Oh yes, yes I did. I’m talking no sew upholstery today. First, a friendly muffin top warning because I love you long time.
Do not read this post if you:
A. Are type A
B. Can sew
C. Are a perfectionist
D. Have reupholstered a chair the correct way or ohgodno are a real upholsterer person!
E. If you are all of the above, run, run for your life! AND DON’T LOOK BACK, WHATEVER YOU DO!
If you don’t heed my warning, I am not responsible for any injury that may occur, both physical or mental. I am not responsible if you throw up or break glass from your shrieking. My methods are not recommended for all, but only meant as a rough how to if you would like to potentially upholster a chair in all the wrong wrongity wrong ways! Believe me when I say I searched hi and low for a slacker’s guide to upholstery and found NOTHING. Nothing!!!
So! Now that we have our muffintop surgeon general warning out of the way, the rest of you lovely readers
type B slacking em-effers in da housee! who are still with me and wanna know how you can DIY upholster a Frenchy chair in 52 easy, totally wrong, and barbaric steps, buckle up!
You will need: a cheap chair to practice on (Don’t start with granny’s antique!), pliers, scissors, fabric, a staple gun, a glue gun, fabric, adult beverages, a spirited vocabulary, and Band-Aids.
So! New Year’s Day, I decided to grab this fabulously sh*&%y French Country armchair with ottoman (bonus!) I spied on Craigslist. Though it had great bones (Ethan Allen—excuuuse me) it was a grubtastic dog! The owners were very proud of its former glory, but hel-lo.
You can’t even tell how gross it is—YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE ME.
PLEASE IGNORE THE POST XMAS PLAYROOM SQUALOR. AND THE CUTE PHOTO BOMB!
Obviously, I did not think these “Before” pics through! You really can’t tell how grungy the ottoman was amidst the playroom squalor!
So, first, after I got home with hubs having not been stabbed with a pitchfork (We’re 3 for 3 on living through Craiglist purchases—not to get all braggy!), I vacuumed underneath the chair (don’t even bother to ask!) and washed all the wood with Murphy Oil soap. Then decided it needed a fresh coat of paint.
DUDE, THIS WAS AFTER WASHING. SEE WHAT I MEAN? BLEACH YOUR EYES! BLEACH YOUR EYES!
Hence, the paint. And the beer. To wash away the memories.
THE BEER HELPED FREE MY INNER PICASSO.
I’d planned to get the chair reupholstered, but after I got home (file under I can’t make this shizz up), my dishwasher went kaput.
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO MEEEEEEEEEE!
LET’S REVIEW. Now I have:
1. a hangover
2. a grubby chair
3. and I’m getting jiggy with mah old pal from my apahtment days, Dawn, “It softens hands while you do dishes!” (Bullshit! That’s to make poor souls who have to wash dishes by hand feel better! To me, “NOT DISHWASHER SAFE” is just a dare. You take my dishwasher? You take my SOOOOULLLL! ) And hey, nothing against you Dawn, but you ain’t my style! (Which is Lazy. Capital L. Party of one.)
Despite my obvious appliance emergency, and because I loooove to laugh out loud…I dared to dream. The scene in mah head: Muffintop skipping through a meadow full of flowers….LOLOLOLing all the way until she plunks down in her pillowy soft, clean, newly upholstered in chic fabric, French Country chair whilst cradling an adult beverage and smut magazine….ahh. Then came the reality: I decided to get some upholstery quotes even though I needed to make a date with an appliance man. The upholstery quotes ranged from $275 plus fabric to $275 for just the OTTOMAN plus fabric PLUS $675 plus fabric for the chair.
L NO L to that fuzzy math!
Btw, $275 is a good deal as it turns out, but at this point, I figured this thing is going in the corner of my office (and by office I mean, the room I call an office but is really the place more accurately known as school paper graveyard/where I grab envelopes to send in lunch money/field trip money/conduct other super serious hausfrau banking/order shoes online). (Call me, Donald. I will totally hawk crap in Times Square on Apprentice! I have glue gun cred, Donald.)
I looked at the chair and thought, “I can do an ok job on this chair, stuff myself in the corner on it with my beer and Kindle, and that is good enough for meeeeee!” Scratch the frolicking in a meadow. But seriously, if you can sew, you could for real do a kick ass job on a chair like this. Since the cushions aren’t attached like a regular arm chair, this is a good type of chair to start with! (And possibly, ahem, end with.)
I trolled online for fabric (the upholsterers said fabric would be $10 to $40 per yard and I’d need 7 yards). I found Waverly Solar Flair Fruit Punch fabric for $8.50 a yard at Jo-Ann Fabric (coupon code–halala!). Suck it, upholsterers. I’ve not seen it for less than $16 a yard elsewhere online.
IT IS RAINING SUNSHINE UP IN HERE!
It’s not for everyone and I think speaks to a caged in muffin top’s psyche on a 5 degree January day. Ahem. I also thought maybe the pattern might hide mistakes?
So, I started with the ottoman, figuring that would be easier than the chair.
First I had to pull off the double welting trim–double welting trim is what covers up upholstery staples. If you’re fancy and you can sew (why are you still reading this?!) you can make new trim, but I can’t sew, as we know, so I had a plan (more later!). I swear that trim was glued on and stapled to that chair better than my house is put together. They must have upholstery ninjas at Ethan Allen. What. the. frack. I envision a mean man with a fireplace poker prodding hunched over, underpaid workers sneering, “More glue! More staples! If anyone should find a Craigslist bargain on one of our chairs, they shall never, never, never be able to pull it apart and must live with the original fabric forevaaaaaah!” in a meany, old school, 18th century, I own the whole world and several colonies, British accent. (I’m not talking about you Fergie. Or you Prince William. Let’s party sometime!) But that’s just me. I’m sure the good folks at Ethan Allen are just like you and me! (Nooooo.)
I needed pliers to start prying off the cemented on welting, and had to put some muffin top into it. Ultimately, the chair was no match for my laser beam focus. Actually, I bent my
hub’s pliers I had to pull so hard and almost took my eye out. (Safety first! Meep. I recommend goggles! Can you see it? “Good news! I saved $275 upholstering this chair! Bad news, I’m blind in one eye!” Dum de dum dum dum….)
PULLING OFF THE DOUBLE CORDING TRIM. IT WOULD BE EASIER TO SKIN A CAT. NOT THAT I WOULD WANT TO SKIN A CAT. BUT IF I DID WANNA? I JUST KNOW I COULD!!!
The next step should be to pry off all the upholstery staples and then the fabric. But this is lazy ass, muffin top DIY, so after it took me like twenty minutes and one finger cut to pull out three staples, I said, “Schluck this!” , took a swig of my beer, and ripped the fabric off sans staples and decided I’d just staple the new fabric OVER the old staples. Sing with me Montell Jordan, “This is how we do it!”
FABRIC OFF. STAPLES STILL IN! YOU WIN, ETHAN ALLEN, YOU WIN. SMUG BASTARD.
Next I saved the ottoman fabric that was remarkably intact –despite my bastardization of the pulling off process–to make a template. I traced the old fabric onto the back of the new fabric, cut it, and stapled it.
YES, I DID. I CUT THAT FABRIC WITH MY RUDOLPH CHRISTMAS WRAP SCISSORS.
THESE ARE THE PROFESSIONAL GRADE TYPE TOOLS YOU WILL NEED.....
It looked like this:
I'M AN OBVIOUS PERFECTIONIST.
YOU DO THE CORNERS LAST. YOU PULL AS TIGHT AS YOU CAN AND FOLD AS NEATLY AS POSSIBLE.
GIMP! A NO SEW PERSON'S BEST FRIEND! I GOT LIKE 800 YARDS FOR $12. OK, LIKE 15 YARDS. BUT STILL. I JUST HOT GLUED IT ON TO COVER THE STAPLES INSTEAD OF FANCAAAAY DOUBLE PIPING.
BUT WHAT, THERE’S MORE?
NOT BAD FOR A TYPE B, L NO L'ING, MUFFINTOPPER!
This was my best work, peeps. It got harder from here.
THE PROPER THING TO DO WOULD BE TO SEW A ZIPPERED COVER, BUT WE ALL KNOW THAT WASN'T GONNA HAPPEN. SO I DECIDED TO WRAP THE FABRIC UNDERNEATH.
HELLO HOT GLUE, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE? ALSO, I CAN NEVER FLIP THE OTTOMAN CUSHION, BUT, ETHAN ALLEN DIDN'T EITHER---THERE WAS VELCRO ON THE BOTTOM OF THEIR CUSHION SO EH, WHAT'S THE DIFF?!
And the finished ottoman:
LIVING UP TO MY TYPE B EXPECTATIONS--FABRIC IS NOT CENTERED, NATCH!
PART B, THE CHAIR. Dudes, this is getting long and I’m thirsty and want to schlump into mah chair, so I’m gong to illustrate most of the rest through pics.
The decking turned out to be the easiest part. I couldn’t rip the whole fabric bottom off because it was sewed on. No WAY was I was gonna mess with that Ethan Allen scary ass shizz!
I USED MY SCRAP MATERIAL FOR THIS PART. SCORE!
CAN I GET AN AAAA-MEN FOR STAPLING OVER STAPLES, PART DOS?! VIVA LA MEDIOCRITY!
THE FABRIC WAS SURPRISINGLY EASY TO SLIP BEHIND THE ARM OF THE CHAIR. I WENT BACK AND STARTED THE SEAM NEXT TO THE ARM SO THE GIMP WOULD COVER IT.
VOILA! AND HEY, WHAT'S A FEW THIRD DEGREE HOT GLUE BURNS! I AM MUFFINTOP. HEAR ME ROAR!
The arms weren’t bad at all!
I RIPPED THE FABRIC OFF THE ARM IN THE SAME PRECISE FASHION AS THE DECKING. AHEM. AND THEN USED IT AS A TEMPLATE.
STAPLE, STAPLES EVERYWHERE! SNIP SNIP WITH MY RUDOLPH SCISSORS TO GET RID OF HANGING THREADS!
OH GIMP! WE MEET AGAIN. YOU MAKE MEDIOCRITY MAHVELOUS, DAHLING!!!
And without further ado, meet my *new*, clean, BRIGHT and SHINY, if monstrously perfectly imperfect, fun French country armchair and ottoman!
DONE! THIS IS WHERE THE MUFFINTOP SHALL RESIDE WHEN SHE WANTS TO!
Is the chair perfect? Hell no! Far from it. The cushions don’t have double welting (piping) trim, can never be flipped, and the fabric is not as “tight” as I would have liked. The cushions are squishy so trying to pull the fabric tight underneath, to then (Gasp!) glue the fabric like I did the ottoman–which was firmer—was much more difficult. But hey, for only a coat of paint, some elbow grease, an inexpensive chair with only $60 worth of fabric, I have this fun-can-never-be-moved-from-the-corner-chair! Oh and bonus—I had enough fabric left over to upholster my desk chair (aka a Queen Anne style dining chair) and make two no sew curtains (deets to follow).
From shizz to shine, all on a dime! I gots to save my money for new shoes and wine!
Salud, Muffintoppers! I swear my wine tastes better in my fun chair!
Oh, and p.s. Yes, that is Mommy Mixology: A Cocktail for Every Calamity on the table next to the chair. Now available on Amazon, Barnesandnoble.com, and other fine retailiers! (What? I have a new DIY habit to support! Forgive the shameless plug!)