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The Furniture Reupholstery Process - What's Involved


Reupholstering furniture involves more than just taking off old fabric and tacking on new fabric. While reupholstering is a viable alternative to purchasing new furniture that probably contains material inferior to the components used in the making of your older furniture pieces, reupholstering does requires experience with:

selecting the correct kind of fabric (high thread count, stain and fray resistant) working with fabric which may be stiffer and harder to manage (suede or leather, for example)
access to professional reupholstering tools (staple guns, welting cloth, rubber mallets, cotton batting)
knowing where interior and exterior screws are located in chairs and sofas
measuring fabric to match the dimensions of the furniture being reupholstered
removing fabric so that it does not tear--you may need these pieces as templates
how to repair a damaged frame
how to blindstitch and securely attach buttons
knowing how different fabrics react to the upholstering process--silk and vinyl tend to tear if pulled too hard while leather can be stretched so far that it is unable to resume its original shape
any signs of dry rot will need replaced with new wood
Reupholstering an Ottoman or Footstool
To illustrate how involved the reupholstering process is, here are several condensed steps necessary in reupholstering a small footstool:
After removing the fabric, add a layer or two of quilt batting if the original cushion is flat before recovering.
When measuring for fabric without using the old fabric as a template, allow one inch extra of fabric for seams.
Add at least two inches to the height of the ottoman for seam allowance as well.
Pin the four-sided piece to the top piece and sew 1/2 inch seams on all sides.
When you are finished, remove extra fabric from corners.
Place this cover over the ottoman, pulling the fabric down so that is fits tightly.
Begin stapling the fabric underneath the ottoman, keeping the fabric taut at all times so there is no puckering or loose gaps.
Staples should be placed at least one inch from wood edges.
Do It Yourself or Professional?
Pros and cons of reupholstering yourself or hiring a professional involve decisions about whether you think you can do the job properly or if you would rather spend the extra money to have it done professionally. On the plus side, most upholstery contractors will:
pick up the furniture
order the fabric you want used
refinish any woodwork damage
replace foam or cotton in worn-out cushions
retie or replace old springs
repair loose-fitting pieces
The most fundamental problem people encounter when trying to reupholster furniture themselves is successfully working with the fabric of their choice. Leathers, suede, thick fabric and patterned fabrics are difficult to manipulate and require pre-planning regarding placement of fabric on the furniture so that lines and grains match all around. Precise cutting of leather needs tools such as leather shears, a clicker die, rotary knife or laser cutting device.

Consider what is involved before reupholstering a treasured piece of furniture. Research prices of fabrics and read about others experiences with reupholstering chairs, sofas or ottomans. Then you will be in a better condition to decide whether you want to do it yourself or allow a professional to complete the job.
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