Elegant Wingback


Here is where it all began.  Back in July I started to grow discontent with the way our large scale furniture worked in our main living room.  I began to search around for something that would work better and quickly discovered that my taste far exceeded my budget.  What I did learn in my search was that there are heaps and heaps of used chairs for sale with great bones and hideous, worn out fabric and that is when my wheels really started turning.  I kept an eye out for the right chairs to fit with a loveseat that we have and love.  In the meantime I began reading everything I could about upholstery and watching YouTube videos of people doing it.  Finally one day I spotted the perfect pair of wingback chairs for free and responded to the listing without giving it a second thought.  In my mind I figured if I did an awful job I would only be out my time and the cost of fabric.


Knowing that this was a learning project I was scared to spend too much on fabric and wanted to find a way to make them something that I would love without breaking the bank.  Pinterest inspired me to use painter’s drop cloth for the main part of the chair and then I headed to my favorite local fabric warehouse to select an accent fabric for the sides and back.  Right away the new Robert Allen Neo Toile fabric spoke to me, but I was afraid it would be too bold for our home; however, I just kept walking back to it so I stepped out of my comfort zone and purchased it.

If you have never stopped to think about how furniture is constructed, let me tell you it is put together with thousands of staples and strips of nails, teeth, and pokey things of the sort.  I knew that if I really wanted to do these chairs right I wasn’t going to take any shortcuts.  That meant prying out every single one of those little staples so that I could use the old fabric as a pattern.  If I had to guess, it took at least six hours to ‘undress’ one chair.  My hands and nails took a beating, but that aside, it was kind of fun.

To prepare the fabric I soaked the drop cloth in a washing machine filled with HOT water and 3 cups of bleach for several hours, ran the cycle, and then washed with detergent.  I dried the fabric only until it was damp and pressed everything.  The process of washing the drop cloth turned it into a whole new fabric.  It no longer was stiff and scratchy; but, soft, nubby, and linen-like.  The accent fabric did not get washed at all.  Then I took all of my old labeled fabric pieces and laid them out on the new fabric to get my new pieces.

Here is where it got really fun…pulling it all together.  Until recently I never saw any use for our air compressor, but when I discovered it would power a pneumatic stapler (my new favorite tool), I developed an appreciation for it.  To put everything back together I looked back on all of my scribbled notes and pictures and started reassembling everything in the reverse order of how it came off.  Sewing was required for a few parts like making the piping, constructing the wings, and sewing the cushion, but other than that it just took a lot of draping, smoothing, pulling taut, and stapling.

Now I could have left it at that point but I think it is the details that really make something special and I am a sucker for nailhead details on furniture.  Considering that there was already a beautiful juxtaposition with the contrasting fabric, I felt that the masculine nailheads next to the feminine lines of the chair would only deepen the theme.


Is it fair to say even I was amazed with result of my first reupholstery project.  I am so pleased and proud to have such a beautiful chair in our living room and the satisfaction of knowing I made it makes it even better.  I have to admit that I was so excited to do more upholstery work that I started diving into new projects before giving her twin sister the same treatment, so for now they sit side-by-side reminding me of how far this little gem has come.  I am going to challenge myself to have the other one done before the New Year and will post a picture of them together when I do.  I feel like I learned so much the first round and that I can just improve on my process having a second one just the same to work out my kinks.


I will say what many of you are probably thinking?  Was I crazy to put white fabric in my house when I have a 2, 5, and 7 year old?  Maybe.  To help with that I did give all of the white parts a good couple of layers of ScotchGard fabric protector. Considering that the fabric has been heavily bleached I can be fairly aggressive in my cleaning methods and the cushion is removable.  With all those variables, I was willing to give it a shot.  To be honest I am more nervous about adults with wine and coffee, than kids with sticky peanut butter fingers.

I know that this is the third time that I have posted projects using this fabric, I promise you have seen the last of it for a while.  I have a wonderful line up of fabric in black and gold, navy, and greens in the works.

Here are some more pictures from a few different angles.


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