Saturday, June 14, 2014

Re-Upholstery 101

Our German daughter, Carina and her husband bought a cabin near Blue Ridge, Georgia. It is a beautiful little cabin and she has done an amazing job decorating it. She is so talented at almost everything, but struggled a bit with re-covering upholstered cushions - or, maybe she just wanted to make me feel wanted.

Anyway, she and Brian invited us up a few weeks ago to see their cabin. She asked me to help her re-cover some cushions for the wicker rockers on the porch. She had some cute black-bear fabric to replace the floral print that didn't look "cabinish" at all.

I finished one of the cushions that weekend but ran out of time for the second one so we went back this weekend to finish. I thought I would blog the process in case it is helpful to someone else.

Here's how to do it:

First, take the old cushion apart and save the parts to use as a pattern. If you're frugal like me, you can remove the zipper and the piping to re-use in the new cushion.

Cut out the pieces using the old cushion cover as a pattern. You need a bottom, a top, sections for the zipper, a section for the sides and strips to cover the piping.

Install the zipper by machine-basting two sections together with a 5/8 inch seam using a stitch length of 5.
Then place the zipper face down over the seam. Flip the fabric back and machine-basted the zipper to the seam allowance on one side. Flip the fabric back and sew the zipper in place on both sides on the right side of the fabric. (I wasn't thinking about blogging at this point so I forgot to take any pictures, but this is a standard method for installing a zipper and there are lots of blogs and videos online if you need more detail.)

Next, prepare the piping for both sides of the cushion. Cut it to size, using the old fabric as a pattern.

Sew the seam as close as you can to the piping. Normally I would use a zipper foot to sew the piping into the fabric but if you do not have a zipper foot (Carina had forgotten to bring her zipper foot to the cabin) you can use the standard foot. Just had to put the piping under the pressure foot and get the needle as close to the piping as you can. If you have a zipper foot, put your needle in the left position and sew with the zipper foot against the piping.  Sew the piping to within about an inch of the end. leave about 1.5 inches of extra fabric.

Fold the extra fabric in half and tuck the opposite end into the extra fabric making a loop out of the piping. Make sure your piping is not twisted.

Next, pin the loop of piping to the cushion bottom matching the raw edges. To get it evenly spaced, mark the centers of both pieces. I like to mark multiple places. Fold the chair bottom in half length-wise and place pins at the top and bottom, then fold it in half width-wise and place pins at each side. Then split the difference between each pin and put pins at the center.  Do the same thing with the piping.

Match the pins up so that the piping is evenly spaced around the cushion bottom.

The piping will need to be stretched a bit to make it fit. I use lots of pins. It doesn't matter if the cushion bottom section looks a little "puckery". The foot feed on the sewing machine will take some of that out. You can also stretch it a little as you sew it.

Machine baste the piping to the cushion bottom trying to get the stitching on top of the previous stitching on the piping.

When you finish stitching the piping to the cushion bottom, clip the curves of the piping seam so it will lie flat. Be careful not to clip the stitching.


Repeat the process to mark the center of the cushion bottom with the piping attached.

Sew the zipper section to the side section to make a circle, then mark the centers like you did with the piping. Match the centers to the cushion bottom with the piping attached. Again, I use lots of pins.

Sew the seam using a stitch length of 2.5, being sure to stitch on top of the previous stitching.

Apply the piping to the cushion top just like you did for the bottom.

You're almost finished now. You just need to mark your centers of the cushion top and the side section and match them up. Be sure to open the zipper before you pin them together so you will be able to turn the cushion cover right side out after you have stitched it.

Turn the cushion cover right side out.

You might want to enlist the help of some strong men to help you stuff the foam rubber form into the cushion cover. It is usually a pretty tight fit.

It may take a bit of finagling to get the foam rubber adjusted in the cover. Just keep working with it until you get a nice smooth look.  Then just sit back and relax on your beautiful new cushions!

1 comment:

  1. I love them!! You did such a beautiful and fantastic job! I dont think I could have done it without you - maybe now after reading your instructions I will try the next ones for the lower deck.