In my on-going adventures in upholstery, I am so glad to say I moved beyond my confidence destroying apron and on to destruction…well really more like out with the old fabric. This was a perfect way to vent frustration. The whole process of removing the old fabric (I hate staples right now) took about 12 hours – or four 3 hour class periods. It you are really frustrated, its a great time to start a chair project.
That said, it was a lot of fun and I learned a lot from the experience. So here’s where I’m at so far.
You got to have the right tools. Staples, did I mentioned I hate staples right now, are pretty tough cookies and there are a lot of them, WAY more than imaginable. And if you have a really well built chair, with solid strong wood, well…the staples break. So here’s what you need.
1. Staple Removers – I have two kinds and both work very well based on what has happened to the staple and where it is located.
2. Needle Nose Pliers – When a staple breaks, this can be one of the only ways to get them out.
3. Mini Wire Cutters – Well, sometimes those pesky staples refuse to come out. Then just snip them but not too often as you still need a place to re-staple when you assemble the chair. The cool thing is they can also be used to remove the staple too. Using a slight grip on the wire – tight enough to grab the wire but not tight enough to cut the wire – and it often times will pull out.
Taking It to It’s Studs
Its very tempting to just start ripping things off the chair because you want to get to putting the new on. However, the chair itself has valuable information it can give you in making the new chair. If you take steps to use what has already been done – like the pattern for the chair – then you will not have to do any of the challenging work.
You’ve Heard of Measure First, This is Mark First
So our teacher has this super cute mini wingback that she has labeled for us as an example of labeling the chairs. You can see it in the pictures. But this is important. By labeling the chair with directions, you know what came off where. I know this seems silly but once fabric and stuffing and burlap start coming off, its not as easy to tell what was the up or the down, front or back of each piece.
Become a Chair Paparazzi
I was taught in my Mary Kay business that the faintest ink is more retentive than the most brilliant mind. In this case, the most faded photographer is better than my memory hands down. My class is once a week and that’s a challenge in and of itself. Even if I were doing this on my own every day, by the time I went to put the chair back together, I would not be able to remember was their a pleat here and a fold there or was that the other way around? By keeping a photo log, I don’t have to remember. Keep photos of every detail before you take it a part and as you take it a part. I find that this is going to also help with reassembly.
One of the hardest things in upholstery is the pattern or rather coming up with it. For the most part, the chair your are disassembling will keep its overall shape and look. Details maybe tweaked but the overall will be the same. So instead of recreating a pattern, use the work someone else has already done. As you remove a section, keep it, the cotton stuffing and the burlap together rolled up and secured with masking tape.
Bottom to Top and Back to Front and in Reverse
To take a part the chair, you are going to work in reverse of what you would putting the chair together. So the bottom under the chair or cambric (new word for me) would come off first. Then you would remove the bottom staples and slowly keep working your way up the back and the around to the front and the last is the seat. I found that I needed to loosen some of the areas before I removed them but ultimately it went from bottom to the top of the back and then over to the front.
In the end, my hard work was worth the effort. My $5 yard sale find has been stripped to its studs and is ready to get all dressed up…after a quick trip to the chair doctor for a repair. But that’s next post.