Sunday, September 22, 2013

Reupholstering Tips and Tricks - AKA First big nursery project!!

Yeah...check that shit out^^  Coolest Dr. Seuss nursery chair everrrrr, right?!?

So, I wish I could give you a step by step guide detailing exactly how to reupholster a chair - but I can't.  The fact of the matter is every chair is different and that makes the process of stripping it down and reupholstering it different.  The general idea of it is simple - carefully pull off all the fabric, use that fabric as a template to cut out the new fabric, then put the new fabric on just like you took the old fabric off.  Easy peasy, right?

Well here are a few tips and tricks for you...

  • Give yourself plenty of time.  I spent hours just pulling out staples.  This is not a process that is going to be completed in a day.  Maybe if you have a few people and a lot of patience you could finish it in a weekend, but I recommend spreading it out over a bunch of days so you don't give yourself carpal tunnel.
  • I used a flat head screw driver and needle-nose pliers to pull out all the staples, it worked quite well.
  • Save everything you pull off!!  Seriously!  Every scrap of cardboard, random spikey thing, and piece of fabric.  Saving everything will make it a million times easier to reassemble it.
  • Label everything.  Where it goes on the chair, what order you pulled it off in, which part of it pulled up first, etc.  I just used a sharpie and wrote right on the panels where they went and all the details that would help me successfully replace it with new fabric.
  • Don't expect perfection.  Seriously, this is true of all my projects.  If I wanted or needed it to be perfect there's probably someone out there I can pay hundreds of dollars to do it for me and there's a reason why they charge so much - this shit is time consuming!  There are some snags in my fabric from me stapling wrong and the back of it is a little wonky (I didn't have quite enough fabric but whatever...who's going to be looking at the back??)
So here's what you need - 
  • A cheap piece of old furniture that hopefully was built well but just needs a facelift (you don't want the frame of the chair to be falling apart, just the fabric!)
  • Flat head screwdriver and needle-nose pliers (to remove staples)
  • Upholstery fabric - no not waste your time and get fabric that isn't heavy enough to be considered upholstery will fall apart and then you will have wasted hours of your life for nothing.  I did, however, decide I could use a non-upholstery fabric on the parts that won't get much wear and tear and I think it was a safe decision (the blue Lorax tree print is just normal cotton, not upholstery weight fabric).  I calculated how much I would need after I ripped off all the fabric.
  • A staple gun.  I have a fancy one my Dad got me for my birthday (after I reupholstered my kitchen chairs with just a hammer and upholstery tacks he decided I needed a staple gun) but you could use one of those old school plain ones (like this) - it would just take longer.
  • A seam ripper to disassemble the cushions 
  • And if you're like me...a hot glue gun.  Yes, I hot glued some parts, but I'll never tell you which ones (muahahahahaha) <--not sure why I'm evil laughing about that
I got the chair used from someone on base and it actually reclined (the foot part doesn't pop out, it just reclines) but not very well.  The Sailor actually re-did all the mechanical bits so now it reclines smoothly.  It cost $20.  Then I spent about $50 on fabrics (from and  

There is some sewing involved to make the covers for the cushions (just like the rest of the chair you pull the cushion apart - with a seam ripper - and use the pieces as a pattern for the new cover).  For this chair I was able to save the zipper on the bottom cushion but the back cushion was originally attached to the chair itself.  I decided it would be easiest for me to make it another cover so I had to get a long zipper for that which also cost me a few bucks. 

I would say I spent between 25 and 30 hours on the chair in all spread out over a bunch of days over two weeks.  But, I'm absolutely in love with it and it cost us less than $75 in all!

After I finished reupholstering it instead of putting back on the feet The Sailor turned it into a rocking chair!  He used scrap wood and the screws that were originally holding on the feet so again, no cost to us.  It took two tries to get the curve right for a rocking chair but still didn't take him much time at all.

So now it reclines and rocks and is gorgeous.  It will be the perfect visual centerpiece for BabyDeux's Dr. Seuss nursery and it will be mighty comfy for all those middle of the night nursing sessions in my future!


  1. Adorable. I'm going for reupholstering two throwaways with heavy silks from my collection of old kimonos. Your project is inspiring.

  2. Hi, we are looking to do a similar thing with a rocking chair we have but I wanted to ask if after you added the rocking chair parts (curved wooden pieces) to the bottom if the chair still rocks in the reclined position and if it does do you feel it is unstable at all? We have been looking around and it seems the rocker/recliner chairs that come from a furniture store have a feature that locks out the rocking mechanism if the chair is reclined for safety reasons. Were you able to accomplish this at all with your add-on? Thanks so much for your help!


I always love getting some blog love...


Template by | Header Image by Freepik