cropped-sku16461-2.jpgChair Upholstery lesson 3: Cutting

The people in the top of this long thin island were busy tying down their garden furniture earlier this week, waiting for cyclone Gita. My inbox held an email from Antonia, warning that the lesson might be cancelled because of Gita. I was kind of hoping it would be, as I had not even started my homework.  Buy material, easy. I had used my spare time for other things, mainly socialising and had missed the window to actually order my material to be delivered to class.

I watched the weather reports, Gita was veering away from her plotted course and we were to expect only heavy rain and strong winds; it looked like we had avoided much worse.  Another email came through that the course was on,  my own veering and avoiding had left me an hour and a  half to find some fabric.


Our local sewing supplies, crafty type store was my only hope.  I was feeling deeply depressed, running my hand over long fabric rolls of stripes and geometric shapes.  Others were just too………patterny.  I was sounding like Goldilocks and telling myself off when I spied a woman hauling a thin roll or grey upholstery fabric to the counter.  I followed her and hovered.  I heard her tell the young girl measuring out the meterage, that it was for an upholstery class and that she had left it a bit late.  A conversation later I found out she was going to headboard class run by Antonia.  We both bought the grey fabric and promised not to tell that we had been so dis-organised, we laughed a lot.

I arrived on time with my grey bundle feeling under control. We all settled down, eyeing each other’s fabric choices.  Class starts:


We recap and put our hands up to answer questions on springs, webbing, stuffing and foam.  We all remembered and answered everything correctly.


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We were shown lots of good and bad upholstery projects and told to look and learn.  The cutting templates are really just to make sure you buy enough fabric.  When you have a fabric that has large, bold patterns or stripes and geometric designs we were shown how to actually place the fabric on the chair and work out how best to use the pattern by moving it around standing back and looking.  Would you place this pattern slightly off centre or centrally?  The class was divided.

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How would you use this fabric?  Each chair looks good with the different orientation, would they work if you swapped??


The black and white is not central the red and orange is.  They both work.  You have to take time at this stage and work out what works and what does not. Sometimes an innocent flower pattern can turn into something quite gynaecological with the wrong placement.  BEWARE.  Antonia talked about the theory of thirds and made us realise that buying the correct fabric for the chair is important.  Check for pulls or blemishes before you allow the person to cut your length from the roll and never buy in a hurry. OOPS

And what do you think is wrong here?

We all stared at the large image on the wall.


This chair was used as an example of what not to do.  Check out the stripes.  White on one side, beige on the other and badly spaced tacks.  Some of us saw the faults, others did not.  I guess it’s your chair you can do what you want, but Antonia’s head nearly exploded just looking at it!


You have to unpick all the material and set it out on your new stuff. We learnt to measure +5cm from a stapled edge and +1.5 from a sewn seam when marking out our pattern pieces from the old upholstery.  Any piping for stripes should be cut on the bias and always follow the nap of the fabric – USE THOSE ARROWS.

Then we learnt how to cut around objects with special release cuts.

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We were told to cut a little at a time.

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Practice with scrap fabric as much as possible.

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Imagine the above is a dining room chair.  You are looking down onto the seat, the post represents the structure holding the backrest. Mark cuts with chalk first so you can visualise how it will work.

We were shown how to secure one side with staples then measure and mark the stop line and then cut and fold our way around the posts.


We learnt that saddles are used at the back of any uprights that will be left exposed.  Basically, they are bits of fabric, secured with staples and are used to fill the gap left when you have cut and folded your way around the structure because there will not be enough to meet and seam at the back. If you are really clever you can pattern match them.


Then it was time to cut our fabric.  Everyone was excited and nervous except for me.  I had forgotten my cutting template!!!  I jumped onto the sewing machine and cut and finished my deck, stapled it to the chair frame over the springs and basically annoyed everyone else for the rest of the evening.

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I brought my grey fabric home to cut out on the kitchen floor with no guidance.  I’ll let you know how it goes.


How it started



2 thoughts on “Upcycling

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