Thursday, May 14, 2015

Re-Upholstered Cushions!

My friend used the heck out of these cushions a few years back and they have been in storage for the past 2 years waiting for their new home.  Yes, lots of love and use, and kids and pets with grime and spills!  Time for some new fabric, a coat of fresh paint on the wonderful rattan chairs and a new home to live in!  It's not too difficult to recover the seats...just a good dose of patience and a little elbow grease!  

The client's cushions before...

What you will need:
fabric (I used linen)
sewing machine/zipper foot and matching thread
flat head screwdriver
needle nose pliers
staple gun with 1/4" staples or longer depending on fabric thickness
pen or marking chalk
strong magnet-to help you clean up stray staples

optional:  cording, foam padding, batting fabric 
(it depends on whether the original is in study condition)

Carefully remove old cording and fabric from's gonna take some elbow grease and patience! Flip the seat cushion over and start on a corner with your fingers.  Take care with all of those sharp staples...some seats had hundreds!

You will need to give it a good tug to loosen it up...I had to resort to putting the cushions on the floor, using my foot to apply pressure, and use the pliers to pull the fabric and staples out of the wood.
If you have to resort to this method, it helps to swear a lot and be careful not to break the wood form with your body weight!

You will probably have to come back in with your flat head screw driver to pry up staples and then your pliers to rip them out.  There goes the manicure!

Now at this point, you need to inspect your batting, foam and cording materials to see if they are in good enough condition to re-use or do you need to purchase new items.  Mine were all in good shape, so I gently ripped the seam to the cording to expose enough of it to pull out of is casing with the pliers.  

Cutting Fabric:
Lay out the old fabric on top of the new fabric and be sure to get the features of a large pattern that you want centered on the seat if that applies. Trace the shape with chalk or pencil/pen and cut out.  I was recovering 4 seats, so I laid out the fabric on the floor.  You should have enough fabric to cover the seat plus 2-3" to come around the sides to staple onto form.  You will also need extra fabric (in this case, 1/2 yard) to cut bias strips to sew together to make cording.  Here's a good tutorial.

Staple Time:
Place the fabric on the seat and position.  Gently turn seat over and shoot staples in wood and fabric about an inch from the edge of the seat.  I start in the middle and pop one in every inch and a half or so in either direction from the center.  You will want to stop about 4" from the corners on this side and start on the opposite side of the seat, gently pulling the fabric taut for a neat fit.  Staple in either direction from the middle point and about 4" from corners.  Repeat this on last remaining sides...upholstery is a give and take of constantly pulling fabric to lie properly.  

You will also have staples that don't dig flush into the wood...jiggle them and pull them out if loose. If  they feel tight, use your hammer till flush with wood. Be patient... here's how it should look.

You will want to trim off the extra fabric from the corners to make this job easier...I forgot to take pictures of this so check this tutorial for help.  Corners can be tricky, so take a deep breath and play with the fabric.  I like a double pleat on the corners as below.

Lastly, add the cording for a finished look.  Staple it as close to the sew line on the edge of the wood base as you can. 

Here's the finished product!  My friend spray painted the chairs this deep brown and they feel new again despite being over 40 years old!  I think they look wonderful!

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