Over the past two weeks I have had a student here taking an upholstery course. As she doesn't live too far away she decided to do three days the first week and two days the second. This gave plenty of time for rest and recuperation between the two sessions!
Upholstery is not for the fainthearted. You are on your feet most of the time and employing muscles of which you have previously been blissfully unaware. However, enthusiasm and patience are the two main ingredients and Maggie bought both of these with her in copious quantities.
First, a picture of her chair which she bought in a brocante:
It's a pretty chair with a straightforward sprung seat and a lightly stuffed and stitched back. Apart from reglueing (which all chairs need before being reupholstered) the menuisier also replaced part of the back which had become so over used by tacks that there was more "hole" than wood:
This isn't a brilliant picture but you can see the side rail has been replaced and the top rail which wasn't so bad and which Maggie has filled with a mixture of sawdust and woodglue.
Many people are surprised when they first tackle an upholstery project at just how much is involved. What you end up sitting on has had hours of patient labour put into it.
Every layer has to be made firm and taught. The final chair depends on what has been done right through the process from the tightness of the webbing right through to the stitching of the stuffing and the application of the top cover.
When you apply the calico (above) you must be aware that this is a trial run: what you see, both good and bad, when the calico has been tacked down is what you will see when the top fabric has been applied. Whilst you are pulling the calico and pinning it, previously unseen faults appear: maybe a lack of stuffing on a corner, a gully on the edge roll. The temptation is to leave a small thing (after all, you can see the finished chair in your mind's eye) but whilst it is easy to correct at this stage it is impossible later on! So, whilst pulling and pinning I asked Maggie to close her eyes and feel the seat with her hands. Then we gently undid the pins to access the problem areas and put in more stuffing. It was well worth it:
Her fabric really was a lovely choice but meant that she had to centre the main pattern - a pineapple off centre would have spoilt the look completely - I think you will agree that she did a great job.
The back will be a lot less work and Maggie is going to work on this at home. I look forward to seeing the photos of the totally finished chair.