January 1, 2014
When upholstering furniture you won't always get lucky with a solid fabric. One day you will want a stripe, a velvet or an obviously directional pattern and then what? It was all so easy when you could just slap your fabric on, make your cuts and staple it in place. However, with directional fabric it is very important to pay attention to the direction of the pattern but also the grainlines. You will want your stripes to be straight and your velvet (and other nap fabrics) to all go in the same direction. When reupholstering be sure to label each piece before you remove it with a directional arrow. This will help later when you are cutting new pieces. Make sure all your arrows face the same direction and if you are using stripes that each piece is oriented straight on the stripe. WIth velvet (and other nap fabrics) you also want to make sure all your pieces are exactly on grain. Any deviation will show in the sheen and when you rub your hand across the nap.
If you want your stripes to match cut each piece 4-5 inches bigger (more or less depending on the size of the stripe. Bigger stripes will need more wiggle room and smaller stripes less) so you can adjust from left to right to match up perfectly.
I upholstered this chair in a scalloped chenille as a Christmas present to my mom a year ago. It was particularly tricky because the scallops did not give me an exact straight line. I started it out with a hammer and tacks as mentioned in this post so I could easily reposition as I tightened the fabric and shaped it to fit. When I was pleased I would staple it in place (its faster). Once I worked with the fabric long enough (placing 2-3 pieces) I was able to see the direction better and could eliminate the hammer and tacks. Keeping the original pieces also helped because they retain all the original folds, tucks and even dirt. If your piece is old enough the worn areas will be dirty and the unworn clean so you can easily see how to replicate any darts, tuck or folds with your new fabric.
My advice is practice, practice, practice. If in doubt cut big pieces, use upholstery skewers to pin your fabric in place, a hammer & tacks driven in half way so you can pop the tacks back out to reposition. But don't worry, you can always start again.
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