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How to Upholster Bar Stools

Wooden bar stools are common in home bars and at kitchen counters. Give your wooden stools a little more personality and a softer seat by upholstering the top. We’re going to show you how to add upholstery to the top of a plain stool. If you have an already upholstered stool, you can remove the fabric and then follow these same instructions. This is a great entry-level project if you’re interested in trying out upholstery but don’t feel quite ready to take apart a big chair yet.

To start this project, we did a little thinking about how we’d like the finished stools to look. We decided to run a row of piping on both the top and bottom of the chair to create a really professional and polished look. This piping is an optional step and can be left out if that’s your preference.

Our stools were going to be for a kitchen counter, so we chose a Covington fabric because it’s durable and easy to clean. Any home upholstery fabric could be used for this project, so the choices are wide open. For the foam we went with Fairfield Nu-Foam Compressed Polyester, which is an economical option for occasional seating like this. If your stools are a high traffic seat in your home, you might want to opt for using polyurethane foam, which is less likely to compress over time.

To read the full blog, watch the step-by-step video and see what materials we’ve used, visit Sailrite.com and search (#200697XHT).

Any upholstery beginners out there? We’d love to know how your projects are coming! Leave us a comment and let us know.

What Do I Need to Start Upholstering?

At Sailrite, we want to help equip DIYers for any sewing project you want to take on. If you’re interested in learning how to upholster, we have great videos that will walk you through the process of upholstering a variety of furniture pieces step-by-step so you can learn as you go. Before you start your first upholstery project, we recommend stocking up on a few useful tools that will make your job much easier.

There are a lot of specialized upholstery tools that you can invest in later if you want to continue upholstering, but for beginners we recommend a kit of mostly basic sewing supplies with a few specialized tools. We worked with our staff upholstery experts to create this list to help you get started. So here are our top 8 beginner upholstery tools, in no particular order.

8 Beginner Upholstery Tools

What Do I Need to Start Upholstering?

  1. Sewing Machine: Although upholstery is a lot of pulling and stapling, there is often sewing involved as well. Sew up your own custom piping, new covers for seat cushions and more with a good heavy-duty sewing machine. Upholstery fabric assemblies can get pretty thick and the Ultrafeed® will walk over them all without issue. Ultrafeed Sewing Machines also all feature a built-in welting tunnel in the standard foot, so you can sew 1/4” piping without changing the foot.

What Do I Need to Start Upholstering?

2. Pneumatic Staple Gun: An upholstery must-have is a good stapler. Save your hand the workout and use a pneumatic stapler like the Sailrite® Long and Short Nose Upholstery Staple Guns. This stapler is lightweight, easy to use, and reasonably priced. It comes in two different models, a long nosed and a short nosed version and both work great for upholstery projects. You will need an air compressor, hose and fittings to operate this staple gun as well. Those fittings can be purchased at your local hardware store.

What Do I Need to Start Upholstering?

3. Rawhide Upholstery Mallet: This lightweight mallet is great for hammering tack strips into place. It offers the force needed but also has a soft striking face so it won’t damage your fabric.

What Do I Need to Start Upholstering?

4. Tack & Staple Remover: This tool is great for beginners because it pulls double duty. Use the end of the tool to pry up and remove staples. Then use the side teeth to pry up and remove tack strips. This tool works best when used in conjunction with pliers. Together you can easily pull staples to remove the old fabric from a piece.

What Do I Need to Start Upholstering?

5. Soft Tape Measure: Having a soft tape measure is helpful because it allows you to take accurate measurements around the contours of cushions, armrests and more.

What Do I Need to Start Upholstering?

6. Curved & Extra Long Needles: The curved needles are used to sew the decking to the chair, slip stitching cushions, and stitching springs to webbing or burlap. The long needles are used to add buttons for tufting and attaching springs to bottom webbing.

What Do I Need to Start Upholstering?

7. Straight pins: Straight pins are so helpful for sewing projects. Use these pins to hold your sewing together or to mark fabric when pattern matching.

What Do I Need to Start Upholstering?

8. Fabric Scissors A great pair of scissors is essential to any fabric project and upholstery is no different. It can also be helpful to have a rotary cutter, cutting mat and acrylic ruler around as well, especially for making bias piping.

In addition to those tools, you’ll need other materials that can be purchased on a project-by-project basis like fabric and trims. However there are a few materials that get used in most projects that we think would be worth keeping around your workshop.

  • To see what other products you need to start upholstering, visit Sailrite.com and search the blog (#300142XHT).

Armed with all the right tools and materials you can take on any upholstery project! Ready to get started upholstering? If you want to order all of the materials listed above, check out our easy-to-order Upholstery Tool Kit. You can find all these tools along with thousands of home décor fabrics at Sailrite.com.

Upholsterers, what did you think of this list? What tools would you add or subtract? Share your ideas in the comments.

How to Reupholster a Recliner

Recliners are popular seating options for family rooms because they are comfortable and casual. There is something so relaxing about putting your feet up in a soft, reclining chair. But you don’t have to trade style to get that feet-up comfort in your own home. If you have an old recliner that doesn’t fit your décor anymore, why not cover it in new fabric? We made a step-by-step video that will walk you through every detail so you can DIY reupholster your own recliner.

The recliner we’re recovering in the video was in really great shape but the fabric wasn’t working in the owner’s new home. A quick way to tell if a recliner is worth working on is to check the stability of the arms—are they loose or shaky? If they are only a little loose, you can tighten them, but if they are very wobbly, the chair may be beyond saving. Also make sure the reclining mechanism is still in good working order.

How to Reupholster a Recliner

When selecting a new fabric for your recliner, think about the pattern. We don’t recommend choosing a very linear pattern, like stripes or plaid, because of the chair’s many moving parts. It can be hard to line the pattern up along the chair and as you use your recliner the pieces might shift and make the piece look sloppy. We chose a large-scale paisley, P/Kaufmann fabric, because the paisley print won’t have to perfectly align.

Reupholstering a recliner is a little different from other armchairs because it will actually disassemble into smaller parts. You can remove the back from the frame and then the seat deck and footrest. Each piece is reupholstered and then reassembled.

In the video, you’ll learn how to disassemble the chair and remove the old fabric, how to sew and install piping, arm covers, the seat deck, and the attached back cushion.

To see the full materials list, visit Sailrite.com and search (#200680XHT).

You’ll notice in the video that we didn’t cover how to sew the box cushion for the seat. We have a a separate video for this, which we’ll be sharing here on the blog on Friday. Be sure to check back!

Have you ever reupholstered a recliner? Share your advice and tips in the comments!

How to Reupholster a Channel Back Chair

Do you have a chair with a channeled back like this one? It may look tricky to reupholster, but if you take your time assembling back of the chair even a DIY-er can get a professional looking result. We’re carefully breaking down the steps we used to reupholster this simple channel back chair in our latest video so you can revive great chairs like this for your own home.

We loved the lines of this chair, but the yellow velvet fabric was looking dinghy and very worn making this chair the perfect candidate for new upholstery. For the new fabric, we chose a small-scale stripe fabric from P/Kaufmann. This fabric’s pattern fit with the scale of the chair and it has 51,000 double rubs making it a really durable choice for upholstery.

This project features new upholstery skills for beginners learning along with us. As our upholsterer took the chair apart she had to fix the webbing under the seat to better keep the springs contained. She also walks you through the process of creating and stuffing the channeled inside back and shows you how to use Flexible Metal Tack Strip to get a clean, curved edge on the chair’s outside back.

For the full materials list and tutorial video, visit Sailrite.com and search (#200673XHT).

Many of the tools featured in the video are included in our new Upholstery Tool Kit. This kit is perfect for beginner upholsterers to be fully stocked. You can find this kit along with other upholstery tools, notions and hundreds of fabrics at Sailrite.com.

Do you have a specific type of chair you’d like to see us reupholster? Leave us a comment with your suggestions!

Do you have an old armchair that is looking dated but otherwise is still comfortable and nice? Pieces like that are the perfect candidates for new upholstery. Upholstery projects can look really intimidating, but if you take your time and work step-by-step they aren’t as tricky as they seem. If you can use a staple gun and do simple sewing, you can re-upholster a chair.

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Here’s our chair that we’re giving a makeover. The frame of the chair is still sturdy and the cushions and plush and comfortable to sit on, but the upholstery is dated and we just weren’t loving the look of it anymore. We’re going to recover this chair in floral fabric from P/Kaufmann and remove the skirt from the bottom to give it a more modern feel.

Different chairs can be very different on the insides, but many of the principles are the same, so although your chair may not be exactly like ours, you can use the techniques outlined in the video to redo most any upholstered chair.

Since we chose a patterned fabric for our chair, you will see Cindi carefully patterning the fabric pieces so the main flower in our pattern is centered on the chair. This does use more fabric and takes a little more thought, but the end result will look professional. She breaks down all of her methods in the video, so you’ll also be able to align your fabric’s pattern in the most eye-catching way.

2015_July-After

To watch the full video and find the materials and tools list for this blog, please visit Sailrite.com and search #200668XHT.

You can find all the materials and tools needed to complete your own re-upholstery project at Sailrite.com.

Have you ever re-upholstered a furniture piece? Are you up for the challenge? Share your experiences or ask your questions in the comments!

If you’ve been watching our latest videos, then you’ve probably noticed Cindi, our new resident upholstery expert. We’re so excited that she’s here to share her expertise with all of you. We have a lot of great upholstery projects in the works with Cindi, so let’s get to know her a little better. I recently asked Cindi some questions about her sewing experience, her favorite projects and her experience at Sailrite. Take a look!

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Q: How long have you been sewing? Which came first, upholstery or sewing?

A: I have been sewing for as long as I can remember. My mother was an amazing seamstress and with her help and a terrific Home Ec teacher I have been able to make sewing in some form my lifelong career. Sewing did come before upholstery. Before I started working in the home decor area I mostly made clothing.

I have worked in fabric stores, drapery workrooms, doing alterations, upholstery and now [I] make cushions for an outdoor furniture company, long arm quilt, and work at Sailrite. My husband and I had an upholstery business and have worked together for most of our marriage and now we only make cushions. It has enabled me to be at home while our children were growing up and now be available to be Grannie!

Q: How long have you been doing upholstery?

A: I have been upholstering since I graduated from college in 1978. I realized after graduating—actually during school—that I didn’t have the competitive spirit needed for a buying position in the fashion world and since I had fallen for a guy in Indiana I knew that Indiana was not the place to pursue fashion careers! My parents had a sofa they needed to get rid of or re-do so they gave me the opportunity to give it a try and I have been reupholstering ever since.

Q: How did you learn to re-upholster?

A: I learned by making mistakes! It’s a pretty straightforward process and I already had sewing skills so it was mostly trial and error—take it apart and start over if it didn’t work!

Q: What are your favorite projects to work on?

A: I’m not sure I have a favorite project—I just love to sew!

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Q: What do you like about working here at Sailrite?

A: The best part about working at Sailrite is the excitement I felt the first time I was in the building! Good things are happening here and the people who work here are positive and excited about what is coming up in the future and most of all I get to sew and be creative!

Q: Do you use a Sailrite sewing machine at home? What is your favorite Sailrite product?

A: I do have a Sailrite machine at home, [a Sailrite 111] and so far my favorite product is Seamstick—that tape is awesome! It’s like having an extra hand! I hope to use a lot more of the products and have a new favorite every few weeks!

Q: What are some fun facts you’d like to share about yourself?

A: Not sure about that one—I am originally from Connecticut and I miss the trees the most! My husband and I ride a Harley and we went to the Sturgis rally a couple years ago and loved it! It is beautiful out there! And no we did not ride the bike from here to there-my brother has a camper and we put the bikes in the camper and rode them out west and drove the camper back! My very favorite movie is How the Grinch Stole Christmas—I cry through the whole thing!


Thanks, Cindi! We’re so excited to have you as part of the Sailrite crew.

Excited to learn more about upholstery? One of our latest upholstery videos featuring Cindi will be on the blog next week, you won’t want to miss it!

2015_May_Ottoman-Material-1

Our ottoman before

Does this little black ottomans look familiar to you? Small ottomans like this have been mass-produced by big box stores and are common features of many living rooms. If you have a little worn-out ottoman like this, we’re going to show you how you can reupholster it to give it new life and a more unique look.

A small project like this is a great place to start if you’re interested in learning more about re-upholstery. This project isn’t complicated and really was almost more of a slipcover than upholstery. To recover this ottoman we sewed together a cover that would fit snugly around the foam and then stapled it securely to the ottoman’s base. Then we added a custom button to the top to re-create the tuft on the original ottoman.

2015_May_Ottoman-Material

Ottoman after

For upholstery projects you’ll want to use a sturdy fabric that can withstand being pulled taut. Pieces that will see a lot of daily use should be upholstered with a fabric that has a high double rub count for the best longevity. You can find the double rubs rating listed on almost every fabric at Sailrite in the ‘features’ on the product page. Since our ottoman was relatively small, we chose a fabric with a small-scale design to better fit the piece.

For the full video and materials list, visit Sailrite.com and search #200664XHT.

We have a lot of other great re-upholstery tutorials in the works, so be on the lookout for those throughout the summer. Be sure to subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss a post!

Are you interested in furniture re-upholstery? What kinds of projects would you like to see? Share your ideas with us in the comments!

2015_March_Dinning-Chair-1

It’s amazing how something as small as a seat cushion can change the look of your whole dining set. As a part of our outdoor dining area makeover, we sanded and refinished the wood on an old dining table and chairs to give them new life. The seats on these chairs had seen better days, too, so we decided to recover them and we’re going to share the process with you! Re-covering seat covers is a great beginner-lever upholstery project. Let’s take a look at how to re-cover dining chair seats and how to add a moisture barrier to the foam.

Even though our chairs are under a covered porch, we wanted to add some moisture blocking elements to protect the foam. On the cushion’s interior, we took the extra step to add a layer of Cushion Wrap Silk Foam around the foam. If your cushion has batting and foam, the silk film would be placed on top of both of those layers. For the exterior, we covered the cushions with a Sunbrella® Upholstery fabric, which is water, mildew, stain and UV resistant.

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Chair before

 

If you are using a decorative fabric with a pattern, you’ll want to take care to line up the pattern in the same way on all of your chairs. Select an element of the fabric pattern that you want to be centered on the chair, and lay out your fabric accordingly. If using stripes, choose a center stripe and then make sure it is straight on the seat before stapling.

You can use the upholstery principles from this project for chairs of the same style inside your home too. For interior use, the silk film is optional; you can leave it out or add it for protection against spills.

For the full video tutorial and materials list, visit Sailrite.com.

2015_March_Dinning-Chair-2

Completed seat

 

You can find all the materials and tools to recover your own dining chair seats at Sailrite.com.

Have you ever re-covered seat cushions before? What advice would you have for the process? Share your experiences in the comments!

When starting a fabric or upholstery project it is always good to become familiar with some industry terminology. “Railroaded” fabric is an upholstery term that can be a real head scratcher. While it seems to have nothing to do with fabric at all, railroaded fabric can save you time and money in your next upholstery project.

What does “railroaded fabric” mean?

Railroaded fabric refers to the way a fabric, particularly a pattern or stripe, is milled. Usually fabric patterns run “up the roll,” meaning the pattern flows from top to bottom, parallel with the selvage edges. On a fabric that is railroaded, the pattern runs across the roll from selvage edge to selvage edge.

When is railroaded fabric helpful?

When upholstering, it generally looks best to run a patterned or striped fabric from top to bottom and from back to front. Imagine upholstering a sofa. It would look best for the stripes to have a vertical orientation, like soldiers standing in a row.

Most upholstery fabrics are 54 inches wide. On a regular “up the roll” pattern this would mean creating a seam every 54 inches to get the desired pattern on the sofa. Railroaded fabric makes for less seaming because the pattern continues over a long stretch of fabric. Even in railroaded fabric, sometimes the patterns can be difficult to match. You may need to do some seaming to achieve your desired look.

How can I tell if a fabric is railroaded?

Some fabrics will say in the description or on the tag if they are railroaded. If this information isn’t available, here’s how to be a savvy shopper and check yourself. Roll the fabric off the roll enough to see which way the pattern is facing. If the top of the pattern faces up towards the roll or down towards the fabric end, the fabric is up the roll (not railroaded). If the top of the pattern is sideways the fabric has been railroaded. When shopping online, look for patterns that run from selvage edge to selvage edge in the photo for fabrics that have been railroaded.

Railroaded fabric (left) versus regular fabric (right) on the roll.

Whether you choose up the roll or railroaded fabric for your next project, you’re now one step closer to speaking the lingo like a pro. Beautiful, luxurious indoor and outdoor fabrics can be purchased by the yard at www.sailrite.com

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