This is a quick but thorough guide on how to sew upholstery, presenting the main steps anyone needs to perform during the process. Before you start, you will need to come up with a plan, then get the necessary tools and materials, create a pattern, measure and cut your fabric, and put it all together into a finished product. This article will explain what you need and list the steps in order to get you started.
There are many instances when knowing how to sew upholstery can come in handy. Whether you want to reupholster a chair, make a headboard or cushions, or repair the upholstery in your car, this is an important and useful skill.
This type of material is thicker than ordinary fabrics. This means that, in order to learn how to sew upholstery, you will need to start by getting some special materials and tools. The precise equipment you will need depends on the specific nature of your project, but here are some of the basic items that are necessary for most upholstery sewing projects.
- Upholstery thread, which is thick and made from 100 percent polyester materials;
- Upholstery needles, which are thicker and heavier than regular needles;
- An upholstery or industrial sewing machine capable of handling heavy fabrics;
- A curved needle for hand sewing – to close cushions and make repairs;
- Foam for seat cushions and pillows;
- Upholstery tacks for attaching the material to a wooden item or piece of furniture;
- Upholstery staples and stapler;
- Screwdriver and pliers;
- Sharp scissors that can cut through thick fabrics.
1. Plan out the aesthetics of the project
The first step for any upholstery sewing endeavor is to plan your project and its aesthetics.
- You should consider your sewing level and skills when you decide on a project and start out with something that isn’t too complicated. For instance, a throw pillow is a good starting point.
- While learning how to sew upholstery is generally the same as regular sewing, there are some differences. For instance, materials and the types of stitches are usually not the same.
- When you choose a style and color for your fabric, you might want to consider how it will fit in with the rest of the items in your room.
2. Prepare the item to be upholstered
While there are many projects that involve sewing upholstery, these steps can be understood more easily if we talk about reupholstering a chair. However, many of these steps can be applied to other projects, such as making cushions, slip covers, and headboards. Therefore, you can use this advice to learn how to sew upholstery in general.
- To prepare a chair for reupholstering, the first thing to do is to remove the seat. Most seats are screwed on and can be removed with a screwdriver.
- If the original upholstery is in bad condition, it will need to be removed as well.
- The pieces of the original fabric can be saved, labeled and used to make a pattern, as you will see in the next step.
3. Measure and purchase fabric
- If you have preserved some pieces of the original upholstery, use them to take measurements for the new fabric.
- Otherwise, measure the piece of furniture that you will be upholstering and be sure to add three times the measured depth on all sides.
- Then, go to a fabric store and purchase the amount of fabric you need based on the measurements you have made.
- Choose a durable and sturdy fabric that will hold up well over time.
4. Make a pattern and cut the fabric
- Use the pieces of the old fabric to make a pattern.
- Lay them on the new fabric by putting the right side down and then cut them out.
- If you don’t have the fabric pieces, lay the seat itself on top of the fabric, pull the material around the seat, and then trim the excess with sharp scissors.
- When using a patterned fabric, be sure to line it up and mark it for consistency.
- Pull it around and trim the excess, leaving one inch on the bottom and sides.
5. Pin and sew the fabric
- Once the fabric is cut, the pieces that need to be sewn can be pinned to the furniture. This way, you will keep them taut and smooth.
- Remove the pinned covers and pieces and sew them together using a heavy duty sewing machine with durable thread that matches the fabric.
- Adjust the tension to medium or light and use a medium length stitch and a half inch seam allowance.
- Then, pull the covers back over the furniture.
For curved edges, create pleats and use buttons to hide the securing staples. Always be extremely careful when stapling and sewing, so as to avoid injuring yourself. While learning how to sew upholstery, eye protection and needle guards for sewing machines are recommended.
6. Finishing the job
- Add extra layers of batting or cushion if necessary.
- Pull the fabric tight and attach it to the furniture using a staple gun or upholstery tacks.
- Finish with decorative touches such as buttons or piping.
- Then, reassemble the chair by putting on the new cushion and tightening the bolts.
For a headboard, follow the same basic steps. Pad the headboard with foam, staple the fabric to the bottom of the frame, and use piping to accentuate the shape.
A tufted wall, which keeps a room warm and cozy and muffles sound, can be made by gluing batting to plywood, cutting fabric squares and sewing them together and, in the end, stapling the fabric over the batting and plywood. Drill holes at the fabric’s intersections and attach to the wall with screws.
Whether you are planning to reupholster a chair, make floor pillows or pet beds, or create room dividers, shower curtains, slip covers or doors, knowing how to sew upholstery will help you create beautiful objects that match and enhance your home decor. As long as you have the right materials and tools and have some basic sewing skills, this activity can be a fun and exciting way to liven up your living space. If you have some other tips on learning how to sew upholstery, feel free to share them with us.
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