How To's

This section contains many helpful articles telling and showing you how to do many aspects of upholstery. More will be included in the future.

The menu to the available How-To's are available below and on the side menu.

Cutting Layouts

The Importance of Making a Cutting Layout

A Cutting layout is just a plan of how and where you will making the cuts in your fabric. Making a layout of any type is one of the most crucial and important parts of the cutting process. Your layout will tell you if you have enough fabric for the job. Your layout also gives you a plan of where to make the cuts in the fabic.

The type of layout you use can be anything from some written measurements with a crude drawing up to a very detailed layout. The type of layout you make will be largely determined by your abilities and talents. For me, doing a detailed layout on the computer helps me greatly. Conversely, if a person is not computer literate, then a computerized layout could be a nightmare. However the concepts of how to do a layout is common to all types of layouts. If you do a layout by hand, then you must be reasonably good at math. You will be measuring and will be adding many dimensions. One major adding mistake can render your layout worthless.

Planning Where to Cut

A cutting layout (or a cutting plan) can be anything from a few measurements hastily taken to a very detailed layout plan (see illustration below). The amount of detail and/or the complexity of the plan depend upon a wide number of factors. A very simple job may not even need a written plan (although we may have a plan in mind), while a very large project with many parts may need a very detailed plan. Justg keep this in mind, if you start cutting without a plan, you have a large potential for not having enough fabric. (You may cut the wrong pieces in the wrong places, thereby causing a very inefficient use of the fabric.)

Various upholsterers use different methods to plan out how to cut their fabric. Some do a layout on paper, some just measure the sizes they need and cut from that (without making a layout. A few don't even make a layout, they just cut. For myself, before I start cutting the fabric, I prefer to plan out how I'll be cutting it.

Here is an example of one of our layouts, which I created using a drawing software. (To see the full size layout, click on above image. Note, after the full sized picture appears, click on it to enlarge it to full size. then use the scroll bars to see all the picture.)

 

The Software: I have been doing my layouts on my computer for probably about 10 years or more. I have used MS Publisher 97 for a while, but it didn't have the features I wanted. In recent years I have used both Open office draw  for a while (which has been improved and released as LibreOffice Draw) and then I've used TurboCAD 12. While neither of these programs are idea, I'd rather use either of them than doing a layout by hand.

The Process goes like this. Since I make a lot of layouts I usually set up a document template that contains all the pieces that I need. (If you will only be doing one layout, you'd just create a document.) For example, to make the template I rescale the dimensions of the template to be about 20:1. Then I create a large rectangle (that is scaled to the dimensions of the roll of fabric) that I place in the background, which will represent the roll of fabric.. After this I create smaller rectangles to represent all the pieces of fabric to be cut for each job. For example, some of the rectangles will be used as the Inside Arms, Outside Arms, Front Deck, Inside Back, Cushions pieces etc.  I attach dimension lines to all the rectangles. When I have all the pieces finished, I save the file as a template file.

For each new piece of furniture, I create a new document using the template file, which will have all the rectangles with attached template files already made. Then I simply resize the fabric rectangle in the background to be the same measurements as the roll of fabric. Then all the other rectangle pieces will be resized to fit the sizes of the current furniture.

When all the rectangles for the sofa pieces are resized, they will be place within the lines of the "fabric" rectangle. I'll visually guess which will go where, and will rearrange the pieces until it fits right. After saving the file by the client's name, it will be printed out. As each piece is cut, a check will be placed on the corresponding piece on the layout paper.  The layout paper becomes a cutting plan. By keeping track of which pieces are cut, it is easy to take a break and then come back.

Tags: 

Measure Your Furniture

How to Measure the Sofa or Chair

In order to make a cutting layout we need to measure every piece of fabric on every part of the sofa. (The actual pieces you measure will vary depending upon the style of your sofa.) Write down the widest point and the tallest point of every piece. Then add several inches to each measurement to allow for seam allowance and extra fabric to grab hold of to pull it. Measure all the welting. For a standard sofa, here is an example of what to measure (will vary with each sofa):

On the sofa deck (under the cushions) the fabric pieces that you need to measure are:

the Front Deck

Front Band

Front Band welting

On the arms measure

the Inside Arms*

Outside Arms

Arm Facing

Arm Facing Welting

On the backrest, measure

the Inside Back*

the Banding

the Banding Welting (add about 20 inches to what shows. This welting needs to be long enough to stick through the frame slots and put through to the outside. More about this later.)

the Outside Back

The Outside Back Welting

On the Cushions measure

the Cushion Faces (top & bottom),

Boxing

Welting

Zipper pieces

There may also be other pieces to measure that are not listed here.

*The inside arms and the inside back need special consideration. First you need to determine whether or not you will be using a stretcher cloth at the bottom of these. If so, then you will add about 3 or 4 inches at the bottom of each of these

 

Computerized Cutting Layouts

Choosing a Software

 

(You can probably use many drawing or CAD softwares to make a computerized cutting layout. If you already have a software that you already know how set up and to use, you can probably just use that software instead of the sofware listed below. However, you can probably use these instructions to set up and use your own software.)

"Automatic" Layout Software?

Just to be clear about what I mean by "computerized" layouts. There are two possible type of computerized layouts: automatic layouts and manual layouts. When some people hear the term "computerized" they might think that the software will automatically do the layouts for you. I have only seen one or two software that do "automatic" layouts. That means that you enter the measurements of the various pieces and the software will automatically do the layout for you. I've never used one of these. The one I mainly investigated was programmed using old style software and it was very expensive. Also, I haven't been able to find it in recent years.

Theoretically I would love to have a fully automatic layout softare. However, there are so many variations in doing layouts (i.e. doing pattern matching, etc.) that I think I prefer doing the manual layouts. I doubt that anyone will ever create a really high quality automatic layout software for upholstery because there are not enough upholsterers who could afford such a software.

Manual Layout Software

What I mean by "computerized" in this case is that I use the software to manually do the layout on the computer. This is very similar as if you were to draw the layout on some graph paper. The advantage of doing it on the computer is that you can easily move the pieces around until you get a good layout. And, if you don't like your first layout, you can easily rearrange the pieces again.

Desirable Software Features

Over the years I have tried out various drawing and publishing software to attempt to make cutting layouts. Over this time I have developed a list of features that a software MUST have in order to make it workable for creating layouts. While these features are directed at doing manual layouts, they could be used as a starting point if someone eventually wanted to ceate an automatic layout software or template.

  1. Must be able to create scaled-down large documents
  2. Need to have side and top rulers that are scaled to the sizes to be used.
  3. Must have a large area to create and layout pieces.
  4. It is very helpful to have multiple layers (a background layer (to create the fabric) and a foreground layer (to layout the pieces without affecting the background layer)
  5. Must be able to create transparent resizable rectangles, should be able to attach dimensioning lines to the rectangles
  6. Should be able to get rid of arrows and overhangsfrom the dimensioning lines.
  7. Need to be able to enter text into those rectangles. It would be helpful if the text could be moved around and/or have the font & size changed if needed.
  8. Be able to create polygons (such a T-shape or an L-shape) where edge can be easily adjusted either individually or as a mirror of the opposite edge. All edges should have the ability to have dimensioning lines attached, as well as showing the overall L X W of the entire object.
  9. ....... more to follow.............

 

To Match Patterns

In addition those features listed above, in order to help match patterns, the sofware needs

  1. The ability to have some type of grid system in the backgroud:
    1. where the grid point markes can be larger enough to be easily seen in the printed out layout
    2. where the grid size can be changed to correspond with the Horizontal and Vertical repeats of the fabric pattern repeats
    3. Have the ability to have choose the grid starting point. This would include being able to correspond with a beginning pattern match point on the fabric.
  2. Each Item Rectangle should have the ability to put a visible match point anywhere within the rectangle. The match point should have visible Horizontal and verticle dimension lines with measurements that print out inside the Items rectangles
  3. Optional: Be able to snap the match points in the Items rectangles with the grid markers on the background. 

 

 

Setting Up LibreOffice To Make Cutting Layouts.

 

The Software: Libre Office Draw

There may be many other fine drawing software that would work as well, or maybe even better, than Libre Office Draw. But this software is free and it is a quality software which does the job we want it to do. These instructions are for using the Draw features of Libre Office 3.6.1.2. But Libre Office is a branch of Open Office and the instructions should be very similar if you are using the Draw package of Open Office. If you have not already done so, download and install Libre Office. When you first open LibreOffice it asks that you register it. Go ahead and take a few moments to register your software.

Setting Up "Draw" For Making Layouts

As you follow this tutorial, I suggest that you save your Cutting layout as a drawing document right away, and then save it every so often, just in case something happens that you loose it along the way.  When you get it all finished, you can then save it as a Template so that it will be available every time you want to make a new cutting layout.

Here is an example of a basic cutting layout template which I created. On the Master  view (which is the background page, is the Fabric rectangle (by itself). Then on the "Normal" view (which is the foreground page) I've created three "Items" rectangles, which have the dimensioning lines attached ready for use. In the Normal view you can see both the background Master view (with the Fabric rectangle) and the forground (with the Items rectangles).

Here are the features that you need to change to make Draw more useful:

Setting up your page size: 

Format>Page

  Under the Page tab, Paper format, for Format choose Letter (it will automatically change to User when we are finished here). For Orientation choose "Landscape". With the Landscape orientation, the height should be 8.50", for width, choose 20"

The Width will vary from 11" to 30" to 40" or more, depending on how many yards your are laying out. When setting your page width, the variable is this, for every 5 yards of fabric, you will need 9" of width (plus your margins). As an example, if you have a 10 yard job, you will need the width to be 18" (plus margins). You can change the Width with each cutting layout. So, for this template we chose a width of 20" because it is a nice round number, it will handle most small to medium jobs, and because it will print out on 2 sheets of paper.

Setting up the measurements and other misc.

Now let's set some of the miscellaneous settings:

Tools>Options>LibreOffice Draw>

First choose the General Option>

  • Settings:
    • Objects always moveable
    • Unit of measurement : Inch (If you use a different unit of measure, set that here.
  • Scale    Change Scale to 1:20 - This changes the scale of the rulers and objects so that you can do your layouts to print out on regular paper. 

Then choose the Grid Option (see above picture)>

  • Under Snap, choose "To object frame" - This allows you to easily attach the dimensioning lines to your rectangles.

Finally, choose the Print Option>

  • Under Page Options   Choose "Tile Pages". This allows your larger layouts to print on multiple pages, which you can tape together.

Setting up the Dimension Lines.

Although I'm showing you how changings the settings below will affect the dimension lines, you won't be able to see the dimension lines or the measurements connected to the drawings until we set that up later below. I am only showing you those pictures to show you why you are making the changes to the settings.

Because we will be working with small rectangles on screen, we need to get rid of the arrows and overhangs at the end of the dimension lines. Here is an example of how the normal dimension lines look with the normal sized arrows and overhangs. They take up about half the interior of the rectangle.

Press F11 to open the Styles and Formatting box.

Right-click on "Dimension Line", choose "Modify".

Click on the Dimensioning tab, set all these to zero,

  • Line distance - Set to 0.00"
  • Guide overhang - Set to 0.00"
  • Guide distance - Set to 0.00"
  • Left guide - Set to 0.00"
  • Right guide - Set to 0.00"
  • Decimal places set to 0 for only full inch measurements, or set to 1 for full inch measurement with one tenth decimals

 

Click on the Line tab. The dimension line will be place on top of the rectangle lines. To make it stand out on the rectangles, do the following:

  • Under Color choose "Blue"
  • Under Arrow Styles "Style" chose -none- in both the right and the left arrow menu boxes. 

This is what the above rectangle with dimensioning lines now look like.

However,  the numbers are still too large, especially when we make very small rectanges, i.e. 10" x 12" etc. So let's make the numbers smaller, yet they still need to be readable.

Still in the Styles and Formatting box, right-click on the Dimension Line, click on the Font tab, Choose the Arial Narrow Font, Regular Style, and size 10. The numbers are now this size.

Next, we want to change the ID font to be a small but readable font. Still in the Styles and Formatting box, right-click on the Default label. Choose Modify. Then click on Font, choose Font: Arial narrow, Style: Regular, Size: 12. Click OK. The text in the center of your Items rectangle will look like this. (You won't be able to see it until you enter some text in that location, to be covered later on.)

Now you are finished setting up your Items rectangles.

When you are finished making your choices, click OK.

Setting Up the Fabric Rectangle Background

Drawings in LibreOffice Draw have both a background, which is called view "Master". You can put anything on this Master view that you want in the background of your drawings. Whatever you put on the Master view won't be affected by what you do on the drawing. 

We will use the Master view to put a rectangle representing the fabric for our layouts. To begin, go to to the top menu and choose View>Master:

This brings ups a blank page. You will know that you are in the Master view because a Master View message box pops up. (See right side of the larger picture below.) Start by clicking the rectangle icon in the lower left of the screen.

Since we will be resizing it below, draw a rectangle on the screen (see below) of any size. While the rectangle is still highlighted (it has the blue squares at the corner), choose the color white in the top menu, as shown below.

 

Resize the rectangle

While the rectangle is still highlighted, press f4, which will bring up the Position and Size box. Enter the Width as 360" and the height as 54". These measurements represent 10 yards of fabric. Click OK.

 

This should resize the fabric rectangle to be the full width of the page, as shown below. Just remember, in the future you can resize the page and readjust the size of the fabric rectangle for each job as needed.

Now click on the "Close Master View" button (see above picture.)

Setting Up the Items Rectangles

Click on the Rectangle icon at the bottom left of the screen

Draw a small rectancle of any size. While the rectangle is still highlighted (small blue squares in the corners) press the "f4" key, which will open the Position and Size box. 

On the Position and Size box that pops up, choose a width of 30" and a Height of 24". (You can actually make these any measurements that you want.)

Now to add the Dimensioning lines. At the bottom left of the screen, click on the "down" arrowhead by the arrow button (A in the picture below). The choose the dimension line icon (B).

Notice that the rectangle is no longer highlighted. Carefully put the tip of your mouse at corner A and draw your mouse to the right to corner B. Let go of the mouse button. If you have done it correctly, you should see a blue line with a 30" measurement on it, as in the picture below. (Note, your drawing will not have the arrows or the corner letters that are in this drawing.)

Click the tip of your mouse at corner C and drag it carefully down to corner B, and let go of the mouse button.

When you are finished, your rectangle should look like this below.

However, the dimension lines are not attached to the rectangle. When you move the rectangles, the lines won't go along. So we need to attached the lines to the rectangles.

Click your arrow cursor at the bottom left (A in the picture). Then click and drag a larger rectangle clear around the Items rectangles. This larger rectangle should be large enough to go all around with a little extra. If even one tip of the rectangles or lines are not in the rectangle, the next step won't fully work.

When we selected everything in the last step, the rectangle shows that it is chosen (see the little blue boxes at the corners). Carefully right-click with the exact tip of the mouse anywhere on the highlighted rectangle. From the context menu choose "Group."

When you are finished, the rectangle will look like this. You won't be able to see anything different. To determine if the Grouping work, just click on the rectangle and move it anywhere. If the Grouping worked, the dimension lines should have moved with the rectangle.

Now that we have all the parts finished, copy the Items rectangle (draw thelarger rectangle around the Items rectangle & press "ctrl+C") and make several other copies, ("ctrl+V") and move them wherever it seems good to you. In the picture below you will seen where I placed everything.

Create a Template-Making It Easy to Use Each Time

Now let's save this page as a template.

LibreOffice Draw is a very useful drawing program. Since you may want to use it for making other drawings as well as creating layouts, you need to create a couple templates for your cutting layouts. A template contains all the specific Draw settings for your cutting layouts. To make it more efficient to make cutting layouts, we have changed (above) some of the basic document settings.

Draw uses templates to remember the measurements and other settings in each document. It has a standard template that it uses whenever you create a new document. Since we want all of our cutting layout documents to use all the settings that we have created above, we need to save this documet as a template so that we can use it over and over again.

Now that you have all of your settings configured, save this blank document as a template: File>Templates>Save  Give the template a name under "New template" (We'll use "Horiz Cutting Layout Blank" as our example name) and choose the "My Templates" category. Click OK.

Whenever you want to create a cutting layout using these settings, go to File>New>Templates and Documents, click on Templates in the left pane, and then choose our cutting layout template in the middle pane (which we had named "Horiz Cutting Layout Blank"). Click on Open.

 

(to be continued)

Creating a Cutting Layout in LibreOffice

Before starting this tutorial, please read the pages on Computerized Cutting Layouts, and follow the instructions given on "Setting Up LibreOffice To Make Cutting Layouts."  Here is an example of a cutting layout using this method. (Click on the picture to enlarge)

You should also measure the cuts on your furniture and have that list of the ID's (i.e.  IB, IA, OA, etc.) and measurements in front of you before you start. You will be using that information to make the following cutting layout. (or use a sample list to practice with)

Summary

Here is what is happening. The template has already been set up according to the directions explained here: "Setting Up LibreOffice To Make Cutting Layouts." So, read and study that page so that you can better understand how to work with the template.

Since everything has already been set up and in place, in using this template we are basically resizing the fabric pattern that is on the Master layer to the usable size of the roll of fabric (not including the selvage.

Getting Started

After opening LibreOffice Draw, start a new document by using File>New>Templates and Documents>Templates. Choose the template that we previously created "Horiz Cutting Layout Blank"

Resize the page: Format>Page>Width

Start by resizing the page (if needed) for the amount of fabric you will be using. Remember you need a width of 9" for every 5 yards that you will use, plus margins. Then add a little extra.

Resize the fabric rectangle: 

  1. View>Master
  2. Click on the edge of the fabric rectangle and press the f4 key.
  3. In the "Position and Size" box change the width to the number of yards needed, in inches (multiply your yards X 36).
  4. Click OK
  5. Check to make sure that the fabric rectangle is center inside both side margins.
  6. Close Master View

 

............. This page is not yet finished, more to follow............

Cutting Layouts for Leather

In the near future I will be doing a button tufted sofa using 4 very expensive hides. I don't want to taking a chance on just cutting the piece without much planning. That could lead to some very expensive mistakes. So, I've been thinking about what the steps would be to plan out how to cut the leather pieces using a cutting layout template that I've created.

How do you make a cutting layout for leather? This is  especially useful if you have multiple leather hides for your job and you want to be able to do a computer layout on top of the leather hides.

A. Set Up Your Computer

  1. If you have not previously installed Libre Office (LO) on your computer, do that now. Go here:  Libre Office, download it and install it.
  2. If you don't have gimp or the professional grade of photoshop on your computer, you can get get Gimp here. Download and install it. The reason that we will be using Gimp is that the pictures of the hides will be distorted, so we will use Gimp to  straighten up the images so that be closer to realistice sizes and perspectives. Otherwise we would not be able to use the hide images with our LO Draw layout templates.
  3. If you have not yet previously set up Draw for making layouts, do that now. To do that, go follow these instructions now: Setting Up LibreOffice Draw for Cutting Layouts.
  4. Watch this YouTube Video: Gimp Tutorial, Using The Perspective Tool. Althought it's not quite the same as what we will be doing, it will give you a good idea of how the perspective tool works and will help prepare you a little for what we will be doing.

B. Prepare The Leather

  1. Now, let's get to working with the leather hide.
  2. Find a large flat smooth place to layout the leather hide.
  3. Carefully inspecte it for flaws, marks, holes, etc. Remember, these are all part of the character of leather. We are mainly looking for those that will ... be too much that affect the quality of the leather.

C. Measure The Leather

  1. Find the largest usable rectanger in the midst of the hide..
  2. Using large squares..... carefully lay out long rulers or long straight boards in that large rectangle shape, the outlines the largest usable area. Make sure that the corners are square and that is it a perfect rectangle.
  3. Measure the exact size of the outer edges of the rectangle, write the measurements down and bring them with you.
  4. Get a very tall ladder and set it up as close as you can get to the center of one side of the leather.
  5. Take your camera with a wide angle lense (a phone camera probably wouldn't be very useful here.)
  6. Climb up high enough on the ladder to get the whole hide in the picture. (The higher the better to get as close to a center shot as possible. If you could figure out a way to get dead center over the top of the leather, that would be perfect. However, since I can't do that, I take my pictures to the side, which leaves the picture in a perspective mode.

E. Now To The Computer

  1. Load the picture into the computer into a folder where you know where it is.
  2. Load the photo of the leather hide into Gimp (or Photo Shop). For this to work, it is important that the image software have a perspective mode. Gimp does and I think that Photo Shop also does.
  3. Use a filter that turns the photo into a drawing. that gets rid of all the color so the photo will be easier to work with in the future.

F. Correcting the Shape of the Image

Unless you took the picture exactly over the top of the hide and had your camera exactly square to the hide, the picture of the hide will be distorted. I will have a perspective distortion. This won't be very useful in trying to use the image of the hide in a layout. So, we will need to correct that distorted shape of the image.

  1. Scale the canvas size of the Leather image hide up to about 200 percent or larger, so there will be plenty of space for us to manipulate the image. Center the image on the canvas. Click the resize button.
  2. Open up LibreOffice Draw and create a new document from one of your Cutting Layout templates. Create a rectangle scaled to the same sizes as the rectangle you made on top of the leather hide. Copy the rectangle into the computer memory.
  3. Paste the rectangle into another layer of the same file as the leather hide. Center it on the layer.
  4. Scale the slide with the rectangle up to approximately the same size as the rectangle on the leather image.
  5. Drag the leather hide slide to be the top layer. Make sure that this layer is selected.
  6. Click on the Persective tool. If needed, watch is video again: Gimp Tutorial, Using The Perspective Tool
  7. In the settings below, adjust the image opacity to something about 25 to 50%. You want to be able to see the LO Draw rectangle in the lower layer as well as the rectangle on the leather.
  8. Since the bottom of the hide image will be wider than the top, move one of the bottom corners of the rectangle of that slide to line it up with the same corner of the LO Draw rectangle on the lower slide.
    1. Then move the other bottom corner of the hide rectangle to line of with the other corner of the lower rectanger.
    2. Take one of the top corners of the leather rectangle and line it up with the lower rectangle. The do the same with the last rectangle.
    3. Now, as you may have noticed, each time you move one corner, it also moves the rest of the corners. So, will have to keep going from corner to corner and readjusting each corner until you finally get all the corners lined up.
  9. Once you get all the corners lined up, Flatten the image so that  both layers are combined into one.
  10. Crop the excess blank space around the image.
  11. Save the file.

G. Using the Corrected Image in our Layout

Now that we have corrected the shape of the hide image, let's take it to our cutting layout.

  1. Copy the image into the  computer memory.
  2. Go back to the file you created in LO Draw (or create a new Layout file)
  3. Paste the image into the layout file. It may fill the whole page.
  4. Using the dimensioning tool to check the size, resize the rectange on the hide so that it is the same size as the rectangle that you made in step 18.
  5. Now your hide image should to the correct scale.
  6. Move it to the Master page (in the background)
  7. For each additional hide, start at step B3 and do which steps are necessary.

Uses For Computerized Layouts

 

Making a Cutting Layout

The most common use of this LibreOffice Draw template is to make a cutting layout for the upholstered chair or sofa that I'm working on. Then I print out the layout and use as a cutting guide. It tells me where to cut each piece and how big to make them. I also check off each piece as I cut it so that I can keep track of which pieces I've cut. Here is example of a cutting layout for a wing chair. (Click on the picture to enlarge)

Estimating Yardage

Another use for the cutting layout is to figure yardage more precisely whenever needed, such as when estimating a very large job. Although for most of my quotes I give an estimate of yardage based upon standard yardage charts combined with my experience, some jobs can use some extra help. For instance, I recently had to give a quote on 99 cushions to be done in vinyl (48 in purple and 51 in blue). The zippers would be done in a matching fabric to allow for better air flow. The job also included furnishing new foam for all the cushions.

Because of the client's ordering and budgeting restrictions, they had a certain budget that they could use each year for this. So the order had to be broken up into four years. Also, because of my job schedule I couldn't do it all at once and to break each year's portion into a manageable size for me. I was also ordering new foam for the cushions. Using the software I did a number of test layouts to see how many cushions to do at a time. (Using the software it is easy to create all the parts of one cushion, and then duplicate those parts to make many more cushions. It is fairly simple to use those parts to test out doing 5 cushions, 6 cushions, 7 cushions, 8 cushions, 9 cushions, 10 cushions, etc. at a time. Combining what I learned from doing these test layouts with the size of the cushions and the size of the foam sheets, I finally figured out that nine cushions was the best quantity to make each time.

Here is how I laid out the vinyl pieces (without the zippers) of that group of nine cushions. (Click on the picture to see the full size layout.) This drawing is only a piece of the larger layout below it.

So I used my LibreOffice Draw customized template to create two cutting layouts (using nine cushions in each group), one layout for the cushions using the purple vinyl and one for the blue vinyl. Shown below is the cutting layout for all 48 of the purple cushions. (Click on the picture below to enlarge) I also did a similar layout (not shown) for the blue vinyl cushions. I made a very simple layout for the zipper fabrics.

 You will notice in the layout that each group of nine cushions circled in a different color and identified by a number. This makes it easer to keep each set separate. Also, since the job covers 4 years, having this layout will help me keep track of  (and remember) what I've done and what needs to be done, as well as where to cut cut everything. In figuring the total yardage I add the normal extra yardage amount for the cutting allowance. I mark that out on the layout so I can remember what I did.

 

............ more to follow ....................

 

 

 

Making a Paper Cutting Layout

Not yet written, please be patient.

How to Cover a Dining Chair Seat

Some dining chairs have seats that are part of the chair frame. Other  dining chairs have seats that can be removed from the chair. This article applies to covering a removable dining chair seat with a solid plywood base.

This will also show  you how to cut the plywood, the foam, and the fabric for the seat.

Fabric: The typical dining chair seat of this type takes about 2/3 yard (24") of 54" wide plain fabric for each 2 chair seats. The fabric for each seat is cut 1/2 the width of the fabric (27") wide by 24" deep. If you have a patterned fabric that requires matching, then you should allow more fabric. This video only applies to using plain fabric.

Foam: For a dining chair seat you can use 1", 1 1/2", or 2" foam. We recommend the the foam have a density of 2 1/2 lb to 3 lb, and between 42 to 52 ILD. For further information, see Foam for Upholstery. Cut the foam 1/2" wider than the wood base all the way around. For example, if your wood base it 20" X 16", then you would cut the foam 21" X 17". However, Dining chair seats are generally wider in the front than in the back, so you will have to take that into consideration. and that's all.

Wood base. We recommend using a 1/2" plywood for the base. After cutting the plywood to size, round the corners slightly and dull all the  sharp edges, with either a router or a metal object.

The Process:

Mark the middle on the seat on the bottom on the front and the back of the wood base. Glue the foam onto the wood base. The foam should overhang the wood about 1/2" all the way around the seat.

Mark the center of underside of the fabric on the front and back of the fabric. Use a marker that won't bleed through the fabric. A woodworker's pencil or tailors chalk are good markers.

Spread out the fabric face down on a clean surface. Lay the wood base top down in the center of the fabric. Line up the center marks of the wood base and the fabric.

When stapling, run the length of the staple to go the same as the edge of the wood.

To keep everything in place, put heavy weight, or your knee, or your elbow in the center of the wood base. Using a webbing pliers or your hands, pull the front of the fabric around to the bottom of the wood base. Put a couple staples loosely in the front. Go to the back of the seat and pull and staple the fabric the same as on the front.

Note, While we are lining up the fabric, we only use a few staples to keep everything in place. Sometimes we may have to readjust the fabric so we don't want a lot of staples in the fabric yet.

Pull the center of each side and put one staple loosely in each side. You should now have the fabric stapled in a cross shape, with the four corners loose.

 

How to Make a Marshall Spring Cushion

 


Skills Or Knowledge Needed: 

Should know how to make a pattern for chair cushion. Should know how to measure, cut, and sew a standard box cushion. This tutorial will not teach you how to make a cushion. It assumes that you already know who to measure, cut, and sew a regular box cushion.


Tools Needed: 

Sewing Machine Shop vac (to use for stuffing the cushion)


Supplies Needed: 

Upholstery sewing thread for your sewing machine. heavy needle for your sewing machine Marshall spring unit cotton burlap scraps of foam spray foam glue hog rings very thin plastic, such as a roll of .31Mil Painter's Plastic Sheeting" paper or stiff cloth for pattern


How To Steps: 

Making a Pattern for the Cover

Use a paper or a stiff paper pattern to fit the cushion to the chair size. As you make the pattern, add the normal 1/2" seam allowance all around. Add an additional 1/4" crown allowance to the sides and the front, but leave all the corners their actual size plus the seam allowance. (Don't add the 1/4" crown allowance to the corners.)

Building The Spring Unit

Since each spring in the spring unit is approximately 3 inches in diameter, you probably won't be able to get an exact size unit to fit the chair. It is common to fill in padding around the edges of the springs to fill up the area that the springs don't fill. Many time cotton is used to till the area around the springs. In this particular spring unit we used foam scraps to fill in the area around the springs. Because this cushion was extra deep we use a thicker piece of foam on the front and the back. You'll need to add however much foam or padding is needed to fill up the distance around the springs.

Starting with a Marshall spring unit that is the right size for  your chair:

  1. Make a burlap cover that fits snuggly over the spring unit.
  2. Slip the spring unit into the cover.
  3. Close the open end with hog rings or by hand sewing shut.
  4. Sew through the burlap cover to sew the springs to the cover.

Specifications of Finished Cushion

Descriptions Specifications
Cushion boxing Cut 5 inches wide, 4 inches finished
Marshall spring unit 4" tall, 6 springs X 6 springs (18" X 18")
foam at side of springs 1" thick X 3 3/4" tall  X23" long
Foam at front and back of springs 2" thick X 3 3/4" tall X 18 1/2" wide
Cotton 2 layers wrapped entirely around
Thickness of finished cushion at center About 8 inches

 

How to Make a Tailored Skirt

(If you want to see this article on a page without the side menus or the header, click here (A new window will open.)

There is an art (with some careful details) to making and mounting a tailored skirt so that it hangs properly. Here are a couple pieces of furniture to show you what a tailored skirt looks like. Here is a wing chair with tailored skirt.

(Click to Enlarge)

Here is an example of a sofa with this same type of skirt method:

The Process

Many upholsters sew the skirt into one unit before attaching it to the furniture. They sew a welt, then sew each skirt panel with lining on the back, sew the panels and flaps onto the welt and then put the whole skirt onto the frame all at one time. I had used that method for years and never was quite satisfied with the way the skirts hung. Unless the sewing is very precise and the sewing machine is properly adjusted, sewn-in lining often makes a skirt hang unevenly.

My Alternate Method

In contrast, the method of this tutorial involves layering the pieces onto the frame separately. the welt is sewn and attached to the furniture first. then the skirt panels are folded in half horizontally and sewn and attached over the top of the welt. Lastly the under flaps are attached at each corner. I find that, since the bottom of the skirt is a fold instead of a seam, it hangs much straighter. I can get the skirts to hang much flatter and evener by putting one piece on at a time.

Although this tutorial explains the process of making a skirt one step at a time, we measure all the pieces of the furniture and do a cutting layout before we start the job. However, that is not part of this tutorial.

Frame Preparation

The skirt is usually the last thing to be put on the furniture. It is put on when the rest of the piece is almost finished. To make it easier to attach the skirt you should prepare the frame. When the old cover has been removed and before attaching the new cover you should determine the height of your skirt. If you will be attaching a skirt to a piece of furniture that previously did not have a skirt you may have to prepare the frame a little. For instance, if you decide that you want a 7 inch tall skirt, then you need to measure that height (plus 1 inch = 8 inches in this case) all the way around the furniture. There needs to be wood to attach the skirt. Sometimes you have to add some wood in some areas of the frame. However, be careful that you don't block off the pull-through slits where you will be pulling fabric through. In this case if filling in the wood at skirt height  will block off the pull-through slits, then don't add the wood until after you have attached the fabric on all the inside of the chair. In this case, you would attach the skirt wood just before you attach the fabric and padding for the outside arms and outside back.

A Word About Padding

When recovering a piece of furniture, a support lining and padding are added to the outside arms and the outside back as well as to the inside. However, when adding a skirt, the padding is left off of bottom area (all around the furniture) where the skirt will be attached. Depending upon the length of the skirt and how tall the legs are, you will not put any padding the last 2 to 6 inches up from the bottom all around the furniture.

Cutting the Fabric

Although you will usually cut the fabric for the skirt at the same time as you cut the rest of the fabric, I will only mention the fabric for the skirt at this time. A cording is placed at the top of the skirt. To determine the length of the cording, measure all around the bottom of the furniture and add about 5" to that measurment. The cording is cut 1 1/2" wide by that length.

The front and the back of the skir panel is made all in one piece. It is basically a long piece of fabric tha is folded in half with the ends sewn up.

 Cutting List

  • Front Skirt Panel - Cut 1
  • Arm Skirt Panels - Cut 2
  • Back Skir Panel - Cut 1
  • Under Flaps - Cut 4

Determining Sizes

In determining the cutting sizes we need to determine several measurements.

All these measurements assume that you are using a plain or a non-matched pattern. If you are matching a pattern, then you will have to adjust the sizes.

Cutting Height of Skirt

Skirt Length: The average skirt is aproximately 5 1/2" to 7" tall (although some can be much higher). Again, these measurements are arbitrary. The actual length can be any that the client likes. A simple method to determine the skirt length is just measure the height of the old skirt (if there is one). For this example, let us assume that we will use a skirt length of 7".

Clearance Under Skirt: The clearance of the bottom of the skirt off the floor is arbitratry. Actually you could have the bottom of the skirt setting on the floor, or 1/2" off  the floor, or an inch, or two inches or more off the floor. Years ago I  arbitrarily decided that skirts should be attached so that the bottom will be 1/2" off the floor, and that has worked out quite well. The examples give here will use this 1/2" measurement.

To determine what is best for your particular job look at the floor where the furniture will be located. If it will sit on a carpet, get a ruler and stick the end down into the carpet. Measure how tall the pile is. Add 1/2" to the pile height. For example, if the pile height is 3/8", add that to 1/2" (3/8" + 1/2" = 7/8"). So the bottom of the skirt  will be a theoretical 7/8" off of a bare floor - 3/8" carpet pile height = 1/2" above the top of the rug.

Cutting Height: As a reminder, our skirts are self lined with the same fabric on the front and the back. To get our cutting height, add 1/2" seam allowance to our skirt length of 7" = 7 1/2". Double the length of the skirt (i.e. 7 1/2" X 2 = Cutting height of 15"). So now we know that our skirt panels are to be cut 15" high.

Cutting Width

At the height where you will be attaching the skirt, measure the width of each side of the furniture frame (i.e outside arms, outside back, front). Add 2 inches to that measurement. (For example, if (at the height of the skirt) the outside arm measures 30" wide, add 2 inches to that measurement = 32". (Theoretically you only need 30" frame width + (2 X 1/2" seam allowance) 31", but I like to have an extra allowance to play with in case I measured wrong).

Cutting Sizes

Skirt Panels: So, for this example, using the above measurements, the cutting size of the Skirt  for the Outside Arms would be 32" wide X 15" tall (Which would be 30" X 7 1/2" after it was sewn and trimmed). Use the same above method for figuring the sizes of the other pieces. After you have cut all the pieces, it's time to fit them to the frame. With the face of the fabric facing the frame, hold each panel up onto the furniture frame in the position where it belongs (i.e. outside arm, front, etc.). Mark both ends on the backside of the panel where the corner will be, adding about 1/8" to the width.

Under Flaps: After the skirt panels are attached (see below) these are attached under them to cover the gaps between the panels. These are cut about 9 inches wide (size can vary) by the skirt height plus 1/2".

Sewing

Cording: First sew the skirt cording separately (wrapping the welting strips around the cords) and set aside.

Skirt Panels: Fold each skirt panel inside out lengthwise so that each piece will be the right finished height (as in our example) 7 1/2". Use a small square to extend the corner marks on each end of the panel where the seam will be. The sew the end seams and turn inside out. Go to the frame and hold the skirt panels in position to check the fit. If they fit OK, then trim the inside seam allowance off at 1/2" from the seam.

Under Flaps: If you have a serger, serg all for sides of each flap. Then hem (fold over 1/2" and sew) the bottom. If you don't have a serger, then sew a rolled him on the bottom and side edges.

Attaching the Skirt to the Furniture

Attaching the Welt: Assuming that you have the rest of the chair covered, and after you have cut and sewn the welt, it is time attach it to the frame.

Determine Cording Height: Put the chair on a perfectly flat table and make sure all the legs are fully touching the table. This is done with the legs on the frame. Before attaching the skirt welt, you need to determine how high to attach it to the frame. The easiest way to do this is to take your sewn welt and a sewn skirt panel over to the frame. (Bring a short ruler or tape measure with you.) Fold the top 1/2" of the skirt panel over. Hold the cording on the frame at an approximately appropriate height. Now place the folded top edge of the panel up under the cording (on the cording seam allowance). Holding those two together, check the clearance between the bottom of the skirt panel and the table top where the legs of the frame are sitting. Move the top up or down until you get an acceptable clearance under the skirt. (See "Bottom of Skirt" above.) Now measure the height of the top of the cording to the table top. This will give you the height to attach the cording to the frame.

Attaching the Cording to the Frame: Starting on the back of the furniture (using the ruler to measure the correct cording height) attach the sewn welt to the back corner of the frame first. Leave at least several inches of the welt loose, so that it can be joined later. Then go to the front corner, measure height, pull the welt snug and staple the welt at the corner. Go from corner to corner clear around the chair, measuring the height, pulling tight, and stapling. Don't worry about attaching the center of the welt until you have attached the welt to the corners all the way around. Join the welt on the back corner. Then measure and staple the welt at the proper height all the way around. Before doing the next step, carefully inspect that the welt is put on straight and at the correct height on all sides.

Preparing the Skirt Panels: At this point, the panels will have a fold at the bottom and a seam at each end. The top  will be the raw edges of the inside and outside of the panel.

If the fabric can be ironed (test on a scrap of fabric, and don't iron velvets), iron the panels, and crease the edges. If the fabric can't be ironed, then just try to crease  the edges. with some fabrics you can steam the the panels and edges.

Attaching the Skirt Panels: Before you start, make sure the panels have been turned right side out. Then take each skirt panel over to the furniture frame. Hold the panel upside down with the right side of the panel against the outside arm  upside down over the cording that has been attached to the frame. Align the raw edges on the downside of the skirt panel with the raw edges on the downside of the cording. (Most of the skirt panel should be above the cording on the frame.) Making sure to align the edges of the panel with the corners of the frame, put a staple or two into one end the skirt panel close to the corner. Then gently pull the other end of the skirt panel sideways to the other chair frame. Careful not to stretch fabric, you are only pulling out any looseness. Then put a staple or two near the end of the panel. At this point, both ends of the panel should be attached to the frame. Both ends of the panel should be even with the corners of the frame. If either end, or both are not even, the take loose and reposition. At this point it is important to get the ends lined up with the frame corners.

When you are sure both ends of the panel are properly aligned with the frame corners, it's time to attach the center of the skirt. Again, aligning the raw edges of the panel with the raw edges of the attached cording,  put several staples across the panel into the seam allowance of the cording. At this point the entire top (which on the bottom at this point) of the skirt panel should be attached to the frame. Now let the panel fold over and drop down into place. Check to make sure that the top  (and the bottom) all hangs evenly. If any part of the skirt panel is hanging unevenly, this is the time to take that the staples out of that part and reposition the panel and restaple.

Go around each side of the frame and attach the skirt panel in the same way. As you attach each panel, it should be touching the skirt panels on each end. When you have all the skirt panels hung, check that they all are hanging smoothly, that all the corners come together, and that the bottom corners of all the panels are even with the adjacent panels.

Attaching the Under Flaps: After you have checked that the panels are hanging smoothly, fold the panels back upward. You will need to pin them up so that they stay there while you are attaching the Under Flaps. Now put one of the under flaps upside down, with the top down and the face of the fabric towards the fabric, on the corner covering the end of the panels. Center the flap on the corner and staple it in place. Move the edge that is on the top (which is the bottom) so that it is about 1/2" lower than the skirt panels. (This will prevent the bottom hem of the Under Flaps from hanging lower than the skirt panels.)

Applying the Cardboard Strips: The last thing to apply to the skirt is the cardboard strip (sometimes called a tack strip) to hold the top of the skirt in place. With the Skirt Panels and the Under Flaps still raise up, place the cardboard strip overthe raw edge (Which is now at the bottom) of the skirt. Feel through the layers of the fabric for the cording. Place the strip snugly against the bottom of the cording. Space your staples horizontally about 3/4" near the top of the cardboard strip. Check your work as you go. After you have put a few staples in place, fold down the skirt to make sure the cording shows with the top edge of the skirt tighly against it. Then continue. As you staple around each corner, stop and fold down the skirt to check your work. When you are finished, fold down the skirt and enjoy.

When you are finished, you may want to pin the corners of the panels to the under flaps. Pin it on the back side so they don't show and won't wrinkle the skirt. Remove the pins before giving the the customer.

 

How to Reupholster a Sofa

 

Have you ever wanted to reupholster your sofa? Let this tutorial help you get started. It gives you a plan to work by.


Introduction: 

This article is in process of being written. This is just a rough draft. Come back later to finish reading the full article.

 In this day and age there are many shapes and styles of sofas. No one tutorial can successfully teach how to do all the details on all the various styles of sofas. This overview tutorial covers only a general basic upholstery process. It does not cover special components, such as attached pillows, channels, button-tufting or any of the other fancywork.

My first bit of advice is, if you have never done any upholstery before, stop. Do not do your sofa yet. Sofas are usually front and center in your living room. Start with some smaller and simpler projects (dining chair seats, small side chairs, etc.).


Skills Or Knowledge Needed: 

The ability to work with basic hand tools: hammer, pliers, screwdrivers, squares, how to read rulers and tape measurers

Know how to use a sewing machine.

To Learn about the terminology and abbreviations used in upholstery and in this article, go here: Upholstery Terminology & Abbreviations.


Tools Needed: 

Minimum Make-Do Tools

  • Hammer, any type, although i prefer a 16 oz. rip happer, like this.
  • pliers, any size (I prefer 8"slip-joint pliers).
  • flat-bladded and phillips screw drivers
  • Scissors, 9" or 10" (I prefer the Wiss 22WN 12 1/4" Upholstery, Carpet, Drapery, and Fabric Shears, Inlaid)
  • long ruler (I prefer the osborne No. 802-60 aluminum 60" X 1.5" X 1/8" UPC No. 64098) Since my cutting table is 60" wide this ruler goes all the way across. Also, since I cut my welt strips 1.5" wide this ruler is just the right width to measure them.
  • tape measure
  • hand or electric stapler
  • heavy duty home sewing machine?
  • work table or saw horses
  • a large flat surface for rolling out and cutting the fabric. You can build a table that is 60" wide by a minimum of 10 ft long, but the longer the better. OR, if your space is limited

For an additional list of tools, go here: Basic Upholstery Tools.

Fixtures

  • Sawhorses and/or work table on which to put the sofa while working on it.
  • Cutting table or large flat surface to roll out the fabric while cutting. Upholstery fabric is about 54" wide, so a fabric cutting table is generally about 60" wide. It can be anywhere from 8 ft to 12 ft long, or longer, depending upon the amount of space you have.

For an additional list of Fixtures, go here: Shop Fixtures.


Supplies Needed: 

  • Cotton
  • Dacron
  • staples
  • Upholstery weight thread for your sewing machine
  • heavy needles for your sewing machine
  • burlap: used to replace burlap over seat springs and back springs. Also used as a support lining on the inside arms, outside arms and outside back.
  • webbing: If the sofa has hand-tied seat and back springs, replace webbing that support those springs. Also use one strip of webbing horizontally on the inside arms as a support behind the burlap liner.
  • spring twine: If sofa has hand tied springs in seat and/or back, use to retie those springs. If the sofa has arc springs
  • Deck cloth
  • Zipper chain & zipper slides
  • cording
  • button twine
  • Tack strips
  • hand sewing thread
  • marker: Pencil, tailor's chalk (don't use felt tip marker)
  • graph paper (if you will be doing a layout by hand.) & glue stick
  • Single edge razor blades

If you are replacing the cushion filling, then you will need one or more of these:

  • Polyfoam
  • Dacron wrap
  • Marshall spring units


How To Steps: 

Advance Planning

Thinking out and planning a job in advance (as much as you are able) often makes a big difference in how a job turns out. It is so easy for a beginner to want to get started before he/she even knows what he/she will be doing. As much as anything, this tutorial will help you examine what you will be doing and help you in the planning process.

Assessing a Sofa to Reupholster

Just because you have a sofa in your house doesn't necessarily mean that you should reupholster it. It takes a lot of work and a fair amount of cost to reupholster a sofa. Make sure that you like your sofa before making the decision to recover it. If you do you like your sofa, then  skip the section below about finding a sofa, but read through the other sections below about accessing the style and condition of the sofa. If you really don't like your sofa, then you may want to find another sofa to recover.

Sofa Style:

Each sofa style will take a different amount of  work. If you are just a beginner, you may want to chose a very simple sofa style to begin on. If you have never done any upholstery before, we'd strongly suggest that you do some small simpler pieces of furniture before starting on a sofa.

Assessing the Condition of the Sofa:

As we inspect the frame, springs, and support linings, one of the primary principles we keep in mind is, "will it last the life of the new cover?" This will be our guide as we try to determine what to fix and what to leave alone.

Check the condition of the frame

Check the frame. Try to wobble all parts of the frame. wiggle the arms side to side, grab ahold of the top of the middle backrest and try to pull it towards the front and then push it toward the back. Try to wiggle all parts of the frame. Listen for squeaks and watch for frame wobble and loose joints. If the frame is wobbly, it can be fixed, but it ads some extra work. To fix loose joints often requires that you take everyting off the frame (fabric, padding, springs, etc. so that the joints can be opened up reglued, make triangle fitted corner blocks and reglued. You will also need to have some woodworking clamps. If you or a helper can do wood joint repairs, then you might be OK. But, if neither you nor anyone else is comfortable with doing the frame repairs, you might want to pass us any sofas that have loose jointed frames.

Determining the type and condition of the springs:

Sofas general have one of these types of springs:

Hand-tied coil springs, which are among the best types to have. If tied propery, coils springs give superior support and comfort. Much of the time yoiu can determine is the sofa has hand tied springs by putting your hand under the sofa and pressing up. If you feel a firm spring support underneath at the bottom of the sofa, it may be hand tied springs. A sofa with hand tied spring generally has webbing across the very bottom of the sofa, with the springs pressing down  against the webbing. This gives the bottom of the sofa a firm "full" feeling. When this type of set needs retieing, the bottom often sags down because the webbing stretches as it gets older. Also, the top between the springs will feel loose. 

Arc springs (commonly called zig zag springs). If, when you feel the bottom of the sofa, all you feel is

Machine wired coil spring

Rubber or Elastic Webbing

Take Pictures

After you have the sofa all taken apart, it can be quite confusing to try go figure out how all the assorted pieces get put back together.  "Better to have the pictures and not need them than to need them and not have them."
To the observant, the sofa itself will tell you how to put it back together. The pictures that you take and the old cover will show you far more than this tutorial about how to put it back together.

In this modern day of inexpensive digital cameras, it is nearly essential that every do-it-yourselfer (and professionals) have one within arms-reach, and use it constantly, throughout the whole process of recovering the sofa.
Before you start removing old cover, take pictures from all sides: front, with the cushions and without the cushions, back, side, bottom. Take pictures that include the whole sofa, take closeups that include just the arm, take extreme closeups that include any special detailing, such as folds on the front of the arms, etc. Take pictures throughout the whole process, from stripping the old cover off, taking the seams apart, cutting and attaching the new fabric, until you have the sofa finished. As you unsew seams, take pictures of how the pieces looked before you took them apart. (Be sure to mark the pieces, as described under Method 2: Cutting the Fabric.) Your pictures should also include showing how the folds are made,  the type of padding, the support linings, and anything else that you may need to know. Take more picture than you think you will need. Be thoughtful of how you frame the pictures and what you include in the pictures. Once you have the old cover removed, your pictures will be one of your main reference  points. The other main reference point will be looking at the old cover.

Choosing a Fabric

If this is your first sofa that you will be recovering, choosing a good fabric will help you do a better job. It is easier to work with a medium to heavy weight upholstery fabric.

Intended use:

Lifestyle of users:

Determining Yardage

 As you are determining the yardage amounts, be sure to allow an extra amount for making mistakes. Even professionals make mistakes, and as an amatuer you also will make mistakes. Depending upon your skill level you might add approx 25% to 50% additional fabric above any already generous amounts. As your skill improves you will need a smaller allowance. Even professionals commonly add an allowance of 5% to 20% more fabric for mistakes, fabric flaws, etc.. It is far better to end up with extra fabric than it is to run short of fabric for a job. Sometimes the fabric store or wholesale supplier may sell out of your chosen fabric. That could be a disaster, or at least a challenge.

Now, to answer the question, "How many yards will your sofa take". Look at one of the upholstery yardage charts that you will find here.

Ongoing Self-Inspection & Correction

We all make mistakes. Even professionals make mistakes. One of the biggest difference between a profession quality job and an amatuer job is that the amatuers don't correct their mistakes.

On the same vein, correcting your mistakes will improve your skill more than just about anything else. Correcting mistakes is often not dun and easy. Sometimes it involves taking a lot of the job apart. However, when you are in the mindsed to correct your mistakes, and you actually do correct your mistakes, your awareness increases dramatically. After you've corrected a lot of mistakes you begin to watch the quality of your work as you do it. Many professionals catch their mistakes as they begin to make them, and can make the needed corrections without much loss in time.

Amatuers often either don't see their mistakes (or don't want to see them) or don't care. They just want to get the job finished and don't correcte their mistakes. Consequently, their finished projects look like an amatuer did it. Here is something you should keep in mind. Correcting your mistakes may increase the time to recover the sofa by a few hours or even a few days. BUT, you will have to live with sofa for years. Do you want those mistakes staring you in the face for years to come?

 

Advance Planning

Advance PlanningThinking out and planning a job in advance (as much as you are able) often makes a big difference in how a job turns out. It is so easy for a beginner to want to get started before he/she even knows what he/she will be doing. As much as anything, this tutorial will help you examine what you will be doing and help you in the planning process.

Why do you wan to upholster your sofa

What is your skill level?

Do you have adequate space?

Do you have the time needed?

Assessing The Sofa

Assessing a Sofa to Reupholster


Just because you have a sofa in your house doesn't necessarily mean that you should reupholster it. It takes a lot of work and a fair amount of cost to reupholster a sofa. Make sure that you like your sofa before making the decision to recover it. If you do you like your sofa, then  skip the section below about finding a sofa, but read through the other sections below about accessing the style and condition of the sofa. If you really don't like your sofa, then you may want to find another sofa to recover.

Sofa Style:

Each sofa style will take a different amount of  work. If you are just a beginner, you may want to chose a very simple sofa style to begin on. If you have never done any upholstery before, we'd strongly suggest that you do some small simpler pieces of furniture before starting on a sofa.

Assessing the Condition of the Sofa:

As we inspect the frame, springs, and support linings, one of the primary principles we keep in mind is, "will it last the life of the new cover?" This will be our guide as we try to determine what to fix and what to leave alone.Check the condition of the frameCheck the frame. Try to wobble all parts of the frame. wiggle the arms side to side, grab ahold of the top of the middle backrest and try to pull it towards the front and then push it toward the back. Try to wiggle all parts of the frame. Listen for squeaks and watch for frame wobble and loose joints. If the frame is wobbly, it can be fixed, but it ads some extra work. To fix loose joints often requires that you take everyting off the frame (fabric, padding, springs, etc. so that the joints can be opened up reglued, make triangle fitted corner blocks and reglued. You will also need to have some woodworking clamps. If you or a helper can do wood joint repairs, then you might be OK. But, if neither you nor anyone else is comfortable with doing the frame repairs, you might want to pass us any sofas that have loose jointed frames.

Determining the type and condition of the springs:

Sofas general have one of these types of springs:
Hand-tied coil springs, which are among the best types to have. If tied propery, coils springs give superior support and comfort. Much of the time yoiu can determine is the sofa has hand tied springs by putting your hand under the sofa and pressing up. If you feel a firm spring support underneath at the bottom of the sofa, it may be hand tied springs. A sofa with hand tied spring generally has webbing across the very bottom of the sofa, with the springs pressing down  against the webbing. This gives the bottom of the sofa a firm "full" feeling. When this type of set needs retieing, the bottom often sags down because the webbing stretches as it gets older. Also, the top between the springs will feel loose.
Arc springs (commonly called zig zag springs). If, when you feel the bottom of the sofa, all you feel is
Machine wired coil spring
Rubber or Elastic Webbing

Take Pictures of Your Work

 

Take Pictures

After you have the sofa all taken apart, it can be quite confusing to try go figure out how all the assorted pieces get put back together.  "Better to have the pictures and not need them than to need them and not have them." To the observant, the sofa itself will tell you how to put it back together. The pictures that you take and the old cover will show you far more than a tutorial about how to put it back together.

In this modern day of inexpensive digital cameras, and with so many people having cell phones with built-in camera, it is very possible  that every professionals ( and do-it-yourselfer) have a camera within arms-reach, and and to be able to use it constantly, throughout the whole process of recovering the sofa.

  • Before you start removing old cover, take pictures from all sides: front, with the cushions and without the cushions, back, side, bottom.
  • Take pictures that include the whole sofa, take closeups that include just the arm, take extreme closeups that include any special detailing, such as folds on the front of the arms, etc.
  • Take pictures throughout the whole process, from stripping the old cover off, taking the seams apart, cutting and attaching the new fabric, until you have the sofa finished.

As you unsew seams, take pictures of how the pieces looked before you took them apart. (Be sure to mark the pieces, as described under Method 2: Cutting the Fabric.) Your pictures should also include showing how the folds are made,  the type of padding, the support linings, and anything else that you may need to know. Take more picture than you think you will need. Be thoughtful of how you frame the pictures and what you include in the pictures. Once you have the old cover removed, your pictures will be one of your main reference  points. If you took the old cover off the furniture in the sequence described in "Removing the Old Cover" and took pictures all along the way, that becomes your picturial guide of how to put the sofa or chair back together. The other main reference point will be looking at the old cover.

The Fabric


Choosing a Fabric

On your first pieces I recommend that you choose a fabric pattern that doesn't have to be matched. Matching patterns adds extra complexity that you don't need to deal with on covering your first pieces of furniture. With that said, if you choose a very plain fabric, any mistakes you make, or any wrinkles, will show up more clearly. So, a fabric with variated colors, or a muted pattern, or even a floral (with an all-over pattern that doesn't need to be matched) would be a good choice to help hide any imperfections of the finished cover.

If this is your first sofa that you will be recovering, choosing a good fabric will help you do a better job. It is easier to work with a medium to heavy weight upholstery fabric. Choose as heavy of a fabric as your sewing machine will sew. Since most do-it-yourselfers start out with a regular home sewing machine, this may be your biggest limiting factor. If you will be sewing cording in the seams (which means 4 layers of fabric in most sewing, and up to 6 layers at the seam joints), then you may need to use a fairly lightweight fabric. But if you won't be sewing cording in the seams, then you can use a thicker fabric. Before you make your final choise of fabric, you may want to purchase a 1/2 yard of whichever fabric(s) you are considering. Then do some experimental sewing on your sewing machine to see how thick of fabric your sewing machine can handle and whether or not your sewing maching can sew cording in your seams. 

Intended use:

Lifestyle of users:

Determining Yardage

 

As you are determining the yardage amounts, be sure to allow an extra amount for making mistakes. Even professionals make mistakes, and as an amatuer you also will make mistakes. Depending upon your skill level you might add approx 25% to 50% or more additional fabric above any already generous amounts. As a beginner you are likely to make mistakes (which is normal). As your skill improves you will need a smaller allowance. Even professionals commonly add an allowance of 5% to 20% more fabric for mistakes, fabric flaws, etc.. It is far better to end up with extra fabric than it is to run short of fabric for a job. Sometimes the fabric store or wholesale supplier may sell out of your chosen fabric. That could be a disaster, or at least a challenge.

Now, to answer the question, "How many yards will your sofa take". Look at one of the upholstery yardage charts that you will find here.

Cutting & Sewing the Fabric

There are at least several ways to plan your cutting that involve anything from using planning your cuts to using the old cover for your pattern. Below are two different methods to cut your fabric. Use whichever method best matches with your skill sets and your temperament.

Method 1: Measuring the Sofa & Making a Cutting Layout.

 

Pros, Benefits of Making a Cutting Layout:

 

Since you make a layout in advance:

  • You know how much fabric you will be using. You will also know much quicker if you need to get more fabric.
  • Cutting the fabric is much less stressful. You know where to cut each piece. Your cutting layout is actually a cutting plan, and you just mark and cut the fabric following the plan.
  • You can leave the old cover in place as you cut and sew the new cover. You can refer to the old cover at any time because it is still in place.
  • If you want to, when you are ready to put the new cover on the sofa, you can just remove one piece at a time and put the new cover back on that same piece. The amount of time between when you take the old piece off and when you put the new cover on that piece isn't very long. So you should be better able to remember how it came off.
  • Since you normally don't take apart the seams of the old cover, you have it to refer to if needed.

Cons, Disadvantages of Making a Cutting Layout:

 

On some pieces that need to be fitted, you cut the fabric twice, once from the layout rectangle size, and then cut it to shape.
It can be much more stressful to try to measure the sofa and to create a layout the first time.
Making a layout can be very tedious and take a lot of time, especially on your first time.

Measuring the Sofa

In order to make a cutting layout we need to measure every piece of fabric on every part of the sofa. (The actual pieces you measure will vary depending upon the style of your sofa.) Write down the widest point and the tallest point of every piece. Then add several inches to each measurement to allow for seam allowance and extra fabric to grab hold of to pull it. Measure all the welting. For a standard sofa, here is an example of what to measure (will vary with each sofa):

On the sofa deck (under the cushions) the fabric pieces that you need to measure are:
the Front Deck
Front Band
Front Band welting
On the arms measure
the Inside Arms*
Outside Arms
Arm Facing
Arm Facing Welting
On the backrest, measure
the Inside Back*
the Banding
the Banding Welting (add about 20 inches to what shows. This welting needs to be long enough to stick through the frame slots and put through to the outside. More about this later.)
the Outside Back
The Outside Back Welting
On the Cushions measure
the Cushion Faces (top & bottom),
Boxing
Welting
Zipper pieces
There may also be other pieces to measure that are not listed here.

*The inside arms and the inside back need special consideration. First you need to determine whether or not you will be using a stretcher cloth at the bottom of these. If so, then you will add about 3 or 4 inches at the bottom of each of these

Planning Your Cuts

Making a Cutting Layout

 

Here are three different ways to do a planned layout. For each of the pattern pieces just make a rectangle. Don't worry about shapes or darts at this point.

Pencil and paper:

Use a large piece of paper (butcher paper, etc.) and draw out a large rectangle, to scale, to represent the fabric size. Then lightly pencil in the various pattern sizes, with ID marks and measurements, in the middle of the large rectangle. Erase and rearrange as necessary to get the best use of the fabric.


Graph paper:

Scale down your measurements so that one inch equals one square (or something similar). Tape together enough sheets of graph paper to the size of your fabric. Lay the graph paper on a large flat piece of cardboard or a corkboard and use thumbtacks to attach the graph paper. You can lay board flat or put it up on the wall.  Then, for each fabric piece, Draw a dark line around the edges of each pattern piece, following the lines of the graph paper. to mark each piece to scale. As you cut each piece, mark it (i.e. IB for inside back, IA for Inside arm, OA for outside arm, etc.). Also mark the L  X  W size on each piece. When you have all the patterns cut. rearrange then on the fabric graph paper base to get the best fit. As put everything in place, use thumbtacks to hold the small rectangles of graph paper onto the large piece of graph paper. Rearrange the cut pieces to get the best use of fabric.


Drawing or CAD software:

This is the method that I use. It is the hardest to learn, but is the easiest and most efficient to do once you have master it. It works similar to the graph paper, except on the computer. You draw one large rectangle to represent the roll of fabric. Then, using the measures from your sofa, you make rectangles to represent the cut sizes of the different parts of the sofa. Attach dimension lines to each rectangle, and label the rectangle for each sofa part (i.e. IA = Inside Arm, IB = Inside Back, etc.) Arrange the labled rectangles on top of the large rectangle to get the best use of the fabric. Then print out the finished drawing and use as a guide to mark and cut the fabric. As you cut each piece, transfer the identification marks from the drawing to the back of the fabric.


Cutting The Fabric

 

Assuming that you are using a plain fabric, you can railroad the fabric (cut from the side). Since you (presumably) have already did a fabric layout, just mark and cut the fabric following the your plan. You can use a carpenter's framing square to square up the fabric.

As you cut out each piece of fabric, draw a line along the top edge to identify which is the top of the fabric.Also mark an id mark on the back side of each piece. When marking the back, careful to use a marker that won't bleed through the fabric.

Fitting The Cover

You can either fit each piece of the new cover while the old cover is still attached to the frame (which is easier) OR you can fit each piece (after the cover has been removed  and the frame has been prepared for covering) as you are ready to attach it to the frame. For this tutorial, we will assume that you will use the first method.a ...

For any pieces that need to cut to shape, lay the precut pieces upside down on the corresponding pieces on the old cover (which is still on the sofa), check all around the edges that everything has enough for at least a 1/2" seam allowance. and pin it in place. Once the new fabric is anchored in place with the pins, use a marker to draw on the back side of the new fabric along the seams of the old fabric. Wherever there aren't any seams, push the fabric into the crevaces so the fold makes a right angle. Wherever appropriate, draw a line around those fold lines. Then, before cutting it, add a 1/2" seam allowances to all seam areas

a If you will be doing any rebuilding or repadding of the frame, then we'd recommend you use the second method.

Sewing The Cover

If the inside back has a cording around the front, then when you sew the cording onto the IB piece, center the cording so that the cording will protrude about 5-10 inches past the bottom edge of the IB. You will need this extra cording sticking out when you attach the IB to the frame.

Removing the Old Cover

When you have all the new cover sewn, take off the old cover. For instructions, see Method 2, Removing The Old Cover.

You have a choice. You can either take off the entire old cover at one time, or you can take only as much apart as needed at one time.

Method 2: Using the Old Cover for a Pattern

 

Pros, Advantages of Using the Old Cover for a Pattern:

 

  • You don't have to worry or stress about measuring and doing a layout.
  • Providing it fits, you can use the old cover as a pattern. This can help you make a good fitting new cover.

 


Cons, Disadvantages of Not Doing a Cutting Layout in Advance:

 

  • You won't know if you have enough fabric until you have every last piece of fabric cut. If you don't have enough fabric, you might not be able to get more, or it might make you put the job on hold until the new fabric arrives. Since this is not a very efficient use of fabric, make sure you have plenty of fabric.
  • You won't have the old cover on the frame to refer to as you cut and sew the fabric
  • Since you take all the seams apart, you may get confused about how it all goes back together.
  • Since you won't be able to plan your cuts very well, you may cut inefficiently and therefore run short of fabric. In this case you may have to piece together together some of the scraps to make some of your pieces.
  • Some people use the old cover as a pattern to cut the new fabric. This method is for people who don't like to make a layout.

 

Removing the Old Cover

 

For more helping in removing the old cover, see Tear Down Methods and Using An Air Ripping Chisel

As you remover the old cover, take care to remove each piece without ripping it very much. When you start putting the new cover on, you may find it useful to look at the old cover to see how it was made, how it was folded, etc. If you just rip the old cover to shreds while removing it, then you won't have it as a guide to help you put the new cover on.

To remove the old cover, you will mainly need a hammer and ripping chisel. Other tools that you will also need are a pair of pliers, scissors, a staple remover, screwdrivers, and (occassionaly, some wrenches).

You will remove the old cover the opposite way how it was attached, removing the bottom and outside first.

If the sofa has a skirt, remove that first.
Turn the sofa on its back or upside down.
Remove the dustcloth (It is the one piece you can just rip off.)
With the sofa still upside down, take loose all the fabric that is attached to the bottom of the sofa.

the bottom edges of the outside arms, outside back, and deck.

 


Cutting the Fabric

 

After you have all the old cover stripped off the frame, remove all the tacks or staples from the old cover. First draw alignment marks, with ID letters, on both sides of all seams on the top side of the old cover. Then take apart all the pieces of the cover, take apart all the seams, and iron them all flat. If the old cover is very soft and limp, you might want to use some spray starch on it as you iron it so that it will lay out flat and stiff. That will make it easier when you are trying to lay it out for a pattern. Make sure that you mark each and every piece, no matter how small, where it came from, (IB, IA, OA, etc.) or all the pieces will become one big jumbled mess that will be very confusing.

Then you'll need a large flat and very clean area to roll out the fabric. It could be on a long table, floor, deck, etc.  If you decide to make a table you might like to know that the upholstery cutting table that many upholsterers use is 60" wide. Roll out the fabric

(If at all possible, it would be very helpful to be able to roll out the whole role of fabric at one time.)

Sewing The Cover

 

...

Preparing the Frame

 

Preparing the frame

After all the fabric has been removed, examine every place where the fabric had been attached. Clean up the frame from staples, cotton and fabric. You want to remove anything that will have a sharp edge or that will leave a bump. There are usually staples still in the wood. Remove the staples that have one prong sticking up. You can hammer flat the staples that have both ends in the wood.

While you are examining the frame, also examine the strength of the joints and boards. If the frame has any loose joints, you will need to either take that part of the frame apart or open the joint(s) up enough to glue (use a carpent's wood glue) into the joints and into the dowel holes. Sometimes you may also need to make fitted triangle shaped blocks to further strengthen the joint. After gluing, securely clamp the joints together until the glue dries. (Read the directions on the bottle of glue to find out how long to leave the clamps on.)

If you will be adding a skirt to this sofa, determine how tall you will want the skirt (6"-8" is a common height for skirts, measure to the top of the skirt welting. Then you'll want to make sure that the frame has wood to attach the skirt all around four sides. Sometimes you may need add wood to the frame to attach the skirt. However, if you need to add this wood, don't block any areas where fabric pulls through from the inside. If your chosen skirt height requires that you add wood to "pull through areas, then wait to add the wood until you have the inside of the chair finished.

The prevailing Thought

In examining and repairing (as necessary) the frame, springs, support linings, and paddings, keep in mind that each of these needs to last longer than the new fabric that you are applying. What is the point of putting a new cover on if the frame, springs, support linings, or padding will give out before the fabric wears out? So, as you are examining each of these, if any of them is not in excellent shape, you may be well advise to replace or repair them.

Springs

Most of the low to medium quality sofa have zig zag (arc) springs. This tutorial doesn't cover hand tied springs.

Test the springs for squeaks. Press down each spring and listen for a squeak. If you hear any squeak, you would most likely need to replace the spring clips at the end of the springs. (The springs clips have a paper insulation on the inside. When the paper wears through, then you have metal to metal rubber, which causes the sqeaks. Replacing the clips generally elminates most spring squeaks.

Next, tie about 4 or 5  strands of spring twine the length of the sofa. Tie the twine from spring to spring (tie both sides of the spring), attach each end of the twine to the sofa frame.

Then put new burlap over the springs. Add an insullation pad (or carpet pad) over the springs, followed by a layer of cotton.

Paddings

 

Paddings

Support Linings

The support lining usually consists of burlap, with jute webbing straps underneath.

The support linings hold the padding in place. It is important that they are in good repair if you want the sofa to stand up to much use. To replace the support linings you generally need to remove the padding, taking pictures and keeping a keen eye as to how the padding is attached. After the padding is off, examine how the old support linings and webbing was attached and (providing it was professionally done previously) put the new burlap and webbing on the same way. Then, either put the existing padding back on, or replace with new padding, replacing it the same as it came off.

Cushion Filling

Most modern sofas will have polyfoam in the cushion. Even the cushions had springs or something else in them, you can still put new foam cushions in them. If you will be putting a zipper in the seat cushions (which is recommended) you can always replace the foam in the cushions at a latter date). When replacing the foam, use a high quality foam of at least 2.5 lb to 3 lb. which will give you many years of service.

Attaching the fabric

 

Attaching the Fabric

The Deck

The Inside Arms

The inside Back

If the IB has a welt sewn around the edges, then, at the inside bottom corners (if needed) cut the fabric off the covered welting. You want the welting (including the covering fabric) to be loose from the other fabric enough so that you can stick it through the frame slot at the bottom of the IA. The welting should stick out so that you can grab hold of it at the outside arm.

The Cushion

The best time to fit the cushion is after the inside arms and inside back have been attached, and BEFORE the outside arms are attached. This will give you the ability to adjust the size of the seat area, if needed. For example, if the cushion is a little too big you can put the bottom of the inside arm tighter to increase the distance in between the arms. You can also pull the bottom of the inside back a little tighter, which increases the front to back measurement of the cushion area.

If the cushion is a little too small, then you can take the bottom IB and IA loose and let the fabric out a little. You can also stuff some cotton (neatly and straight) in back of the IA & IB padding from the outside bottom. This will decrease the width and depth of the seat cushion area.

If the old cushion is good enough condition, put it onto the deck to see how it fits. If it fits fairly well, you can take apart the cushion cover and use it as a pattern for the new cushion. If the cushion is too big or too small, make marks on the old cushion to show how much will need to be added to or cut off the old cushion cover.

The Outside Arms

If you are adding a skirt, and if you need to add wood to the area where the inside arms pull through, this is the time to add that wood.

Attach the top of the OA fabric first. Lay the OA fabric inside out over the inside arm. Attach both ends first, then straighten the top edge of the fabric as you put a few staples across the top. Now attach a cardboard strip across the top, keeping it straight. Put the staples near the upper edge of the cardboard strip.

To add padding, use burlap or other strong fabric and staple to outide arm. Add layer of cotton or bonded dacron over the burlap. (If the padding is thick, you can often split it and only use a half thickness to pad the outside arm. Also, if the sofa has a skirt, only pad the area above the skirt. The staples used to attach the skirt will hold better if you don' t have the additional thickness of the cotton

Now unfold  the OA fabric down from over the IA. Line up the weave of the OA fabric with the frame at the front of the arm, then staple the center bottom under the sofa. If the sofa has a facing staple the bottom of the OA fabric around the front of the arm. Alternatively, if the sofa uses a tack strip at the front edge, put that in now. Next pull and staple the OA rear bottom fabric, tacking up all the slack at the back and bottom of the OA..

The Outside Back

The Skirt

Correcting Mistakes

 

As you begin upholstery you have to balance learning to correct mistakes against perfectionism.

Ongoing Self-Inspection & Correction

We all make mistakes. Even professionals make mistakes. One of the biggest difference between a profession quality job and an amatuer job is that the amatuers don't correct their mistakes.

On the same vein, correcting your mistakes will improve your skill more than just about anything else. Correcting mistakes is not fun and easy. Sometimes it involves taking a lot of the job apart. However, when you are in the mindset to correct your mistakes, and you actually do correct your mistakes, your awareness increases dramatically. After you've corrected a lot of mistakes you begin to watch the quality of your work as you do it. Many professionals catch their mistakes as they begin to make them, and can make the needed corrections without much loss in time.

Amateurs often either don't see their mistakes (or don't want to see them) or don't care. They just want to get the job finished and don't correct their mistakes. Consequently, their finished projects look like an amateur did it. Here is something you should keep in mind. Correcting your mistakes may increase the time to recover the sofa by a few hours or even a few days. BUT, you will have to live with sofa for years. Do you want those mistakes staring you in the face for years to come?

Avoid Perfectionism

Even as you are learning to correct your mistakes, avoid perfectionism. If you get trapped in trying to make everything perfect, you never will finish your project and it may become a nightmare. Realize that you will make mistakes, and that is OK. Correct the mistakes that you have made IF you don't have to take apart a lot of your work. Later on, if you continue in upholstery, you will have a higher degree of skill and knowledge so that you will correct more of your mistakes (which teaches you to make less mistakes).

Summary:

Just do the best you can with your current level of skill, but keep pressing on. Don't let yourself get bogged down or overwhelmed.

Removing The Old Cover.

How to Remove The Old Cover From a Sofa or Chair

In this tutorial I will describe two ways to tear off the old cover. You may choose whichever method you like. with one method you take all the old cover off the frame in preparation for putting the new cover on. In the second method you will take one piece off at a time and replace it with the new fabric.

Standard Tear-Down Method

This method can be used whether you are measuring, cutting and sewing the fabric before teardown, OR if you are tearing down the furniture in advance and using the old cover as a pattern.

If you will be using the old cover as a pattern to cut the new fabric, then you want to be careful not to tear the old fabric very much as you take it off.

Before you remove the cover, take a moment and get your camera. Think about this, as you take the old cover off the frame, if you take thorough pictures at each step throughout the whole process, those pictures, in reverse order, become your customized tutor/guide of how to put the sofa back together. Proceed the tear-down in this manner.

  1. If the furniture has a skirt, remove it at this point
  2. Lay the sofa or chair on it's back on a table, workbench or saw horses.
  3. Remove the legs
  4. Take off the dust cloth
  5. Take loose the fabric from all around the bottom of the furniture.
  6. Turn the furniture upright.
  7. Take the fabric off the outside back (sides and top) so that it is loose. If there is padding on the back, remove the padding and the support lining. (If you will be reusing the padding, be careful to not rip it)
  8. If the the front of the arm has a facing on the front, remove it at this time.
  9. Take loose the fabric off the outside arms and remove it. If there is padding on the outside arms, remove the padding and the support lining. (If you will be reusing the padding, be careful to not rip it)
  10. If the furniture has wings, take the fabric off the outside wings
  11. Take loose the ends of the fabric from the horizontal Tapull-through slots near the bottom of the outside frame on the back and outside arms. (Be careful NOT to unfasten the burlap or other support cloth, unless you will be replacing or tightening it)
  12. Take loose the ends of the fabric from the verticle pull-through slots at the back corner uprights.(Be careful NOT to unfasten the burlap or other support cloth, unless you will be replacing or tightening it)
  13. Take the cover off the inside back, starting by taking it loose at the top. Then unfasten it from any other places (sides, bottoms, etc.) Leave all the padding in place, unless you will repairing or replacing the support linings or the padding.
  14. Take the cover off the inside arms. Leave all the padding in place, unless you will repairing or replacing the support linings or the padding.
  15. If the furniture has wings, remove the cover at this time. Leave all the padding in place, unless you will repairing or replacing the support linings or the padding.
  16. Take the cover off the (seat) decking at this time. Leave all the padding in place, unless you will repairing or replacing the support linings or the padding.
  17. Now that you have all of the old cover removed, careful to keep all the old padding in place (unless you will repairing or replacing the support linings or the padding.)

 

As shown by the  above directions, you take a sofa (or any furniture) apart in reverse of how it was put together.

 

Alternate Tear-Down Method

Use this metho if you will only take off one piece at a time, and then put the corresonding new cover on that piece.
Go through steps 1 through 9 of the Standard Tear-Down Method  above.
 
  1. 10 Take the cover off the (seat) decking at this time. Leave all the padding in place, unless you will repairing or replacing the support linings or the padding.
  2. 11.Put the new cover for the seat decking and attach.
  3. 11. Take the cover off the inside arms. If the furniture has wings, remove the fabric off both the outside and the inside wings. Leave all the padding in place, unless you will repairing or replacing the support linings or the padding.

More to come later.....

 

How to Stuff a Chair Seat Cushion

There are many ways to stuff a cushion. I stuffed cushions by hand for many years. Some upholsterers have a cushion stuffing machine. Others have a cushion stuffing that uses vacuum. A noiseless "Silk Film" is sold for use with a vacuum Cushion Filling device. It comes 53" wide in a 20 lb. roll (of possible a few thousand yards). Upholstery supplies specifically for wrapping the cushion prior to stuffing it. However, since the roll costs over $120, this video uses a painter's plastic that you can get at your local hardware store.

This video shows you how to stuff a cushion with only using a Shop Vac and some thin plastic. The plastic that I use is a .31 mil painter's plastic that comes in a roll 9 feet wide and 400 feet long. You can also just buy a small package of a painter's drop cloth. The idea is to get as thin of plastic as possible.

You can probably use almost any vacuum that has a suction hose it. However a more powerful vacuum will just do a quicker job of shrinking the cushion.

(Once you start the video playing, you can click the icon in the bottom right corner to make it play full size on your screen)

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To stuff the cushion:

  1. Cut a piece of plastic across the roll about 2 feet wider than you cushion width. (The piece of plastic used on the video was about 4 foot x 9 foot.)
  2. Wrap the plastic around the cushion in a big loop from front to back. Make sure that the plastic extends past the cushion to lay flat on the table a few inches all the way around the cushion.
  3. Put the cushion cover on the table in front of the cushion filling.
  4. Put the vacuum head on the foam or filling under that plastic at the back of the cushion.
  5. When you turn on the vacuum all the loose edges of the plastic will be sealed the for force of the suction.
  6. Once the cushion has been compressed to its minimum size, simply slide the cushion into the cushion cover, push it all the way in so that it presses against the front of the cushion. Before turning the vacuum off, align the cushion cover with all the sides.
  7. Turn off the vacuum, as the filling expands, guide the cover to keep the edges aligned with the foam. (If for some reason the cover is lopsided on the foam, just turn the vacuum back on to shrink the foam again. Then readjust the cover and turn the vacuum off again).
  8. When the foam has full expanded inside the cover, reach inside to the front of the cushion and carefully tear the plastic across the front and pull the plastic out of the cover. Again, be careful that you don't mess up the padding inside the cushion as you remove the plastic.
  9. After all the plastic has been removed, check the front of the cushion. If the foam or filling does not fully fill out the front of the cover, pull the cover      to back onto the foam (see video).
  10. Press the foam back into the cover as you zip up the cushion.
  11. Check on all sides of the cushion that the seams and corners are square on the cushion. Adjust if necessary.

 

Incidentals

How to Make a Nail Button

Introduction

Sometimes an upholsterer needs to make a nail button. Although there are various other ways to make nail buttons, this method uses a standard button die to make the button.

Tools Needed

  • A button press
  • Button dies
  • Dykes
  • Hammer
  • needlenose or fine tip pliers

Supplies Needed

Upholstery cardboard or cardboard strips

button tops and bottoms roofing nail (1" to 1 1/2")

To make nail buttons, you need the top and bottom button dies, a roofing nail of the correct length (aprox 1") and a cardboard strip (or other upholstery cardboard)

 

Cut the middle of the loop

cut back

Pull out the loop pieces

Center Roofing name inside button back

Hammer nail through center only part way ....


.... just enough to get nail through


Push nail through the rest of the way


Cut 3 pieces of cardboard to fit inside of back


Put into button press.

Center 3 layers of cardboard into press.

Put button cap and fabric into press.

Use press to make button.


Take out the finished "no dent" nail button.

Now you nail button is ready to nail onto your furniture

Making Edge Roll


IMG_6295-warmann.JPGHave you ever been in the middle of a job and realized that you needed the some edge roll for the front of your spring deck on the sofa job? It would take several days to order it in, and it is holding up the whole job. What do you do? Put the job aside and work on another job? Should you call other upholsterers in the area to see if you can scrounge some up? Why not just make your own. It's fast and easy, and you probably have all the supplies at hand. There are a number of ways to create edge roll. The type and size of edge roll you need will depend upon your project. Here is what I used here:

Tools and Supplies needed.

  • Webbing
  • Cotton padding, or other hard filler
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors

Step 1

IMG_4117.JPG

 

Cut webbing a few inches longer than needed for edgeroll. Cut, or tear, strips of cotton. How wide the cotton strips should will depend upon how big you want the edge roll to be. For this project I made the cotton strips about 4" wide. To keep the edge roll a consistent size, cut your padding an even width.

 

 

 

 

 


Step 2

While sitting at the sewing machine, starting at the end, roll the cotton tightly in a roll

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Step 3

Place the cotton roll in the center of the webbing strap and fold the webbing over the cotton.

Edgeroll making 04IMG_4122.JPG

 


 

Step 4

Pushing the rolled cotton firmly into the, place the two loose edges of the webbing under the foot of the sewing machine.

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Step 5

Sew about 1/2" from two edges, closing the cotton into a webbing tube, wrapped around the filling.

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Step 6

Take the webbing edgeroll out of the sewing machine and cut it to the desired length.

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Now fasten it in place. Enjoy! You have saved yourself a trip.

Alternative

Any type of firm filling (i.e. horse hair, etc.) can be used in place of the cotton for the stuffing. Just use whatever quality filling you have on hand.

Another type of Edge Roll

IMG_6810-bierly.JPG

 

Some types of edge rolls can be made as part of the burlap spring cover. Click on the picture and you will be taken to the album showing pictures of how it is done. If you would rather see it as a slide show, click here: Slide Show: Edge Roll for a chair.

 

 

Replacing a Button

If a button comes apart off your upholstered furniture, I would suggest that you have another button made at an upholstery shop or at a do-it-yourself fabric shop. You will need some of the fabric, which you can sometimes get from an armcover, or from somewhere under the sofa. (you may have to take some of the dust cover loose to find a piece of fabric big enough to cut off. Another possibility is to carefully take the old button apart and use the old material from that button to make the new button. An upholstery shop would probably be more able to help you with that. The new button will probably have a loop on the back side, so you will also need to get a button needle and some button twine.

Zipper Slides

Putting a Slide on a ZipperZip-1 Align slide

 There are at least three ways to put the sliders on zippers. You can put the slide on the zipper before or after the zipper is sewn.

  • Method One: Put Slide on closed zipper
  • Method Two: Put slide on Partial open zipper
  • Method Three: Put slide on fully separated zipper

Any of these three methods can be done before or after the zipper is sewn to the fabric.

Method One

This is the method that I generally use on metal zippers and some plastic zippers, such as the YKK plastic zipper.

Zip-1 Cut V

 

 

1A. Cut V on end: Chose the end that the arrows point towards. Cut a V shape on the end, at the metal teeth, cut carefully between the teeth.

 

 

 

 



  Zip-1 Align slide

 

 

1B. Align Slider with teeth on zipper. Put teeth of zipper inside the rear of the slider until they stop.

 

 

 

 


  Zip-1 Starting the slide

 

1C. Engage Slide Onto Zipper: Hold onto the two pointed ends of the zipper and pull them both outwards <<<  >>> (sideways) until you hear/feel a "tiny" click (which indicates that the zipper has started to separate).

 

 

 


 

Zip-1 Slide up

 

 1D. Move Slide Onto Zipper: Continue to pull the two sides apart. If the zipper doesn't move down, then continue holding onto one of the pointed ends, and with the other hand move the slide down the zipper. (If need, to get the slide to move down the zipper, you might hold onto both pointed ends (as shown in 2E below) as you move the slide down.)

 

 

 



 

Method Two

Although method shows using a #5 aluminum zipper, this way is especially useful when the slide won't go on the other end of a plastic zipper.

 

Zipper, Cutting V

2A. Notch the end: Start by cutting a V out of the end of the zipper, as shown by the arrow in the picture. Since we will be putting the zipper into the front (double opening) side of the slide, cut the V at the end at the opposite end as the Red arrows are pointing.

 

 


 

 Zipper - open end

 

2B. Separate the ends of the zipper about 2 or 3 inches. (or, if you prefer, you may fully separate the zipper)

 

 

 


 

 Zipper - Align slide

 

 

 

 

 

  

2C. Align Slider with Zipper: Put the ends of the zipper teeth into the front (double opening) end of the zipper slide until the teeth come together and stop at the back of the slide.

 

 


 Zipper - slide on

 

 

 

 

 

  

2D. Pull Slide on Zipper: Grab hold of the two pointed ends of the zipper tape while you pull the zipper slide up the zipper. Sometimes you may have to wiggle the slide some, but it should go on without much  trouble.

  


 

 Zipper - Sliding up

 

2E. Sliding Up: Pull the slider up the zipper. As you move the slider, the zipper usually unzips in front of the slider. You may slide it all the way to the other end, or stop at any position. If needed or desired, you may pull the rest of the zipper, in front of the slider, apart.

 

 

 

Evaluation:

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Pattern Matching

Types of Fabric Pattern Matching

matching on a sofaUpholstery fabrics come in a variety of patterns and designs, such as plain, all over designs, stripes, plaids, bouquet designs, geometric, random, continuous stems, or even a mixture of several of these. Many upholstery materials do not require any matching, while others won't look good if they aren't matched. Still other fabric patterns can look good matched or unmatched. Whether the upholsterer matches those fabrics will depend upon the client's preferences. The amount of matching done by the upholsterer will depend upon the upholsterer's skill level (For more information about upholsterer types, click here ), the size and type of the actual pattern, the shape and dimensions of the furniture, the client's preferences, and the costs involved. In some cases, pattern matching can add considerable yardage and extra labor costs to the upholstery job.

Levels of Pattern Matching: Some Upholsterers only match those areas that show from the front. Other upholsterers may do various levels of matching, some may match all seams and joints all around the sofa. Upholsterers generally do the level of matching that they are comfortable with, or proficient with. When getting estimates and comparing prices, ask what type and level of matching they do. Keep in mind that the higher level of pattern matching an upholsterer does, the more planning and work it takes and the higher the price. Also consider, what are your expectations and desires about pattern matching? What is your budget? Are your expectations within what you are willing to pay? If you have any concerns about the quality or level of matching you expect, ask to see some of the upholsterer's work or to see some pictures.

Unmatched. specify using fabrics than don't require any matching of fabric patterns. These include fabrics that are plain, such as tweeds, or "all-over" type of prints, or random type patterns.

Vertical Stripe: Generally refers to fabrics that have vertical bands of solid color. We match stripes vertically as much as reasonably possible. (some stripes may not be fully matched in some instances.) Welts will not be matched but can be made out of one of the stripes, or colored or floral parts of the fabric or The welts can be made out of different fabric.)

Vertical Pattern: We Match patterns vertically (keeping each pattern in the same center of pattern) as much as reasonably possible. (This is not a waterfall or flow match) (some patterns may not be fully vertically matched in some instances.) Welts will not be matched but are just made out of various parts of the pattern of the fabric or can be made out of different fabric.)

Horizontal Stripe Chair

 

Horizontal Stripe Generally refers to fabrics that have vertical bands of solid color. We match stripes horizontally as much as reasonably possible. (some stripes may not be fully matched in some instances.) Welts will not be matched but are to be made out of one of the stripes, or colored or of the fabric or can be made out of different fabric.)

 

Center Pattern ..... Center patterns as much as reasonably possible. Patterns will be centered on each piece and on the runners, as much as reasonably possible, as determined by the upholsterer. (in some cases some patterns may not be fully centered.) Welts will not be matched.

Waterfall (or Flow Match) Refers to (as much as reasonably possible) to patmat1dhave the fabric pattern flowing continuously from the top of the sofa, down the front of the inside backrest, down to the cushions, over the front of the cushions down the skirt clear to the floor.

The picture shows a sofa where each cushioned seating area is treated as an individual waterfall match. The patterns of each section are aligned to be at the same height on each cushion, but the pattern does not flow across the cushions sided to side.

Other waterfall type matches may flow from top to bottom (as explained 10campbellabove) but the pattern will also flow across the cushions and seams side to side. Click on the picture of the bouquet design loveseat to see the other pictures which show how the Engel Pattern Match Sofa pattern flows both from top to bottom and across the seams side to side all around the loveseat. With that said, not all seams and divisions will be matched in all directions.

 

When ordered, we match patterns as much as reasonably possible. (some patterns may not be fully matched in some instances.) Welts will not be matched. If requested Welts can be made out of a different fabric.

scanaPlaids refer to patterns that have solid bands of color going both vertically and horizontally. Some other patterns can also fall in the plaid type of patterns, such as fabric having small patterns (circles, squares, diamonds, bouquets, etc.) going both ways. As an example, the loveseat used in the "Waterfall" pattern above is also a "plaid match" of a sort. The bouquets run vertically and horizontally, the same as a plaid.

During the reupholstery process, when ordered, the pattern is matched both ways as much as reasonably possible. Some of the plaid stripes may not be fully matched in some instances. Welts are not matched but should be cut on the diagonal or can be made out of different fabric.

Determining Yardage : For info about figuring yardage, go here .

See Links below

Estimating Fabric for a Pattern Match

 

How do you estimate yardage on a large patterned fabric?

First, You need to find out if the fabric is railroaded or not. If the fabric is not railroaded, then you will have to cut the pieces with the top of each piece going up the roll. For this article, it is assumed that you will be cutting the fabric up the roll. If the furniture is a sofa, and if it only has one cushion, you will probably have to put seams on both sides of the cushion, on the cushion boxing, on the Inside Back and on the Outside Back. You need to talk over with the client whether they want the sofa a.) seamed in the middle, or b.) centered the fabric on the sofa and seam it along the outside edges of the fabric. Lately my last customers have preferred to have option b. However, this is a personal choice best left to your client.

Measuring by the ruler

In figuring out how much fabric to or, my basic guideline is to add 1/2 repeat to 1 full repeat at the beginning of the roll for possible shipping damage and for an allowance to align the center the one piece on the fabric where needed.Then measure and write down the sizes of all the pieces, allowing your normal "non-matching" stapling allowance all the way around. (I generally allow at least 2"-3" on a stapled edge (except allow 1" on the top edge attached with a tack strip). 

If you will be ordering a contrasting fabric, then you might also measure every piece of cording and allow at least 6 or 8 inches to the length so that you can figure how much yardage needed for the welts. Don't bother about matching the welts. I generally cut the welts out of scraps, try to cut them out an are that has a muted part of the pattern. Another option is to have client order a fabric that resembles the background for the cording.

When you have your finished list of measurements, you can just do a rough calculation. First determine whether you will be able to cut each piece out of 1 width or 2 widths of fabric. Except for very small furniture, most of your cut pieces will be over 27" wide. The means that every cut piece will need at least a full pattern repeat. If any piece is cut piece is taller than the pattern repeat, then that piece will take at least 2 repeats in height. In addition, those pieces that are over 54" wide (and less than one verticle pattern repeat) need 2 widths of fabric and will require 2 verticle pattern repeats each. If they are taller than the pattern repeat then they would need 4 verticle pattern repeats each. When figuring the height for pattern repeat, don't include your stretcher cloth allowance as part of your verticle height on the Inside Back or Inside Arms. (Sometimes that would cause you to figure additional verticle pattern repeats.)

For example, if your cushion is 23" deep by 72" wide, your fabric is 54" wide and your pattern repeat is 35" high by 24" wide. Your 23"cushions are shorter than your 35" verticle repeat, then your cushions would need one verticle repeat high, but would need 2 cut-widths per side, which is 4 cut-widths. Remember you need one pattern repeat high (35") for each cut width. Now, if you want to pattern match the front boxing of the cushion, you will have to also treat it like you did the side. Even though it might only be 4 to 6 inches tall, you will still need a 2 cut widths for it. So, we have 2 cut widths per side times 2 sides + 2 cut widths on the front boxing = 6 pattern repeats. (6 repeats X 35" repeat =  210 inches = almost 6 yards for the cushion itself. (A note should be said here that sometimes the boxing can be cut out of the extra part of the repeat (35" - 23" = 12"), but that is not always possible, so we won't include that option here.) the side boxing and the zipper pieces can usually be cut out of these or other scraps.

When you have added up all the needed verticle pattern repeats, multiply them out, including the fabric allowances, and divide by 36 to get the approximate number of yards estimated.

Eyeball Measuring

Once you have mastered the above Measuring by the Ruler, you can do it mostly with your eyeballs. Examine each piece with your eyes (Eyeballing) and mentally assess how many verticle repeats it will take. If it is close, go ahead and measure that piece.  With a little practice, you can often do some rough yardage figuring in your head, while writing down your figures on your notepad. 

Final Allowance

Then I would allow another 10% to 20% of extra fabric for "Whatever". You never know how many times I used that "extra fabric" because I forgot to incude something, or made a mistake. The basic guideline here is to order more than you think you need. The larger the verticle repeat of the fabric, the larger the allowance that you should have. If there is one or two flaws in the fabric, and/or if you mess up a repeat or two, you could run short of fabric.

Some Final Thoughts

If I want to just do a quick estimate, using this method I will just I can just quickly count up all the vertical pattern repeats, multiply how many yards (while adding the allowances mentioned at the beginning and the bottom of this article. this will give you a rough idea of how many yards that you will need. Then, don't forget to charge extra for the extra time on your labor.

Then you might be thinking, "This is going to take a lot of fabric! This is going to cost a lot!, etc." When I give an estimate that is going to be very expensive, I also give at least one or two lower cost estimates (fabric with no matching, etc.) that I include with my expensive estimate. (My Excel Estimate form has up to 4 columns where I give the comparative estimates side by side. When I present it to them I point to the column that give the price for the service requested. If I sense any sign of the price being too high, then I also point out their other options.

 

 

Matching Floral Print At The Seam With Pins

Matching Floral Patterns

Author's Note: this is a time consuming way to match patterns. I have since learned an easier better way. Hope to write about that in the future.



I read about this method in a sewing book once. Have been using this method ever since.
The following instructions go with the slide show, basically, you:

This picture shows two fabric pieces which have been placed sided by side. The pattern on the two pieces overlap by a few inches. Note, on picture (which you can see better on IMG 1616 of the slide show) I've placed two vertical lines (near the center of the picture) on the fabric only to show where the pattern lines up, DON'T draw a line there on your fabric.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Fold one end under by about 2" and iron a crease along the edge.

 

 

 


- This step is Optional - Sometimes the crease at the fold doesn't show up very well. If this is the case: Using a pencil, marker, etc. draw a line at the center of the underside creased (careful that you don't use something that will show or bleed through the fabric). This line will help you when you are sewing the fabrics together.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Here's where you match the patterns: Carefully and precisely align the folded fabric over the top of the other fabric

 

 

 

 

 

 


Space pins close to the edge of the fold every inch or two. Here you are pinning the matched patterns in place. Lean the pin sideways to get the tops as low as possible .


Take the edge of the top fabric and lay the whole fabric on top of the other, exposing the underside of where it is pinned.


Pin the fabric edges together about 1/2" from the fold. Put the pins close together, almost like making a seam with the pins. You are staying just far enough from the creased fold to allow the space for the sewing machine foot.

 


When finished pinning, fold the top fabric back over, exposing the topside pins.


Remove those pins on the top side.


Take fabric to the sewing machine. Sew along the crease/mark. Careful to sew "EXACTLY" on the line.
Remove pins. (you can remove them as you sew)

 


When finished sewing, check the alignment of the fabric.


Trim the back side of the seam to have about 1/2" to 3/4" seam allowance.


Lay fabric face down on a padded table.


Pin each end of the seam, stretching it tight.


 Iron the seam allowances flat, each on it's own side.


Turn over and inspect. These two pictures show both a wider view and a close up view of the matched seam, which runs vertically through the middle of the blue flower

 

Finished!


Another way, similar to the above, use Elmer's purple glue instead of the pins.
Sewing matching repeats
 

 

Matching Stripes in a Corner

Stripes at Corner Seams

  There are probably numerous thoughts about and ways to join the stripes at the Inside Back (IB) to the Inside Arm (IA) corner, and each of them may have merit. This is how I'd probably do it.

    You will want to center all the stripes at the center of the sofa, and then match the stripes outwards from the center.

Sew the Seat and IB Together First
     To get the stripes to fit correctly at the IA-IB corner, I'd fit and sew the Seat and Inside Back (IB) before I did the IA. On this type of sofa, you could probably seam the seats at either the center or at the legs. If if was a plain or all-over pattern fabric, I'd join it at the legs. However, since this is a stripe, I would suggest you put one seam in the center of the IB and seat top. (Cut 2 full width fabric pieces for both the seat and the IB.) When you sew the fabric together in the middle, take care to put the center seam at the edge of the stripes. You should be able to sew the fabric panels of both the IB and seat so that the repeat pattern of  the stripes continues and looks consistent  from one side of the seams to the other. 
     After sewing, then go ahead and attach the seat fabric to the sofa. When centering the seat, don’t use the seam as the center, but use the stripe next to the seam as the center. This will allow the stripes at the IB-IA corners to match on both sides of the sofa.

Then Join the Arms
   At this point you should have the two halves of the IB sewed together, use a couple staples to tack the fabric in place (so that the IB fabric doesn't move) while you are fitting the IB. (Line up the center carefully before tacking, and use the same center as you did on the seat, the stripe next to the seam)
   To fit the IA to the IB, I would suggest that you find the center of the curve (where the inside back (IB) meets the inside arm (IA) from top to the bottom and then reposition the seam so that it follows the center of the curve. Then line up your stripes so that the stripes on both the IA & IB look the same. You will need to fold seam edge of  the IA fabric enough so that it matches the IB stripes. This is the way I’d match the stripes at the IA-IB corner:


 

Matching a Non-Reversible Plaid

 

When reupholstering a piece of furniture in a plaid, the upholsterer tries to match all the stripes in both directions. However, when working with a non-reversible plaid, this becomes especially challenging. An uneven plaid has the non-reversible horizontal and vertical stripes. This means the plaid stripes won't match at any joints when the fabric has to be put on upside down. Then the challenge begins,"How do you match a plaid when the stripes don't match upside down?" In addition to that, because the upholsterer thinks that all the stripes should match in all directions, he/she may also think that the client expects the stripes to match in all directions. This makes a challenging job a lot more stressfull.

First thing that you have to do is "Get rid of unrealistic expectations!" You can't do what is not possible. You are stressing out over what you expect, but which isn't possible. Perfectionism will stop you every time.

Now, what can you do. I like to do some planning and prep work before I start a challenging job. This would involve thinking out and laying out what can and what can't be done. Once you've done the layout work, and the writing (as described below) you'll have a better idea of what can be done, and how to present it to the decorator.

Yes, you can match the stripes, but not in the way that you would like to. First you have figure out what is possible. On the fabric pick out the most dominant vertical and horizontal stripes. Use them as your center. (sometime you will use a particular stripe as the center, and sometimes you will center between those stripes. Now unroll the fabric enough so that you can fold it to put the upside down edges against one another. Line up your chose dominant stripes and see how they align upside down. Then try moving the alignment one way and the other so see what stripes might look best when matched upside down. Do this on both the vertical and horizontal stripes.

Once you have how the pattern might line up upside own, then I would lay the fabric on the sofa on the various challenging spots, taking pictures as I go. Unroll fabric enough, and fold it, so that you get a semblance of how the inside and outside arms will flow together. What I mean by that is, for example, lay the fabric over the inside arms and then unroll the fabric enough so that you can put a piece of the fabric on the outside arms, pin both in place enough so that you can get some pictures. Do this all over the sofa at each place where two fabrics will come together.

Next, write up a clear description of what you can do and what you can't do with the fabric on the sofa. Perhaps say something like, "Front of sofa and top of cushions will match, but outside arms, etc. won't match." The writing should be specific enough to tell what you can do can't do, but vague  enough so that it will give you some leeway. Once you have it written up, I might have the customer or designer sign it. But even if you don't have her sign it, it will help you to talk more confidently when you talk with the client or designer about what you can and can't do.

Once you have an idea of what is possible, I would call the customer or designer and have her come out to you shop to see the fabric and the sofa. show her the pictures and explain the situation. If necessary or if helpful, lay the fabric on the sofa as you did previously for yourself. Tell her what is possible. Ask what her thoughts are. Work out the details of what the job will be. Write down what the two of you agree upon. Be realistic with her. don't agree to do anything that isn't possible. (The advantage of doing all the prep work explained above is that you'll be better prepared in discussing the job with the designer. You'll also have a better idea of what you can and can't do so (hopefully) you won't get yourself in a bind by promising something that isn't possible.)

Plaid Matching

This 10 minute video is a rough draft of part 1 of a Plaid Matching video. You may watch this short video in Full Screen mode by clicking on the Full Screen button (with the 4 arrows) at the bottom right of the video.

Plaid Match, Starting Point

Here is a clarification of the starting point in plaid match. (This article includes some additional points that weren't made clear in the video.) The plaid in the video is a mirror image or reversible plaid. As I explain further in this article, the basic premise for the video and this article is for using this type of plaid. A one-way plaid would have similar instructions, but would have some differences. Those differences won't be included in the first version of this article.

For a Full Plaid match of a reversible plaid, the center of the cushion boxing has to be the starting point. It is important that the cushion be reversible and that the pattern be centered in the middle of the boxing, both horizontally and vertically. However, the challenge , is that it is important that the seat base is finished and solid before the arms are matched to the cushion. However, the plaid fabric for the deck can't be aligned until the pattern placement of the arms have been determined. Consequently it is recommended that you first rebuild the deck (including springs, padding, etc.) first. Then cover the deck with a lining fabric so that all the padding is compressed and held in place. Then you can cut, sew, & stuff the cushion and position it on the covered deck. With the finished cushion in place, you can then align the pattern on the inside of the arms.

It kind of goes like this (after the fabric has been totally removed

When matching a plaid, I recommend that the frame, springs, and padding of the sofa or chair be rebuilt (if needed) before doing any fabric alignment

Next would be to apply a lining fabric on the inside of the deck, inside arms, inside backrest and cushion(s). The idea here is to make sure that all the padding on the inside of the furniture be held firmly in place by the lining and that the lined cushion fits correctly. On sofas with multiple cushions, cut the foam (or other filling) of all the cushions, apply the dacron or other wrap and make the lining cover. Stuff all the cushions in the lining covers, and put them all in place on the sofa before proceeding. The assumption here would be that all the inside is padded and held in place with the lining fabric, including the cushions. And, there will be no additional padding (or anything else) will be added to the inside of the chair or sofa once we start matching and applying the fabric.

I generally make a cutting layout of the fabric before proceeding, but that won't be included in this article at this point.

Before Proceeding, please read the article on Making Upholstery Prototypes.

 

Cutting the fabric: When you cut the fabric, add one pattern repeat to both the height and the width of every piece. This will allow you to position each piece as needed to match the pattern.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

..

Using Welt on a Patterned Fabric

I'm putting this message here in response to the question in an email. A lady sent me a picture of her fabric and asked about welt with her fabric. whether or not you use a welt is purely a matter of personal opinion. some people like welts, some down. For the purposes of this message, I will assume that you will be using a welt. For  the small diamond shape pattern that  your picture showed, if you a welt, I normally cut the welts about 1 1/2" wide. For your type of pattern, I'd cut the cording width so that the middle of the 1 1/2" width is the area between the small diamond shaped dots, like this: [img]/drupal/system/files/u1/PatternedWelt.jpg[/img] The idea is that when you are sewing the welt (by putting the welt inside the welt strips and folding the welt strips in half) is to have NO dots on the top of the sewn welts. It is very difficult to keep those dots perfectly on top of the sewn welt, and the dots would look bad if the dots were off center at the top. So it is better to have the area between the dots as the center of the welt strips. If you are using a home sewing maching, and if you are using a heavy weight upholstery fabric, it would be easier to sew the fabric if you don't have a welt. I would suggest that you cut a few scraps of your fabric and sew some seams with the welt. This might answer your question. Stephen

Recover a Vinyl Dining Chair Seat

Tools Needed

Heat gun (or hand held hair dryer, or portable heater)

heat guh

Note, a heat gun gets very hot,

hot heat gun

Before using any form of heat on vinyl, please read this article on heat guns.

 

 

Rejuvinating a Feather Pillow

What you can do depends upon the condition of the cover and of the down & feathers inside. Are the feathers lumpy or have they just lost their fluffiness? Are you wanting the cushions to more fluffy, or to be more supportive. One problem with feather sofa or chair cushions is they might not have enough body to them and so you can just sit right through them.

To fluff them up you can either clean them, add to them, or replace everything. First, check the condition of the ticking cover, see if the seams are are tight or if any feathers are coming through. Make a new ticking cover or fix any holes in the old ticking before you clean them, you can take them to a dry cleaner. Or if you decide to wash them, put two of them in the load to counterbalace them. (This only applies if the cushions are small. If the cushions are large and thick, washing them might be a good idea as they might just get soggy in the middle and might take a lot to get them to dry out in the middle). In the drier put a couple of clean tennis shoes, which will help fluff them and break up the clumps. Also, make sure you dry them completely.

If they don't need to be cleaned, then you may just need to add more feathers. If you add more feathers you can just use some of your feather pillows, or you can go purchase some feather pillows. You can also purchase more down/feathers from an upholstery supply outfit, but you usually have to purchase a large bag of them, which is pretty expensive. That's why I suggest purchase feather pillows. YOu can often get them much cheaper than buying just the feathers.

Another way to add more body to a feather pillow is to add a foam core to the middle of the feather pillow. you can watch this video, which will show you how a foam core feather pillow is constructed, and it will show you about making and using an air bazooka to stuff more feathers into your cushions. Also read this thread: Down Feather with Foam Insert.

Another possibility, if the feather pillows are quite old, is that the feather might have just disintegrated. As an example, I remember back some years ago when my wife wanted me to recover her favorite feather pillow, which she had since childhood. When I opened it up the feathers inside had completely disintegrated into a blackish yucky mess. I ended up making everything new for her. Down and feathers, like anything else, don't last forever. If the cushions get in too bad of shape, sometimes it's just better to make new ticking covers and replace the filling with new feathers/down

 

References:

Washing Feather Pillows

How to Fluff Couch Cushions

 

Repairing LazyBoy Recliners

There are currently several articles here about repairing LazyBoy recliners. See links to those articles below here.

La-Z-Boy (LazyBoy) Recliner: Replacing the Trip Wire

Many La-Z-Boy recliners are also rockers. The rocking mechanism is designed so that when the handle is pulled the footrest comes up and the recliner is locked from rocking.

(Click on picture to enlarge. The picture shows the inside base area under the chair seat. The left of the picture is towards the front of the chair)

Under the seat is a trip wire (B) that is connected a short rod (C) with a hole through the center of it. Both ends of the trip wire go into opposite ends of this hole. Then a bolt screws into the bar to hold thends to the tripwire in place. That short rod is mounted on a square bar (F), on which is mounted the handle on the outside of the arm. When the handle is used, the trip wire pushes against a locking bar (D) to engage a set of notches (A), thus locking the recliner from rocking. Sometimes this trip wire will break and needs to be replaced.

To remove the old trip wire, unscrew the bolt at C, pull the wire out of both ends of the rod, then unthread it through the slot at E.

The trip wire is made of a stiff spring wire. Regular wire will not work. It needs to be a stiff spring wire.

Before you remove the old trip wire, take some pictures of how it is connected.

Replacing the Trip Wire: Here are a couple options:

You used to be able togGet A Replacement from LaZBoy by Contacting a Lazyboy showroom and ask the location of a service center. (I've been told that they no longer stock that part)

Make A Replacement: If you don't have a Lazyboy service center close to you, find a piano tuner and ask to buy three feet of #19 (.043") or #20 (.045") piano wire*, which is usually cut off of a roll. (Since the wire doesn't cost much, you might buy enough for 2 or 3, in case you make a mistake or make the first one the wrong size.) When you go get the wire, take the short rod (C) with you to make sure that two pieces of the piano wire will fit into the hole in the rod.) Care not to loose it!

Note: since writing this article I've found an online source for the wire,  Here: Piano Music Wire in 10' lengths from Schaff Piano Supply. On that page there are many thicknesses available. Get the thickness as described above, which is listed on that page.

When you get the wire back to the shop, lay out the old wire in its original shape. Then use it as a guide to bend the piano wire into that same shape. Or use the measurements below to make a new trip wire. (Note: The measurements of the trip wires might vary some, so try to get the measurements from your existing trip wire if possible.) You can use a pair of pliers to make the sharp bends in the wire. As you make the bends,  keep the wire flat on a table so that you can make all the bends so that the wire lays flat when finishehd. Then install the new wire back in the bracket that you removed the old one from.

                          (Both sides are the same length (9 3/4"))

 

*Special thanks to David Dewey, a professional piano tuner in Oroville California, who corrected my information about the correct size of the piano wire.

LazyBoy Recliner: Switching the Handle to the Left Side

I recently had a request (see first message at the bottom of this page) asking if it was possible to change the handle to the left side of the chair. This is the reply to that message.

(Note: since the time I wrote this article, I had a Lazyboy tech tell me that it is possible, but is very difficult. See his comment here. So I would caution anyone to really think this out before trying it.)

(Note 2: On Jan 15, 2013 I heard from a reader who said that he and his wife followed the instructions to change the handle from one side to the other. It took him and his wife about 3 hours, they had to drill 4 holes, and it worked like a charm.)

 Although I've recovered countless Lazyboy recliners I have never changed the handle from one side to the other. I am very familiar with Lazy boys though and I do have an older lazyboy at home. I turned it upside down and thoroughly investigated the mechanisms, the handle and the other parts of the underneath. It seems to me that it might be possible to change the handle to the left side, but I have a DISCLAMER: unless a person is mechanically inclined and used to figuring things out, I would caution a person from trying it himself. You could very easily ruin your recliner, such as taking it all apart and then not being able to get it back together. Also, Although I know Lazyboys fairly well, and I think that this will work, I have no guarantees that it will actually work. But I have an idea that it might work.
 
Note: since writing this article I went to the La-Z-Boy website FAQ page and found this Question and Answer:
"Q: When ordering a recliner, may I request to have the handle located on the left side instead of on the right? 
A: Many of our recliners can be ordered with the handle on the left side. This option would have to be special ordered, since all of our recliners are manufactured with the handles on the right."
I also found this info on a La-Z-Boy tear sheet. (click on picture to see the pdf file.)
This seems to indicate that the option for having the handle on either side might be built into the design of the La-Z-Boy frame.
 
With that said, if you, or someone you know is wanting to try it, this is how I would suggest. (A MUST DO: Take LOTS Of pictures all the way through this job! When you have the recliner all taken apart you will be glad to have the pictures to guide you in putting everything back together. Among the other pictures, make sure you get pictures of the side of the chair with the handle, both when the footstool is up and when it is down. You will need these pictures when you put the chair back together.) Use my instructions as an APPROXIMATE guide, realize that what you actually will need to do may at times be different than the instructions.
 
  1. SUMMARY: This is what needs to be done. There is a square rod that runs underneath the recliner from one side of the recliner to the other. The handle is attached to this rod, which also connects and controls the operation of the recliner mechanisms. This rod needs to be taken completely out of the chair on right side and turned around so that it comes in from the left side of the chair.
  2. BEFORE YOU START, read through these entire instructions. As you read each step, look at each step of the instructions that corresponds with the actual chair. See if you understand what needs to be done at each step. If any of the instructions are unclear, post a message at the bottom of this page.
  3. First, get a flashlight , turn the chair on its back and thoroughly look the chair mechanism over. Trace out where the handle is attached to the square metal rod. Trace out that rod as it goes clear across the bottom of the chair. Notice how the rod runs through a number of braces, brackets, etc. Also notice the cotter pins that go through holes in the square rod. Move the handle up a number of times and down, and watch how that square metal rod controls the movements of the other mechanisms.
  4. Follow the instructions on these links to take the recliner apart and take the backrest off the recliner.
  5. Turn the chair frame on its back or upside down so that you can see all the mechanisms.
  6. Mark where the rod that holds the handle on the left side of the chair will go. Use some type of erasable chalk, just in case this doesn't work. Take a close look at where the rod ends, and the direction of the rod to estimate where to mark where to drill the hole. (Don't drill the hole yet; wait until step 19 below.)
  7. Leave the handle and large wood or plastic washer on the end of square rod. NOTE: Notice what position the handle is pointing when you pull the rod out. You will want to put the handle in the same position when you put the rod back in on the left side. Also, take measure how far the handle is from the chair, so you will know how far to push the rod in from the left side.
    1. A Lazy Boy Tech had this suggestion "The one trick that I have used when pulling a drive shaft is to mark the pins and drive shaft with a sharpie so you get the drive shaft back in with the proper rotation. 1/4 of a turn in the wrong direction will lead to hours of head scratching. Take pictures print them out and put them beside your chair." [west coast at Upholster.com]
  8. Take all the cotter pins out of the square rod.
  9. Remove the spring(s) that is/are attached to a curved metal piece that is at one or both end(s) of the rod.
  10. Remove or unscrew any brackets that may be attached to the rod.
  11. The goal is to free up the square rod so that you can pull it out from the side of the chair. If for some reason you can pull it out, carefully inspect the full length of the rod to see if anything is still attached to it. If needed, have a friend help you look. Once all the pins and any other attaching things have been loosened, that rod should just pull out. If for any reason the rod doesn't come out, stop here. Don't do the following steps until or unless the rod comes out.
    1. Alternatively, (I'm not sure this is any easier) instead of taking the metal rod all the way out, you may be able to just push the rod through to the other side.
    2. Then remove the set screw that holds the handle to the rod.
    3. Cut the fabric and drill the hole in the side as explained in #12 below.
    4. Push the rod through to the left side so that it protrudes out the same distance as it was on the right side.
    5. Measure the distance between the existing cotter pin holes and mark the same distance from the other side. and redrill the holes for the cotter pins.
    6. Continue with # 15 below.
  12. Assuming that the rod came out, now you need to cut and/or drill a hole in the left side of the chair. Look at the side of the chair that had the handle. See how the fabric is cut and see the size and appearance of the hole. Do the same on the left side. When you cut/drill the new hole on the left side of the chair, take great care to line up the hole, as described in #5 above. DO NOT drill through the fabric. Use a single edge razor or a pair of scissors, etc. to cut a hole in the fabric (and any pasdding) that is just a little larger than the hole to be drilled.
  13. After the holes have been cut and drilled, push the rod back through the new hole into the middle of the chair. Be careful to line up the position of the handle the same as it was taken out from the right side.
  14. Carefully and slowly push the square rod back through the same bracket that it was removed from. This may be a slow tedious job, but keep at it, work it through one bracket at a time.
  15. After you have the rod and handle put back in place, use your pictures as a guide and reattach any brackets or springs that were removed.
  16. Put all the pins back into the rod.
  17. When you have all this part put back together, stand the chair frame up on its feet and operate the handle. When you move the handle it should raise the footrest. When the footrest is all the way up, the chair should be locked to prevent it from rocking.
  18. When you have the chair mechanisms put back in place, go back to step 4 and follow the instructions in reverse.
  19. You still have the hole in the fabric where the handle used to be. If you might switch the handle back to its original location some day, then you only need a temporary covering. You can use a wooden medallion to cover the hole and use finishing nails to hold the medallion in place. OR, you can find some material that matches the old fabric and hand sew a patch over the hole. OR, if you can get some more of the fabric that is on the recliner, you can also replace the fabric on the outside of the arm.

If you follow these instructions, please send us a note and let us know how it went.

Replacing a Lost Lazyboy Backrest

 

One of the great conveniences of most Lazyboy recliners is that the backrest can be easily unlatched and removed removed from the base of the chair.

This is really helpful in making the chair lighter and more manageable when you want to move the chair or to transport it to another location.However, if the Lazyboy is being transported with the mechanism of the backrest in the unlatched position, the back can fly off the chair and be lost. Then, what do you do with the remainder of the chair that you still have? Some of your choices are to dispose of the chair, to try to purchase a new backrest for the chair, or (if you are good at woodworking) to buiild a new backrest for the chair, or ????

This article is directed toward another posibility. If you try to build a new backrest one problem is that when you lost the backrest you also lost the upper part of the metal Lazyboy mechanism, which is attached to the backrest.

 

Also, even assuming that you could get a replacement of that mechanism from Lazyboy, making a functioning backrest is more complicated than just cutting and gluing wood together. You still have to drill holes in the right places at the correct angles.

I would suggest that you get on Craig's List and try to find an old Lazyboy recliner of any condition. (The style doesn't matter because the frames are very similar of most of the styles.) Even if you had to pay $40 to $100 or more for the old junkie lazyboy you would probably be time and money ahead over trying to build the frame of the backrest yourself. You could just take the backrest off that old Lazy boy and put in on your lazyboy. (when you go out to buy an old Lazyboy, take our Lazyboy chair base with and check that the back of the other recliner will fit your recliner. Also, sit in the old recliner and check to see how the backrest fits you.)

Once you have the replacement backrest for your Lazyboy, now what? The next step is to get it covered. You can either do it yourself or take it to an upholsterer. Here we will assume that you will be trying to recover it yourself.

Fabric

You best bet to try to match your existing fabric is to go back to the store where you bought the chair. You can often buy a couple more yards through them. If they are not able order more fabric, then you will probably have setting for a complimentary fabric. Trying to find an exact match is very difficult, but sometimes you might be able to find it, or something close.

Foam

The filling in the backrest is general foam, sometimes it also has a polyester batting around the foam base. Depending upon the style of the chair, The foam in some of the Lazyboy backrests have been molded to shape, so to duplicate it the foam needs to be cut and glued to shape. If you have an old backrest that you are recovering, you can use the old foam as a guide.

Making the Cover

Assuming that you have an old backrest, just take it off the frame and take the cover apart to use as a guide. (Before taking the cover apart, make some lineup marks on the back side along the seams.) Take pictures at the very begining and at each step only the way. Those pictures will be your guide as you put the chair back together.

 

Replacing broken seat Springs in a LazyBoy Recliner

(article in process, more later)

It is very difficult even for a professional to try to fix the zigzag springs from the bottom of the recliner or the bottom of the seat. To best repair seat springs, this is how I would do it.

A.) Remove the backrest from the chair, To fix your seat you first must remove the backrest, as shown here (you won't be able to remove the seat without taking the back off first.):

Taking The Back Off of a Lazyboy Recliner 

B.) Then take the seat out of the recliner, as told here (the page that you already looked at it):

Taking Apart A Lazyboy Recliner 

C.) Then take the cover off the seat and all the padding off  the seat. Then it will be comparatively easy to replace the springs from the top (Assuming that you have access to some new 9 gauge zigzag springs (also called arc springs). If you don't have a supplier, see below:

(Take pictures at each step so you can remember how it goes back together.)  

After the seat is out of the recliner then you  take the screws out of the hinges..

When you have the seat out of the recliner and loose from the hinges, then take and all the padding off the seat. when you replace the seat spring you

If you don't have a local supplier for the 9 gauge zigzag springs, here are a couple places that you could get the springs. (You can also get them other places as well)

  • Oklahoma Upholstery Supply, Stock No.  60436, 24" S-Arc Springs, 9 gauge, find them here.
  •  Great Lakes Fabrics, Seat Spring = 9 gauge, Part Number #675 (they sell it by the foot. Measure your old springs and ask if they will cut it to your exact length.) To find the springs on their web page, click here, and then (if needed) click on the "S" near the top, scroll down about 3/4 the way down the page to find the springs.
  • Rockford Supply
  • You will also need some EK clips (No Sag Spring Clips), such as these that attach the springs to the wood frame, and some EK nails, such as these.  You might first check to see if your town has a upholstery fabric store that also sells do-it-yourself supplies.

Once you receive the springs you may still have to cut them to size with a pair of bolt-cutters. The seat springs in a typical Lazboy recliner are approximately 19" long, but check the actual size of the springs in your laZboy.

 

Taking Apart A Lazyboy Recliner

Under Lazyboy

 

A Question was asked about how to get the seat out of a Lazybor recliner

 

 

There is a pin on each side at the front of the underside of the seat. To see it, look under the front of your lazyboy here (look clear up to the bottom of the seat):

Click on picture to enlarge.

 



 

Look way up inside near the front of the seat, next to the arm and you will see a flat curved black metal arm the connects to at pin, which is held in place by a screw, as shown in this picture (look for the tip of my finger):
 

Click on picture to enlarge

 

 
Take the screw out of the pin, then pull the pin out (towards the middle of the chair, in the direction away from the arm. This will free that flat arm from the underside of the seat. When you have the pins of both sides taken out, you should be able to lift the front of the seat up high. Now you will be able to see the screws that hold the back of the seat to the arms. Take out those screws (bolts) and then the seat will come out of the chair. Now take those brackets off the bottom of the seat. If you have a digital camera, I would recomment that you take pictures of each piece as you take it apart. That way you can remember how to put it back together. But if you can't take pictures, perhaps we can still help you put it back together. I've  done countless lazyboys over the years.

Tags: 

Taking The Back Off of a Lazyboy Recliner

(note: you can click on any picture to enlarge it.)

The situation, you have a lazyboy recliner and you need to move it.  Because of their unique recliner mechanism, this proceedure will only work on newer Lazyboy recliners. (Older Lazyboys don't come apart like this.) Newer Lazyboys are built to come apart easily. Turn the recliner around so that you are at the back of the recliner.

lazyboy outside back


 

Get a standard flat screwdriver, and you may also need a flashlight. Look in the crack between the arms and the backrest. Using the flashlight (if needed) find the metal bracket.

2


 

The braket has a short lock lever. Put the tip of the flat screwdriver under the downward pointing end of the lock level and lift the lever all the way up so that it will be pointing upward.

  3

 

 

After you have unlatched both sides, then you can use your screwdriver to gently pry up both sides of the backrest. After you have it pryed up a little, stand behind the chair, grab ahold under the overhang section (as shown in picture below on right) ......

  5   6

 

 

 

 

 

...... and lift the backrest section out of the chair. This makes the chair much easier to transport. You can carry each piece separately.

  7

 

Special Notes for Recovering a Dentist chair

This tutorial is not intended to give all the details of recovering a dentist chair, but on of the part that regards to gluing of the contour area and using a heat gun. Also, if this is your first time in gluing a concave area, or if you have any hestitancy, I'd recommend that you make a prototype. It is extra work, but it could save you a lot of grief.

Also, read through this entire tutorial before starting. Make sure you understand it and have all the necessary tools and supplies on hand.

Special Tools and Supplies needed

In addition to the normal upholstery tools, here are the additional tools and supplies need to remove the old cover and to apply the new foam and cover

  • Steamer
  • Heat gun
  • Foam spray adhesive
  • A marking pencil (Don't use a felt tip marker anywhere as that can bleed through the cover.)
  • Several sheets of Painter's plastic (to cover and protect the new vinyl during gluing) (We buy the painter's plastic in a 9' X 400 foot role of about .32 mil. We use it for a lot of stuff.)

Remove the Existing cover

Remove the staples from the old cover, as is normally done.

Separate the Old Cover From the Foam

After you have removed all the staples you may find that the existing vinyl cover was probably glued to the cover. (If the cover wasn't glued on, then you probably don't need to read any of this article.) The best way I have found to get the old cover separated from the cover is to use a steamer. Apply steam to the underside of the old viny at the point where the vinyl is glued to the foam. Keep head of steam close to glued edge as you put the cover firmly, but gently away from the foam. The steam softens the glue enough to let you slowly separate the vinyl from the foam. For any areas where the steamer isn't enough to get the vinyl free from the foam, (after applying steam) quickly use a single edged razor blade to carefully scrape the foam off the back side of the vinyl.

Choosing a Glue

There are many brands of foam glues available. Call or go to an upholstery supply house and ask for a good quality aerosol foam & fabric glue that will give a permantent bond.

When gluing foam, only use a foam that is made specifically for glue foam, (often called "foam & fabric glue") which will also glue foam to fabric or to the back side of upholstery vinyl. Foam glue dries flexible so you can't tell that the foam under the cover has been glued. Other types of glues can try lumpy or brittle.

Foam glue comes both in bulk and in spray cans. Unless you frequently are doing a lot of gluing, it is just much easier to use the spray adhesive, which is what we use.

Foam glue can be used for a temporary bond or a permanent bond, depending upon the type of glue you get and how you use it.

For a temporary bond apply adhesive lightly to one side

For a more permanent bond, apply a heavier coat to both sides. This requires a bit of practice. If you put the foam together to quickly, the foam won't be tacky enough to hold together. If you wait too long so that the glue dries too much, then it won't be tacky enough to stick very well. The temperature also makes quite a bit of difference on how long the glue needs to sit before it gets tacky. When the shop is cold the glue takes a long time to get tacky and still might not stick very well. Conversely, in a hot shop (mid Summer) the glue dries very quickly and you need to be right there testing it to see when it is ready. Often, it will be ready within 30 seconds after you have sprayed the glue. Experiment with how to apply it on scrap foam at first to see how it works best.

Smooth Out The Damaged Foam

In spite of your best efforts, separating the old cover from the foam often leaves little holes or tears all over the foam. To smooth out that rough top foam we glue a piece of 1/2" foam over the old foam. Here are the instructions.,

  1. Use the Painter's Plastic
    • Cover your table or work area with the painter's plastic to protect it from the glue.
    • Always cover (or remove) any surrounding work area, fabric, foam, or other articles whenever you are spraying.
  2. Have a sheet of High Quality 1/2" foam handy, (Don't a cheap quality foam here) Make sure that the foam is larger than the total area of the foam.
  3. Position the foam over the top of the old foam so that it covers and overlaps all the old foam clear around all sides.
  4. Put something heavy on the end of the foam (but not in the concave area) to hold the foam from moving.
  5. Fold the foam back off the concave area (Mark the outer edges of the concave area on the underside of the new foam)
  6. Apply glue to the concave area and to the matching area that you marked of the undersided of the new foam).
  7. Allow the glue to dry to the dry tacky stage.
  8. Carefully start to unfold the top layer just litte at first. Press it together just a few inches at first. Then try to gently pull it apart. It is is the right amount of tacky, you shouldn't be able to pull it apart.
  9. Now, starting in the center, press it into the concave area, keep the sides of the top foam up until you have the center pressed into place. Press down the rest of the foam that had glue applied to it.
  10. The glued area will serve as an anchor to hold the foam in place.
  11. Now fold back the foam that covers the other top area of the chair seat or backrest.
  12. Apply the glue (as explained above) to the top area of the old foam and to the bottom of the new foam (which is now on top).
  13. When the foam is sufficiently tacky, unfold the foam and roll it into place, press down on top to secure it firmly in place.
  14. Cover the top of the foam with painter's plastic to protect it from the following steps.
  15. Then, doing one side at a time, fold the loose sides of the foam up and spray the back of the foam layer and the old foam, which will be beneath that foam. When the glue is tacky, roll and press it down into shape.
  16. Repeat with the other sides.
  17. Trim the edges of the foam so it doesn't overlap the wood frame.

Applying the Cover

It is assumed that you already know how to cut and sew the cover, so that won't be covered here.

These instructions assume that you have already cut, sewn, and tested the new cover to make sure it fits. (Make sure the new cover fits good before you start putting it one. You won't be able to easily get it back off to fix something.) We also assume that you have made the new cover with some type of fitted corners.

Carefully check all cording seams to make sure that they are sewn correctly.

  1. Lay the chair seat/back flat on the work table.
  2. Put the new cover onto the chair, pull all the corners down into place. Carefully check that the viny is long enough to reach the wood where it will be stapled, and is longer by at least a couple inches all the way round. This is your last chance to make sure everything fits correctly and is properly aligned (all corners are exactly lined up, etc.)
  3. Making sure that nothing moves out of place, put some flat heavy items all over the end of the cover opposite the concave area. Put the heavy objects almost to the very edge of the concave. (You may even put one temporary staple at each of the two corners (at the edge of the vinyl way in from the edge of the frame) at the opposite end as the concave area.
  4. Put the painter's plastic over the cover and all the items on that end. (Also make sure that the work table is covered with the plastic.)
  5. Slowly and carefully fold back the vinyl cover (on the end with the concave) over the other end. (You are folding the cover in half.) As you fold the cover, mark around the outer edges and sides of the concave on the back side of the vinyl cover.
  6. Before you apply the adhesive in the next step, practice unfolding and rolling the cover down into place as you pretend to press the glue into place. (If you have someone to help you, have them practice this step with you.) Once you have the cover all rolled down into place, check the corners and see how they line up. (In fact, check all four corners of the cover to make sure they are all alligned with the corners of the frame.) If needed, you may practice this step several times. When you are finished, carefully fold the cover back in place, as you did in step 5.
  7. Spray the adhesive onto the concave area of the foam and onto the corresponding area (that you marked) on the back side of the cover.
  8. Let the glue dry to the tacky stage.
  9. (It would be useful to have someone help you at this point.)
  10. Carefully begin to unfold and roll the cover down, while pressing the cover into place, beginning near center of the cover at the fold. As the cover comes down, check the corners of the cover to make sure they stay aligned with the corners of the frame. As you are pressing the cover into place, begin in the center and move your hand out towards each side.
  11. When you have the cover all unrolled and pressed into place, put the corners down into place. Check the alignment. Make sure all four corners fit and that everything look good.
  12. At this point, you can decide if you want to glue the other end of the cover in place, or not. Since, whenever I glue a concave in place, I generally would glue the other end, I'll continue with the instructions.
  13. Put one temporary staple at each corner of the concave end, as you did above.
  14. Now the glued end will be the anchor. Remove all the heavy items off the other end. Remove the temporary staples. Cover the concave end with plastic to protect it from glue. Now Carefully fold the loose end of the cover back over the concaved end.
  15. Practice putting this down into place, as we did in step 6 above. Finish up by folding it back in place as we did in the preceding step.
  16. Spray the adhesive to center areas of the foam and the back side of the vinyl cover.
  17. Unfold and roll as you did in 10 & 11 above.
  18. Depending on how stiff the vinyl is and what style of cover you have made you may need to use a heat gun, especially on the corners. Read these pages: Heat Gun, and Using a Heat Gun in Upholstery.
  19. Finish the job as per regular upholstery techniques.

 

 

Spring Repairs

This section will contain articles on spring repair. Look below this to find links to those article(s).

Retie Upholstery Springs

There are a number of methods to retie springs. To see some other techniques, go here: Spring Tying Techniques. The method used on the page is meant to be used when the sofa has loose cushions. The springs are tie so that the top is flat and the front edge of the springs protrudes out to be in line with the frame of the sofa. The center row of springs is used as the anchor row.

When retying springs, here are some basic guidelines.

  1. Use a good quality webbing (such as the jute with the red stripe). All the weight of a person will be held up by the webbing. Don't use cheap webbing.
  2. Use only a good quality spring twine (you basically have 2 choices
    1. Jute twine, which has a ... of about  ...lbs
    2. Polyester twine, which has a ... of about 400 lbs. (This is stronger, but it tends to stretch a little with use, which makes the springs not quite as tight ... and .. But it is still quite useable.
  3. Unless the old edgewire is in excellant shape, it is usually best to replace the edgewire when you retie the springs.

As you tie the springs one important thing is to keep the twine tight so that the spring will stay compressed.  If you keep the twine tight, then the springs will stay compressed.  So, at each step make sure that that twine is tight.  That takes a little bit of practice, so, as you have been doing, don't worry if you have to redo it a few times.

Why don't you try using a single spring as the anchor.  I don't know that it makes much difference whether you use a second row or the third row.  So, let us make a choice and use the third row as the anchor.  At this point, don't take everything loose.  But let us just try to get this one right first. 

I will just explain it step by step as if we were starting from the beginning. (Don't worry if you have already done some (such as cutting the twine to length).

  1. Get one of the springs and determine the correct compression. (explained elsewhere)
  2. Use a heavy metal object (i.e. hammer head) to dull all of the sharp edges on the frame where the twine will cross. The object is to prevent the twine from being cut by the sharp corners of the frame.
  3. Attach the webbing to the sofa bottom.
  4. Attach the springs to the webbing.
  5. Attach the edge wire to the springs

Tie the Anchor Spring in Place

  1. Cut each length of twine about 2 1/2 times the distance from the front to the back of the sofa.
  2. Firmly attach the back of that twine to the back of the sofa in a place where it will come over the bottom rail towards the front.
  3. If using nails to attache the twine, drive a nail halfway into the woood on the front rail directly in line with the center of the springs. (f you are using staples, this step isn't necessary)
  4. While standing at the front of the sofa, bring the twine through the springs up to the top edge of the anchor spring. Loosely tie a half not around the back edge of the spring. Compress the spring to its proper height (as explained above) while pulling the twine tight. While keeping the twine tight and compressing the spring, make sure that you keep the spring straight up. Prior to tying the know either put the twine, or let it slide out a little until
    1. The twine is tight from the back frame to the  backside of the spring
    2. The top of the spring is level (temporarily, for measuring purposes only.)
    3. The spring is straight up, not slanted.
  5. Then tie the knot.
  6. While keeping the twine tight tie another half knot at the front side of the spring top edge. All during this time, keep the twine pulled tight. This is key to keeping the twine from slipping and loosening.
  7. Take the loose end of the twine (which is on the font of the spring) pull it down to the front rail and
    1. if using nails, wrap the twine around the nail that you previous drove in halfway. Now compress the spring to the right height while you pull and tighten the twine around the nail.
    2. If you are using staples, pull the twine over the edged of the front rail (that you previously dulled).

Tie the two adjacent springs in place

Now we are ready to tie the next row of twine, we will tie the next two springs (the spring in front and to the rear of the anchor spring.

  1. Again, cut the twine about 2 1/2 times the distance from the front to the back of the sofa.  However, instead of attaching the twine to the back of the sofa first, we started in the middle. 
  2. Find the middle of the twine, then tie the twine to the top front and back edge of the anchor spring. That will give you two loose twine ends extending foward and backward from the anchor spring. 
  3. Next, bring the front twine forward and tie a loose half-knot about the rear edge of the next spring forward. Hold the top of that spring in the center between the anchor spring and the front spring while you cinch down the half-knot.
  4. Bringing the twine foward to 1 rung down on the front of the spring, loosely tie a half-knot around that lower rung, put the twine tight, and then cinch the knot.

Not finished, more to come.

 

Tying Arc Springs

Aside from the frame, the springs are the most important support structure on your furniture. Don't skimp on the supplies that you use. The springs in the seat  of sofa or a chair take a lot of beating, having to instantly take up to several hundred pounds, then instantly release. Don't use plastic ties or garden twine to tie the springs. When tying springs it is crucial to use a twine the will take a lot of stress and still last for many years. Use only supplies that have a proven record and that are specifically made for the job. Standard hemp/flax spring twine has a rating (depending upon the brand) of 200 to 250 lb tensile strength. Polyester Spring Twine #6 is rated at 410 lbs of tensile strength (but it has a tendency to stretch over time). 

Here is an example of a modern day sofa that has arc springs in the seat.  Underneath the decking fabric the springs were only covered with a felt pad.

 
The only things holding the springs together was one paper covered wire. There are too many unsupported openings between the springs.
 
 
 Using upholstery spring twine, tie the twine to both sides of each spring clear across the sofa. You can also tie they at every curve if you want the springs to be firmer. Keep the twine tight between the springs from side to side as you tie each spring. The tightness is important to keep all the springs better connected, which will give you better support.
 
 
Attach each end to the sofa frame. The ties on the springs should look like this.
 
 
 
When finished, cover the springs with burlap. Then add your padding over the burlap.
 
 

Stain Removal

Stain Removal 

Some good sources for how to remove stains

How To Remove Blood From Carpet

Laundry Stains 101

Tear-Down Methods

Upholstery Tear-Down Methods & Tools

What Different ways can you tear down a sofa or chair? What tools should you use and what is the best ways to use those tools? This page is just beginning. We will add more to it in the future. 

I use a variety of methods to strip the old fabric off the furniture. Sometimes I use the air powered tools. At other times I use the hand tools. I usually use a variety of methods on every job. Not any one method will work efficiently with every situation. It is important to learn a variety of methods so that you can use the method(s) that work for each jog.

Air Chisels

Ripping Chisel in useOne of the most useful methods of stripping down furniture I have found involves using the air  powered ripping chisel. To learn more about it, go to Using an Air Ripping Chisel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ripping Chisels

Staple Removers

Screwdrivers

Tags: 

The Basics

There are some basics to the upholstery trade that apply to just about any and all furniture. Once you learn the basics you can tackle most jobs that come your way with confidences and skill. These basics (or secrets) are really quite simple, but they often take years to truly master. The more you study and apply yourself to learning the basics, the quicker you will develop skill. Skill in upholstery in nothing more than applying the basics to the various aspects of upholstery. Theoretically I could make a video tutorial on every type of upholstered furniture imaginable, and that could be up in the thousands of videos. However, just thoroughly learning, understanding, and applying the basic principles of upholstery would enable you to tackle almost any type of upholstery job. This project (of my laying out and (hopefully) making videos to teach these basics) is in its beginning stages. The first part of this project will be my making a list of all those basics that I need to cover.

A List of the Basics that I need to make tutorials on:

How to pull fabric evenly using:

  • your hands
  • webbing pliers

how to use a stapler

How to use a staple remover

Tack strips

hand sewing

Rounding off sharp edges

Most furniture frames have sharp edges When the cover is off the frame, take time to run a heavy metal object (such as a hammer head) over all the edges to dull the sharpness. This helps to keep the fabric from being cut on those sharp edges.

fold corners

  • single fold
  • double fold
  • round corners

welting, seam edge all flat on one side

put on dust cloth

Measuring the Fabric

When you are measuring the furniture to figure what size to cut the fabric:

  • Measuring the Width: Always measure the width at the widest points, and add at least 2 inches on each side.
  • Measuring the Height: Measure at the highest points and add at least 3 inches to the total  height (1" at the top and 2" at the bottom). 

Write down your measurements on a pad

  • IB 32 W x 29 H
  • IA 24 W x 20 H
  • OA 29W x 16 H

For the key to the abbreviations see this page.

Marking the Fabric.

No matter what type of marker you use you must be very careful when you mark the fabric. If you make a mark in the wrong place you might not be able to get the mark out of the fabric, causing wastage of the fabric.

  • Don't use Sharpies or other felt tip markers to mark the fabric. Over the years the ink from those markers can blead through the fabric.
  • Ink Pens. In
  • Carpenter's Pencil is quite useful on many fabrics, providing they show up.

Cutting the Fabric

Before cutting the fabric, square up the ends with a square. If

When using the standard 5/32" welt, cording is generally cut 1 1/2" wide. If the fabric doesn't easily unravel, the cording can be cut lengthwise up the roll. If the fabric unravels easily, then the welt fabric should be cut diagonally, which prevents unraveling. 

Aligning and Attaching the Fabric

Alignment Principles

Before Anchoring the Fabric (see below), lay the fabric on the furniture. Center the fabric in place, check all edges to verify that all edges reach and overlap the edges by a couple inches.

Anchor The Fabric

After aligning fabric, tack the fabric in place with just a very few staples, using one of the below Application Patterns.

  1. Cross: (This is used the most of all the Anchoring Patterns) Mark centers on all four sides of both fabric and on the furniture. (This will vary depending upon the type of furniture and on the part.) Begin by attacthing the fabric on the center of two opposite sides. Then attach the center of the both of the other two sides. The fabric should then be stapled in cross pattern. Then pull outward at each corner
  2. T Pattern: Staple across the top, then lightly staple the center of the bottom
  3. V application patterns: Put a staple in the right and the left of the top, then put a staple in the middle bottom.
  4. The curved IB principle. Center top and bottom, then starting from the center, pulling the fabric snug from the center, alternate between pulling top and bottom,  pulling tight up and down. Keep the horizontal weave of the fabric the same height on both sides of the center.
  5. Making channels: When doing channel backs, the top of the channel is cut wider than the bottom enough so that the pattern will be the same height on all the channels all the way around the back.
  6. Circle Backs:
  7. Inside Straight up
  8. Inside Slanted
  9. Outside Straight up
  10. Outside Slanted
  11. Vertical and Horizontal. Except for some exceptions, for most furniture, the right and left halves should be mirror images of one another.

Body mechanics: How to take care of your body (hands, feet, eyes, back, etc) while you are doing upholstery.

Upholstery Sewing

Cording on Oval Pillow

Smoothing Out Cording on Curved Pillows
The solution can be fairly simple, however you may need to experiment a little with some scrap fabric.

Others may have different solutions. This is my suggestion. The solution has several parts. Read all the instructions before beginning.

1. Summary.
In order for the welt to lay flat in the seam after the cushion is stuffed, both face fabrics of the cushion need to be sewn loose and slightly gathered while pulling the welting tight. As you are sewing, you are slightly pushing the face fabrics into the seam, being careful to line up the top and bottom marks (see #3a below), or have it pinned together (3b below).

Try on a Scrap
2. I would suggest that you try this with some scrap fabric first. This method assumes that you are using two oval type (or curved, arced, etc.) cushion faces, a strip of welting fabric (I cut my welting strips 1 ½” wide), and the inner cording. In this picture, I've only used one piece of fabric ( 1/2 of of cushion) and the welt fabric

(Click on Picture to enlarge)

Keeping Two Faces Together
3. Here are two methods to keep the top and bottom fabrics lined up as you sew. (when you are lightly gathering, it is more crucial to keep the top and bottom fabrics aligned)

A.)To make sure that the top and bottom pieces of the cushion stay lined up, I would suggest that you make marks every few inches on the back side of the seam allowances of both fabrics. ( I do this by laying the fabrics with the faces together and then line up the marks on both fabrics. As you sew around the edges (as explained below) keep checking that the marks on both fabrics are lined up.

B.) An alternative to #2 would be to put both fabrics together, face to face. Next, pin the fabrics together, about 2 inches in from the edge. Space pins ever 4 to 6 inches all around. The pins should help to keep both fabrics aligned as you sew them together.

Snipping the Welt Seam Allowance
4. One problem is that the welt on your cushion is sewn uneven and bumpy, some places are sewn tighter than others. This can easily happen on these oval cushions. To fix this part, (in addition to 3a or 3b) as you sew the welt onto the curved edge, snip "V-shaped notches" in the seam allowance every few inches all around the curved edge. (see Buck's message below) This will help the welt to spread out (like a fan) and lay flat as you are sewing the welt, which will enable you to sew the welt more consistently.

(Click on Picture to enlarge)

Slightly Gather The Face Fabrics
5. A second problem is that the welt was not pulled tight enough when it was sewed (which causes the “snaking) as compared to how much the seam allowances of the faces were pulled. Clipping the edge of the cushion (as explained above) will also help with this problem. The other part of this is, as you sew the welt into the cushion edge, pull the welt (fabric strip and inner cording) tighter than the seam allowances of the pillow faces. This will cause the face fabric to gather* just a little, (slightly like a drawstring purse) which is what you want.

(Click on Picture to enlarge)
(In these pictures, because I wanted the gathering to show in the pictures, I have gathered it more that you would.)

As you are sewing all the pieces together, pull the welt snuggly towards you as you are gently pushing the seam allowance away from you towards the sewing machine foot. This will slightly gather the fabric into the seam. On slight curves, you only need to gather a slight amount. On rounder curves, add more gathering into the seam. This will lightly gather the top and bottom fabric into the seam. Ideally only let it put the top and fabric slightly into the seam where it shouldn’t actually have any folds in the fabric. (* I don’t mean the tight gathering in the traditional sense, which has tiny folds. This slight gathering , in most cases, wouldn’t have the tiny folds. This light gathering is needed to allow for expansion of the cushion when filled.) The amount of gathering at the seams will also be partly determined by how much filling is put into the pillow. Not much gathering is needed on thin cushions, while more gathering is needed on thicker cushions.

This picture shows after it is finished sewing, the welt is tight, but the fabric is not flat, but a little gathered

(Click on Picture to enlarge)

This last pictures show what the welt would look like after the cushion was stuffed:

(Click on Picture to enlarge)

Because I gathered the pillow top more than you would, this would take a pretty thick cushion and notice how the welt doesn't snake, but is smooth. Also note, the sample in the picture is just one side of a pillow, and is only set on top of some cotton. On your pillow, you would gather it less than these pictures, and you would stuff it fuller, since your cushion would have 2 sides. As I said at the top, you need to experiment a little to see how much gathering you'd need to do.

Fixing Sewing Machine Stitching Problems

It is so easy in our day to day work in upholstery (or any sewing business or craft) for any of us to space out for a moment, to not be watching what we are doing or to get distracted. The next thing we know our sewing machine isn't sewing right. Any number of things can cause a sewing machine to miss stitches, the bobbin can get tangled up, the needle might split the thread or any number of other sewing irregularities. Many times we have inadvertantly or unknowingly caused the problem and we wonder what happened. Let's examine some possibilities of what might be wrong.

When trying to fix sewing machine problems, make sure that its not a thread problem or an adjustment problem before taking it in to the repair shop.

Did the problem start suddenly or did it develop gradually? If the problem started suddenly, what changed just before the problem started? 

  • Did you change to a different spool of thread or a different type of thread? Is the new thread thicker or thinner than the previous thread?
  • Did you start sewing on a different fabric?
  • Did you just change needles? (Could you have put the needle in incorrectly?)
  • Did your needle just hit something that may have dull the point or bent the needle or knocked the sewing machine out of time?
  • Did you just rewind your bobbin?
  • Did you just switch to another bobbin or another type of bobbin?
  • Was there any type of noise (such as a knocking sound, etc.) just before the sewing machine started sewing irregularly?

First thing to do is the make sure that we set everything back to a known good starting spot. Let's go through the whole thread system systematically.

  • Check the top thread
    • Unthread all the thread from the top thread path.
    • Check at each thread guide for any buildup of lint, dirt, or anything else that would clog the thread guide. Also closely inspect each thread guide for any sharp burrs or knicks that might nick the thread.
    • Check that the thread tension is adjusted properly.
    • Check that the needle is in correctly.
    • Pull a length of the upper thread through and cut the end of the thread off cleanly.
    • Rethread everything through all the correct threading path.
  • Check the bobbin
    • Take out the bobbin.
    • Make that the bobbin thread is wound smooth and even. (Sometimes the bobbin winder may have wound the thread unevenly. Sometimes the bobbin threads get tangled up, etc.)
    • Rethread the bobbin thread. Rewind the bobbin if necessary.

Other things to check:

  • Sometimes the thread is from a bad batch. Thread the machine up with a known good thread to see if it works with that.
  • Sometimes some spools of thread have sat around too long, or have some type of irregular stiff finish on the thread that causes the thread to stick together on the roll, which causes stiching problems.
  • Check that your bobbin hook is free from knicks or burrs.
  • Check that you didn't overwind the bobbin, which causes the bobbin too be tight in the bobbin case
  •  If you have just changed the thread, change back to a thread that was working properly. If it sews correctly then, maybe the other thread was defective.

 

Making A Down Feather Cushion

Making Cording

In most upholstery sewing that needs a cording we use a 5/32" welting that is covered with fabric. The fabric is cut 1 1/2" wide, usually up the roll. The welt fabric only needs to be cut on the bias if

  • The fabric easily unravels. Cutting the cording fabric on the bias prevents it from unravelling.
  • The fabric has small stripes, such as corduory or a pin strip. It is extremely difficult to exactly match the small stripes in a seam with welting. We cut the cording fabric on the bias so that the cording will have diagonal stripes, which help to Camouflage any slight misalignment of the stripes.
  • On round cushions the welting fabric strips go around the turns better if it has been cut on the bias.

The welting can be sewn using any of several different methods

  1. The fabric can be sewn around the cording separately, and then sewn onto the cushion panels.
  2. The fabric strips and cording can be sewn onto the cushion panels at the same time.
  3. The fabric strips and cording can be sewn into the seam of the panels and the cushion boxing all at the same time. This takes a little more practice and skill to have it come out looking smooth and nice.

 

Making Cushions

 

An important part of sewing cushions is lining up corners, which is based upon the premise having all the other pieces cut to the proper shape and size. So, we'll begin at the beginning. (This is not how I sew the cushions, but a novice will have a better chance of getting the cushion sewn and the corners lined up using this method.

  1. First make a pattern (you can use constrution paper, butcher paper, or any stiff (non-stretchy fabric). (be sure to add on enough for a seam allowance (usually 1/2") all around.
  2. Make sure that boths sides of the pattern are identically opposite. (If you are making a footstool top, make sure that ALL the corners match one another. Fold the pattern in half both ways to make sure all the corners are the same.
  3. When your pattern is correct, lay it on the fabric and cut around it for both pieces.
  4. Cut 1 1/2" wide strips of fabric for the cording.
  5. Cut the boxing (for around the sides of the cushion about 1/4" wider than the thickness of your foam. For example, if your foam is 4" thick, cut the boxing about 4 1/4" wide.  cut the boxing long enough to go around the front and the two sides plus about 6"(3" on each side to fold off the ends.) When the cushion is finishes, the boxing will have a finished size of about 3 1/4" inch high. 
  6. Cut the zipper the width of the boxing plus about 1 1/2" divided in half. For example, with a 4 1/4" wide boxing, add 1 1/2" = 5 3/4". Now divide that in half = 2 7/8" inches. Cut the sipper about 10-12" longer than the width of the back of the cushion. For example, if the back of the cushion is 20" wide, then add 12" to that width. So, using this example, you'd cut two zipper pieces 32" long X 2 7/8" wide. Sew the zipper pieces together with the zipper between. Put the slide on the zipper and sew across each end of the zipper several times.
  7. Separately, fold the cushion top in half from side to side (the fold line of the cushion will run from front to back.) and exactly line up the side edges of the sides of the cushion. Use this to mark (on the back side) the exact center of the front and the back of the cushion (use tailor's chalk (crayon) or a pencil. Don't use a felt tip pin as it tends to bleed through. 
  8. Starting in the middle of the back of the cushion sew the cording all round both the top and the bottom cushion pieces, join welt in the back.
  9. Starting at the back of one side of the cushion, fold back about 3" of the boxing and start sewing at the back corner towards the front, across the front and then down the other side. Fold the . When you are finished, you will have the boxing sewn around the front and two sides. The back will be open at this point.
  10. At the center of the cushion front, tranfer the center mark from the back of the cushion top to the other (unsewn) side of the band. (That mark should be exactly in line with the center mark of the cushion front.
  11. Now, Sew the front center pieces together first: with the other cushion top (which only has the cording sewn around it), line up the center marks on the cushion boxing and the cushion front. (By lining up and sewing the front center togher first, the cushion corners should be close to being lined up.) From that middle starting point, sew across the front, as you get near the corner check to see if the top and bottom corners line up. Then continue to sew the boxing around the corner to the back of the cushion.
  12. Turn the cushion over, starting at the front, overlap where you started to sew at the front before, then sew to the corner (check if corners line up) and sew  around the corner to to the back of the cushion.
  13. At this point you should have a closed cushion, with only the back open.
  14. Now, fold the sewn zipper section in half end to end. Mark the exact center on both sides.
  15. Just like you did on the front of the cushion, now line up the center marks on the back side of the cushion top with the center marks of the zipper. Starting there, at the center of the back of the cushion, sew to the corner and around. The zipper piece should go around the corner about 5 or 6 inches.
  16. Flip the cushion over and sew the other half of the zipper to the corner and around.
  17. Following the same procedure sew the other side of the zipper.
  18. at this point, check that all corners are lined up.
  19. Then sew all the seams again sewing tight against the welt.
  20. Turn cushion inside out and stuff.

Pillow Ticking Covers

Pillow Ticking Covers

Whenever a cushion is stuffed with feathers or down, a ticking cover is required to keep the feathers/down from coming through the cover. You can chose from a number of different pillow ticking styles, depending upon the application and your budget. Here are some various style shown.

 1. Knife Edge Ticking Cover

 

Down Knife Edge

 

The simplest style of ticking cover is the knife edge style. This is basically just two pieces of ticking sewn togther, with the feathers/down inside. This it typically used for throw pillows, although it could also be used for larger pillows, such as backrest pillows on sofas and chairs.

 


 

2. Box Cushion Ticking Cover

Down Ticking Box Cush

 

The next ticking style is the Boxed Ticking cover. A very simple style to make, All the feathers and down are in one large compartment. This style is very easy to fluff up. However, one larger cushions specially, when sat upon, some of the filling can squeeze out from under the person to the other end of the cushion.

 

 

 

featherpillow3

With time, if used in a backrest cushion, it begins to look a little "poochy"; It doesn't hold it's shape very well. In comparison, look at the picture (#3. below) of the sofa with Baffled Box Ticking backrest cushions.

 

 

 

 


 

 

3. Baffled Box Cushion Ticking Cover

 

Down Ticking Baffled Box

 

The baffles are added to better control the movement of the filling, keeping it in place under the user.

 

 

 

 

 

Baffled Ticking cover- verticle

When the above Baffled Box Cushion is used as a backrest cushion of a sofa or chair, it is used vertically. In this placement the cushions keep a better vertical shape. The baffles help prevent all the cushion filling from falling to the bottom of the cushion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a sofa that used the Baffled Down Ticking Covers for the backrest cushions.

 

Nelson 09.jpgNelson 13.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Building a Firmer Down Seat Cushion

One inherent feature is down/feather cushions is the soft and luxurious feel. However, one drawback is that for all that softness, the cushions have very little "body"; the user can easily feel "unsupported". One solution, is to add more down/feather filling to the cushion to make the cushion firm.. But, in the process, the cushion bulges in the middle and, looses the fluffiness that down is known for. To keep the natural softness of the down, while adding some body to the cushion, is to add an inner core or foam or springs.


 

4. Box Ticking Cover with Insert

Ticking Cushion Cover with insert

 

 

 

 

 


5. Baffled Ticking Cover with Foam Insert

IMG_6898-richardson.JPG

 

I had a client who wanted his sofa reupholstered. The sofa had down/feather cushions,which he liked, but the cushions didn't give him enough support. So we designed and created a pillow ticking cover with a foam inner core.

 

 

 

 

Double Baffled Down Ticking

 

 

Double Baffled Down Ticking-Expl

We decided upon this design because the client wanted to keep his down cushions, but wanted it to be a little more substantial. Just having the down by itself just didn't have enough support. I had suggested packing the down a little tighter. We tried a sample of that, but that wasn't satisfactory. So we decided on this design because it has a firmer core while still keeping the softness of the down.

 

 

IMG_8039-Richardson

IMG_8042-RichardsonIMG_8047-richardson.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Here is the finished sofa.

IMG_8351-richardson.JPG IMG_8353-richardson.JPG

 


6. Baffled Down Ticking With Spring Insert

Not Pictured, but this is made very similar to the same design with the foam core. The main difference is that the springs have to have additional padded insulation to keep the springs from wearing holes in the ticking.

 

Webbing on a Sofa Bottom

To answer a question I received some time ago, no, it doesn't matter whether you put the webbing on lengthwise or crosswise first. I generally attach the webbing right underneath where the row of springs go. The webbing will cross right underneath each spring. Use a webbing stretcher to stretch the webbing tight.

Welted Dining Seats with pattern

Sewing the Dining Seats

Basic Instructions

Use 5/32" cording (mine is jute, but any regular 5/32" upholstery welt would do.)

Cut the welt fabric strips (that wrap around the welt cord) 1 1/2" wide. (if the welting (meaning, both the inside cording and fabric strips). My ruler is 1 1/2" wide, so I just lay it on the fabric and trace both sides of the ruler. This naturally leaves the welt strips 1 1/2" wide. When marking multiple welt strips, to mark

This article is just started, so isn't complete. Will be added to in the future.

Measuring and Cutting the Side Boxing

 When I cut the side boxing, I cut it about 2-3" taller than the finished height.  For example, if the finished height of the side boxing is 2", this is how I'd chose the boxing width (height). 1/2" top seam allowance + 2" finished height + 2" pulling and stapling allowance = 4 1/2" boxing width (this is approx., it could even be wider if needed). (I cut it this wide so that I have something to hang onto and pull with at the bottom of the seat base.) I then sew the side boxing and the welt onto the seat top.   

 I put the bottom welt on separately. Even if it was done that way before,  I do not sew the welt on the bottom of the side boxing.So, when I'm putting on the sewn seat cover, I'm only stapling one thickness at the bottom of the seat. I sew the bottom welt separately, which is put on separately after I have the rest of the seat stapled on.

Sewing the Dining Seats

Basic Sewing Instructions

Use 5/32" cording (we main use jute cording, but any regular 5/32" upholstery welt would do.)

Cut the welt fabric strips (that wrap around the welt cord) 1 1/2" wide. My ruler is 1 1/2" wide, so I just lay it on the fabric and trace both sides of the ruler. (If you would like to use this easier marking method, you can use any 1 1/2" wide wood or metal strips) This naturally leaves the welt strips 1 1/2" wide. When marking multiple welt strips at the same time, lay one edge of the 1 1/2" wide ruler along the edge of the previous mark, then draw beside the opposite edge of the ruler.

Sew seams at 1/2". (Wrapping the above welt fabric strips around the 5/32" cording, this seam allowance naturally happens. No trimming is needed.)

 

 

 

Starting at the back of the chair seat, leaving a several inches of the welting free, sew the welt around the edges of the seat top. It goes faster if you put the cording into the welt strips at the same time that. (This picture shows starting at the front, but this is because we are matching a pattern. We would normally start at the back of the chair.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sewing Corners
    When you come to the corners, you might want to just "walk" it the last few stitches before the corner. To walk the machine, press on the foot pedal just slightly, which will loosen the clutch, then use your hand to turn the hand wheel at the right of your sewing machine. Just turn it the last few stitches  before the corner. When you come to within about 3/8" of an inch of the corner, leave the needle in the fully down position so that it holds the fabric in place and "lift the foot" while you turn the fabric to sew around the other side of the corner. (all this is shown on the slide show, but since there is no sound, you have to know what you are watching for.)

Putting Fabric on the Frame

Rick, it shouldn't make any different in appearance which way you do it. Besides having the seat tops being the same size, the main thing is that you want to have the same height between welts on the side of the chair. To get a consistant height all the way around all the chairs, I use an adjustable square, as shown in this picture.


Click here to enlarge picture

To get a consistant height, measure the height of one of the chairs you have already finished. (Put the flat side of the square against the bottom wood base one of your finished chairs. Loosen the tightening nut, and then slide the ruler section down so that the end of the ruler is at the seam (which is also the inside edge of the cording.) When you have the correct measurement, tighten the nut on the square).

Now, as you pull and staple around the edges of the seat cover, put the square on the fabric (as shown in picture) before you staple it.

However, before you start putting it on, here  are some pictures of putting a cover on. (I have the pictures for the above chair seats, but don't have them on my website yet. But have these other pictures that will work in showing how it is done.)


Click here and See Pictures 6636 through at least 6674

Instructions, as also shown in the pictures:

  • Put sewn cover on seat, line up all corners.
  • Set elbow firmly on top of seat to hold in place. (keep elbo there until two opposite seat covers are in place.
  • Pull first cover down over corner, check that center of fabric cover is lined up with center of wood corner.
  • Use Square to measure height, then staple.
  • While still firmly holding the center of the fabric cover on the seat, turn the seat around so that you are working on the diagonally opposite corner. Put your elbow back on the middle of the seat, and pull the second corner over the side, measure and staple. Now that you have opposite corners fastenend, the cover will stay in place now.
  • Pull over, measure and staple the two remaining corners.
  • Check all the corners that the centers are all lined up.
  • On all the rest of the instructions, you will be working always in the center areas: Go to the center of the loose area, Center any looseness (if any) of the fabric in the center of the wood base. You should always have  an even amount of any loose fabric on both sides of where you staple.
  • Using this centering method, pull and measure the areas in the center of the seat sides. Pull, measure, & staple every few inches in the center of one side, then do the opposite side.
  • After you have a few staples on all sides, check that they all measure the same and are straight.
  • Then pull, measure, and staple the rest of the fabric.

 

 

 

Note: This tutorial is just in the beginning phases. Please help me improve it. If you find anything unclear or hard to understand, please leave a comment* at the bottom of this page. (*You need to register on thie website and then sign in to leave comments.)

Working With Difficult Fabrics

How do you handle difficult fabrics. Look at the links to various articles below.

Loosely Woven Fabrics without a backing

How do you work with a loosely woven fabric that has no backing, that easily unravels?
When we ask this question it mainly applies to sewn edges. If you are just covering wraparound dining seats that have no seams, then there isn't much of a problem. All the edges will be stapled in place, so the edges can't unravel.

Now, what do we do with a fabric where we have to keep it in place when we cut it, sew it, and after it is on the furniture? There at least several things that can be done. 

Serging: Some fabrics can be helped by serging around the edges. Cut the fabric at least 1/2 inch larger all the way around the to-be-sewn edges. Then run those edges through the serger at the correct edge.

Spray Backing: There is a product (perhaps there are more) called Sprayway No Fray Spray. (Test on a sample first). Turn your fabric over and spray along all the to-be-sewn edges and allow to dry. Depending on the situation, sometimes it may be advisable to apply several applications, letting it dry between each time. With each application the spray stiffens the fabric and makes it easier to sew and less likely to unravel. (Be sure to use with plenty of good ventilation. Read the health hazards on the label)

Have a Backing Applied to the Fabric. Here is what Custom Laminations has to say about their process:

KNIT BACKING UPHOLSTERY FABRICS
The purpose of Knit backing of upholstery fabrics involves permanently bonding a knitted poly/cotton fabric backing to the back of fabrics in order to add resiliency and durability while eliminating seam slippage.
 
OUR PROPRIETARY KNIT BACKING UPHOLSTERY FABRIC PROCESS
KnitBac™ is our Performance Process of knit backing for upholstery fabric. A knitted poly/cotton fabric backing is laminated (or bonded) to the back of your fabric to make the fabric backed product more durable, resilient, and stronger.
 
By applying the knit backing upholstery process to fabric, it can add longer life to the fabrics and increase the wear while keeping a soft hand.
 
Upholstery fabrics that can benefit from knit backing including cottons, silks, polyesters, chenilles, and other types of fabrics so check with us to see if our Knit backing upholstery fabrics process works with what you have in mind. Because chances are — it does!
 
Our knit backing upholstery fabric process makes these lightweight fabrics such as silks, cottons, and chenilles more suitable for upholstery use. Knit backing provides a luxurious feel to fabrics while increasing wear resistance for longer life. In addition, variations in the fabric such as creases, wrinkles, and distortions are minimized by our knit backing upholstery fabric process thereby enhancing the fabric’s visual appeal.

 

Working With Foam

 

Cutting Foam

It's useful to have several kinds of tools to cut foam. A Foam saw, a band saw, and a foam slicer.

With a Foam Cutter

When using a foam cutter, which has a foot that is about 2 3/4" wide X 6 1/2" long X 7/16" thick, the weight of the foam lays on the f oot and makes it hard to push the cutter through the foam. So it's useful to have several wood slats that are 1/2" (which is really 7/16") X 2 (1 1/2") X 4' or 5' long. Then, when you need to cut foam, put the slats under the foam on both sides of where you will be cutting. The wood slats will hold up the foam and make it  easier to push the cutter through the foam.

When cutting the edge of the foam the cutter foot will hold up the edge, thereby causing the edge to be cut slanted instead of straight. To avoid this, put the wood slat under the foam towards the middle about a foot away from the foot of the foam cutter. The wood slat will hold up the middle of the foam up level with the foot of the cutter. This will help you to be able to cut the foam straight along the edge.

 

Also see the child pages at the bottom of this page

Shaping Foam

Occassionaly some jobs require unusual or rounded foam shapes. Cutting foam by hand often leave the foam with rough shapes. Some foam companies will cut your foam to the shape want.  Sometime you want a specific shape OR you may not want to go through all the trouble to order the foam to a particular shape. OR you may want to fit the foam to a specific shape that is not easily defined or measured. You may only need one piece.

For whatever reason, you may decide to shape the foam yourself. This is done fairly easily by gluing layers of foam together into the desired shape. Although the thickness can vary according to the size needed, I generally use combinations of 1", 2", or 3", etc. to get the shapes.
While these are not exactly what you have, it will give you some ideas. Here a wing chair that I glued foam together .....

 
(Click on pictures to enlarge)
... to get the top of the headrest to be rounded...

Click on pictures to enlarge

As shown in this picture,


 I often glue a stretcher cloth on top (at the sides or ends) of the last layer to pull it down and staple to the frame.

Here is another example
Depending upon the shape I want, will also cut the edge of the bottom layers of foam at a slant, as in this picture.

Depending upon the application, I either leave the slanted edge on the top side, OR I put the slanted sides on the bottom, as in this picture:

By putting the slanted edges on the bottom, this increase both the top curve and makes for a smoother top edge, such as in this picture:


 Then finish it off with wrapping a layer of 1" to 1 1/2" around and over the top, as in this picture.

 This top layer of foam smooths everything out and makes all the curves flow around.

On this sofa, because I put a edgewire on the front edge of the springs, the front edge farily sharper. If you wanted a more rounded front or top edge, pull the top layer of foam tighter, which rounds everything more.
It is also important that the underlayers are as smooth (no hollow spots) as possible, but they don't need to be perfect, just reasonable. Before you top the top layer of foam on, carefully inspect the underlayers to make sure there are no bulges or hollow spots. If find any spots where you cut too much of an underlayer out, just glue a thin layer in the hollow spot. If you do a reasonable job of smoothing out the foam, everything will be hidden once you put the top layer of foam on top.

To see all the pictures of this job, click here.
To see all the pictures as a slide show, click here.

Wrapping Foam