Learning A New Skill: Reupholstery For Dummies
We love specifying bespoke upholstered furniture for our projects. After confirming the finer details, approximately 8-10 weeks later your beautifully individual furniture item is ready! Installing on a project is often the first time you see the item finished in real life. This is also often quite a busy stage and you don’t always have time to fully appreciate all the work that goes into getting this piece to its final home.
It is good to reflect on what skills go into creating such pieces though. I’ve always got a lot of satisfaction out of working with my hands and I came across an old pouffe whilst clearing our my grandparents’ house and I thought that might be a good item to test out for re-upholstery project.
Turns out, there is a lot of skill required in upholstering and it can be really hard work!
I started by removing the old fabric cover and a lot of the padding which had become dislodged, although were able to salvage some which was good
Luckily we could also reuse the springs and some of the inner padding and only needed to pull the underneath wire frame back into place.
After reinforcing the springs with webbing, a layer of hessian needed to be laid on top of the padding. The legs needed to be sanded back to remove the black paint, which revealed the natural wooden finish. I added a new calico lining, which required precision to be tacked into place, ensuring the padding underneath including a new layer of wadding and material itself was equally taut across the seat. This sits underneath the fabric to protect it. Once in place, I was able to move on to the main fabric. This is of course the most important layer to get neat, as this is the visible part. The corners were tricky and involved tacking, re-tacking and re-tacking once again in order to get the fabric equally taut enough across the seat on all sides and to ensure the folds were correct.
Eventually, my teacher said it was good enough (thankfully, as my hands were really painful by that point, not only because I’d accidentally missed my tacks and hit my finger a number of times with the tack hammer…!) and I was able to move on from tightening and retightening those corners.
Once the base had been covered up, I finished the pouffe off with a contrasting mustard yellow velvet piping trim, which did not require too much fabric – it was made out of some scraps I found in the workshop and I made it into piping on the sewing machine.
It was a great project to do and brought a lot of satisfaction. It certainly makes you appreciate (even more) all the work which goes into any piece of upholstered furniture, large or small.
The course was done over a period of Saturdays in 2018 in Hornsey, North London at John Lawler Upholstery. John is a very skilled craftsman and he does a fantastic drop-in upholstery and antique furniture restoration class every Saturday.