PROJECT #025: PERFECT UPHOLSTERY FOR BEGINNERS | FOUR TIPS
This post is a note to my past-self, about what I would’ve liked to know before I upholstered my coffee table and two dining chairs. Maybe the Me in a parallel dimension will see it – in the meantime, perhaps some of you will benefit from it.
In spite of the learning curve, my chairs did come out really well and I love them.
I’ve never upholstered anything before, so in preparation I read some tutorials. These 3 were useful:
DIY Tufted Fabric Ottoman (from an old table) at Make It & Love It
Upholstery Basics: Boxed Ottoman at Design Sponge
How to Upholster a Drop-in Seat from Scratch at The Painted Hive
They amount to a pretty good crash course for total beginners, and I do recommend them, but there are a few things I’d add…
TIP #1: Use an air powered staple gun.
If you are a normal human being with two hands, use an air powered staple gun. Seriously, the manual one is strictly for mutants with four hands only. So to be clear: only use it if you actually have four hands. You will need one hand for holding the fabric, one for holding your bundle of wood and foam, one for pushing down on the stapler, and a fourth abnormal growth to actually wrench the lever down.
TIP#2: Upholster a lining.
My first upholstery attempt on my coffee table was a bit lumpy – you could see little dents along the edge where every staple was, so when it came to doing the chairs, I prepped them with a layer of sheeting first, cutting and stapling it exactly as I would have done with the actual upholstery fabric (okay, maybe not as tidy). The next layer of fabric went on perfectly smooth with nary a lump nor a bump in sight.
TIP#3: Start with three staples on each side.
Although tutorials recommend starting with one staple on each side (4 in total), I found it better to start with three staples on each side. I punched them about 2-3cm apart on one side before moving on to the next side to do the next 3 staples (12 in total). This coffee table ottoman was my very first attempt at upholstery, ever. I started with one staple on each side which left my upholstery with four very noticeable dents on the sides, and I had to pull those four staples out in the end.
It’s obviously just due to my own inexperience and getting the tension of my fabric all wrong, but when I used three staples, I got a very smooth result. So if you’re a noob too and your upholstery is lumpy, try this.
TIP #4: Secure tufts with buttons at the back.
If you’re going for the lovely tufted look, you’ll be adding adding buttons pulled by tight threads that go through the base board of your upholstery, which you’ll need to secure in place. The really easy way is with buttons! Once you’ve pulled your thread through the back of your base board, thread each end through the holes of a button, then tie a single knot while pulling the thread to the correct tension (depending on how deep you want the tufting). Then tie a double knot to hold it in place and you’re done!
BONUS TIP #5: Use a pink drilling machine.
It makes everything more fun. If you’re drilling your own holes in the base board for tufting, then obviously you must have a pink drilling machine.
Thank you for reading my tips, and I hope they help you upholster perfectly on your first try. Remember to Pin this post in your DIY board, and share it with your crafty friends!
PS. I always reply to comments so don’t be shy!