Monday, July 30, 2012

My First Reupholstery Project Part 1 of 4: the Galling-to-Glorious Glider

PART 1 of 4: The Seat Cushion

The past several weeks of my life have been consumed with various nursery projects that came to life through my nesting phase. One of these started with a simple Craigslist glider purchase. I didn't want to spend a lot of money on a new glider, so I bought this used one for $30.

Not bad for $30, right? Well, pictures can be deceiving. After I tried scrubbing the stains and musty smell away, I was left with better-smelling-but-still-stained upholstery. My friend Missy suggested that I give it a facelift, so I thought, "Why not? How hard could it be?" My, how little I knew what I was getting myself into!

My fantastic great-aunt Ennie gave me her 1938 Singer sewing machine a couple of years ago, and it was a great display piece in our house until recently. I took it to the Bernina Sewing Machine Shop in Brentwood (I highly recommend them for any of your sewing needs!!!) for a complete tune-up, and I practiced sewing on scrap fabric for about a week. Once I had a handle on the tension and foot pedal speed, I decided I was ready to attack the glider.
My Singer Sewing Machine- Isn't she a beauty?!

Do I recommend this project as a new sewer's first experience? Not so much- unless you have a LOT of spare time and patience! Was it worth it in the end? Absolutely- just stick with me to see the final results! My friend Ashley shared a helpful blog tutorial that got me through the seat cushion and gave me a good start on the back cushion. Check it out at So, here we go with a step-by-step recap of my experience, in hopes it helps someone else out there who braves a similar feat!

You will need:
  • Seam ripper (my new best friend)
  • Fabric scissors
  • Sewing machine
  • Upholstery thread
  • Fabric of your choice (I used Joel Dewberry's Aviary 2 "Sparrows in Vintage Yellow")
  • Straight pins
  • Measuring tape
  • Disappearing ink fabric pen

The old fabric, my bird fabric, and the original cushion foam

1. I know it's scary, but the first step is to remove the existing cover with a seam ripper. My hand was shaking at the beginning, and I kept thinking, "What if I mess this up??" but I pushed all of that to the back of my mind, took a deep breath, and began defacing the seat cushion. The foam inside it was still in great condition, so I decided to salvage it. In the picture above, the old cover is still in one piece, but I separated those into 2 pieces before cutting my new covers. I also carefully removed the Velcro straps and saved them.

Use the old fabric as your template

2. Using the original cover, pin it to the new fabric and cut it out. Since my fabric wasn't a thick upholstery fabric, I decided to keep the original fabric underneath the new fabric as an additional layer. If you're using a thick enough fabric, you would simply unpin the old fabric from the new fabric after you've cut out the template. Be careful to mark and pin the pleat spots on the original fabric so you end up with the pleats in the right spot when you're ready to sew.

One down, one to go!

Sew the sides and front together

3. Match your two pieces together (pay close attention to lining up your pleats) and pin all the way around. Make sure the material is inside-out! Now you're ready for the sewing machine. Sew the sides and front together, but leave the back open so you can slide in your seat cushion. Turn your material right-side-out. It should be like a pillowcase. Then insert the cushion through the opening in the back.

Slide in the cushion through the back opening

Sew the back closed

4. Once your cushion is snug in its new cover, it's back to the sewing machine. I had a hard time mashing the cushion and fabric down enough to get it under my presser foot, so you'll notice an extra hand in the above picture...that would be Adam's hand. :) Stitch the back final opening together. We're almost done with the seat!

Add the chair straps

5. Remember those Velcro straps I saved when I took the original cover apart? It's time to attach them! At first, I fretted over how I was going to cover them with my fabric and keep the Velcro feature. Then I realized, they attach to the back of the glider, totally out of sight! I was perfectly fine with leaving them as-is and attaching them to my new cushion. "Sew" that's what I did! Be sure to measure exactly where they need to go to line up with the place they attach to the chair first! (I'm speaking from experience here...gotta love the seam ripper!)

Voila! Seat cushion complete

TA-DA! The seat cushion is complete! This one cushion took me about four grueling hours to complete, but if you have any sewing or reupholstery experience, you can probably do it much faster than that. It was worth the time it took, though, and I am very pleased with the results! Now, on to the back cushion...tomorrow!

No comments:

Post a Comment