything I touched turned out horribly. I had the very opposite of The Midas Touch. I finally gave up on Friday and Saturday, and then tried again yesterday. Things went much better for me yesterday.
I began working on two of my dining chairs — the ones that will flank the buffet on the entryway wall — and while I did have some do-overs early on in the day, I made myself push through. By about mid-afternoon, I finally felt like I was starting to get back into the groove.
Anyway, like I mentioned, I started working on my chairs. If you’ll remember, I started out with these chairs…
The chairs that I’ll use around the dining table will be done a bit differently. But for these two chairs flanking the buffet, I’m aiming for a skirted look similar to this in coral and white, and with a tufted back…
So before I could start upholstering, I had to make some minor adjustments to the frame of the chair. The little finials that were on the top corners had to be removed, and the corners squared off with some wood pieces. I also cut new plywood for the seats because the originals were particle board, and some of them weren’t in good shape anymore. And because this was going to be more than a wrap-and-staple upholstery job on the seats, I went ahead and glued and nailed the plywood to the chair frames.
One other adjustment I had to make is to cut away a portion of the cane rom the lower part of the back so that foam and fabric could fit through later.
Here’s a close-up of the blocks I used to square off the corners. I just cut them from scrap wood using my table saw and miter saw, and they’re glued and nailed into place. The white stuff on the chair back is spray adhesive left over from one of my many mess ups last week.
I used 2-inch high density foam on top of the plywood, and used spray adhesive to keep it in place. Then I cut it to size with an electric knife, like the kind you use for cutting a turkey or brisket.
Next I cut a piece of fabric large enough for the seat, placed it on the foam upside down (i.e., the right side of the fabric facing the foam), and pinned the front corners so that they fit around the corners of the foam. Then I sewed those angles into place.
With the corners stitched, I cut away the excess fabric, flipped the fabric over with the right side facing up, and then fit the fabric back over the seat. This time I used two layers of high-density polyester batting wrapped around the seat before adding the fabric. And I stapled it all around using 1/2″ narrow crown staples.
By the way, I bought a new stapler for upholstery projects. I purchased this Porter-Cable narrow crown stapler*, and it is AWESOME!
The narrow crown, small staples, and small grommet on the stapler make it so much easier to use than the other one I have. It’s very powerful, and can get those staples into tight spots and grooves, and it’s just much more accurate than the other one. It’s one of those things that I bought, started using, and asked myself, “How have I lived without this for so long?!”
Anyway, back to the chair…
Before I could start upholstering the back, I had to add some support to the bottom edge of the cane where I had cut into it. I just used a scrap piece of lumber cut to the right width and nailed it to the chair frame. Then I stapled the bottom edge of the cane to the new support piece.
Then I could add the foam to the back. I used 1-inch high density foam, and used spray adhesive to hold it in place.
Then I wrapped the foam around the edges and stapled it right along the top and side edges on the back of the chair.
Here’s how it looked with all three sides stapled and trimmed…
And here’s the view from the front…
Then I tried….and tried, and tried…to measure and mark for the buttons. This process always confuses the heck out me in the beginning, as you can see from my many mistakes here…
But I finally got it, and then used my scissors to cut away the foam where I wanted the buttons to go.
I added two layers of batting on top of that, and kind of dug holes where the buttons would go.
And then I started tufting. I always like to start my tufting close to the middle, and work my way out. I used 7/8-inch cover buttons, and used leftover Roman shade fabric for the buttons.
I didn’t really take any detailed pictures of the tufting process since I already have at least two tutorials on how to do diamond tufting. You can see that process on this headboard…
And you can also see it on this tufted ottoman coffee table…
There’s one main difference in all three of these, and that’s how I secured the tufts. On the headboard, I was working on a large piece of MDF, so I pulled the string that was attached to the button to the back, and just stapled the string to the MDF.
On the ottoman, I wanted to demonstrate an alternative way to create diamond tufts on something that uses MDF or plywood as a base, so on that one I used screws and washers to hold the tufts into place.
On these chairs, neither of those methods would work since I was using caning as the backing. I obviously can’t staple or screw into caning, so in order to hold the tufts into place, I used small cut pieces of 1/4-inch dowel rod. So using a long upholstery needle, I fed the cord from the back to the front, fed the cord through the eye on the back of the button, and then fed it back through to the back of the chair. Then I removed the needle, and tied the cord around the dowel rod piece.
I repeated that process for each button, so when I was finished, I had 12 pieces of dowel rod on the back, each with a cord wrapped and tied around it.
I didn’t quite get the back finished. I started cleaning up the edges a bit, and getting those stapled into place, but I didn’t quite get all of it done. But at least I got the hardest part done!
So hopefully today I can get the skirt and back finished up on this one, and make some good headway on the second one. That’ll get me very close to having a finished entryway wall!
Then I just have to repeat that process six times for the chairs that will go around the dining table. 😀 Those won’t have skirts, though, so that’ll save me some time.
UPDATE: This chair is finished! Click here to see the rest of this project.