A Foray Into Upholstery – Part 1

Alongside my established habit of acquiring fabric I also have a tendancy towards accumulating furniture through purchases on eBay and in charity shops. Some of it arrives here in less than stellar condition and therefore becomes part of the ‘project’ section of my life. One such purchase was a footstool I brought via eBay that was significantly larger than I had expected, but was a definite bargain and has turned out to be an incredibly useful piece of furniture. It’s on wheels and has storage so it’s pretty amazing but in a gold stripe fabric, it doesn’t match a single item in my living room.

I really wanted to have a go at updating it to help it match but wasn’t sure where to start. I had lots of enthusiasm but not having experience in this area was a bit worried I might end up doing a shoddy job that would forever niggle every time I saw the imperfections.

Then I chanced upon a relatively local (20 min drive away) upholsterer that runs sessions where you can just book in for half or whole days and receive expert tuition and access to all the tools you need as you work on a project. ‘Upholster as you go’ as it were. My husband incredibly kindly purchased a voucher that would cover 2 half days as a Christmas present for me and although it’s taken me a good while to get myself sorted and go I toddled along to my first session.

I didn’t take a brilliant before picture, sorry about that, but hopefully you can get the idea of what I started with.

Maria, the tutor, very patiently explained that I needed to get started by taking off the old fabric, handed me a tool box and showed me what to do. I guess I thought it would be a mix of sewing-y fabricness and DIY overall, this first session was most definitely more on the DIY end.

I used a staple lifter, mallet and pliers to remove the myriad staples holding the fabric covering the base before removing the lid and then the fabric on the sides. It was very time consuming and not massively skilled work. I think if I was going again with another piece I would be likely to get all the stripping done before I went so it was just a case of getting right into putting on the new fabric.

Maria showed me how to plan out how much fabric I will need to cover and line it so I know how much I’ll have to buy.

3 hours in and I currently have a semi dismantled footstool, with homework assigned to finish the removal of the old fabric before I go again in a couple of weeks so I’m all ready for the next stage.

It was a great morning in the small, friendly workshop with 2 others working on their projects at the same time. I was offered plenty of biscuits and tea to sustain me throughout. I can’t wait to get back and see what it will look like when it starts coming back together. I will, of course, post an update when I next go so you can see what happens next.

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