Last Updated on October 8, 2017 by Kristi Linauer
Hey there! I know…it’s Saturday. I don’t usually post on weekends, but I’m thinking that might change. Obviously I haven’t been keeping a very regular schedule lately, and rather than trying to force a schedule that just isn’t working for me lately, I think for a while I’ll just try posting whenever I want to regardless of the day of the week, or time of the day. You can give me your thoughts on that. And if don’t want to miss anything, but think you might if I post randomly, you can always subscribe (in the Subscribe section on the right sidebar) and get posts sent to your inbox. Anyway, let me know what you think about that idea.
I finished my first wingback dining chair yesterday! Now I just need to finish up the second one, and that will be one major project I can cross off of my list.
In case you missed the first to parts of this project, you can click here to see how I build the chair frame.
And then you can click here to see Part 1 of the upholstery process.
So at the end of the last post on this project, the front of my chair was upholstered…
And I had cleaned up the back and the sides (meaning that I made sure no foam, batting, or fabric was sticking out past the frame) so that they were ready for upholstery…
Before I could start on the back upholstery, I first had to add one more wood support piece at the bottom of the back, flush with the side frame pieces. I made sure that the bottom edge of this piece was level with bottom edge of the side seat support pieces, and this just gave me something to wrap fabric around, and later to staple the skirt into.
Using my webbing stretcher, I added jute upholstery webbing to the back of the chair…
…and then covered that with fabric. Any fabric can be used for this, but I used blackout lining.
And then on top of the lining, I used spray adhesive to attach a layer of polyester high-loft batting.
And then I attached the fabric. On the top edge, I stapled right on top of the fabric about an inch from the top of the chair. On the sides, I wrapped those around to the sides of the chair and stapled the fabric into place. And then on the bottom, I wrapped the fabric under the chair frame and stapled.
Here is a close-up view of the top edge where I just stapled right on top of the fabric…
And a view of the side, where I wrapped the back fabric and batting around to the side of the chair and stapled it place from top to bottom.
And once the entire back was stapled into place, and all of the excess fabric and batting was trimmed, it looked like this…
Okay, now let me pause, and explain something…
I know there are those of you who do upholstery who are yelling at your screen right now, “KRISTI, YOU DID IT WRONG!!!!”
Yes. I did it wrong. I’m well aware of that. 🙂 When upholstering a chair or sofa, the proper order is seat, arms/wings, back rest, chair sides, and then the back. In other words, the back is the last thing you’re supposed to upholster, and the side edges of the back require tack strips, like the ones that I used on the entryway chairs.
If I were doing this the “proper” way, I would have first attached covered welt cord all around the sides and the back, and then I would have upholstered the sides, first using flexible tacking strip to attach the fabric around the curves of the wing and the arm, and the wrapping the fabric on the back edge around to the back and stapling it into place. And then I would have finished up the back of the chair by using cardboard strip along the top and tack strips on the sides.
And voila! That’s the proper way to upholster. If you’re completely lost, this is probably the best video I’ve seen of the process. (This guy’s videos are amazing!!) Start watching at 7:46 to see the proper way to upholster the sides and back of a chair or sofa.
So why did I do mine in the wrong order, using non-standard methods?
For one reason only. The fabric that I used on the sides and back has such a large pattern, and more important to me than doing things in the proper order and using the proper methods, was enduring that I matched the pattern of the fabric all around the sides and the back of the chair. I didn’t want any breaks in the pattern. And try as I might, I couldn’t figure out a way to use the proper methods while ensuring complete accuracy in matching the pattern. So I decided to start with the back, and then do the sides and match the pattern on the sides to the back.
Make sense? 🙂
So after attaching the fabric to the back, I worked on the sides, starting with attaching more jute webbing…
…and then covering that with a layer of fabric (i.e., blackout lining, but any fabric can be used).
Then I attached the fabric along the back edge. I used cotton fabric, which creases easily just by pressing it with my fingers. So starting at the top, I folded and creased the fabric so that the pattern would match the fabric on the back. I did this all the way down the back edge, using just a few staples under the fabric to hold the piece in place.
Here you can see a close-up of the crease that I pressed in with my fingers, but because I had not yet used cardboard strips, and the fabric was just being held on with a few staples here and there, it wasn’t yet a tight fit.
With the fabric edge creased and stapled into place all the way down, I then went back and added the cardboard strip. It looks like this — just a 1/2-inch wide strip of cardboard.
And I stapled it into place so that the cardboard was perfectly lined up with the back edge of the chair.
Next I added a layer of batting, making sure to cover the cardboard strip so that it wouldn’t show through the fabric.
And the I pulled the fabric forward over the batting and stapled it into place. Around the edges of the wing and the arm, I stapled right on top of the fabric about 3/4″ from the edge. On the bottom, I wrapped the fabric under the chair frame and stapled it into place.
With the piece stapled into place, and the excess fabric cut away, it looked like this…
And here is my perfectly matching pattern on the corner where the side piece meets the back piece…
I repeated that same process on the other side of the chair.
With the sides and back completely covered, I then added a strip of cardboard on all four sides of the chair, measuring up 2.5 inches from the bottom of the seat frame. This cardboard strip would be used as a guide for the skirt placement.
Since I didn’t do the back and side upholstery using the standard method, that meant that I was left with staples and raw fabric edges that needed to be covered. I could have purchased any coordinating ready-made trim from the fabric store, but I recently purchased a double welt foot for my sewing machine, so I decided to try that instead. I made several yards of double welt cord…
…using this easy method of making continuous bias tape without having to sew strips together…
And then attached that with high-temp hot glue.
Just a note: It is perfectly acceptable to use hot glue on upholstery as long as you’re using quality, high-temp glue. I also suggest using an actual made-for-craftspeople gun rather than those small, cheap glue guns that you always see in the checkout lanes at craft stores.
I bought my big glue gun at Home Depot, where I also buy my glue sticks.
Anyway, while it’s perfectly acceptable to use hot glue, I will readily admit that this is a non-standard use of double welt and hot glue. Double welt cord is generally used to trim seats and backs on showood chairs where the fabric meets the wood frame. But I’m okay with doing things unconventionally. 🙂
The final part of this chair was the skirt. I started by folding the fabric so that the pattern matched along the top edge of the cardboard strip that I stapled on as a guideline for the skirt.
Then I pinned the fabric into place and cut a piece large enough to make the skirt. This was just a rough cut. I measures and cut the pieces accurately after I unpinned the fabric and sewed each piece.
I repeated that for the other three sides.
Then I removed the pinned fabric and stapled welt cord (single cord this time) to the cardboard guide.
I didn’t take detailed pictures of the process for making the skirt pieces, but the skirt is made up of eight separate pieces — four wide pieces for the four sides of the chair, and four narrower corner pieces. Each of them were made exactly the same way, and each piece is lined.
First, I sewed an accent strip to the bottom of each skirt piece in the coordinating fabric, and then I used this tutorial for making mitered corners.
I only mitered the bottom two corners on each piece, since the two top corners wouldn’t show. Also, while I did line my pieces as shown in the video, I did not top stitch the lining into place. I’m not a fan of topstitching, and especially not on upholstery pieces. Instead, I attached my lining (I used blackout lining) using permanent adhesive tape for fabric.
As I finished each side piece, I stapled it into place with just a few staples. I didn’t use cardboard strip at this time.
I attached all four side pieces in the same way. Then I attached the corner pieces using cardboard strips pushed as close to the welt cord as possible. After all four corners were attached with cardboard strip, I filled in the middle areas of each side skirt piece with the cardboard strip.
And finally, I painted the legs black. Yes, a normal person would have done that before starting any of the upholstery, but y’all know by now that I often do things out of order. 🙂
And done! With all of the patterns matching from piece to piece.
I’m so glad I went with this floral fabric. I love those huge flowers, and the colors are perfect for me!
But just a word of caution: When you have a large pattern with a big pattern repeat, you end up wasting a lot of fabric! I originally bought six yards of the floral fabric for the two chairs. I cut out as many pieces as I could for both chairs, but had to go back and by more. They only had four more yards in stock at Joann Fabric, so I bought all of that, but I STILL don’t have enough to match patterns for the skirt on the second chair. I’ve got lots of fabric left over, but just none with the right patterns on it. 🙁
So that’s one down and one to go. The next one should be much easier now that I’ve figured out the process.
Addicted 2 Decorating is where I share my DIY and decorating journey as I remodel and decorate the 1948 fixer upper that my husband, Matt, and I bought in 2013. Matt has M.S. and is unable to do physical work, so I do the majority of the work on the house by myself. You can learn more about me here.
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