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Monday, January 28, 2008

Reupholstery 101

About a week ago I decided to go through reupholstery 101 on my own. One of the kids's car seats was falling apart to the point where I either needed to fix it or throw it away. The seat was still in safe working order, but the fabric was starting to disintegrate from the sun constantly baking it through the windows in our car. (We don't have a garage.) If you would even touch the fabric, you would get black dust on you. Needless to say, this was starting to get annoying and messy.

When I was younger, my mom did some reupholstering of some chairs of ours. Although I was too young to help out, I did watch. I do quite a bit of sewing and fixing things myself, but I have never reupholstered anything. I didn't think it would be a problem, but I used my aunts advise to take LOTS of pictures of the disassembly when you are repairing something so you will know how to put it back together. This was a very simple project, but I took them anyway - mostly to put on my blog. :)

So here is the overview of my reupholstering. (If you make it to the bottom of the post you will see the cost and time spent for this project.)

Here is the car seat that needed fixing. The fabric on the front of the arm rest is what was falling apart - if it would have ripped all of the way through, the padding of the arm rest wouldn't be able to stay attached.

This is the arm rest fabric taken off. Definitely in need of help.

I used my seem ripper and carefully took apart the pieces, being extra careful to not tear the binding or rip the fabric I wanted to save.

Next I layed out the ripped fabric and also the backing (which was getting rough). I tried my best to smooth them out and pin them in place on the new fabric. It was a bit tricky to figure out how to position the fabric that was shredding.

Here are my two new pieces along with the original fabric that was worth saving.

After everything was cut out, I sewed them back together trying to use the same seam allowances to get the same fit. Then I reinserted the foam and reattached the original binding.

Finally, the car seat is put back together and will no longer leave us covered with black dust!

Like I said, this was a very simple reupholstery project, but it was a good one to start with. The fit isn't as exact as the original, but I had trouble getting an exact pattern off of the shredded material. After all was said and done, I spent less than $2 in materials and less than an hour of my time. Not bad for a "new" car seat.

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Madonna said...

I think you did a great job, looks brand new. I have quite a bit of stuff I should reupholster here but haven't done it. My aunt has done whole couches and all. If I get the energy I will make sure I take lots of pictures so I can follow the process in reverse.

The Beginning Farmer's Wife said...

Thanks for the compliment. I was happy with how it turned out. My aunt also did a couch - must be an aunt thing. :) Another great piece of advice she gave that I forgot to mention was to number the pieces as you take them off. When you get to more complicated jobs, some of the pieces can start looking awfully similar, especially if the project takes an extended amount of time. Hope you are able to do some of your projects.

Reflections. said...

Great info! I have a chair I'm wanting to reupholster. How do you know how much fabric to purchase?

The Beginning Farmer's Wife said...

Reflections - From my limited knowledge, I know of a couple of ways you can go about figuring out your fabric depending on how brave you are,how tight your budget is, and how long you want your chair to be out of commission.

One way is to carefully take apart your chair, being sure to make lots of notes and take lots of pictures of the process. Then, you lay the pieces out according to how wide the fabric is that you want to purchase. You will also want to lay it out according to the way the grain and pattern of the fabric runs since that will make a difference on your results. Then, you just measure your stretch of pieces and buy that much fabric. This way is the probably the most accurate which will save you from buying more fabric than you need. It will put your chair out of commission longer, and you will have to be a little more brave in that you will remember over that time how it is supposed to go back together.

Another way is to measure the different sections of the chair with a ruler or tape measure. Then take newspaper to make rough patterns of the pieces you think you will need. Next, lay these pieces out as described above to get the amount of fabric you need. You will have to pay extra special attention to mark and lay your pieces out as the pattern would lay on the fabric. This isn't quite as accurate, but it will let your chair be usable in the process and will shorten the time that you will need to remember how to put it back together. You will have to have confidence in making laying your newspaper estimates out.

The last is what I did for the car seat since it was such a small project, and I knew it wouldn't take more than a yard. I just bought a lenght of fabric and hoped I had enough. You might spend a bit more than you need, but you won't have to do all of the measuring. On the other hand, you might not buy enough. Not a problem unless they sell out of the fabric you were using.

Which ever way you chose, you might want to buy a little more than you need anyway, especially if it was a big project. There is a possibility of making a mistake and needing to cut out a new piece. It would be quite discouraging to find out you are out of fabric and would need to make a trip to buy more - and it would be even more discouraging to find out they sold out of it and you couldn't finish.

I hope it goes well and would love too see a picture if you get around to doing it!

Anonymous said...

I think you did a fabulous job on your seat cover! My husband bought seat covers for our van seats, and I am about to attempt to cover the arm rests. They aren't going to have the piping in them, but I am basically going to just cover them. I'll take some pictures and I'll keep you posted! My first time here, by the way. I can't wait to read more on your site! Thanks!

Diane, housewife in the Midwest also!

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