Upholstery: My Dwell Wing Back Part 1
February 10, 2012
For the past few weeks I have been diligently working on reupholstering a Queen Anne style wingback chair in Dwell Studio Vintage Blossom Dove and it is going very well but not done yet. I wanted to share my progress as well as make suggestions and show my techniques. The wingback I am working on, none of the fabric was salvageable so I am working without using the old fabric as pattern pieces (Which is a very handy tip) so the finished product will not look exactly like the original but close enough that it won't be noticeable. This means that some of my folds, tucks and darts will be in different places but will achieve the same look. I also had to do some frame repair and change out the front legs due to damage. Most of this posting will be pictures which I feel best communicate to you my techniques and give you an idea of how best to document your progress to learn from and to use for future projects.
This first collection of photos is an example of all the photos I take of the chair before. Every fold, tuck, sewn-bit and interesting area is documented so after the chair is naked and I am putting fabric back on, I can see how it was attached, pieced and cut in different areas to make my job easier and it give it a professional finish. If you aren't sure if you should take a picture, take one anyway. If you use a digital camera you are not wasting anything and you can delete the unuseful pictures after you are done.
I like to start with the front back on any chair because it is the biggest piece of fabric that will really show. This is a good way to get comfortable orienting your fabric if you choose a directional fabric like mine (birds up!) and since it is one of the biggest pieces, you can really choose what you want to feature. Make sure you do a dry run before you cut or tack anything. I use skewers for this but for the front back piece you can just drape. I also tack this piece to the top and bottom completely before I cut any excess. You don't want to trim too close on this one.
Next I move on to the front of the wings because it is easy to match the fabric and it is another big but easy piece to place. The round of the wings can be tricky but remember most of your tucks will be covered by piping (which we prepared here).
Also be very careful where you cut your slit around the top bar that connects wing to back (it goes across the top and you want your fabric to go on top of and below it). Cut your slit closer by an inch or 2 to the front back piece side and then fold your fabric under toward the wing. If you place your cut right on the money, you will see raw edges. The fold hides the cut edges and gives a smooth transition from front back to wing.
Lastly on the wing, there is usually piping placed between the arm and the wing so you can secure your top wing fabric with tacks at the bottom. They will be covered by arm fabric and piping so they won't be seen or felt if you pound them enough.
Remember if you use tacks, you can pound them in just a bit as you go to secure your fabric and then easily pull them out to move them to refold, tighten or just get a better placement. This is why I prefer them to staples (which are faster but harder to correct). When starting your own project, be sure to take lots of pictures before and during. Keep your old fabric as pattern pieces if you can. This will also help you estimate fabric. Do as many dry fits as possible before committing to a cut or tacking especially on very tricky places like the front arm (with the scroll) and the under seat (often with darts and tucks).
Stay tuned for this continuing series and comment with any questions on upholstery.
You can find my previous upholstery posts here
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