First re-upholstery project: There’s a first time for everything…

I’ve always wanted to learn how to re-upholster furniture.  It all started with a sofa that we had when I was a kid that was super(!) comfy, but so ugly you wouldn’t believe.  (As a side note, she tried reupholstering it years later and actually managed to make it even uglier.  It was later relegated to being the “dog sofa,” and just thinking about it makes me sad.)  Nevertheless, an obsession with upholstery was born!

Flash forward 25+ years, and you find the adult Leah learning how to do just that thanks to 3rd Ward in Williamsburg.  This is my first project:

I found this mid-century beauty on the street in Philadelphia about 5 years ago tossed out with someone’s garbage.  It was perfect except for a big rip in the seat, and so I towed it home with me.  I knew that one day I’d redo that vinyl upholstery with something better.  Like they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

So starting on Saturday, I began the process of deconstruction.  This is what it looked like after I got the back panel off.  The back was basically a piece of cardboard covered with vinyl tacked on with upholstery tacks.

Then I took off the bottom panel.  There were several layers of fabric to get through here funny enough, and one of the great things I found inside was a stamp dating the chair to Oct 1959.  (Pretty cool!)  The springs are serious heavy duty with metal attachments like the kind you have in a mattress…not the normal 8-way hand-tied springs in most upholstery.  (This chair is meant to last forever!)

So this is the chair fully deconstructed.  The legs & arms were attached via two bolts and six flat-head screws.  Less than what I would have thought, but very easy to disassemble once the fabric was off and the frame was exposed.  (The frame is oak I believe by the way which is also interesting…for those other furniture nerds out there.)  The seat springs were covered with a horsehair “cushion” for lack of a better word (which I plan to re-use since it’s perfectly fine…but I will be augmenting it with new foam and batting).  I did keep all the cotton batting too “just in case.”  Also, I plan on re-finishing the arms/legs since the old polyurethane is worn off and looking ratty.

Now the big question is what do I put on it?  I’m debating between several at the moment.  I love those thick wool fabrics in both solid colors and blanket squares too.  Then I’ve found a couple more that are interesting, but nothing concrete yet.  Any suggestions?  Someone suggested leather…but possibly too difficult for my first round of upholstery.  (?!?)

p.s. if you haven’t looked into 3rd ward, i highly suggest it.  They have awesome classes on almost everything.

5 thoughts on “First re-upholstery project: There’s a first time for everything…

  1. Ooooh..!! LOVE it. No suggestions for fabric, but you have such great taste whatever you choose will be great. Just can’t wait to see the finished product. I’ve done some reupholstery but only minor projects (think simple stools or dining room chairs). Best of luck!

  2. Nice! I’m talking their welding classes in June… SO EXCITED. But maybe upholstery is next? I’ve actually upholstered a few things at this point but I’d love to get some real skills in the area since it’s expensive to pay someone to do and fairly manageable to do yourself once you have the know-how. I’m sure the chair will turn out stellar!

    1. Dan…welding sounds awesome! Once I get done with Upholstery I, I’m definitely going to sign up for Upholstery II. I have several more chairs that need re-doing…and one has serious button-tufting and sewing so it’s going to take some advice from the instructors. The one thing I really like about 3rd Ward’s upholstery classes, as opposed to the few others I’ve seen, is that they let you bring in your own project. I’d like to eventually get involved with more classes there too…they teach things like web design, which I’d love to have more knowledge in. Then I could finally make this blog look decent. 😀

  3. I’d probably go with something tweedy/nubby in a neutral (grey, linen or oatmeal?). Or maybe an olive green or burnt orange….

    Whatever you end up going with, good luck with the project. And let me know if you end up loving upholstery work and decide you want to go into business, ‘cuz thanks to my cat, I have a love seat I need redone! Ha.

    But seriously. You have Dan, THE MANhattan Nest reading (and commenting on) your blog??? I’m pretty sure this means you’ve officially “made it”. 😉

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