The other day I was trying to explain the process of re-upholstering furniture to a friend. I decided to post it all here in detail starting with the fabric removal of a piece that has been previously upholstered. How I remove the fabric and what tools I use to get the job done is the first tutorial on my 3 part re-upholstering series.
HOW TO REMOVE FABRIC FROM AN UPHOLSTERED piece of furniture:
- TOOLS: Here are the tools I used to take off all the old upholstery on my upcoming bench project.
TOOLS: any pliers, small hammer, flat head screw driver(even better if sharpened)
- DEMOLITION;)- Remove fabric, remove staples, and Label, Label, Label. Use the tools to remove the old staples by prying up the staples with the flat head screw driver. If the staples are too deep to get the screw driver into it, use the small hammer to lightly hammer the handle end of the flat head screw driver into the frame so that you can get the edge of the screw driver underneath the resistant staples. If you can sharpen the flat head of the screw driver like a chisel, do it, because it is easier to get under the staples when sharpened. I took off all the old fabric. I made sure that I kept the fabric in tact because when you have the fabric you have a pattern!!!! I removed all the staples and labeled all the removed pieces. Some of the fabric was tricky to remove. I had to see what needed to be removed first in order to get to the other pieces. (For example, the seat fabric would not come off until the back support piece was removed). The last thing you want to do is tear a piece of fabric that you want to remove but are having trouble getting off. Check out the captions for each picture for further explanation.
I removed all staples and labeled all the old removed pieces of fabric and any cushion that corresponds to the fabric pieces with a sharpie. I labeled the cushion because my new fabric is dark enough and would never show through. Also, I just went ahead and labeled the actual frame where a piece of fabric was stapled. The frame will be covered again and this definitely helped me put all the pieces back the same way. Not only did I sharpie the position of that piece of fabric(ie: LEFT upper panel), I also labeled which end was top and bottom. Some furniture pieces have padded plywood panels. This bench had 6 panels. Squares and rectangles of panels are never perfect squares and rectangles. They have to go back in the same exact direction that they were taken out. After I removed the panels, I then removed the old fabric from the panels. After all that old fabric came off, there were still a lot of staples in some of the loose fabric. I continued to remove the staples from the loose fabric so that it could be used as a pattern. Be organized with labeling and you shouldn’t have a problem.
- SEAMRIP any pieces sewn- The back support of my bench/couch had 2 pieces of fabric sewn together. I used my seam ripper and took out the entire seam so I could get 2 pattern pieces. Once again I labeled which piece of fabric is the back support and which piece is the back of the chair.
I continued to seam rip all the thread even after the sewn pieces were able to be taken apart because you want these 2 pieces to be patterns. If they have a folded edge because the thread is still left in it, you won’t be able to get a nice flat pattern.
If you don’t mind doing this type of work but don’t necessarily want to sew seams and actually upholster through to the final product, you can always take your labeled pattern pieces to an upholsterer. Definitely ask before you start if you can get a price break for doing your own tear down since it is time consuming and that part of the labor should not be factored into the cost.
This is just the fabric removal portion of my upholstered bench. Stay tuned for more about cutting from the pattern, sewing the back support, refinishing the wood and re-applying the new fabric!
UPDATE: check out Bench Project PART 2: Refinishing and Sewing
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