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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
When you get back to the beginning, you should have extra welting overlapping your starting point.
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.
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.
Fold and hold the fabric tightly and secure with staples to finish attaching the welting.
- 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.
- 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.
Step back and admire your work!
Can 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…