It finally feels like the furniture plan for our living room is complete. It has been a long journey with lots of changes, but we made it. The room is fully furnished. We can comfortably seat lots of adults for entertaining. The finishing touch was definitely the Boden Wing Back chair. But, I realized there is a pair of chairs on the other side of the room that got a transformation I never told you about. Months ago I recovered the slipper chairs.
I have this thing for upholstering furniture in unconventional fabrics. I recovered my dining chairs in tablecloths, and a matching bench. So, it might not seem strange that I upholstered the slipper chairs in my living room with curtain panels.
Buying yardage of upholstery fabric gets pricey fast. For lower cost alternatives, I turn to table cloths and curtains. If the fabric is a good weight (think thick and moderately heavy), then it can be used for upholstery.
The living room slipper chairs used to be beige & coral. They were pretty…pretty enough to lure me into buying them…but they didn’t belong in my home. I always knew I would recover them.
I found beautiful turquoise velvet curtain panels at World Market. I love velvet upholstery. I bought two 108″ long panels, giving me 3 full yards of fabric for each chair. The panels retail for $49.99 each, but I got mine during a 50% off sale. That equates to less than $8.50 per yard.
I am a total novice at upholstery. The best tip I ever read is to pay close attention to how the chair was originally upholstered. So, when I removed the original upholstery fabric I took note of where it was stapled, how the corners were folded, how the fabric wrapped around the legs, etc. I also like to save all the original pieces of fabric until I am done, if I need to take a look at them to refresh my memory.
I purchased an inexpensive tack puller at Home Depot to help remove all the staples. I took on the tedious work of removing all the staples, being careful not to rip the original fabric. I striped off all the existing upholstery until the chair was naked…just foam and batting.
Once I removed all the fabric, I used the pieces as a pattern to cut my curtain panel fabric. I pinned the original fabric directly to my curtain panels and cut out all the pieces.
When I dismantled the original upholstery, I saved all the cotton cording inside the piping. I reused it to make piping in my new fabric. If the cording isn’t salvageable or you want to add piping to a chair that didn’t previously have it, you can buy cotton filler cording that looks like this:
To recover the cording, I wrapped a the strip of fabric (cut from the pattern of the original fabric) around the piping and pinned it.
I like to use my invisible zipper foot on my sewing machine to sew right along the cording. To add the piping to my new seat cover, I sandwiched it in between the seat and side pieces. I continue to use the zipper foot to sew the piped seams to make sure I can see really close to the cording.
Having paid attention to how the chair was originally upholstered, I was easily able to recover the seat. I slipped over the seat pieces I had sewn together. I made sure the piping lined up nicely along the corners of the cushion. I flipped the chair over and staple the fabric all the way around, making sure to pull the fabric tight. It helps to place a few staples in the center of each side and then work the rest of the way around.
The curtain fabric has a bit of stretch to it, which can be good and bad for upholstery. I think next time I would look for a fabric with less stretch to elimnate some of the puckering I experienced on the side of the chairs.
The back was a bit trickier but still pretty easy. The front piece wrapped around and stapled on the back. I folded the corners and the cutouts by the back supports the same as how the chair was originally upholstered. For the back panel, I reused the cording to make the piping. I stitched the piping all the way around the back panel fabric piece. There was a piece of loose thin foam under the back panel. I stapled the foam on first. Then I stapled on the back panel. I stapled right in the seam between the piping and the back panel fabric. I had to push the piping to the side a bit to get the staples in there, but once they are the piping hides them.
The finished chairs are a beautiful soft velvety blue. Now these chairs belong in my home. The aqua blue completes my Midwest summer color palette in this room.
The curtain panel fabric has held up really well over the last four months. The boys have spilled milk and juice on them, but light stains come out with a damp cloth.
I think this classic slipper chair style will serve us for many years to come. And, with the easy to upholster style I can recover them again in the future. For now, we are loving them in their new velvety goodness.
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After having tried reupholstery myself I can appreciate the work that goes into it. I’m loving the color of that fabric. That’s such a great idea to use curtains. I’m going to think about that for next time.
Thanks Lisa. Definitely a labor of love…haha. I much prefer recovering these slipper chairs to the couch I recovered for my bachelorette apartment back in the day.
Very nice job.
Alexa @ travelmiamor says
omg is looks amazing!!!!
[email protected] says
Well done! The velvet fabric really takes the chairs up a notch
such a good idea to use a curtain this way! Thank you for sharing! I don’t see a pin button!
Yes. This turned out amazing! And you commented on the puckering but don’t velvet chairs do that? It is not noticeable. It kind of adds a richness to the overall look! And when I saw the first post before you changed the chairs, I thought, oh those look nice in the room. But then to see the overall finished room of your vision, it makes more visual sense. Thank you for inspiration.
These turned out awesome! I love slipper chairs – we don’t have any now but if I were to do some upgrading this is what I would go for. I love their cleaner, open profile. Gorgeous!
Thanks Emily! Slipper chairs are so versatile. Hope you can get a pair of beauties for yourself soon!
Wow. You’re truly a pro. These look fantastic!
A cost cuttin tip–in place of the cording that you purchase in a fabric store, you can use cotton clothesline from the hardware store. It’s the same product for MUCH less money.
Pam Zirbel says
OH MY!!!! Well…I want to just tackle curtains and you have redone chairs….which btw are a gorgeous style chair! I have always wanted to reupholster something and just dont have the nads to do it!! Well done and love the color choice too!!
I’m a sucker for a good upholstery project! I just finished my first upholstery class and I’m officially obsessed and love seeing people’s before and after shots. If you do this project again in the future (or a similar chair) I’d HIGHLY recommend metal tacking strips for the back. I used them for the sides and backs of my recent project and they made a HUGE difference.
Centsational Girl has a fantastic post about them here:
http://www.centsationalgirl.com/2011/04/silver-leaf-vanity-chair/ and I’ve also found The Green Notebook to be really helpful as far as upholstery tutorials go.
Also, such a small world. Just stumbled upon your blog and realize you live in the place where I grew up. I always have a soft spot for Minnesota bloggers, though I’m bow living in Chicago.
Kelly, Thanks for the info. I definitely need to check out the metal tack strips. The back was so tricky and not my best work. An upholstery class sounds super fun!
Yes, the class was the best! I admire people who can just take a chair apart and figure out what to do, but I’m just not sure that is my skill set. Sometimes I need the reassurance of someone standing over my shoulder telling me when I’m not doing it right. :-) I think you did a great job. Velvet = notoriously tricky. I haven’t had the guts to play around with it yet.
Can I ask how the material is holding up?
Joanna, It is holding up well. My boys have spilled chocolate milk on it more times than I would like, but it has cleaned up easily. I must say, though, these chairs don’t get used daily. As a family we mostly sit on our sofa. The chairs get used more when we have company. With that said they are in our main living area with two boys crawling all over them everyday.
Love the rug – where did you get it?
Karissa, It is the Moroccan Trellis Rug from Rugs USA. We have had it lost 3 years now and still love it!
I realize that I am a bit late to the party… I have a chair very similar to this that I would like to reupholster. I am wondering how long it took you to do a single chair?
Thank you :)