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Shaaby Side 001These chairs actually pre-date me in my wife’s life and were one of the first things she ever bought when she moved into her own apartment. They came as a job lot in an auction including three medallion side chairs, two medallion armchairs, a foot stool, two armchairs and a sofa. I’ll save the Sofa and armchairs for another post as they were so difficult and involved compared to these which are really simple to do.

Originally all them were upholstered in a rather old fashioned yellow silk and they stayed that way until I came into her life with a can do attitude and a total disregard for my lack of knowledge.

All but one of the chairs are in our living room (which is known colloquially in our house as the “cocktail room“) and we settled on reupholstering them in a raw linen that was much more contemporary than the yellow silk.

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The first thing to do is remove the braiding from around the edge of the fabric. If your lucky you’ll find staples if your unlucky like me you’ll find furniture tacks – dozens and dozens of furniture tacks. The tacks are no more difficult to remove, in fact easier really, but in my experience they have a tendency to fly around the room and I have a tendency to step on them with bare feet.

Once you have the braiding off it’s a very easy job to pry out the staples or tacks with either a small screw driver or the corner of a paint stripper. You’ll also need a pair of pliers handy to pull out the stubborn ones. The seat of the chair and the wadding in the back were all perfectly serviceable on these chairs so I just added the new fabric over them.

Shaaby Side 021When I originally started reupholstering chairs I had used the old fabric as a pattern which I cut around exactly. This method works fine but if you get your pattern slight off centre or twisted then you end with a lot of tugging and pulling to get the other side done or worst case starting again. I now leave an ample boarder and then trim it once I’ve finished.

Place your fabric centrally on the chair and then staple in the middle of each of the four sides. You want to keep the fabric nice and tight but not so tight it’ll distort the shape of the seat. If you’re using a patterned fabric like the toile de joux above you’ll want to have a quick check at this point that the pattern is central and straight. Pull the fabric toward the corners as you staple the first side but stop about 3cm (1in) from the corners. Now repeat on the opposite side keeping the fabric stretched across the seat as you staple. Repeat the process for the remaining sides. For an oval like these chair back I do the top, bottom and both sides and then half way between each and then keep repeating until all the spaces are filled in.

Shaaby Side 003At the corner pull the fabric down and staple from the corner back out towards the staples you’ve already done. This will create two ears which you can then fold back to create a neat fold like the one above. Next you should trim the excess fabric away with a very sharp craft knife. The final step is to glue braiding over the staples to trim the chair and hide the staples.

Shaaby Side 012For chairs with arm pads use exactly the same technique as the oval back but with a single ear fold at each corner as per the picture above to take in the excess fabric.

As I said at the start reupholstering chairs is a very very easy way to reinvent a piece of furniture for very little effort or cost. Thanks for visiting the shabby side of chic.

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