Friday, January 4, 2013

How to Diamond Tuft and Upholster a Chair

Hey ya’ll!
I wanted to show you what I’ve been up to! I wanted a couple of upholstered chairs for the ends of my dining table (which I haven’t shown you yet!), but have you seen the prices of upholstered chairs?! Oy’….we’re talking $300-$400.00 EACH!
I decided to look around on craigslist and see what I could find.
I found these two rolled backed upholstered chairs for $50.00 for BOTH!  The only problem….they had some fabric that just wasn’t going to cut it in my dining room.

Here they are….

How to upholster a chair

I do LOVE that little rolled effect on the top of the back!

how to upholster a chair

I decided I really liked the shape of the chairs, but I wanted to change them up a little bit, so I carefully started removing the fabric.  Here it is all nakie. :0)

how to upholster a chair

I wanted to change the plain, flat backs of the chairs into some lovely diamond tufting, but I’ve never done that before, so I did what every good blogger does…I googled it! :0)  I found some videos and posts on how to diamond tuft and just figured it out along the way. 

Basically you just decide where you want your rows to fall, then stagger the buttons diagonally.  I did mine 6” apart and 6” down, but staggered.  Then you cut out the foam so your button can have somewhere to recess back into.  Like this…..

How to upholster a chair

A lot of the how to posts and video said to drill holes in the backing of your chair where the buttons would go through, but my chair just had some cardboard in the back, so I decided it would be much easier to just cut a piece of pegboard and attach it because it has tons of holes and it would be much easier than trying to drill a hole in just the right spot on a piece of wood.
Here’s the pegboard in place……
(just make sure you don’t make the piece of pegboard so long in the back, that you won’t be able to pull the fabric through when you upholster the bottom of the seats.   I did that and had to take it back off and cut some more of the pegboard off.   This is the picture before I cut it off …UGH!)

how do I upholster a chair

Here’s what it looked like right before I started upholstering it with my fabric…..

how to upholster a chair

I picked a nice heavy muslin/linen- like fabric…not exactly sure what it was, but it was on sale at Hobby Lobby for $5.00 bucks a yard and I had a 40% off coupon, which made it cheap, cheap, cheap!  I bought 13 yards for both chairs.  (I had a little left over, so I’m not sure exactly how many yards it took for both)

I laid the fabric out over the chair and allowed a LOT of excess for the diamond tufting…it takes WAY more than you think! (at least 8 extra inches all the way around…maybe a little more)

how to upholster a chair

The fabric reminds me of the look of dropcloths, so I’m wondering if you washed dropcloths first, to make them softer,  if you could use them….but at the price I got this fabric at, it was actually cheaper! 

upholstery fabric

See how much extra fabric I allowed all the way around the chair before I started tufting!

how do I upholster a chair

OH…this if VERY important, and I forgot to take a picture of it! (duh!) See the vertical lines where the fabric is coming out from the pushed in spots where the buttons will go?  Your fabric has to have somewhere to go to make the lines that go up and out from the outside buttons, so I used a razor blade and cut those lines deep into the foam. I cut vertical lines for the top two buttons, and horizontal lines for the six side buttons.  You’ll understand it better once you see the tufting starting to go into position.

Start by pushing the fabric into the top two holes you cut out in the foam…allowing extra fabric in the middle. You can play with it and adjust it as you go.

diamond tufting

You adjust all the fabric as you continue going down, pushing the fabric into the holes on down the back of the chair.  The folds in the diamond tufting always go down. (or get tucked under)  See what I mean about the slits in the sides of the foam and on top…so the fabric will have somewhere to tuck into. …..

how to diamond tuft

Once you get the fabric all pushed in and the diamond tufts all formed, you start putting your buttons into place.  I used fabric covered buttons.  Here’s a pic and you just follow the basic instructions on the package.  The only thing I did different was when it says to put the metal back parts on and pound them into place… I put some super glue behind the metal piece to make sure they wouldn’t come apart because I knew I’d be putting a lot of pressure on them when I pulled them into the tufts.

how to cover buttons in fabric

I also used this VERY heavy duty upholstery thread for my buttons. I was blessed because my husband’s aunt Lois sent me a whole box of upholstery stuff many years ago and, being the packrat I am, I kept it and finally found a use for it all! lol

upholstery thread

I put the thread through the back of the button that I had already covered with fabric and assembled….

how to diamond tuft

Then I threaded the doubled thread through the eye of my GIGANTIC upholstery needle. (also in my box of goodies from Aunt Lois!)

how to put buttons in the back of a chair

After I had placed all my buttons back into the holes, and made sure the fabric was folded just the way I wanted it…………..

diamond tufting

I started attaching buttons.  When you are positive where you want you buttons, you put the pointy end of the needle through where the back of the button will rest in your recessed hole……

using an upholstery needle

Then you poke the needle through the closest hole you can find in the pegboard, like this……

how to upholster a chair

Push your button back into the hole and make any necessary adjustments to the fabric and pleats around your button…..


Making sure all your fabric is folded under in the diamond tufted areas. 

how to diamond tuft a chair

Also making sure you adjust the fabric at the sides so you’ll have equal amounts all the way down the sides of your chair.

how to recover a chair

OH..and speaking of the sides…see how the fabric on the sides goes down into the slits I cut into the foam….that’s why I said you needed to cut those slits with the razor blade earlier.

how to reupholster a chair

To attach the buttons to the pegboard….
You will have pulled all four strings through to the backside of the pegboard when you put your needle through the back. 
Like this..

how to diamond tuft

I separated the four threads into two and threaded each set of two threads through a different hole in a buttons and tied it off into a bow. I didn’t fully knot them until I got all the buttons on because I wanted the option to adjust the tightness of the buttons.

how to diamond tuft

Once I got the back exactly how I wanted and adjusted the buttons to all the same tightness, I knotted the threads and then stapled them to the pegboard like so…..

how to upholster a chair

In this picture, I have the back all attached with the buttons and I’ve pulled it around to the back of the chair and stapled it to the frame. I also pulled the bottom piece through and stapled it to the back of the frame as well.

chair upholstery

I attached the seat by pulling fabric through the back crease and attaching it to the frame of the chair, and by stapling all the way around the edges….

chair upholstery

The front corners were folded as such, before stapling…..

chair upholstery

Ok…see the four flaps that cover the legs of the chair in the BEFORE picture below?  (actually there’s six, if you count the little tiny corner pieces under the bigger flaps) I just carefully removed them and covered them in the new fabric….

parsons chair upholstery

All I did was put the new fabric onto the old fabric…turned it under and then I used an iron-on adhesive called Stitch Witchery to adhere the hem to the old fabric.

Here’s a pic of stitch witchery…

stitch witchery

It’s just a thin webbing you put onto fabric, then iron it down.

Here’s the back of the flaps after I attached the new fabric….

chair upholstery 101

Here’s how I put everything back together…
First I put on the covered piping or cording. (you can either cover the cording that came off your chair with a zipper foot on the sewing machine, or you can actually buy some very pretty cording already covered.  I’m cheap so I covered what I already had) :0)
Then I stapled the bigger flaps on first, then the little corner flaps over the legs…..

chair upholstery

Here’s another shot with one of the flaps flipped up so you can see how it all went on.  (and yes, you can still see that fabric on the underside of the flap, but who’s gonna be turning my chairs over to see the back side of the flap?! lol)

how to upholster a chair

Same side picture, with the flap down….


I had to figure out a different way to attach the back than the way it came because it had some kind of tack strips that I totally killed taking off the chair. (I don’t know my own strength!)  Winking smile
I decided since I LOVE the look of nailhead trim, that I would just use that. I got mine from in an antique brass color.   I basically just took a piece of fabric a little bigger than the back of my chair, turned under the edges until it was a perfect match and started installing the nailhead trim.  If you’ve never used nailhead trim before, it basically comes in a roll that looks like nailheads, but about every sixth nail, there’s a hole that you hammer an actual nailhead into. SUPER EASY!

nail head trim

Here are my finished chairs……….

how to use nail head trim

upholstering a chair

how to diamond tuft

how to upholster a chair

how to diamond tuft

chair upholstery

BOTH chairs, with all the materials to re-upholster them cost less than $125.00!   Why YES, I did save a TON of money!

Winking smile

Hope you enjoyed that VERY lengthy, but informative post! lol


Disclaimer: I am in no way a professional upholsterer, so there might be a better way to do this, but hey…this is a free tutorial and my chairs turned out great, so it’ll do in a pinch! :0)


Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces said...

You might not be a professional upholsterer...but you should be! These are AMAZING, Missy! I just love how you decide to do something...and just figure out how to do it! I am in awe, girl!

Marilyn said...

You have been busy!! Your chairs look wonderful. I wish you were my neighbor so I could have you drop in for visits and we could chat. I'd also want to hire your talents!! Or at least have you help me do a few things. I've been thinking about my "word" for the year and thought DREAM was it, but now I think it should be "DO IT!" There's more action to those two words! So, I need to get busy. Have a great 2013.♥♫

Cindy said...

WOW! They look amazing! Now they are beautiful, expensive looking chairs! I love your fabric choice. You can do anything girl!


pbrenner said...

Your chairs turned out fantastic! I am a beginner at upholstery too, and have a sofa that is completely tufted that I plan to tackle when it warms up a bit :-) By the way, if you have an upholstery supply place in your neck of the woods, those tack strips are only about $1-2 and are awesome (if you're not doing the nail trim).

Thanks for showing the details on the tufting!


Sharlotte said...

These are beautiful! You did an amazing job! Great step by step tutorial!

vintageandart said...

What a fantastic job you've done the chairs they look awesome..and not only do they look great but are useful too...

JacquiG said...

Wow, what an amazing job you've done!! Those chairs are beautiful, they look professionally upholstered. I am impressed!

NanaDiana said...

What an amazing tutorial! I just love the way your chair turned did a marvelous job- xo Diana

Peggy said...

OH Missy! These are incredible! We have some chairs that I still love but I know they will need to be reupholstered one of these days. Now I have a much better idea on how to go about it! My friend, you are so talented! Once again you did a truly lovely job!!

gail@My Repurposed Life said...

super job Missy! Your chair looks fabulous!!! great tute! I'll pin it as soon as I can get my computer and pinterest to get along. :)

20 North Ora said...

OMG - You did a fantastic job - both on the chairs and the tutorial. They look very professionally done. The fabric you got looks great.


Kathy@ Gone North said...

Oh My WORD!! Fabulous!!
I do upholstery & have worked for an upholsterer & let me tell you... the peg board idea is genius!! I will be using that one..I am still not sure why you had to slit the foam, but I am going to go back & re-read your instructions for a better idea...
Thanks for sharing...
Just lovely!!
(not sure how I got here, followed some blog trail : ) ..nice to meet you : )

Susan Nowell @ My Place to Yours said...

WOW! You did a fantastic job on your chairs. Maybe I'm feeling a little bravery coming on to tackle something at my house. Maybe...

lala said...

Absolutely AMAZING!!!! I am in awe of your talent - it came out perfect!!

❁Velma ~Down Our Country Road❁ said...

Fantastic tutorial, beautiful chairs!!

Anonymous said...

Your Super DIY cape is showing! These chairs are stunning. I know they were a lot of work but they were so worth your time and effort. I love everything about them. I know one day I will come to your blog and see you pictured in a hard hat under a post titled: How to build a house! :)
Happy New Year, my friend.

The Old Cupboard Door said...

Beautiful transformation! And a clever idea using the peg board! Thanks bunches for the tutorial.


Leave It To Davis said...

Nothing you accomplish surprises me anymore. I have been following you long enough that I know you can do ANYTHING you set your mind to. I bow to you in humble admiration. LOVE your chairs, as I have loved everything you have done. Please don't ever take such a long break again. I really miss your posts when you are MIA!!!!

Leave It To Davis said...

Oh, and I don't know how I missed this post for this long...have you on my reading list, but you didn't show up....or maybe I was busy that day and missed it...but glad you posted!! Hugs!

Unknown said...

wow! just gorgeous...just found you on facebook and liked your page. amazing chairs, love them! :-)

Unknown said...

I know I'm a year late to the party here, but can you tell me how fabric you used for each chair? I have 6 chairs that are very similar to yours so I want to make sure I get enough to cover all of them without overbuying too much. THANKS!!!

ashley said...

This chair looks lovely! So glad I stumbled upon it. Will be attempting my own project this week.


Anonymous said...

Missy, I just found your post and I am so glad.. I just bought 4 dirty ugly parson chairs $7 each and got the hubby eye rolls and NOW I know how to reupholster them and what with..Love the tufted I think the material is starts with an O something something lol

Unknown said...

Hi there! Was the fabric you used thick? I'm curious if it was this one (I'll attach a link). How are the chairs holding up still? Thanks!!! :)

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