September 26, 2009

Upholstery 101...Yardage & Fabric

Thank you all for all your great comments on my post
"Funky Chair Re-upholstery".  I first have to say~ "I am not a professional upholster, but have learned on my own" with that said..."Do Attempt this at Home!" and repeat after me..."I can do this...I can do this!"

I am breaking this tutorial up into a couple of posts in order to make it easier to follow. I also will be doing some more extensive work on re-upholstery for myself with springs and inside workings of a piece as well. Hopefully eventually I can cover most of what you will need to know about re-upholstering furniture.

 Over the years when I wanted to know how to do something, I just tried it...mistakes and all.  Now, I am not going to lie and say that as I do a new project, I don't sometimes have doubts about the end result.  I do my research and find out as much as I can about the project to help me better understand what I am getting myself into... Again, the only way to really learn is trial and error.  As I have been doing my own upholstery, I am learning how to improve with each project.
With all of that said...let the tutorial begin!

 Depending on the piece, a very important part of upholstery... is sewing.  I know, I know...some of you didn't want to hear that. might not sew, this too can be a great place to start on trial and error.  If your not quite ready for that step yet...make sure to know a great seamstress, be it your mom, grandmother, aunt, get the point.  The best way to tackle projects can be having someone else help you. 

 There can be an exception to this, some pieces or simple projects might only need stapling and some hot glue.  The best way to know is to undo the piece and see how it was done.

Via~Google let's start with measuring your project and deciding how much fabric will be needed.  A great rule to remember, more is better in sewing or upholstery.  Never order or buy just the exact I said "trial and error".  You don't want to end up not having enough or if for some reason you need to cut another piece. Leftover fabric can also be used to make pillows, which is a great way to tie the room together.

Start by finding the width, length and depth of your piece.  There are a couple of different ways to do this:

Measurements for the chair I did was done with the fabric on. You can even sketch a little picture of where your measurements were made.

Taking off all the fabric can be done to measure the piece you are re-doing so that you have a more acurate measurement. 
Note* if you do this make sure before starting the project of taking the fabric off take lots of pictures at different angles for reference! Also label each piece from back to front and sides.  Don't skip these steps!

Here are other ways for determining how much fabric you will need for your piece. Two different sites that show estimates on fabrics Fabric.Com and Fabric by the Yard  are great source of information on determining fabric yardage.  You can ask an associate in a fabric store (they should have a book that shows suggested yardage for furniture pieces) even call an upholstery shop and ask how much fabric might be needed for your specific piece.   

 You also need to account for welting (cording is the same thing), lining up patterns (depending on what you choose ex. a plaid with a repeat) pleats or skirts.

Now that you have your fabric yardage, lets talk about the best fabrics to use. 

 You of course can use upholstery fabric which is durable, heavier and usually has a stain guard applied.  These usually however can be more pricey. 

 I have found buying decorator fabric at my local fabric store is just as good.  Being the thrifty designer I am a great sale or coupon will buy a lot of fabric!  There are also many great on-line fabric stores, another great option.  If you buy a decorator fabric and are worried about having stain resistant, you can buy Scotch-guard to appy to your fabric. 

 Here are some important things to look for when picking your fabric:

Durability~Is this an everyday use, kids, animals?

Cleaning~Is it dry clean only or can you wipe it down with a damp cloth?

Color~Light or dark, will it show stains or hide them?

Style~Does it fit in with the look of your room, is it classic or  eventually look dated?

Comfort~Does it just look pretty or something that you would enjoy feeling?

These are just some of the things to think about before picking your fabric.

Do you want natural fibers such as cotton, linen and silk or great synthetic fabrics that are a blend of man made fibers with natural fibers?




Another thing to note is that synthetic fabrics can be more durable, stain resistant, and retain color better.

Velvet is another good choice that is a weave and not a fiber that usually contains some natural fiber blended with it. 


Microfiber and microsuede have become a popular choice as well.  It really comes down to the look you want, and elements of the fabric that are important to you.  

Synthetic Fibers
~photos via Google

Something else to keep in mind, make sure it is a medium weight and gives a little stretch in the fabric.  If your fabric is too heavy you won't be able to stretch it, it will be hard to work with and won't fit the way you need it to. 

Next post on"Upholstery 101 Tutorial Part 2" I will be talking about tools and materials needed for re-upholstering.  I hope this will help you find your fabric and get you ready to say "I can do this!" Please feel free to ask any questions...I will do my best to answer them. 

Here is a sneak peek of what I will be up to until I post again...

Cant' wait to show you...a big transformation!

Have a great weekend!



  1. I'm so excited about this series of posts! I've been wanting to try out some upholstery, but have not garnered the courage yet... Thanks for the pep talk!

  2. I admire you ....that is an amazing amount of detail and patience! Good luck and I really am excited to see the finished project.

  3. Wow, I can't believe you are doing this, I have been thinking of this for quite some time but don't know if I can do it ... maybe its time for me to try. Will be hanging onto your every word!!!

  4. Oh, I can't wait to see! I just bought a book on upholstery to learn more about it. It's one of those things I have wanted to do but it always seemed very intimidating. Good luck!

  5. This is almost as good as having you right next to me telling me what to do!
    Looking forward to your next

  6. Wow... thank you for sharing with us all! :)

    Love~ Jen

  7. Wow, this is a great post, so informational!!!!

  8. Great post! I have always wanted to try upholstering but to afraid. This is very helpful I might work up the nerve. Traci

  9. Hi, Victoria! :) This is an AWESOME tutorial...can't wait for the next in the series. :) I just love all the pretty fabric pictures too.

  10. So I was getting ready to ask you a question about an image of some fabric you posted for this post and I realized that I didn't leave a comment the first time I read it! I;m going to really enjoy this series of posts because of the two chairs I recently purchased from the goodwill. I can't wait to see yours. Also where did you find the images of the fabric with pinks and browns because I have one of them and I want to find fabric that coordinate with it?

  11. VERY HAPPY that you are going to share this talent you have!!! I've always wanted to uphoster my own chair, but was to SCARED!!! Thank you.

  12. Hello Victoria~I've just strolled into your blog for my first visit...I've enjoyed taking a peek at your past posts. What beauty! You've got so many wonderful treasures.

    The one thing that can cheer me up as I watch summer come to a close is... the anticipation of fall and all the autumnal colors that come with it and the inspiration it provides for creating. Although I'm not quite as adventurous as you are with the upholstery project...I will surly be waiting for the reveal of the finished product.

    I've bookmarked you in my favs.
    I look forward to coming by your charming blog again.
    Come by for a visit. Your company would be nice.

    Sweet wishes,

  13. That looks like quite an undertaking...can't wait to see the results! Good Luck with your project...

    Stay Cozy, Carrie


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