The Thrill of The Hunt for This DIY Girl (Woman)!
The DIY attitude in me loves flea markets and tag sales. Bill always asks why I enjoy going to flea markets when often I don’t buy anything. I love the Thrill of the HUNT! Searching for that perfect piece. When you see it you know it has to go home with you. When I go to flea markets I take my list of measurements and items that I am hunting for. Sometimes I find what I am looking for and sometimes I don’t. When looking for an upholstery project you not only want to love the piece but you need to know if it is worth the effort of reupholstering.
An Eight Way Hand Tied Springs System
You turn the corner at the flea market and there it is, the chair of your dreams!! So do you buy it? Is it going to be a project that will be worth the time to upholster? How do you know? Most often if the piece is old, and I mean like decades old, it is worth the effort. One thing to keep in mind is knowing what kind of a support system is in the piece. By simply feeling the bottom of a piece of furniture you can tell if the piece has coil springs. You will feel the bottom of the springs or a metal strapping through the dust cover, this is a piece to be considered. Coil springs with an eight-way tie are a sign of higher quality furniture. If you feel a void under the dust cover when you touch the bottom of the chair or sofa you probably have zigzag springs or maybe webbing with padding and no springs at all. These pieces may or may not be worth the effort.
Upholstery DIY Flea Market Finds!
Once you’ve determined the support or spring system then you want to think about the frame. Is the piece heavy when you try and lift it up? If it is then most likely you have a hardwood or solid frame. Some of the high-volume chain stores sell furniture that looks great on the outside but when it comes to the structure it isn’t worth the effort. These are made to be disposable to keep the consumer buying new every few years. You can usually recognize the lower-quality pieces as they are very lightweight.
Evaluate your DIY upholstery flea market finds
Now you need to decide if the piece is structurally sound. A frame with a little wiggle can usually be repaired with wood glue and a few clamps. If a frame has broken components and you don’t have the skills or tools to make the repair then move on, there are more to be found. Don’t get yourself involved in a project that you need another professional to repair unless you really want the extra cost. Tightening frames is doable but repairing decorative wood or replacing structural elements may not be something you want to deal with. DIY is good but make sure the repair necessary is something within your skill set.
You are ready for DIY Upholstery, YEAH
So you’ve scoured the flea market and brought home the perfect piece. Ready set go…. Let’s get the upholstery started!! Before you begin the tear down take lots of pictures to refer back to. Pictures of details as well will help you to remember what was there when you are knee deep in recovering. You should also hang on to the old fabric pieces in case you get stuck and need to refer back to how something was done.
Take pictures during the tear down as well but make sure you can tell what you took a picture of. Point to a point or even write on the frame so you know what the picture was meant to show. It is really easy to get confused looking back at close up pictures and have no idea what it was that you took a picture of.
Yikes, don’t buy that $100 a yard fabric just yet!
Doing that first project is very exciting but I caution you to pick a piece that is on the simple side and to not buy really expensive fabric for your first piece. Let’s face it, no one does something new for the first time and expects it to come out perfect. As with anything when you are learning you need to know that you will make mistakes and you will not be 100% satisfied with the outcome…. This is NORMAL. Don’t stress yourself by starting off with a tough piece and spending a lot of money on the perfect fabric. Start small and select reasonably priced materials so you can enjoy the process!!
Upholstery Is ADDICTIVE!
Did I mention that this will not be your last upholstery project? Yep, I guarantee that you will be doing another one as Upholstery IS ADDICTIVE and can easily turn into a way of making a living if you want it to. Take a look at the over 90 video tutorials we have in our online classes that can help you with the skills you need for your new project. You may not see the exact piece but the skills to get you well on the way to completing your piece are there. Look at the deck of your chair, did you see that the settee has the same deck? Maybe the arms are like those on the wing chair even though your chair is a club chair. Yep, the skills are there and you are ready to get started!
Enjoy the journey and please share your flea market finds with me in our Kim’s DIY Upholstery Hangout group on FB or tag me on Instagram @KimsUpholstery. In our membership, we have created a community forum for members to ask questions and share the progress of the pieces. Many of our members are in business even if they didn’t start out planning to be flipping furniture or working for clients. See you at the next flea market.
I’ve read quite a few blogs over the years, but your enthusiasm and practicality is what makes enjoy coming back to your site. Keep up the good work.
Thank you so much Rick for your kind words and feedback. I really appreciate you reading my blog posts.
Have a great day!
I have a nice set from Costco, 15+ years and still solid. I have 7 wooden chairs that I’d like to upholster and add a bench. How do you start from scratch? Do you know anyone in my area? Close to San Jose, California