Upholstery 101

Just like a parent accompanying their child on the first day of school (not that I know what that feels like because I don't have children. I'm simply assuming here, please just go with it). I felt a mixture of emotions before my first upholstery class started; excitement, uneasiness and a little sad. After all, I wasn't going to be taking Louie back home with me that night. He was staying there for 9 weeks. I was having a bit of separation anxiety. I searched far and wide for Louie and now that I have him, I'm a little scared to lose him. Also, Louis was the smallest one in the class. There was an array of furniture that included wing back chairs, setees, loveseats and more. What if he got lost in the shuffle, or they misplaced him?

After scanning the room, I wondered whether I should have brought a heavier piece that required more elaborate finishing but after completing week one, I'm relieved I decided to bring Louie. I will probably be busy for the full 9 weeks. My instructor Evelyn is a master upholsterer and she does not believe in shortcuts. I actually left some fabric on the chair thinking that she may tell me to upholster over top of it. Boy was I wrong. After asking her if I should remove all the fabric and staples off the back, she quickly smirked and said, "why of course. No one said this was going to be easy". Evelyn is also...let's say, on the higher end of the age scale. She's old and sassy and is amazing at what she does. I love her already.

Wow, these pictures are gross. So from the above photo you can see I've started to remove the old fabric. Not by ripping it off but by carefully extracting the staples with a tack lifter and needle nose pliers. You may notice some masking tape under the fabric. It turns out the wood is a little soft so digging out the staples is leaving Louie all scratched up. Not good. I should actually be using a thicker tape.

aaaaand here's ugly picture number 2. That foam looks disgusting. Evelyn pulled a piece off with her fingers and it crumbled like feta cheese. So that's being replaced. It turns out the foam needs to be re-done, AND the springs need to be tightened. Poor Louie needs more TLC than I thought. I honestly thought it might be one of those quick upholstery jobs you see on decor blogs. You know, upholster over top the old fabric, stain the wood and Bam! you're done (don't they make it look so easy?). I guess when you're dealing with real antiques that have been upholstered several times, in order to make it your own it really becomes a labour of love. I'm so thankful I managed to enroll in this class because now I can learn the proper techniques that will keep Louie looking great for years to come.

Above are the sewing machines available for us to use. I must say they look a little intimidating but it will be interesting to see how these old babies run!

And what's an upholstery class without a chair legend? I'm all about the history of furniture.

So as you can see, Louis is fairly small compared to others in the class. He's alot more delicate but full of character and personality. I tried to tuck him in a safe place, and even left a little note on him.

Our next class is about choosing the right fabric. I can't wait! I'll also try and sneak some photos of the other chairs being worked on. I sure hope my classmates don't mind photos because I'll be snapping tons of pics!

To read past posts about Project Louis, click here.

Stay tuned for more updates,
xoxo Amy