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Sojeaner | Posted in General Discussion on

Is there any reason I cant take all the fabric off a piece of furniture, use that as a pattern, then sew it and place it back on the furniture? I have seven pieces of furniture I really like but they are terribly worn.




  1. Theodora | | #1

    Jean, I have found it depends on the individual piece of furniture and how it is put together. Upholstery is attached somehow to the frame of furniture, and often in a way that necessitates taking the piece apart, as well as removing the fabric. This is easier on some pieces than others. For instance, a dining chair with a seat that is easily removed is easily reupholstered using the original fabric as a pattern. An easy chair, not so easy. In that case, slipcover is a better choice to tackle the problem.

  2. suesew | | #2

    Be aware that some fabric gets really stretched out as it is worn and you need to accommodate that into your idea of using the fabric as pattern.

  3. User avater
    user-987476 | | #3

    I've done this & it worked out very well! After carefully taking apart the seams, I pressed the pieces & labeled them, ( + grain lines) & then cautiously cut out my new pieces. I found that after being used on the furniture awhile the old fabric got pulled a little out of shape, so you'll have to "true up" the lines of it.  Also, it's a good idea to add a little fabric to the ends that will be stapled (or tacked) to the frame of the furniture to make sure it will reach. If you're replacing the old fabric with a thicker one, it may not reach as far.You can always trim the excess. Here's a tip that really helped me...take photos of your furniture as you take it apart, especially close ups at any place that has details, like mitered corners, & where the front of the arms are attached to the chair/sofa. After you've had it all apart & you're trying to retrace the steps to put it back together, you'd be surprised how you can forget of how it was. My photos & some sketches I made helped immensely.

  4. DennisM | | #4

    You may wish to take a course at a local community colllege. The instructor would help you and there would be plenty of room to measure the pieces. Did that several years ago. They would start you out on the simplest pieces and gradually to the sofa(s).

    1. sarahkayla | | #5

      I re did my coucn a couple of months ago. I made covers for all of the cusions and then  hand sewed fabric to the body of the couch.. i'm pretty pleased with myself..especially because I put the whole thing together with a bunch of remnants..

      if you want to se photos email me and I will send you access to my ofoto site..

  5. RParrill | | #6


    I reupholster furniture as a profession. I have taught reopholstery for three years. What you want to do is the way it is usually done ( tear down the old stuff, use it as a pattern, put it back on). There is an order of operations however, and that is that what you take off first goes on last. For example, when you upholster something, you always do the inside pieces first, and then the outside pieces. You do your cushions after the inside pieces are done to make sure they aren't too big or small, depending on if you added more padding or pulled the new stuff too tight. You will want to pay close attention to the way the outside pieces are attached because in my experience, that gives peope the most confusion. Also, it is imperative that you have a good staple puller (Berry's) and a staple gun that will put a staple into your furniture without a lot of fighting. A gun powered by a compressor is the ideal. Remember to buy extra fabric, and make a few sample cushions to get it down (the issue here is making the corners match on top and bottom - to do this, you cut a notch in the boxing strip). Also, it is good to remember that no matter what people tell you, to do this right is a challenge, but completely possible. Be ready to screw up and don't get discouraged. Every one screws up, it's called experience, or as my mother says "paying your dues". Feel free to ask any questions.


    1. Sojeaner | | #7

      Thanks loads, Renee!

      I was thinking maybe I should just make skipcovers. What do you think?


      1. RParrill | | #8


        Slipcovers involve a lot more sewing than upholstery. They can be washed and you don't have the tearing down part. Maybe make the slipcovers and as you gain confidence you can reupholster them. It would also be good to get a thrift store chair and practice. That way you're not too involved financially and you won't scarifice furniture you want to keep.


  6. rjf | | #9

    I have a chair I've re-upholstered twice.  The first time was with wool plaid and the second time with pale linen.  The first time, it came out beautifully and the second time was a struggle.  The wool stretched a little and the linen not at all so it would not lie as smoothly.  What a struggle!  But it looks okay and if I had done it with linen first, I would have been perfectly satisfied.  You've gotten lots of good advice here and there's a great sense of accomplishment when you're done so give it a try.  You can always slipcover, if you don't like your results.      rjf

    1. louise | | #10

      Hi All

      On the Labour Day weekend, my family and I tore down a wing chair and re-upholstered it in a fabric with a very small repeat.  I hovered and sewed, they did the grunt work! and did they work!

      What a job! Renee is giving you good advice about getting yourself a good staple puller.  We took out enough staples to fill a two cup plastic container.  It took a whole day to remove the old fabric and staples!

      The other tool that is absolutely essential is the stapler.  Forget hand stapling!  We were lucky enough to be able to rent a power stapler from Home Depot for a very reasonable price.

      Notching is a good way for a sewer to line up patterns, but if you like a little more reassurance, you can chalk your lines for cutting and for matching.  Just be sure that your chalk does not contain any grease. We used a lot of  chalk markings.  It helped the kids figure out what they wanted to do next and which way was up!!

      We also used sequential photos as we tore the chair down.  They were sort of helpful.  Really upholstery can be approached rather like a jig-saw puzzle with fabric and staples.

      And finally, there are lots of good books in the library.  It really helps to check out as many as you can.  The different photos or renderings are very helpful when planning your attack- as it were.  Even better if you can find a local upholstery supplier or upholsterer who is willing to give you a few tips.  We were fortunate in this and it saved us some money and grief.  He suggested that for a first project we were right to go with heavy duty polyester batting rather than upholsterer's batting (which is a cotton fibre batting I think) and to try to save as much of the original batting as possible it we were not restying.

      And last, buy extra fabric, at least for the first time.  Despite measuring and re- measuring and checking with the old pieces, which we had laid aside in order of removal, I cut a side panel wrong and had to do it over.  Thank goodness I had extra fabric for just-in-case (and the dining room chairs if there was enough left).

      Good luck, you can do it! And you will really enjoy the finished product, not to mention be pleased with the savings!

      When you have completed a piece send us all a photo if you can!


      1. mcscience | | #11

        Well I am SO excited to find this discussion board. About a month ago, I made a commitment to reupholster a couple of love seats, and to create a weblog ("blog") of my experience. You can see it at http://sassafras.typepad.com/ (Sorry I don't know how to make a link, but you can cut and paste it.) Anyway, I'm mostly enjoying myself, but the last 8 hours have been very difficult because I'm retying the springs!! If anyone has experience with this let me know.Also, if you have never read a blog before, be sure you start at the beginning and that you look at all the photo albums.I'll be checking back here again soon.In the meantime, where can I get a fabric button maker??Margaret

        1. ablakemo | | #12

          Great job so far! I enjoyed looking at your progress on your site!Have you taken lessons or have tried less difficult projects before taking this one on? Good luck on the rest! Keep us updated on your progress!

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