- Do not buy upholstery nails from JoAnn Fabric unless you are working with very soft wood. I spent hours – hours – trying to hammer these in and they were warping and breaking left and right. It was one of the more frustrating experiences I’ve had in my life as a handywoman. I shrieked and smacked the carpet with a hammer at one point. Not my finest or most patient moment. I finally went and bought a bunch of the nails from Lowes (where I had gotten the ones for the upholstered bench) and while there was still the occasional break or warp, it was no where near what I’d been experiencing with the JoAnn ones.
- Buy about double the amount of upholstery nails you think you need. Mine were $1.30 per box of 25 and you can always return any you don’t use. Much easier than running out four times for more nails. Which I did. Four times.
- No sewing skills are required for reupholstering. It is a lot of folding, pulling, stapling, and nailing. It does require some level of patience.
- Do not put batting where screws are going to go. The screws can go through foam just fine but will wrap the batting around themselves so tightly it will take you an hour to cut it away. Again, unfortunately, learned from experience. Just cut holes in the batting where the screws are going to go, it’s invisible once the fabric goes on.
- Get yourself a tack remover or cat’s paw (see photo below) for any nailheads you do have to remove. Much, much easier than trying to pry out with a screwdriver and needlenose pliers.
I have had pretty much a lifelong obsession with child-sized upholstered rockers. I’ve mentioned before that my great-grandfather was an upholster…and man do I wish now that he had lived to 112 so he could have passed his trade to me! As a first birthday gift to my mom, he made a child-sized replica of a full-sized dark green leather chair he also made. Here I am, around 18 months, climbing into “my” (really my mom’s) chair.
This is the back side of the chair back. I thought it was pretty cool how roughly hewn the pieces were. The bottom piece still has bark on it! I so wonder who built this and for whom. And, in case you are wondering, that is not one of children lying on the floor to the right of the chair, but an abandoned babydoll. This is usually the way of things in my “studio.”
And here are the six components, all disassembled: a seat box with springs, back, two sides, and two rockers.
After the batting is in place it’s time to drape your fabric over and start playing. As far as I can tell, there is no science to this. Perhaps this is why having furniture reupholstered costs so darn much! It is art, darling. But, seriously, I draped the fabric over the seat and adjusted it so the pattern was fairly straight on all sides, then cut slightly larger than I needed so there was enough excess to pull and staple underneath. Think of it as very similar to wrapping a present. If you are a stellar present-wrapper, I think you can do this. You want the fabric smooth, the edges and corners sharp and as flat as possible, and the fabric pulled very taut since it will stretch a bit over time.