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Beginners Blunders

So recently I was asked to reupholster a set of 6 dining chairs. Beautiful Rosewood, lovely shape, the only issue was the client had a very kind visitor who had been helping on yearly visits to do the job. Now upholstery isn't rocket science and there are a range of ways to do the same thing, however there are some basics that never change. I don't want to discourage anyone from having a go, but I'm hoping this post might help you avoid some beginners blunders.



First thing I always look at is the underside of a chair to see if it will need re-webbing. Webbing is the hessian strips that form the base of all traditional upholstery. If it's worn though and snapped or become baggy you end up with a sagging seat. The chair on the left is original and the webbing is correct, the chair on the right (done by our beginner) isn't. The webbing should always be woven over under. It stops the webbing from moving around and provides a sturdy based. If you look at the chair on the right the easiest mistake to spot is the the strip of webbing on the right hand side isn't woven over and under at all.



I could also see that the chair seats where different heights,because of this I stripped it back to have a look at what was going on.The chair on the left is the original, with all its original stuffing. Now I've had students says to be 'but its dusty, the stuffing needs replacing' Nope,don't. It ruins the original shape. If you want to change the original shape that's different, but if you're restoring the less you change the better.


The chair on the left was done by our beginner. It's a completely different height, which affects the look and comfort. This is because it doesn't have a stitched edge, just stuffing with hessian stapled over the top. A stitched edge is quite labour intensive, it's a method of using stitches to pull and hold stuffing to the edge of the seat and hold it in place. If you don't use a stitched edge then the modern alternative is a firm foam. The thing is the traditional method will last 70 years easily. Foam, maybe 10, 20 if you're lucky.


The webbing and the seat height combined meant that it needed a complete re-build. I always take pictures when I do a rebuild so I can remember the different stages and which methods have been used. There's so much variety in upholstery especially older pieces.

This is after I had rebuilt the stitched edge. The aim is to get a neat corner at 90 degrees. Then on top of the stitched edge there is yet more stuffing, called the second stuffing. Followed by wadding and then finally it's the pretty bits. The top fabric and the edging.


The video below shows a different issue, the webbing had been replaced correctly and the original stuffing with it's stitched edge had been kept and put back, but not attached properly. The video also shows how to put on the top layer and how to do the front and back corners. Corners take a bit of getting used to and can be a bit of a pain in the back side. The aim of this blog post is to highlight common mistakes, hope you've found it useful.


This is the book I recommend, it's that good they've had to do a reprint! The upholstery bible














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