As promised here’s my step by step process for the upholstered rocking chair. Now let me start by saying I am a novice when it comes to upholstery. If I can do this, you can too! This post will describe how I upholstered without sewing and without using upholstery tack strips which for some reason make me anxious (I’ve heard they’re hard to use). I can use a staple gun like a champ but when it comes to sewing slipcovers or using upholstery tack strips that’s a project I have yet to tackle. I saw this chair and thought It would be something I could refinish. It was basically a really big dining chair that rocked, which is just stapling fabric around the seat. So, if you’re new to reupholstering follow along with me. If you’re an expert please share any tips, this is a part of refinishing I’d love to do more of.
Step one: Find an awesome chair that has hideous fabric. Well, it wasn’t that bad but it was very dated and needed a fresh new look. I found some beautiful fabric online that I was planning on using to make pillows for my living room. I know I haven’t shared any posts about how my house is decorated, I plan to soon, but I have a brown/tan/white farmhouse thing going on. I love it, but some days I crave color. I have my kitchen painted a very faint blue and think I want to start incorporating different blues into my living area. Anyway, I fell in love with this fabric. You can find it online at Vintage Market and Design. They shipped SO fast like I got it the next day and they sent a little thank you card with a tea bag in it! Score. The cost per yard is very reasonable but the shipping is kind of expensive. However, when I compared to other places online with similar fabric it costs about the same if not slightly less. They do say they will refund you if they can’t use it all for shipping costs. Anyway, when I was in my manic mode of finishing pieces for the tag sale I realized I had already ordered the perfect amount of fabric to cover the rocking chair. Here is the rocker before, well kind of. As you can see in my typical fashion I forgot to snap a pic before I started but you get the idea!
Step two: Cover said chair with fabric. This will be a meaty step so I’ll break it down for you. Materials you will need are: Fabric, Staple gun, staples, scissors, permanent fabric glue, and upholstery trim/ribbon.
- a. Measure the fabric to fit the chair leaving about 1/2 inch on either side to make sure you have enough to staple. For this project I cut two pieces of fabric, the first to cover the entire length of the front (chair seat and back) and the second to go down the length of the backside. When cutting your fabric make sure your pattern is centered or lined up. This one I had to make sure my blue stripe was perfectly centered, the blue stripes actually acted as a guide for cutting so it made my life a little easier!
- b. Remove the upholstery trim so you have somewhere to staple. This chair had lime green upholstery ribbon trim lining the sides, you can see above all of the tacks along the edge, the trim hid these.
- c. Start stapling fabric to the chair. Using a heavy duty staple gun, start at the underside of the front. Fold your fabric under before stapling to create a clean line, always make sure your pattern is centered. Keep pulling taut and stapling as you go. I would do a few staples on one side then some on the other, this helped to keep the pattern straight. When I got to the seat crease I wasn’t able to get my staple gun in there so I tucked and straightened until I was satisfied. Then folded fabric under itself on each side and stapled. This fold and all of your staples will be hidden by upholstery trim so don’t worry too much if it looks a little messy on the edges. Continue pulling taut and stapling all the way up.
- d. Time to tackle the backside. I pulled the back seam apart that was being held together with those scary upholstery tack sheets. I removed all of the tacks and stapled my excess fabric from the front into the back section down below the seam so you wouldn’t see it. Then I grabbed my Fabri-Tac permanent adhesive. This stuff is like liquid nails for fabric. I made no-sew roman shades with it. I’ll share that post another day. Here’s what I’m talking about.
- e. Run a heavy bead of your glue along the inside of that seam, where my thumb is and the tacs are sticking out. Make sure your pattern matches up and glue the backside of your new fabric to the seam. Once that is set (it doesn’t take long for this adhesive to dry) run another heavy bead of glue along the seam on top of your new fabric and press the back seam in place. Keep pressing and smoothing, wiping away any excess glue. Always making sure your pattern lines up. It should look like this once adhered.
- f. Staple the edges along the trim line. I did a couple staples on both side to make sure it wouldn’t go anywhere. Then just continue stapling down the back side in the same way you did the front. When you get to the bottom fold your fabric under before stapling to create a clean line.
- g. Next cut your fabric to size to fit your arm rests. I decided to go with a horizontal line on the arms I think it adds some visual interest. I wanted the stripe to be centered so I measured and cut so they would match up. Staple around the arms in the same way you did the body of the chair. I also used some glue to adhere the front and back parts where I couldn’t staple.
Step three: Treat your wood/paint. Ok, so this should actually be your first step, but like I’ve said before I can be impulsive. I get really excited to start a project and just jump in without thinking. Anyway, if you have wood on your chair or any areas you want to paint you should do that first before upholstering. This is obvious isn’t it? Before I added my upholstery trim I decided I should do the wood first, thank goodness I had some sense. For this chair I loved the look of the stained wood with the light fabric but there was an old top coat on this that was chipping off. I took some sandpaper and lightly sanded off all the chippy finish. I had a vision for this piece in a little boys nursery so I decided to treat the wood with olive oil. My first son was a beaver (you should see our crib) so I wanted this chair to be all natural and safe for little baby beavers teething babies. Obviously olive oil is not toxic and it brings wood back to life. Here you can see a comparison, the right side is treated with olive oil, the left is just sanded. Amazing right?! For this I used olive oil cooking spray and sprayed it on then rubbed it in with a lint free cloth, for sections really close to the fabric just put the oil on the cloth first then rub it on. Make sure there aren’t any dogs around or they might try to lick your chair, don’t ask me how I know this. Wipe off any excess and you’re done. I’ve heard great things about hemp oil too, it’s on my list to try soon.
Step four: Finish off your edges with your upholstery trim/ribbon. Simply measure how much trim you need. I cut two pieces, one for each side for the entire length front to back. Using the permanent adhesive glue again put a generous amount of glue on your trim and press and hold working your way all the way around making sure to cover all your staples. I added a piece of trim to the front of the arms too. I found this trim at Jo-Ann fabric with Brayden’s help! He’s such a big boy and loves to help Mommy.
Step five: Finally stand back and admire your gorgeous “new” chair! I loved how this one came out so much. This one sold at the Tag sale and guess what? It went home with a mamma having a baby boy, who just happened to be an interior designer out of CT and follows me on instagram! I felt famous, and so excited! Thanks again Sara from Hartley and Hill Design for driving all that way, I really hope you’re loving this new piece!!
Thanks for reading. I hope this helps some of you tackle your next upholstery project. If I can do it, you can too!