Saturday, 26 January 2013

How Tack-y


I have a built in hall seat in the foyer of my home.  I would like to add a cushion to the seat covered with a fabric to go with the colour on the wall which I have already picked out.  I don’t know how to go about doing this.  Do you have any advice on upholstering?  Thank you so much for your time.




Thank you for your question, Kay,

I certainly don’t mind sharing my two cents on the subject.  A professional upholsterer I am not but I have recovered a chair or two in my day.

I have to assume that your bench has a basic flat seat because it sounds as though it wasn’t previously covered.  This may cause an issue with covering it traditionally as you would a chair or stool.  Normally you would wrap the fabric around the bottom of the seat to fasten it or have a vertical edge where to tack the hem of the fabric.  In your case I think you do not have either, so I see two possible solutions for your project.  First, the easy way: fashion yourself a plywood base the size and shape you would like your finished seat to be.  On the base you will add high density seat cushion foam of the softness and depth you would like your cushion to be.  Trial and error will determine when the cushion is just right…your butt will know.  Once you have determined the plushness of your seat you will want to wrap the entire seat with Dacron batting.  This will soften the corners of the cushion and give the seat a smooth all over shape.  Wrap the Dacron under and staple to the underside of the plywood.  Now you can follow this with the final covering.  Centering your pattern on the seat, wrap the fabric over the cushion.  Staple it straight along the front or back side then, pulling it as taught as the fabric will allow or as you desire, staple it straight across the opposite side, repeat this process for the other two sides leaving about two inches at the corners unfastened.  Now you have to fold the corners neatly and carefully, and whatever you do to one, be sure you fold all corners the same.  If you wish you can decorate around the base of the cushion with brass tacks or decorative edge banding.  Now center your new cushion on the bench seat and fasten it with four screws from underneath making sure the screws are only as long as the bench seat and cushion base are thick so no points protrude into the cushion.

The alternative would be to build the cushion right onto the seat.  This will require a bit more patience and a touch more skill.  Begin by building up the padding as you did in the first procedure.  Similarly, draw down the shape of the cushion with the batting by stapling it along the perimeter of the foam.  Once it is securely fastened, trim off the excess with a razor blade leaving only ½” or so.  Now here’s where your artistic side will show itself:  As you lay over the fabric, centering the design again, you will need to fold the fabric under leaving yourself only ¼” or so to staple around the perimeter.  Repeat X 4 remembering to leave yourself a couple inches at the corners for the fold.  For the corners you will have to be very patient and form a nice symmetrical pleat on each one, making them fast as you go.  After you have stapled the perimeter completely, you can now dress the edge with some decorative edge banding or piping finishing the entire perimeter with a tightly spaced row of upholstery tacks.  And that’s all there is to it.  Sounds simple but I think it will take some time to get the finished product you desire, but it you go at it patiently, I’m sure you can pull it off.

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