Friday, March 11, 2016

Rolling Chair Reupholster

I came across this super awesome vintage rolling chair at the thrift store the other day. It was made by The Fritz-Cross Company in April 1940.  The red velour was very 70s, but those legs! Anything on casters has a place in my heart. The asking price for this red beauty? $5. Yes, it was coming home with me.
This is an excellent beginner's piece for reupholstering because there are only two pieces to cover and there are no intricate shapes to worry about.  I've done two other projects before and they were both a little more complicated.  The couch in my craft room, for example, was kind of a nightmare.

The first step is to gather your tools.  You will need:
  • A flathead screwdriver
  • Pliers
  • Thick home interior or upholstery fabric
  • Scissors
  • Staple gun
  • Hammer
  • A jar or container to keep all the hardware you remove in one place
I removed the chair back and the seat from the frame.

This really was a super easy job because they had used upholstery tacks for the seat and nail head trim for the back.  I used my screwdriver to pry them up.  If your projects has staples it can be a lot more work to remove them and pliers will come in very handy.  This step only took me about 15 minutes.

In fact, once I got a few of the nail heads out, I was able to pull up whole strips at a time with my hands.
Once I removed the red velour there was a pleasant surprise waiting for me underneath.  The original green leather was beautiful and I was very torn about whether I should just keep it that way or continue with recovering it.
What decided it for me was the fact that there wasn't a piece of leather to cover the back of the seat back.  It would have left exposed edges and wood.  And so I carried on with the mission, but I left the leather on and just wrapped my new fabric over it in case I change my mind one day.
I laid my seat bottom face down on my fabric and cut around it, being sure to leave a few inches extra on all sides so that I had room to fold the raw edges under.
I started at the back of my seat with my staple, folding the raw edge of the fabric under so that it won't fray and come loose.

Once I had the back all stapled, I pulled the fabric nice and tight across the seat and stapled along the front edge. When I say pull tight, I mean it.  You have to keep the tension until the staple is in place.
The corners can be a little tricky.  I'm sure that professionals have a certain way to do them, but I kind of just monkey with it until I'm happy with how it looks.  I do cut the corners of the fabric out so that there isn't too much bulk.
Start folding it like you would a package, stapling as you go.

Don't be afraid to use quite a few staples on the corners.
Use your hammer to secure any nails that seem a little looser than you would like and flip it over to admire your mad skills!
The seat back is the same process.  Once you have it covered you need to cut a piece of fabric to cover up the back.  I kept the piece of velour and used it as my guide.  Leave extra space again for folding the edges under.
Start at the top or bottom and fold the edges under.  Leave a small space between the edge and your fabric so that it will not show at all from the front.
Start placing your nail heads.  To be honest, I'm not very good at this.  It is really hard to get them straight and evenly spaced.  I guess I'm just not that strong a hammerer.  Those darned things are always going all skiwompus on me!  Try and place the nails so that they cover the edge of the fabric a bit.
 Voila!  Perfect? Nay.  But heck- it's the back of the chair, right?
Reattach your seat bottom and back to the frame and bask in the glory of a job well done.
Now the decision must be made...keep it or sell it?  I was bought it with the intention to sell and felt that way up until it was done.  Now I'm kinda in love.  And it would look fantastic at my sewing table.  What's a girl to do?

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