RSS Feed

How to Upholster a Blue Velvet Chair

How to Upholster a Blue Velvet Chair

Some of you may remember this chair that I found at a garage sale for only $10! (If you recall, I turned into a cartoon wolf and my tongue rolled out of my jaw like a carpet unrolling, and I had to use my hand to roll my tongue back up and then to shut my jaw. The metaphor was maybe a tad long, but what are you gonna do?)

Here is the chair again.

The guy I bought it from had already removed the previous upholstery and had started putting on some new upholstery but hadn’t gotten very far. Something amazing about this chair (I mean, besides the fact that it’s beautiful and everything)? The padding is actually HORSE hair! That’s how you know for sure that it’s an antique. It’s maybe a little gross, but it also means that this chair is pretty darned old. And I’m going to pretend like the horse hair was washed and stuff before they used it for the chair. Don’t tell me otherwise.

Here is what I turned it into:

Some of my readers may also remember that I am SUPER into blue velvet. I was visiting my ‘rents in the Bay Area, and my friend, Molly, and I were driving from San Francisco back to the East Bay when I saw a discount fabric store that was having a sale. Though Molly and I were supposed to meet a friend for lunch in like 15 minutes, I flipped a U-turn last second (ignoring Molly’s screaming protests that we did not have time). As I parked the car (while Molly kept asking, “Rachel, are you serious?!?”) I told Molly that I would be in and out in 10 minutes. Max. I just needed some blue velvet. Real quick. Just a blue velvet fix and I’ll be damned if you stand in my way, Hussie!!! Just a yard. Or seven.

Molly saw that crazy look in my eye, and granted me 10 minutes. Thanks, Hussbag.

Molly started the timer, and I went in. Somehow I have a sixth sense for finding the velvet section of fabric stores. Cuz’ I found it fast. It was about $17 a yard with my student discount. Not exactly cheap, but for high quality velvet, that is really not a bad price.

AND we were only in that store for 11 minutes total, including check out. With fabric shopping time like that, I could be on Project Runway, no? AND we weren’t even late to meet our friend at lunch. Thanks for your patience, Molly! This post is dedicated to you, Hussbag.

Don't you want to sit here and eat a scone with a cup of tea?

The little table next to the chair was a piece of trash that I found on the side of the road. I will post about its restoration in the near future (or at least, that’s my intent). The lamp I got for free and spray painted. More about that in another post. I also made the pillow that is sitting on the chair with leftover fabric from my French Bulletin Board. I will give a little tutorial on the pillow in the future as well.  I spray painted and glazed the blue candle pedestal as well, but now I am just started to sound braggy or something.

OK. So onto the process:

Pre-Step Step:

Find an awesome chair. Here are some things to look for when garage sailing, thrifting, craisglisting or free-stuffing from side of the street: Solid construction, beautiful details, seats without broken springs (this can be pretty hard to fix). Here are some close ups from my chair:

Look at those pretty legs and dainty feet! Swoon.

Check it out:

What pretty little arms she has?!

Step 1: Remove the old upholstery from the chair, being careful not to totally destroy it. Keep track of how things are put together, and mark the order that you take things apart. You need to put the fabric back onto the chair in reverse order, so if you don’t look at the order when you start, you will have some major problems later on.

The guy that started the chair for me was great and numbered the fabric so that I could figure out which order things went in. However, I think I was at a disadvantage when trying to put the upholstery back on.

Step 2:

Lay the old upholstery pieces on top of the blue velvet (because what other type of fabric would you upholster things?). Cut around it, giving yourself some extra wiggle room. Trust me: You will need the extra room. Upholstery is DIFFICULT.

Use the old upholstery pieces as a pattern.

Step 3: Use the fabric to also cut out replacement batting. The batting can be the same size as the original upholstery piece because you don’t really need overhang on the batting.

Step 4: Start putting the fabric back onto the chair in the reverse order that you took it off. Pull it super tight, and carefully staple it around the edges. It’s important to staple in places that either won’t be visible when the chair is complete, or that can be covered by nail head trim. (Disclaimer: I use nail head trim when I don’t really know what I am doing. It looks cool, but one of these days, I would like to not need to use the trim to cover up my upholstery novice-ness).

Chair half-upholstered.

Step 5: Look at places that I screwed up. I cut the arm whole in the seat piece too big. It left weird issues. I had to use a nail that showed. Which means I had to use nail head trim here later to cover my boo-boos. So I guess Step 5 is to not repeat my mistake or something. Maybe Step 5 is a warning step.

I messed up here. I show you because I want you to know that it's ok to not be perfect. Martha Stewart never shows these things, and she ended up in prison (ok, it was just house arrest). All due respect to Martha, regardless. Because she is still awesome.

I covered this up with nail head trim. Can’t even tell once it’s all done.

Step 6: Put on all the pieces. This includes putting the black piece of fabric back onto the bottom of the chair. I didn’t take pictures of this step. Sorry. I was pretty busy watching the Father of the Bride and the Big Lebowski on Netflix. Which is really one of the earliest steps: Put on an awesome movie to listen to while you upholster. Anything with Will Smith if possible. I would watch Men in Black once a week, only alternating with MIB2 and Independence Day if I could. Maybe also with Clueless. What a classic film.


Blue velvet awesomeness...

Step 7: Add your nail head trim to cover seams that you did poorly (or at least, I did them poorly). But it’s cool, because look how awesome nail head trim looks:

Blue velvet and nail head trim. Jealous?

And some more angles:

Nail head trim and velvet, from another angle.

And one more:

Doesn't it make you giddy? Or is there something wrong with me?

Step 8: Flatter your boyfriend’s ego so that he will take all the pictures for you. Good pictures are important. Put on your thick skin to get ready to be bossed around for 30 minutes while he demands that you bring him a lamp, hang a photo in the correct place, get him a magazine for the magazine table, bring him the other lamp, get out of the room because I am hurting his creative process, bring him a candle stick, go get the pumpkin. No. Not that pumpkin, the other yellow pumpkin. I don’t care that it’s called a butternut squash instead of a pumpkin. Just get it. (OK, I may be exaggerating a little there, but I was sent out of the room at one point.) I kid a little, but seriously I am way happy to have someone help with the photos because that is not my best talent.

Don't you want to sit here and eat another scone with a cup of tea? Again.

So, what do you think? I am pretty obsessed with this chair. I cannot wait to upholster the second chair in matching velvet. And then repeat the process again (including the whole photo shoot with getting-the-squash-and-lamp thing).

Gotta go – my chair isn’t going to sit in itself!

Velvetly Yours,


PS. I joined these linky parties:

7 responses »

  1. Oh wow you did a great job. Imperfections are okay and I applaud you for showing them. No one is perfect, but imperfections are part of the craft. It’s beautiful. I like velvet too but with a cat that would not be a good idea.

  2. I love the blue velvet…of course, if you look at the name of my blog it makes sense! Well done!


  3. I love the color velvet you used and now the chair looks fabulous! Thanks for sharing this at the Open House party.

  4. Pingback: How to Iron Velvet – sorta | Suits and Aprons

  5. Heya just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know a few of the pictures aren’t loading properly.

    I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different internet
    browsers and both show the same results.


I love getting your comments. They make me happier than really good carrot cake!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: