Finished flat Roman shade
Quote

Window Treatment DIY | Flat Roman Shade Reveal

Showing off my new flat Roman shades is what I hoped to post last week, but due to other priorities, that was not possible. I’m happy to report one of my two Roman shades is finished! Underestimating the time needed to complete any DIY project is definitely a problem for me. Even when I’m trying to be very realistic, I tend to be way off. I thought I could get two shades finished in one week. Well, it looks like I can only get one done in that period of time!

As mentioned in this post, these shades are for function and beauty. The dining room window faces west, and the sun in the spring and summer is brutal for the lucky people seated facing the window. The sunshine is downright blinding. For that reason, oh and privacy and needing window treatments in general, I decided to make a flat Roman shade for this window and the corresponding window in the living room.

flat roman shade

Dining Room Window Before

The dining room is not a room I’ve shared on the blog yet, mostly because so much of it is incomplete. Maybe this summer I’ll finish it? Here is a look at my naked window. This poor window has looked like this for five whole years. Five! I’ve never put any curtains, shade, or blinds on it; I guess you get used to things and they seem normal after a while. Right?

window without shade

Dining Room Window After

And now looking much more finished! The folds have not been trained yet, so those will be flatter and more even in time, but I’m so happy with how it turned out! Window treatments add so much to a window and room! As I’m typing this, I keep peaking over at the dining room window to check out the view, and it looks good!

Finished flat Roman shade

Even though the shade is fully operational, it will be open most of the day and likely night. It will only be closed to hide that blasting evening sun during dinner time.

Although perhaps we will start shutting the shade at night. We’ve lived with bare, open windows for so long, I don’t know that I’ll remember to shut them at night! Do you shut your curtains/shades every night? I leave everything wide open on our main floor. Am I the odd ball here?

functional roman shade

To optimize the light from this large window and to match the height of the curtains over the sliding door also in this room, I opted for an outside mount and hung it about 6 inches above the window trim. Hanging window treatments higher and wider than your windows is always a good idea though. It helps the windows look larger and blocks less light when the shades are open, and it tricks the eye into seeing uniformity between all the windows and doors in a room, even if they are all different heights.

For the most part, these flat Roman shades are straightforward to make. It’s just a rectangle with rings attached, no pleats or anything fancy to factor in. However, it challenged my ability to draw a straight line. Who knew it could be so difficult? I drew the rectangle for the face fabric at least 3 times, and I don’t mean a tweak here or there 3 times, erasing-the-whole-thing-and-starting-all-over 3 times. Dan finally helped me see the pattern was printed on the fabric crooked. Ah! Sanity restored! I’m planning to share a tutorial once I get the other shade done, and I think a bit on how to draw a straight line might be helpful. Anyone else struggle with this? Am I alone in this struggle?

One more house project, done! One step closer to a more finished, functional, and beautiful home. Flat Roman shades are a relatively easy DIY project to add color and interest to your room. They block the sun, provide privacy, and add a structured splash of color to liven up your home.


What beauty and function have you added to your home lately, DIY or not? Do you have any Roman shades in your home? Love them or leave them?

flat roman shade

roman shade books
Quote

Roman Shades | Planning and Inspiration

Welcome to Flawed yet Functional! I like to get my hands dirty making my home beautiful, and my next area to tackle is window treatments for my living room and dining room windows. Roman shades are my latest obsession for window coverings. Full length curtains are my first love, but sometimes curtains are just not right for the window or space. Roman shades are great for blocking light and adding privacy while adding a splash of color to a room. Form and function, that’s really what I’m all about!

Planning a Roman ShadeMy living room and dining room have been sporting naked windows since we moved into the house 5 years ago! I think it’s time to make some window coverings!

Roman shades beforeI would prefer full-length drapes on all the windows on my main floor, but the location of the fireplace prevents that. The fireplace was installed by the previous owners after the house was built. They did not leave enough space between the window and the fireplace mantle for drapes to fit without covering part of the window. Roman shades will provide the privacy and light protection needed without encroaching on the fireplace (“Need”, if life has gone on 5 years without it, is it a need? Ha!).

Even though these windows are in separate rooms, they are almost always visible together. My plan is to make matching Roman shades for these windows, and eventually, make coordinating full length drapes for the front window and back sliding door.

Full disclosure: I’m totally second guessing this decision of matching Roman shades. Just so you know, I’m ok with making decor mistakes in my house. If you read this and think, “What are you doing, Emily? That is all wrong!”, feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments! I’m ok with learning through my mistakes and other’s wisdom. I hope to inspire you to take risks too!

Style of Roman Shade

Since the options are limited as far as style of drapery for these two windows, the only options I needed to consider were style of Roman shade and inside or outside mount. Before we explore the styles of Roman shades, let’s talk briefly about inside or outside mount.

The two classic Roman shades I’ve made so far were both inside mount. An inside mount shade is mounted inside of the window casing, so the shade is the same size as the glass part of the window. An inside mount still gives plenty of privacy, but there is a sliver of light that shines through on the sides between the shade and the window casing/trim.

In the dining room, the shade is desperately needed because the evening sun is blinding during dinner. I would hate to go through all the effort to make a beautiful shade only to have that sliver of light still land in someone’s eye still resulting in shifting back and forth throughout dinner. For that reason, I will be hanging these shades outside and above the window casing, even with the drapery rod over the front window and slider door.  I’m hoping having all the window treatments hung the same height in these two rooms will make them look more cohesive and intentional.

Flat Roman Shade

The flat Roman shade is just that, flat from the top of the mounting hardware to the bottom of the shade. It raises in neat folds but does not use dowel rods to help create the folds. Since no dowel rod is used, this eliminates the horizontal sew lines. The flat Roman shade has the cleanest, simplest lines of all the Roman shades.

simple roman shade, love the fabric

Source

Source

Relaxed Roman Shades

Relaxed Roman shades have a dramatic droop in the middle. It is made with one dowel rod at the bottom of the shade to control the swoop, making it look intentional not sloppy. This shade does not have a dowel rod at each fold or drapery rings in the middle of the shade. Leaving these two pieces out allows the shade to droop gracefully. Relaxed Roman shades are lovely and more elegant, in my opinion.

{Inspired By} Fabric Roman Shades

Source

IMG_5859

Source

Classic Roman Shades

The classic Roman shade has a sewn seam to make the rod pocket for the boning/dowel rod at even intervals up the shade. The look is crisp and clean with evenly spaced horizontal seams the entire length of the shade.This is the one type of roman shade I have made personally. I have a classic roman shade in the basement bathroom (second picture below) and the laundry room.

how to make Roman shades -44 - finished Roman shade

Source

Classic Roman Shade with Pattern

Source: Basement Bathroom

For the living room and dining room windows, I’ve decided to make a flat Roman shade with an outside mount. I love the clean lines. It’s simple and sophisticated, and in a space that is often messy, loud, with lots of activity, I think simple shades would be best. Not having sew lines through the fabric is also a plus. It kind of irked me that the floral pattern in my basement bathroom no longer lined up once the pockets were sewn in.

Fabric for Roman Shade

There are so many fabric options for curtains! It’s hard to choose! I like using sturdy decorator fabric, usually made of cotton. It is thick and doesn’t move around too much, making sewing much easier!

Field’s Fabric is a local fabric store chain in West Michigan, and while their regular selection is good and fairly priced, the clearance section is awesome. Everything in the clearance section is $3.97 per yard. That is a killer price for decorator fabric!

I went into the store just to scope out the new fabrics, and I happened on a fairly large piece of this fabric in the clearance section. Crossing my fingers, I took it to the counter to have it measured. I needed 2, 3-yard sections for my curtain, 6 yards total. It was 4.5 yards. Bummer!

The lovely saleslady said she would send out a request to the other stores to see if they had any remnants. About a week later, one more section was found, but it was only 1.5 yards. Rats! They reassured me to hold out because the request had not made it through all the stores yet.

A few days later, another 3.5 yards was found!

I ended up buying two lengths of 3 yards each plus the 1.5 yard piece for a grand total of $30. Yes, I got 7.5 yards of decorator fabric for $4/yard. Isn’t that incredible? At the time, the cheapest I could find online was $26.99/yard. These windows would have cost over $200! (Now it looks like the price has come down to $10/yard online, but it’s still a significant savings!)

Fabric for Roman Shades

So I’ve got my lovely fabric, and I know the style of Roman shade. Now how to make it best.

Method for Sewing the Roman Shade

Since Pinterest was giving me too many hacks, I wasn’t trusting the information I found. I want to make a flat Roman shade the RIGHT way: no hacks, mini blinds, fabric glue, or iron-on hem tape! I want to use an actual sewing machine to make them legit.

Where do you turn when you don’t know how to do something??? Old school, folks, the library. Say what??

Roman Shades Books

I know this is such a crazy suggestion given our technological age, but let me give a plug for the library. It is a WEALTH of information. The books are free (unless you don’t return on time!). The information is (likely) more sound. I say that with some hesitation, but I believe fewer people publish untruth in a book than a blog. A book is so much more difficult to accomplish. The library is a great resource. Use yours!

There were four shelves dedicated entire to sewing curtains and pillows for the home. So. Many. Books. I narrowed down my selection to three books that specifically talked about flat Roman shades. They each have detailed instructions and pictures which should prove very helpful. Each has a slightly different method, so I plan to compile what I read into a method that works for me and my windows.

If you are curious about my research, below is a list of resources that I plan to use to figure out how to best make my Roman shades.

  1. The Complete Photo Guide to Window Treatments by Linda Neubauer
  2. Waverly at Home: Windows by Waverly and Vicki L. Ingham
  3. Curtains, Draperies, & Shades by Editors of Sunset Books
  4. Addicted 2 Decorating – Blogger Kristi who rocks at many home decor things but especially window treatments

I think I’m ready to start cutting my fabric! I feel confident that an outside mount, flat Roman shade is the best for my windows. The Kelly Ripa Flying Colors Pool fabric is so pretty, not too loud, and most importantly, I’ve learned the best method for sewing my shades. Here we go!


When’s the last time you ventured into your library? Are you a book lover too? What project are you inspired by that you want to tackle the right way?

Roman Shade Planning

Rose Spring Wreath
Quote

Lamb’s Ear and Rose Asymmetrical Spring Wreath | DIY Faux Floral Wreath

Spring is in the air. The lilies in my yard are popping up, and there are buds on our trees! The longest Michigan winter I can recall is coming to an end! Spring home decor has been catching my eye lately, particularly pink and green spring wreaths! Many years ago (12?!?) I took a class on making wedding flowers, so I decided to see how well that translated into wreath making! It really wasn’t difficult, just took some time and patience!


First up, inspiration. These lovely wreaths have been popping up on my Pinterest feed for a couple weeks now. Aren’t they lovely?? Source

Source

Source

The soft, romantic pinks of the peonies and the minty green of the lambs ear is just so beautiful together! My front door is deep blue, which would look great with those colors! I was also struck by the minimalist hoop design too. That is a fresh, new idea which I love. A modern look to the front door wreath! In the end, I blended the looks of the above wreaths and also working within a budget. While I loved the peonies, roses were far more cost effective!

The method of assembly is the same no matter the greenery or flowers you choose. I gave the number of stems I used for reference, but the sky’s the limit on this one! Use the colors, flowers, greenery, and amount of each that inspires you!


Asymmetrical Spring Wreath_2

Materials

  • 19″ metal floral ring
  • Floral wire (26 gauge)
  • Tin snips
  • Hot glue gun & glue
  • Kitchen twine
  • 4 stems of lambs ear
  • 1 rose stem (with 3 rose blooms)
  • 2 ranunculus stems
  • 1 filler bouquet (similar)

wreath supplies

Wrap Floral Ring

Using the kitchen twine, or any twine you’d prefer, wrap tightly around the floral ring. Top begin, I secured the end of the twine with a dot of hot glue so the twine wouldn’t unravel as I wrapped. It is easier to wrap while keeping the twine rolled around the spool, don’t cut off a long length. It will get tangled and make a mess.

Every couple inches, put a dot of glue on the ring and press the twine into it. This will keep the twine from slipping as you wrap.

wrapped wreath ring

wreath ring wrappedSnip Greenery into Small Sections

From making boutonnieres and corsages in the past, I know it is easiest to build a full floral piece with small sections of greenery, filler flowers, and focal flowers. So the first step to building this wreath is to snip the leaves from the lambs ear stem into smaller segments. Only cut a few sections off at a time until you have a feel for how many leaves you like grouped together. I found that number changed as I worked around the wreath.

lambs ear

Make sure to leave some stem on each segment. You will need this to wrap the floral wire around and possibly to bend and shape the leaves on the wreath to create depth and fullness.

Wrap Floral Wire Around Greenery

Cut a section of floral wire about 8-10″ long and wrap securely around the base of the leaves and stems.

Floral Wire Wrap

Wrap and Twist Wire Around Floral Ring

While holding the greenery in place on the floral ring, wrap the trailing ends of the wire around the ring in opposite directions. spring wreath greenThen secure the wire by twisting the ends together (Like trash bag twisties from the olden days! Do they make those anymore???). Snip the excess wire as needed with the tin snips. I left about an inch of wire and bent it up and around the ring back into the flower arrangement to hide the sharp ends.

Twist Floral Wire

Hot Glue Piece in Place

The wire will hold the greenery in place while you tweak the position. Gently bend the main stem or stems of the leaves to position the leaves. For the best looking wreath, position the leaves to point in every direction: left, right, and up. Once you are satisfied with how it looks, add a couple drops of hot glue where the wire is holding the stem to the floral ring.

This photo was taken after the wreath was completed, but if you look closely, you can see the twisted wired and clear/white blobs of glue holding everything in place.

spring wreath hot glue and wireRepeat, Repeat, Repeat!

Repeat these steps for attaching each piece of greenery, filler flowers, and eventually the lager focal flowers.

Greenery and Filler

wreath faux greenery wreath faux greenery wreath faux greeneryFocal Flowers

Add the focal flowers in the middle of the span of greenery. I added 3 pink rose blossoms and 2 white blossoms (I ended up adding 1 more white bud at the end to fill in a gap.). Make sure to surround the flowers with greenery too.

Spring Wreath Focal FlowersAdd Remaining Greenery from Opposite Direction

After attaching the focal flowers and their surrounding greenery, finish the other half of the wreath by attaching greens and filler flowers but from the opposite direction. Start at the right where the greenery will end then attach with stems pointing towards the focal flowers.

There will be a tight space where the two halves of the greenery/flowers meet up that is really tricky to get new pieces in. See the gap by the arrow in the photo below.

Spring WreathSnip off individual leaves and hot glue them one by one to fill in that gap.

Spring Wreath

Mine still looked gap-y so I added one more small white bud next to the pink bud. Experiment with what looks good at this stage. Insert different options (buds, leaves, filler flowers) to see which completes the look. Pick it up off the table too. Holding it up as it will hang will allow you to see any areas that need to be filled in more.

Finished Spring WreathHang it on Front Door

Step back and admire your handiwork! Isn’t it fun to create something beautiful for your home? I find it so fulfilling to create things that make my home beautiful for me.

Hanging this asymmetrical wreath on the door was tricky. I wrapped more kitchen twine around the ring and door hanger to keep the ring from tilting too much to one side. It’s still a little lopsided, but perfection is not what we’re going for, is it??

Faux Rose Spring Wreath Faux Rose Spring WreathThe soft pink of the roses and fuzzy green of the lambs ear is exactly what I was looking for. It gives my front door a fresh new look as the rest of the yard springs to life.

Rose Spring WreathWhat touches of new life have you added to your home lately? Do you change your decor out with each season or do you keep things more “evergreen?”


Asymmetrical Spring Wreath

nailhead trim
Quote

Reupholstered Wood Side Chair | Nailhead trim

If its your first time at Flawed yet Functional, I’m working through my first upholstery project, a wood frame side chair. Today is the final stage, nailhead trim! Here are the first 5 steps to catch you up.

  1. Built the structural elements of the seat
  2. Padded the seat cushion
  3. Attached the top layer of upholstery
  4. Protected the bottom  of the chair with a dust cover
  5. Finished off the chair back with welting

I suspected that installing the nailhead trim would be tricky because I used flexible metal tack strips to attach the top layer of upholstery to the wood frame around the chair seat. The metal tack strips are under the edge of the fabric. I knew hammering a nail through the metal wouldn’t be easy, and maybe not possible at all.

During the research phase of this step, I came across this tutorial for how to make a jig out of cardboard to keep the nailheads evenly spaced when hammering them in. Genius! Or so I thought…

First I made the jig out of scrap cardboard following the tutorial’s instructions.

Nailhead Trim Cardboard Jig

Then I tried to nail the tacks in…things are already looking shaky…

Cardboard Jig for Nailhead Trim

Pull out the jig…

Cardboard Jig Result

Pinterest fail! Ha! That didn’t go as planned! It was super difficult to hammer the nailheads through the metal, especially when they are only held in place by flimsy cardboard. Also, it is hard to hold a nailhead with your fingers and hammer without the proper point-y hammer. My fingers can attest that this is difficult! (Now looking back at that tutorial, I remember she used needle-nose pliers. Ah! Genius!)

Back to the drawing board! How can I get these nailhead tacks hammered in, evenly spaced, and straight through wood AND metal? I pondered for a few days until the light bulb turned on: pre-drill holes for the tacks to go through! A drill bit can go through metal and wood right?

Energized and thrilled at my brilliance, I ran my idea past my hubby. He thought it would work, but he cautioned the bit might tear up the fabric on its way through. So I bought new bits so they would be as sharp as possible. A quick trip to Lowe’s and $3.08 later, I’m ready to rock this nailhead trim!

Nailhead trim toolsQuick note on drill bits, select a bit the same size or slightly smaller than the width of the tack shank so that there is a tight fit. I used a 1/16″ drill bit that can go through wood and metal. Insert the drill bit into the drill so less than the length of the tack is sticking out. The purpose of pre-drilling, is to start the hole so the tack can get through the metal and wood with proper spacing between tacks. The hole should be shorter than the tack shank so the remainder of the tack can be hammered securely into the wood frame of the chair.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way! Here’s a quick tutorial for how to attach nailhead trim through flexible metal tack strips.

Tools

  • 7/16″ nailhead tacks
  • Tape measure
  • 1/16″ drill bit for metal and wood drilling
  • Drill
  • Small hammer
  • Flathead screwdriver

Measure and Mark

Use a tape measure to make a line 1/4″ from the edge of the wood trim. If you are using a different size nailhead than I did, mark the line half the diameter of the nailhead away from the trim.

My nailheads are 7/16″ in diameter, the distance from edge to edge of the tack head. I was lazy and rounded this to 1/2″. Half of that length is 1/4″ which is the distance I drew my line from the edge of the wood frame so that the nailheads would rest right at the edge of the trim once nailed in.

Make hash marks where each tack should be inserted. The first one should be 1/4″ from the edge then mark every 1/2″ across the section. The end tacks will only be 1/4″ from the arm/leg/corner of the chair because the radius of the nailhead is 1/4″. When making the rest of the hash marks, they should be 1/2″ apart because there will be two halves of a nailhead between each tack shaft.

measure and mark pilot holes

Drill Pilot Holes

Use a drill to make a pilot hole at each hash mark. Make sure the drill bit is shorter than the shaft of the nailhead tack so that you don’t drill too far!

drill pilot holes

Insert Nailhead Tack into Pilot Hole

Using your fingers, push a tack into each pilot hole. Work only 2-3 tacks at a time for drilling the pilot hole and filling it. The fabric quickly disguises the pilot hole, so I found it best not to drill all the pilot holes at once.

nailhead in pilot hole

The tacks won’t look straight yet, but don’t worry, we’ll fix that in a minute.

Crooked Nailhead TrimHammer Completely and Straighten

Using a small hammer and screwdriver, hammer the nailhead tacks completely into the wood frame. Hammer them left/right or up/down as needed to tweak them into a straight line. The tacks are a bit forgiving and will bend. If a tack is way out of line, pull it out and drill another pilot hole. The tacks will only move about 1/8″ in any one direction.

Straight Nailhead Trim

While not perfectly straight, the end result is SO much better than when I tried to hammer through the metal tack strips!

The front of the chair does not have metal tack strips. The top layer of fabric was secured using cardboard. I continued with the same method, and it was a thousand times easier. The metal tack strip made my drill slip and slide, and it offered quite the resistance to the drill bit! The front of the chair was the last section I tackled, and it was smooth and easy!

straight nailhead trim

nailhead trim

Now I need a new home office where my desk faces out into the room because the front of the chair is clearly the best side of the chair!

Final Reveal

After 7 years of procrastinating, this dream to try upholstery on my own has come to completion! Let’s take a look at some before and afters, shall we? Scroll down to see the picture from when I first brought it home to completely refinishing the chair frame and upholstery! What a change! The wood is so much more yellow than I remembered.

Before Re-Upholstery

 

Now for an updated look at my home office area!

reupholstered desk chair with nailhead trim

There you have it, my rather unconventional way to install nailhead trim: measure and mark the insert points, use a drill to make pilot holes, insert tack and hammer in completely. I have not seen a drill pop up in the upholstery tutorials I’ve read/watched, but the result looks good enough to me! Like I said before, where there’s a will, there’s a way. Be creative! Ponder different ways to solve your problems with the tools and resources you have! Not only will you finish your project, but you will get a great amount of satisfaction from using your brain to problem solve.


It feels so good to finish a project! Particularly one that’s been hanging around for 7 years! What have you tackled lately that you finished? Did you let your project hang over your head for 7 years??

Nailhead Trim Tutorial

 

 

Sewn Welting
Quote

Reupholstered Wood Side Chair | Part 5 – Welting

Continuing on with my first re-upholstery project (See Part 1, 2, 3, and 4 here.), I finished the welting/cording around the chair back insert of the chair! I put off this project until almost the end because it intimidated me. Sewing the welting seemed like it would be tricky. The few tutorials I had watched told me otherwise, but I was scared nonetheless. Today I’m going to show you how I put on my big girl panties and just started. Creating gives me joy, and I can let fear of uncertainty take that joy. No more!

Joy and fulfillment in hobbies is something I’ve mentioned on social media a couple times, but I really believe you should do the things that bring you joy. Working on a hobby leads to a fulfilled life. Even if you can only squeeze in a few minutes here and there, do that thing that brings you joy. Read that book. Sew that skirt. Plant those flowers. Paint that wall. Bake the  cookies. Do those fun-filled things and enjoy them!


I’m kicking myself for how I felt about this step. It scared me. I’d never sewn welting before, and I was intimidated. Sigh. It was so easy. Like really, really easy. I didn’t even have to pin the fabric while sewing, and I’m a fairly beginning sewer so I use pins! The upholstery fabric is nice and grippy. It doesn’t slide around so sewing it was a dream. And attaching it to the chair back insert? A breeze. Why did I put this off for so long again? Oh right, I was scared and just didn’t try.

Here’s how I attached welting (aka piping or cording) around the chair back insert on my wood frame side chair.

Measure and Cut Strips

The fabric for welting needs to be cut along the bias or diagonally across the fabric. This leads to lots of waste which is hard for this cheapskate to take, but the end result of a professional finish is worth it! At this point, I’m also glad I bought 2 full yards of upholstery fabric. While I only needed 1 yard to cover the seat and back of the chair, I needed almost the entire remaining yard for the welting.

Using a straightedge, mark two inches in either side of the corner.

Mark Fabric for Welting

Then extend those two starting points to the other edge of the fabric. One, 2″ strip was not quite long enough to go all the way around the seat back insert so I cut another 2″ strip and sewed the two strips together.

Make a 2″ wide strip the perimeter of the chair back insert (the distance around the insert) + 8 inches. The extra 8″ is arbitrary, you could choose any amount, but you do want several inches extra, on both sides of the length of welting, to make the finish seam nice. I made mine 60″ long.

Cut Fabric Strips

Sew Cord into Strip

Fold the strip in half, inserting the welting cord into the fold of the fabric. Put the zipper foot on your sewing machine and sew the cord into the fold as close to the cord as possible.

Sewing Welting

I did not pin my fabric but just sewed slowly making sure my fabric stayed folded in half and the pressure foot tight against the cord.

Wait until you’ve finished sewing to cut the cord to length. There will be extra as you attach the welting to the chair, so a bit of cord hanging out is not a problem. I just left the pile of cord in my lap and fed it into the sleeve of the fabric as I sewed.

Sewn Welting

Staple Welting on to Back Insert

Using 3/8″ staples and a pneumatic staple gun, attach the welting to the edge of the chair back insert.

Stapler

Beginning at the middle, bottom of the chair back insert, staple the beginning end of the welting to the chair. Place the first staple a couple inches back from the end of the welting cord. You will need extra room from both ends of the cord to wrap them together to finish the welting.

When stapling the welting, make sure the welting is flush with the side of the chair back insert and the staple is as close to the cord as possible. To accomplish a tight staple, face the chair back insert with cord side of the welting facing you. Put the nose of the staple gun over the cord and staple tight against the cord.

Pardon the blurry picture! Light was low the day I was working on this!

Staple Welting

Continue around the chair back insert, stapling securely as you go.

When you get to a corner, make a couple notches (triangle cutouts) in the excess fabric to allow the welting to bend more easily and not have extra fabric bulk up at the corner. I made my notches as I worked around the chair back insert.

Notch Corners Welting

When you get back to the beginning, you should have extra welting overlapping your starting point.

Welting Overlap

Use a seam ripper to open up sleeve of the fabric an inch or so beyond the intersection point of the welting. Lay the fabrics on top of one another. Line up the cords and trim to there is no overlap.

Cut Cording Welting

Trim the excess fabric from the outside fabric, leaving an inch beyond the intersection point. Fold the fabric over so that it will have a finished edge.

How to Make Welting Seam

Fold and hold the fabric tightly and secure with staples to finish attaching the welting.

Welting Seam

Notes:

  1. This method of continuous welting around the chair back insert is made up by me. I’m not sure it is an actual upholstery method, but it seemed to make sense to me to create continuous welting around the chair back insert.
  2. I made a mistake and put this seam at the top of my chair back insert! Think through the starting point carefully before beginning to staple!

Trim Excess Fabric

Trim the excess fabric as close to the staples as possible. Use very sharp scissors for this step. My sewing scissors were not sharp enough. My husband sharped them as best he could, but I still was not able to trim the excess nicely. He was kind enough to do it for me. A stronger hand can cut better with my scissors apparently. I need to add a good pair of sewing scissors to my shopping list! Any recommendations?

Re-Attach Chair Back Insert

With the welting attached and trimmed, put the chair back insert back into the chair!

My insert has two prongs at the top of the insert that rest in divots in the top frame of the chair. The insert is held in place by three screws that go into the bottom of the frame and up into the chair insert.

Attaching Chair Back Insert

Step back and admire your work!

Finished WeltingCan you believe the step I stewed and sweated over for so long was really quite painless?! That just goes to show you, sometimes you just need to start. The worrying and fretting get you nowhere! And just maybe the project isn’t as hard as you think!

To attach welting to a chair back insert, first cut the strips of fabric and tightly sew the cord into the fabric. Then beginning at the middle bottom, staple the welting around the insert leaving a couple inches at the beginning and the end of the cord unattached. Finish off the welting with some folding and stapling. Then trim the excess fabric and put the chair back together!


Any other procrastinators/worriers out there? Do you delay the start of the project because you are unsure about how to do it? Any suggestions for sewing scissors? I really do need a new pair…

Attach Welting to Chair Back

Dust Cover on Chair
Quote

Reupholstered Wood Side Chair | Part 4 – Dust Cover

Upholstering my wood desk chair is going swimmingly, slowly, but trucking along nonetheless. The chair was taken apart prior to me documenting, but so far I’ve made the chair weight bearing, built the cushion, and attached the top piece of upholstery. Today, I’ll show you how to attach the dust cover on the bottom of the chair.


After attaching the top piece of upholstery fabric in Part 3 of this series, the chair looked like this. It looks finished, doesn’t it?

upholstered desk chairIt isn’t though, if you know where to look. See the burlap hanging down from the front frame  of the chair? That needs to be hidden behind a dust cover.

A dust cover is a thin, lightweight piece of fabric used to hide the under or backside of an upholstered piece of furniture. It hides structural pieces to give the bottom of the chair a finished look. The dust cover also protects the insides of the chair from dust.

I purchased my dust cover by the yard from Jo-Ann’s. At first, I picked up a pre-packaged dust cover from the upholstery section. It has 5 yards of fabric in it which is way more than I needed for this project. So I opted to purchase a different version from the bolts so I could purchase just the amount I needed. For this project, I purchased 2/3 of a yard, and it was just enough.

The dust cover fabric I purchased was grey. It is usually black. If I were purchasing it again, I would look elsewhere for black. The grey was so thin, it was see-through if not double layered. Perhaps it was supposed to be double layered? No one will see it so it doesn’t matter, but I would like the look of opaque black better.

Cut Dust Cover to Size of Chair Bottom

Just like with the other fabric parts, cut the dust fabric to roughly the size of the chair with a few inches on all sides. I planned to tuck in all the edges, so I didn’t bother with a very precise cut. After cutting the fabric, lay it on the chair to make sure it fits, trim as necessary.

Sizing Dust Cover Fabric

Tuck Edges Under and Staple

To make the edge look more clean and finished, tuck the extra fabric under towards the inside middle of the chair before stapling. Then following the same North-South-West-East pattern, secure one staple on each side. The reason for following this pattern is to keep the fabric centered on the chair. If you work around the chair, you will pull the fabric off center, possibly enough to not have any left to finish stapling at the end of the chair!

Always start at the top (north) then pull the fabric taut and staple at the bottom (south). Go to one side pulling the fabric gently, but not too tight, secure with a staple (west). Finish up by pulling the fabric taut on the other side (east).

I used short, 1/4″, staples to secure the dust cover. This layer is not structural and will not see every day use, so these short staples should be plenty to hold it in place.

Attaching Dust CoverContinue working around the chair in this pattern, always securing staples opposite each other, until the whole dust cover is secured.

Stapled Dust CoverTrim Around Edges of Legs

The dust cover fabric will be bulky at the corners, by the legs of the chair. Trim some of the overlapping fabric before securing the staples. I didn’t follow a specific method for this. Just trim any folded up fabric to thin out the layers and allow the dust cover to lay flat.

Dust Cover at LegSee how thin this dust cover fabric is? I didn’t expect it to be so see-through when I purchased it. In the end, it is the bottom of the chair, no one will see it. However, I like the finished look of an opaque layer though, and if I were doing it again, I’d buy black dust cover fabric.

Dust Cover on Chair

And now a chair with a finished dust cover! No more burlap hanging all jagged from the bottom of the chair! Even though the dust cover is a little visible from this angle, anyone standing up will not see any of it. The solid grey line looks more clean anyway than jagged burlap!

Chair with Finished Dust CoverAttaching the dust cover was probably the easiest, fastest step in finishing this chair. I think it took about 5 minutes, including cutting, stapling, and trimming the fabric. Following the North-South-West-East pattern is key to the fabric laying evenly without puckers or overstretching in any direction.


That’s one step closer to a finished chair! To see the rest of this upholstery project, click on the links below!

  • Part 1 – Structural Elements
  • Part 2 – Build the Cushion
  • Part 3 – Attaching Top Layer of Upholstery

Dust Cover How To

Upholstery Corner Fold
Quote

Reupholstered Wood Side Chair | Part 3 – Flexible Metal Tack Strips

Thank you for joining me on Part 3 of my first upholstery project. This is a beginner upholstery project, and I’ve learned a lot along the way! In Part 1, I made the seat weight bearing; in Part 2, I built up the chair cushion; and in Part 3, I am going to attach the top lay of upholstery, the decorative fabric, by using flexible metal tack strips. This was by far the most challenging piece thus far, but I’m happy to report, it turned out well! Flexible metal tack strips saved the day!


Part 2 left off with the seat of the chair stuffed and comfortable topped with a layer of muslin.

Finished Muslin Layer

“All” that is left to do it attach the decorative fabric. I purchased 2 yards of Pindler’s Campbell upholstery fabric in Aqua. Having no idea how much fabric I would need, I turned to Google to find general recommendations for upholstery yardage basic on chair type. Two yards is proving to be more than enough, but I’m still glad I didn’t scrimp. I ended up having to do the seat twice because I messed up, having extra turned out to be a great idea.

While I did read tons of tutorials and watched video after video about chair upholstery, not one of them was exactly the same type of chair that I have. In the end, my primary source for how to upholster this chair is my careful notes and pictures I took when deconstructing this chair.

Each step of the way has been fairy smooth, until this one. The original upholstery was leather. It was laid over the seat of the chair and tacked into place using upholstery tacks. The leather was cut just under the tacks on the sides and front of the chair. The tacks and most of the rough edge (which was really very straight!) were covered up by nail-head trim.

I’m using fabric, not leather, to cover the chair, and fears of being able to staple and cut the excess off in a straight line were confirmed. I couldn’t do it. On one side of the chair, I tried the same technique as the leather used: staple it then cut straight just under the staples. I either don’t have the right scissors or mine are not sharp enough (or both!). Cutting a straight line was impossible once the staples were in place.

On the back side of the chair, I tried to tuck under the fabric then staple, but the curve of the chair frame left me with excess fabric. I didn’t know what to do with it, so I tried making a pleat. It didn’t look too good. Hmmm…maybe I’ll give it one more try…

Final Upholstery Mistake 1

I gave once last go on the other side of the chair. I folded the fabric under once again and tried to staple it. But try as I might, I could not pull it straight without it buckling, having extra fabric and just not laying nice. Final Upholstery Mistake 1I started to get really frustrated then I realized I must either be using the wrong technique or the wrong tool. Back to Google to try to figure out how to make a nice clean edge! Through that searching, I discovered flexible metal tack strips. These beauties create a clean line tucking the fabric inside the mouth of the tack strip and hammering the tack strip closed. Thereby creating a tight, clean, staple-free edge. Genius!

Ordering this new part set me back about a week due to my lack of reading abilities. I ordered it from Amazon and accidentally selected no rush shipping. Doh! So instead of two day delivery, it took a week.

I watched a few videos on YouTube to learn how to use the tack strip (This one was very thorough.). After my crash course of learning how to use it, I dove right in.

First things first, tear off the first piece of fabric, being careful to remove any stray staples as well. Measure and cut a new piece of fabric. I was unable to reuse this piece because I had cut one section right below the staples. In order to use the flexible metal tack strips, I needed about an inch of overhang on each side of the chair.

Cut Fabric

Measure from the front edge of the frame to the back edge of the frame (22 inches for this chair).

Upholstery Measure for Top Layer

Measure from the left edge of the frame to the right edge ( 26 inches for this chair).

Upholstery Measure for Top LayerAdd 4 inches to each measurement to give two inches extra all the way around the chair. Then measure, mark, and cut the fabric. For this chair, I cut a rectangle 26″ by 30″.

The extra 2 inches was plenty. I probably didn’t need to leave that much, but it gave me plenty of extra to tug on. Most of the 2 inches gets cut off in the end.

Measure and Mark Fabric

Cut FabricLay the fabric over the seat of the chair to make sure there is excess fabric on all sides.

Lay Fabric on Chair

Staple Metal Tack Strip

The metal tack strip comes in a roll. Use one end of the roll and staple it to the chair. Hold the tack strip with the tab with the circle against the frame of the chair. Staple, putting one leg of the staple through the hole in the tack strip and the other leg outside the tab of the tack strip. Leave a quarter inch gap from the bottom of the tack strip to the edge of the frame, where you want the fabric to end.

Flexible Metal Tack StripCut off the tack strip using tin snips. I did not try to wrap this around the corner. I cut individual lengths for each section around the chair.

You can see my aim with the stapler wasn’t too good, so some of the tabs got two staples. I wanted it to be secure!

Flexible Metal Tack StripStaple one row of this flexible metal stripping all the way around the frame of the chair, except the front.

Staple Upholstery Chip Strip

With the wrong side of the fabric facing out, attach the fabric to the front of the chair using a few placeholder staples. These are staples that aren’t fully sunk into the wood frame. Their purpose is to hold the fabric in place while another step is performed. Make sure the fabric is centered left to right and enough excess to cover seat and all the way to the back frame of the chair.

tack front edge of fabric

Attach an upholstery chip strip against the top edge of the wood frame. Staple securely in place.

At this point, I did not want to go to the store to buy the proper chip strip, nor did I want to wait for a delivery by mail. So I did what any resourceful girl would do, I made my own. I cut strips off the cover of a standard spiral bound notebook and stapled them in place.

makeshift chip stripRemove the tacking staples and smooth up the fabric to admire your handiwork!

smooth upholstery edgeLook at that smooth, secure edge! I love it when things work out like I planned!

Make Relief Cuts

Make relief cuts in the fabric to allow the fabric to flow smoothly around the legs and arms of the chair. The best way I found was to make a “Y” mark with a fabric marker then cut with scissors.

Upholstery Relief CutsThe upper tips of the “Y” should be at the outside edges of the arm/leg. The tail of the “Y” needs to be on an angle toward the middle front of the chair. On my first piece of seat fabric, I made the “Y” relief cuts straight toward the middle of the chair. This left me without enough fabric on one side of the arm.

Make the relief cut for each arm and leg of the chair then tuck the inner part of the “Y” into the arm/leg of the chair and pull the excess fabric snugly around the sides of the arm/leg.

Upholstery Relief CutsAttach Fabric to Metal Tack Strips

Starting at the back of the chair, to make use of the front already being securely stapled, gently pull the fabric taut and tuck it around the top of the tack strip. Push the fabric into the teeth on the underside of the top of the tack strip while tapping the tack strips closed just a bit with a rubber mallet. Be careful not to cut yourself!

Fabric into Metal Tack StripTrim the outside/corner edges as needed. You will notice a lot of extra fabric there. I folded the fabric in to make a clean edge then trimmed as much of the overlapping fabric as I could so that the tack strip would be able to close around it.Tuck Fabric in Tack StripOnce the fabric is partially secure, trim the excess fabric along the bottom of the tack strip. This part scared me because I was afraid to trim too much and mess up, requiring me to cut a whole new piece for the seat. The flexible metal tack strips allow for a tight hold without much fabric overlap. So trim the fabric right at or above the tack strip that is stapled to the chair. This little bit of fabric will be hidden once the strip is fully hammered shut.

Trim Excess Fabric Tack Strip

Next, carefully tuck the fabric into the track strip while hammering it closed. Use a flathead screwdriver to push the fabric in while keeping your fingers free from the rubber mallet.

Take care at the outside corners/edges. I had to trim out extra fabric a few times. The outside edges aren’t the smoothest, but the final result is SO much better than my first attempt!

Look at that neatly tucked line!

Metal Tack Strips FinishedAttach remaining chair sections of the seat cover in the same manner:

  1. Tuck fabric around the tack strip into the top teeth
  2. Partially hammer tack strip closed while continuing to tuck
  3. Trim excess fabric right at or just above bottom of tack strip
  4. Carefully tuck in fabric while hammering all the way closed

Front Corners

Corners require special consideration in upholstery. If folded/stapled correctly, they look great. If not…they look like a DIY job. I read a couple of tutorials on how to handle corners, and I tried to put that knowledge all together to make this corner work. In the end, it isn’t a perfect result, but I’m accepting the result as this is my first upholstery project!

I had the chip strip stapled to the front of the chair and a tack strip on the side of the chair. My goal was to keep the front of the chair smooth and fold the fabric into the tack strip on the side. That’s confusing as I write it! Hopefully it will make sense with some pictures.

Pull fabric taut around the corner of the frame and secure with a staple. The staple should go on the side of the chair, not the front. Make sure the staple is as close to the metal tack strip as possible. The picture is deceiving. To get the staple very close, hold the stapler with the handle in the opposite direction. That way the staple gets lodged very close to the metal tack strips.

Corner by Metal Tack StripFold the fabric on the side down tucking the front fabric under the side fabric, like a present. The folded edge should cover the staple.

Upholstery Corner Fold

Then trim as much of the overlapping fabric from the front side of the chair as possible while maintaining the clean fold. Repeat tucking/trimming and hammering the tack strip in as you did with the other sides of the chair.

Finished Edge with Metal Tack StripFrom the front of the chair, that corner now looks like this:

Upholstery Corner FoldRepeat on the other side of the chair until the entire seat upholstery is attached.

upholstered desk chairupholstered desk chairIsn’t that a satisfying sight? The chair is 90% complete! I just made that % up, but it is almost done! At first glance, it might seem like it’s done but it still needs a dust cover, nail head trim, and piping around the back insert. It’s close, so very close!

In Part 3, I learned how to use flexible metal tacks to attach upholstery with a clean edge and not use staples. This also allowed me to work with the curve of the frame of the chair so that the fabric did not buckle or pleat as it did when I tried staples. The right tools make every job easier. If you find yourself frustrated in a project, take a step back and re-evaluate.

  • Is there another way to approach this step?
  • Would a different or new tool make this part come together easier?
  • Should I learn a new skill to make this project come to completetion better?

Frustration turns off your brain’s ability to rationally think through a problem. Taking a deep breath, a step back, and going back to the drawing board is a great way to get the project going again.


What are you working on these days? Do you enjoy DIY? Organizing? Spring cleaning? Reading about other people’s projects (I love that too!)?

Desk Chair Upholstery

Finished Muslin Layer
Quote

Reupholstered Wood Side Chair | Part 2 – Build the Cushion

Continuing on with my first upholstery project, today I am going to show you how to build the cushion of a wood framed side chair. Take careful notes and pictures when you disassembled your chair and follow those steps again to reassemble. I’ve found that each chair I research is put together a little differently. So if you try this, take lots of pictures! I did; however, I am having doubts about the method. I’ll share those as I go, but for now, let’s jump into adding some fluff to the chair!


Here’s a quick summary of Part 1: I started with just the wood frame of the seat, nothing else attached.

Reupholstered Side Chair StartBurlap was stapled to the underside of the frame. The frame was filled with high density foam and Dacron, then a tight weave of jute webbing was attached on the top of the frame. The chair ended up looking like this.

Jute Webbing Finished

The chair is now weight sustaining but far from comfortable! In this post, we’ll add burlap, an edge roll, horse hair, cotton, and Dacron to pad the chair then hold everything down with a layer of muslin.

Burlap Layer

First up is to cover the jute webbing with another taut layer of burlap. Staple this layer to the frame using 9/16″ staples because this layer will bear weight. Cut a layer of burlap roughly the size of the chair seat plus a few inches on each side. Lay it over the frame.

Burlap Layer Wood Side ChairUsing a pneumatic stapler, begin stapling the burlap to the frame. Start at the center back of the chair (north) then pull the burlap taut to the front of the chair and staple the front frame piece (south). The burlap should be taut between these two staples.

Then move to the left side of the chair (west). Pull the burlap straight but not so tight as to warp the shape of the burlap. Next go to the right side of the chair (east) and pull the burlap very taut and secure with a staple.

The burlap should now be attached with four staples: one north, one south, one west, and one east. The burlap is taut between those staples and fairly loose otherwise. Continue on in the same pattern (north, south, west, east) to pull taut the burlap between opposite staples. When finished, the burlap layer should look like this:

Stapled and Trimmed BurlapTrim off all but 2 inches of the burlap all the way around the chair. Fold the burlap over the staples (toward the middle of the chair) and staple again with 9/16″ staples.

Finished Burlap LayerA close-up:

Trimmed Burlap Close UpAttach Edge Roll

An edge roll is needed all the way around the edge of the wood frame. The edge roll holds  functional purpose: the underside of your knees don’t rest on a hard wood edge and an aesthetic purpose: it allows the exterior fabric to go smoothly from the top of the seat to the side where it is stapled to the side of the wood frame.

I chose to re-use original edge roll that was on the chair. It had one part that was a little frayed, but the rest of the parts were in good shape.

The edge roll should sit flush with the outside edge of the wood frame. It should be stapled securely, not wiggling. This is the first place where I didn’t do it quite right. I held my stapler wrong when securing the edge roll. Follow this tutorial to get the edge roll stapled in a more secure fashion (check out step 9).

Edge Roll PlacementYou can see in this close-up, my edge roll is not quite stapled close enough to the edge. This happened because I held my stapler with the nose into the roll with the handle of the stapler in the middle of the chair. The proper way would have been to have the stapler handle on the outside of the chair with the nose of the stapler over the edge roll toward the middle of the chair. This would have gotten the staples much closer to the roll resulting in a more secure finish.

Edge Roll and Burlap LayerHorse Hair

Next I put a layer of horse hair on top of the burlap and inside of the edge roll. I’ve read that using horse hair in upholstery is a lost art, and I hate “lost arts” so I re-used the horse hair from the original upholstery.

Layer of Horse Hair PaddingHow thick should this layer be? Since this horse hair is used, is it matted down? I don’t have an answer for you, so for reference sake, this horse hair layer is about 3 inches thick.

Horse Hair DepthTack Horse Hair

When I disassembled the chair, there were large stitched tacks holding the horse hair to the burlap beneath it. I’m assuming this is to keep the horse hair from shifting when sat on. I decided against using regular thread as I thought it wouldn’t be strong enough, and instead, I used wax thread (used for upholstery buttons). It is very thick and strong. The wax helps give the thread extra hold.

Tacking Supplies

Using an extra long upholstery needle, sew large stitches through the horse hair and into the burlap layer underneath. Sew one or two large stitches then tie the string in a not on the top side of the horse hair.

Tacking Horse HairThe tacks are not as evenly spaced as intended, but I had to lift up the horse hair to thread the needle through the burlap the back up through horse hair. This lifting and threading made for very uneven stitches. A curved upholstery needle would have been the right tool to use, but I chose to make do with what I had on hand.

Pad with Cotton and Dacron

With the horse hair secured, put on a layer of cotton and a layer of Dacron. (I don’t have pictures of the cotton.) Cut the Dacron roughly the size of the chair seat plus a few inches on all sides then lay it on the chair.

Lay Dacron

In order for the Dacron to lay smoothly around the legs and arms of the chair, you need to make some relief cuts.

Dacron Wood Side ChairThis is a vertical cut going into the center of the arm/leg to allow the Dacron to lay on either side of it.

Relief Cut Dacron

Make relief cuts for each arm and the back legs of the chair then tuck the Dacron around the horse hair.

If I was doing this over again, I would secure the Dacron with staples instead of tucking it, like in this tutorial. The next step, securing the top layer of muslin, was a little difficult since I didn’t staple down the Dacron. The Dacron kept popping out when I pulled the muslin taut.

Dacron Layer

Layer of Muslin

The last step to build the cushion of the chair is to staple down a layer of muslin over the entire seat. Cut the muslin to roughly the size of the chair seat plus several inches on either side.

I barely bought enough muslin, so the depth of the seat barely had any extra. I didn’t have to go out to buy another cut though. That’s a win!

Lay Muslin

Pull taut and staple the muslin in the same North/South/West/East pattern as the burlap layers.

North South Staples on MuslinEast Muslin Staples

Continue working around the chair until the muslin is smooth and taut.

Stapled MuslinTrim the muslin very close to the staples, all the way around the chair. When finished, this chair will have the wood frame on the sides, front, and back exposed. I was careful to not staple the muslin too close to the decorative edging. The top layer of upholstery will need to be secured right up against that trim, so I needed to leave room for those staples.

Finished Muslin LayerThe chair is now ready for the pretty stuff: the upholstery fabric and nail head trim!

To build the cushion of this wood framed side chair, I started with a firm, taut layer of burlap covering the jute webbing. An edge roll was secured all the way around the outer edge of the wood frame to improve comfort and aesthetics. On top of the burlap came a 3 inch thick layer of horse hair. It was secured with large tacks into the burlap layer. Next came a layer of plush cotton (not pictured), and finally, a layer of springy Dacron to finished off the cushion. Holding all the layers together is a layer of muslin, stapled securely into the sides of the frame, covering all the padding, edge roll, and burlap.

These steps to build the cushion came together surprisingly quick. Once again, I’m kicking myself for delaying this project so long! Up next is the final layer of upholstery and a row of nail head trim. I have a feeling I have my work cut out for me in this step!


Thoughts on putting this cushion together? Should there have been a layer of foam on top of the jute webbing? Did the horse hair replace the need for that? At the end of the day, the chair will be functional and comfortable, so I’m not overly worried. I do like to know the proper way to do things though. Do share if you know!

Build the Cushion Upholstery

 

Jute Webbing Finished
Quote

Reupholstered Wood Side Chair | Part 1 – Structural Elements

For anyone new to Flawed yet Functional, DIY and home projects are my happy place. It is therapeutic for me to paint a room. I get great satisfaction sewing a Roman shade for a window. Making wood beautiful with my own two hands is downright fun for me. It gives me great joy to make my home beautiful with my own elbow grease.

Doing and sharing these projects though are two very different things. It takes a lot of bravery to share home projects when I’m not a professional, an interior designer, or anything like that. I’m a reader and a life-long learner who likes to work with her hands. This post is me being brave. I’m not a trained in upholstery, but I like to learn to create beautiful things with my hands. I love Myquillyn’s tagline: It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. I couldn’t agree more. Let’s be brave together and re-upholster a chair!


Side Chair Before

Quite a few years ago, I purchased this wood side chair off Craigslist for the desk in my home office. The seat of the chair was ripped when I purchased it so the plan was to reupholster it at some point. Although I loved (and still do!) the mid-century modern lines of the chair, I wasn’t fond of the blond wood. After I removed all of the old upholstery, I gave it a couple coats of Minwax Special Walnut and a couple coats of polyurethane for durability.

Since I put this project off for years, I mean YEARS, and I’ve worked on this project in stages, I don’t have good photos of dismantling the chair and staining the frame.

The removal of the old upholstery and re-staining took place in early 2017, and then I let the cost of new foam for the seat allow me to procrastinate with finishing the chair. I’m really good at procrastination when I’m not feeling confident in a project. So there my chair sat for months and months while I “saved” to buy the foam and other materials for the seat of the chair.

I finally purchased the rest of the materials for the seat of the chair a couple weeks ago. The purchase only occurred because I happened to check the Jo-Ann’s coupons to find I had a 50% off one cut of fabric which included foam. Score! Guess how much it cost me? I should tell you I didn’t just buy foam. I bought the dust cover, burlap, burlap webbing, nail heads, AND the foam for $55. This chair has been sitting unfinished for over a year for just $55 (or over 7 years if you go back to the original purchase!).

I finished the chair back insert in the summer of 2017, and I failed to take any pictures to document it. So this is the starting point for finishing the chair seat. The seat of the chair only has the wooden frame, nothing else.

Reupholstered Side Chair StartI took pictures of how the chair was put together as I stripped off all the old upholstery. I followed the same pattern, method, and materials to build the new seat. I’m not an upholstery expert, so I don’t know if I’m doing this right, but I think it will turn out sturdy and comfortable. That is a good enough result for me for my first upholstery project!

Let’s jump into the project!

Trace the Shape of Chair onto the Foam

Before beginning to staple anything to the frame of the chair, get a pattern of the seat shape traced onto the foam. Lay the foam piece on the seat of the chair as snugly as possible without buckling the foam piece. Then trace around the inner side of the underside of the frame to mark the shape  to cut the foam.

Does that make sense? Kneel down and trace from the bottom of the chair. It is a little awkward, but it is a quick thing to do.

Reupholstered Side Chair Foam Fit

Cut the foam

Cut the outline you just traced using an electric knife or a serrated bread knife. Don’t try scissors or a flat knife, it will tear up the foam. If you have access to an electric knife, it will cut through the foam like butter. Please be careful not to cut yourself or your floor in the process!

Reupholstered Side Chair Cut Foam

Dry fit the foam

Before moving on to assembling the chair, put the foam into the frame of the chair to make sure it fits. Make additional adjustments as needed.

I kept my foam insert tight, but I did have a gap at the back of the chair. To fix this, I ended up cutting a thin piece of foam to fill in this gap before putting on the batting (see the Cut the Batting step below).

When I removed the original upholstery, there were large gaps between the foam and the seat frame, and these gaps were not filled with anything but air! So I don’t necessarily think every square inch of the frame needs to be filled with foam, but it seemed like the right thing to do, so I went for it.

Reupholstered Side Chair Dry Fit

Staple burlap to bottom of the chair

Now it’s time to start putting the chair back together. Start from the bottom up, except leaving the dust cover until the end just in case something needs to get removed.

Turn the chair “on its knees.” With the back facing you, tip it forward so the bottom is exposed. This makes the stapling of the burlap much easier. I used 9/16″ long staples (long!) because this layer is structural. It will partially hold the weight of the person sitting on the chair. I laid my roughly cut piece of burlap on the bottom of the chair then stapled in a north/south/east/west pattern to keep the burlap centered and taught. Continuing working around the chair bottom in this pattern (N/S/E/W) pulling the burlap taught as you go.

Chair Frame BeginReupholstered Side Chair Bottom BurlapI trimmed all the excess burlap, but an inch or so, around the chair bottom. Then I folded the burlap back over the staples (toward the middle of the chair) and stapled it again.

Reupholstered Side Chair Burlap FinishCut batting

To make a pattern for the batting, I simply laid my foam insert on top of the batting and used a permanent marker to trace around the foam leaving several inches clearance from the edge of the foam. I wanted to maintain the rough shape of the foam, but the extra inches were needed to tuck around the foam, between the foam and the frame of the seat of the chair.

Draw Batting Pattern

Put the foam into the chair and tuck the batting around it.

It is at this step I decided to fill in the small gap left between the back edge of the chair frame and the foam I originally cut. Based on how the chair was originally put together, I’m sure this gap was ok from a functional perspective, but I like everything to be as perfect as possible, so I filled this small gap with a scrap of foam.

Reupholstered Side Chair Foam + BattingAttach Jute Webbing

Next comes a tight weave of jute webbing. I attached this by securing the back side of the chair with four strips of webbing. Then I attached three strips of jute webbing to the left side of the chair. Then wove them together before fastening the opposite sides.

Jute Webbing WeaveThese next steps required both my husband and I. I did not buy the proper tool for this step nor enough jute webbing to be able to use the tool. My solution is as follows:

  1. Attach the back and left side of the chair webbing and weave the ends together. First staple 5 staggered staples into each strip ( _ – _ – _ ) then fold the end back over the staggered staples and secure it with three more staples ( _ _ _ ).
  2. Have your super strong husband pull each piece taught while you staple 5 staples into the finishing end of the strip.
  3. Staple again in a staggered pattern ( _ – _ – _ ).
  4. Repeat steps 2-3 until all jute webbing strips are taut and stapled to the chair.
  5. Fold over the ends of each strip and staple three more times ( _ _ _ ).
  6. Trim excess jute webbing.

Jute Webbing Trim

The finished webbing should look like this:

Jute Webbing FinishedThose jute strips are TIGHT. Both my husband and I sat on it, and it barely gives. Looking back at the old webbing when I stripped the chair, the webbing was loose and buckled. This should make the chair much more sturdy and comfortable!

Since I’m not an upholstery expert, more of a learn-as-I-go kind of girl, why is the foam in the middle of the seat frame? Does the jute webbing defeat its purpose entirely? I couldn’t find a tutorial of my exact type of chair so I really don’t know the proper way to approach this upholstery project. Thoughts?

I must confess that I cannot believe how quickly this portion of the chair came together. Why did I procrastinate this long? We’ve had this sturdy piece of furniture, that I really love, sitting useless, half-finished in our basement for so long! I’m so glad I took the plunge to finish it now! I can be brave, and you can too!

This completes the weight-bearing portions of the seat of the chair: burlap, foam, batting, and lastly the jute webbing. With a pneumatic stapler, this comes together very quickly! If I can do scary things you can too! Stop procrastinating and start doing!

Up next: the soft and comfy part of the chair!


What are you procrastinating on lately? What scares you about starting a project? Do you find those scary items are actually no big deal once you start to tackle the project?

Wood Frame Chair Upholstery

Fostering a Grateful Heart | Entryway

Are you a perpetual home-shopper? I used to be. I am exercising my gratitude muscles this year by writing about aspects of my home that I appreciate. Can you guess what is happening? My attitude toward my home is changing! I didn’t hate my home before, but I love it deeper now. I have more pride in it and joy maintaining it since starting these posts.

If you’d like to read more like this, click here.


GratefulnessToday our entryway is on my mind. By entryway, I just mean the area right inside our front door. I explain this because my house actually does not have a defined entryway. The front door opens right into the living room.

Entryway Shoe Shelf

I love home design and studying function/flow of a home. I’ve spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out how to define the entryway space and maximize it’s function. It’s a quirky space, but here’s 3 things I’ve found to love about it.

Size

It’s large! Since there is no wall defining this space, it can be as large as I need it to be. Working on a project in the winter? Set up a folding table; there’s plenty of space to paint! Have friends coming over for dinner? Set up the kid’s table in the entryway; there’s room for 6+ kiddos to eat there!

Open Entryway

Purpose

It’s multi-functional! Currently, it’s workshop, office, AND mudroom. What more could you ask for?

Uses of an Entryway

Flexibility

It can change size easily! Need more room for sitting in the living room? Scoot that couch back, encroaching on the entryway, to make room for more chairs. Need to dry all the winter gear after skiing? Push the couch into the living area to make room for drying racks.

Do I wish sometimes I had an elegant entryway complete with round table topped with a gorgeous floral arrangement and beautiful chandelier? Yes, but then perhaps I’d be so worried about keeping the table decorated and chandelier clean that I wouldn’t let my kids drop their snow gear at the door to run inside for the hot cocoa. Maybe I’d be so caught up in the lovely of the space, I wouldn’t use it for painting a picture for fear of making a mess. Maybe I’d find myself making a museum of all the pretty things instead of a home that my family is free to make mistakes in (note smudges on mirror and barbell on floor!).

Entryway Stairwell

I’d rather my house be used then on display. I’d rather have a desk in the middle of the mess because my family can see all that I do on the computer. No hiding. I like having my projects right there in the open. What better prompt to finish a project?! I’d rather there not be a place for everything because what would prompt me to keep only what I need?

Honestly, there are more hesitations in my mind when I think of the perfect house than thoughts on how idealic and wonderful it would be. I think I’d be more stressed trying to (unsuccessfully) keep it clean and less joyful watching my kids be kids (playing hockey in the house anyone???).

If I did have said perfect house, you know what would happen? I’d discover it wasn’t actually perfect. It would have its flaws, just like any other house: the off-centered windows, ill placed outlets, less than ideal HVAC system, etc. There’s always something.

So instead, I chose to love the home I’m in. I will be grateful for all aspects of my house, no matter how quirky and off-centered. If I do get another house someday, I will practice gratefulness of that one too.

At the end of the day, my entryway isn’t the ideal layout. It isn’t the height of design genius. That doesn’t need to stop me from maximizing it’s function and appreciating every square foot of my house.


So there you have it. Way too many words about the awkwardly large space inside my front door. Where are you at in your gratefulness for your house? Any overlooked areas that actually turn out to be quite flexible and usable? Do share!

Grateful for Space