So, here is our somewhat overdue post on Upholstery Class 5.  It’s a long one!  For those of you who love the details, get a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and hopefully you’ll be able to follow along.

Karen’s couch
My homework from our last upholstery class was to remove the old fabric from the couch back.  It was a LOT of work (we must remember to buy a staple remover tool!).  I kept the hairy stuff to help cushion the back of the new back.  Here is what the couch looked like at the start of this class:

The goal of this class was to attach the channel piece I made in our last class to the back of the couch.  The first step was to lay the channel piece over the couch back.  The bottom unstuffed portion of the channel piece was pushed between the couch back and the cushion—slits were cut in the unstuffed portion of the channel piece to allow it to fit around the wooden supports.  I had to pull firmly from the bottom so that the stuffed portion of the channel piece fit snuggly against the cushion, then stapled the bottom channel “flaps” to the wooden frame.


Before attaching the top of the channels to the frame, George first cut slits along the sewn lines between the channels on the top, cutting to just below the level of the chair frame top.  Then slits were cut on the backing burlap between the channels to make it easier to staple the backing burlap to the frame.

Once all the slits were cut, we stapled the back of the channels to the couch frame, making sure the channels were centered on the chair.  The two end channels were not attached until later.  Here’s what the chair looked like at this point:

Once the back of the channel pieces were stapled on, George & I started forming and stapling the front of the channels to the chair.  We started from the center and added or removed batting to create a uniformly puffed top to each channel  The seam between each channel was stapled down first (slits were cut on either side of the seam in a previous step). 

Then the top fabric for each channel was stapled to the back of the couch frame, making sure the channels formed a nice curve along the top of the back.


George has this great tool that helps move batting around inside the channels to help smooth them out.  You just poke it through the material and nudge the batting around.  It worked great with our course-grained fabric, but probably couldn’t be used on a finely woven fabric.

The two end channels (which have never been stuffed) were the most difficult.  Instead of fiberfill batting, George had me use rolled cotton (on the right in the picture above).  The rolled stuffing stayed in place better as I stapled the edges of the end channels to the side frames.  At the top, the raw edges of the channel fabric were rolled under and stretched over the adjoining channel, then stapled to the back frame.  It is important to step back frequently to be sure the chair back looks symmetrical.


The fabric is pleated to fit smoothly over the curve at the top edge of the chair.  It took a couple tries before the two end channels looked the same.

That was all I had time for today.  There is only one week to go, and I still have to finish the back and bottom of the chair AND the cushion!!

Janice’s chair
At the end of class 4, I had to make a decision of which buttons to use on my chair.  Plain on the left or striped on the right.

I loved the casual, beachy look the striped buttons gave the chair, but I felt the look was too casual for where I was going to use the chair, so I went conservative and chose the plain buttons.  I know I will find a use for the striped buttons.

Class 5, for me, was spent working on the back of the chair.

My first task was to staple webbing to the back, to create a foundation for the batting and fabric.  For webbing we used 4″ wide strips of fabric sewn together.

With the webbing attached I now had a foundation to lay the next three layers.  This included an inner piece of scrap fabric or burlap, a layer of batting, and then the final outside fabric.

Here I’m attaching the layer of scrap fabric.  The batting will go over this.

Next, before the batting gets attached, my back piece of upholstery fabric is stapled to the top of the chair.  This piece will then be flipped over the batting and stapled to the bottom of the chair.

Next, a section of cardboard stripping is used to create a hard edge under the top of the fabric.

Now the batting is stapled down.

Finally, the back piece of fabric is flipped over the batting and stapled down.

As this chair has piping that runs between the back and side panels, I added that next.

Now onto the sides.  George, below, is temporarily tacking a piece of burlap to the chair so that we can chalk an outline.  The burlap will be used as the inner fabric and a template for the side panel.

Here you can see the burlap template and the side panel cut a little larger than the burlap.

That’s where I ended class 5.

On our next (and last!) upholstery post, we will reveal how our pieces turned out. But first, join us later this week for a guest post on painted wine glasses.