You’ve made the decision to learn how to upholster furniture. Tired of looking at that worn-out upholstered piece in the living room and determined to bring it back to life? First off, Good for you!
I get many emails each week asking for advice on upholstering that first piece of furniture. If you start small and gradually build up to more difficult pieces you will probably have less frustration and save money.
Making the wrong cuts in your fabric, putting fabric on in the wrong order or choosing the wrong materials is costly. I can’t stress this enough, as you tear down an old upholstered piece, take lots of pictures. Even after the 26 years that we have been doing this we still use a camera every day.
We take pictures before during and after tear-down. The pictures we take accompany the piece on its way through our shop. Pictures help us to remember any details we want to put back in our new piece. They also help you to remember the order of how things were put on the original piece and more. You can also refer back to pictures to see how the cuts might have been made in certain areas.
When you are picking that first piece of furniture to reupholster you should consider a few things.
- Is the frame solid?
- If it is not, Do I have the skill to repair it or will I need to find someone to help me with that part?
- Am I being a bit to ambitious in my first project??
- Is there a local adult education class I can take to learn the art of upholstery?
If you have no one to help you learn to upholster then go to YouTube and watch all the upholstery videos you can or just become a member of our online classes where you have access to a great community of like minded DIYer’s (A membership to our online classes will give you all the learning you need in one place for only $49/month). Start small. Pick an inexpensive piece to start with and use inexpensive fabrics to cover the piece. Chairs we see at tag sales, auctions, second hand shops and flea markets all the time are wooden arm chairs.
The chair we use in our YouTube video How To Upholster An Arm Chair – For The Upholstery Beginner happens to be a Queen Anne Arm Chair.
There are many similar chairs out there that would be great for your first upholstery project. While upholstering a chair of this type you will learn to:
- Use upholstery tools.
- Tear down.
- Tie Springs.
- Pad up your project.
- Measure and cut fabric.
- Center your fabric.
- Attach your fabric.
- Add cording.
- Close the outside back.
- Put on a dust cover
You will need to have the basic tools for upholstering. These can be seen in our video “Upholstery tools“. If you do not have a pneumatic staple gun you could use a hand stapler or an upholsterers tack hammer and upholstery tacks. I wouldn’t suggest holding the tacks in your mouth, although that is exactly how I was taught. There is always some sewing to be done so make sure your sewing machine can handle the layers of fabric you will be working with.
The Queen Anne Arm Chairvideo we have is a great example of a beginner project. It is made up of 3 pieces of fabric, coil springs that need an eight-way tie, and wooden arms that you need to cut around. This type of chair will give you enough of a taste of the upholstering process yet it is a small project so you can see results in a quicker time frame. I know that I like to be able to see results to keep me motivated and not get discouraged. This type of chair will do just that.
So take it slow, take lots of pictures, pick a great fabric (make sure you can buy more if needed), and just have FUN! Oh, and don’t forget to post your finished project on our Facebook page as I would really enjoying seeing what you’ve done.
Learning how to do upholstery is something that I want to achieve. My brother said I should start feeling my staple gun. The first time he started doing upholstery, he got injured with the staple gun most of the time.
do u have u tube how to install the bobbin on a lu-563 jukie
Sorry Darlene but we do not have a video for the instalation of a bobbin on a Jukie lu-563. You could try to Google it. Look for “Jukie LU-563 manual”.
Wish you lived next door : ) love your videos !!! The Oct. retreat sounds like a lot of fun. Could you please send me more information as it becomes available . I would really like to consider coming. I live around Huntsville, Alabama. I have completed 3 different chairs and an ottoman over the past few years and have a striped down, refinished Duncan Phyfe sofa I would like to reupholster from scratch. I’m a bit nervous.
I would like to send you some pictures of what I have done so far. I would truly love to continue learning more about upholstery . I took some classes at a local community college a while back but the instructor unfortunately and unexpectedly passed away. I have several books and watch a lot on you tube but can’t seem to learn enough . I also worked one on
One with a lady a year ago reupholstering a chair from scratch. She taught me quite a bit but is too busy with her business to continue to help me. ( and I was paying her ) I am at a bit of a dead end as far as the Duncan sofa except for trial and error…. So I would really have fun at the retreat!
I would love to hear from you
Hi Nadine, I do hope you can attend the retreat. More details will be coming out soon. If you want to send me pictures of your project I will try and help you along. I know hands on is sometimes the best way to learn.
Thanks for watching our videos,
I love all the videos. We’ve done a couple projects and really like the results and have done some work for friends. I’m thinking about moving into the professional arena and have begun my wish list.
I noticed on one of the videos, Kim was serving the seams of the slipcover. How often do you serge seams, and which model are you using?
So glad you enjoy our videos. The serger I have is a merrow machine. It is an industrial which is much more rugged than a home serger. I serge all slipcovers and any cushions or pillows that a client is apt to take covers off for cleaning or seasonal change. I would also serge any tapestry type fabrics as they tend to ravel. Where are you located?
Good luck with your new venture, Kim
Thank you both so much for sharing your knowledge and being an inspiration!
do u have avideo on trimming waterfalls, and best way to do it on high end furn.
Sorry David but we do not.
Do you and kim thinking about opening for a school in one location that we can attend ?
Yes nit hall we do think about it but for now you will just have to watch the videos we produce. There are many more in the works so stay tuned.
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Where can I get the cotton filling you used in the video? Amazon has cotton for upholstery but it says it’s 2 inches thick. Or, can I use foam for the back and front? I’m working on a Queen Anne arm chair.
Yes, you could use foam if you are having a hard time finding the cotton which 2″ is not an issue.
Thanks for reading my blogs,
When I go to buy cotton like the stuff used in the video, what do I looking for? All I can find is either quilt batting or loose stuffing for stuffed animals.
You need to go to someone who carries upholstery supplies. What you are looking for upholstery cotton or synthetic cotton for upholstery. Take a look at my blog on Supplies.
I would like to donate a chair for someone’s project—I bought in Italy and it is very structurally sound but my 2 cats destroyed the arms and sides. I would someone to pick it up—-or can you suggest another website for this type of give-away?
Thank you in advance for advice!
I have an Art Deco chair frame that I would like to know what size foam I should use for the in back.
Kinda looks like a butterfly chair
Thanks for sharing this amazing article, it’s really helpful for me.