Friday, March 20, 2015

Furniture Friday: 5 Tips When Upholsterying With Vinyl

Have you ever been to a Goodwill Outlet?  This place is amazing for great deals!  The clothes are $.49 a pound, housewares are $.79 a pound, and my niece even found two retro-style chairs for only a little over $1.50...for the pair!  When you visit the Outlet, wear gloves (though I always seem to forget mine).  Just picture tons of gigantic blue bins filled to the brim with who knows what from all the Goodwills in your area.  And picture lots and lots and lots of people searching for great finds with you.  Yeah, so, again, wear gloves and be ready for amazingly great deals!

To those chairs:  of course, they needed a little bit of work.  As with any good retro (50s/60s) chair, they were bedecked with chrome and vinyl.  Other than being a little smudgy, the chrome was in great shape.  But the vinyl had large rips in both chairs.

So, I set out to fix them.  It seems that vinyl is a little more tricky to work with than regular fabric.  This is my first project with vinyl and here are a few things I learned:
  1. Sometimes you can leave the old upholstery on the chairs and recover over it.  Not so with vinyl because you can feel the ripped portion and even see it a little when covered with the new.  
  2. If you have cording on your furniture piece, use that cording and just upholster over it.  Cording is expensive and re-using the current parts of the chairs when possible helps.  Plus, the cording from this project had indentations in it from where the chrome portions smashed it down making putting it back in the correct place more easy.  It also was already curved to fit the seat in all the right places. 
  3. Making corners with vinyl is a bit difficult.  If you remember from this previous post with a tutorial on corners, there are a few ways to do them. With vinyl, it is seems it's best to cut the fabric to make the vinyl sit better.   I found this tutorial after I was finished.  Ah, if only I'd seen it before!  But he does a great job explaining corners for vinyl and you can see what I mean from the cut portion.  
  4. I didn't have any problems sewing my vinyl because it had a fabric-y (non-vinyl) backing on it.  But if you do, you can use tissue paper over your vinyl and it should help pull the vinyl through the sewing foot.  source
  5. Don't be afraid to give it a try.  I was nervous to try it out for months.  But when I finally did, it turned out just fine - not perfect, maybe, but it looks decent and should last a good long while. 
 Take off the old vinyl (because of the rips and so you can re-use the cording).

Remove the foam padding from the wood part of the seat deck.  You want the vinyl to fit tight and for your measurement to be a little precise. 

 Place the seat deck on the wrong side of the vinyl.

 Trace the seat deck with a heavy marker.
 Measure around your traced portion anywhere between 2-4 inches and make little dots to connect (fun, eh?).  I chose 4 inches on my first one and only 3 on the second to get better looking corners (with less excess vinyl - but maybe if I'd seen the YouTube video on it as linked above, I would have done the corners fine no matter how much excess I had - seriously, check it out!). 
Cut along all your dots around your traced portion.

(sorry, blurry picture - taking with my left had while trying to iron - lol)
 Iron.  You can stretch your fabric, but it will look more professional if it is ironed too.  If your vinyl doesn't have the nice backing like this one, use a sheet or dish cloth to iron through and put your setting on low!
 Place your seat deck and foam on the vinyl as evenly as possible.
 Staple all four corners.
Stretch the vinyl a bit to let the staples keep it taut. 
 Staple like crazy.
Cut the corners to make the vinyl sit better. 

 Use a cording foot or zipper foot on your sewing machine if possible.
 Leave a space where there is no cording. This allows you to tuck the cording (on the left side) into the portion of vinyl where there is no cord (the right side that is being held open).  Once the cording is sewn into place, staple it around the edge of your seat deck.  

 Enjoy your newly vinyled seats.  I'm pretty excited about them!  And if I can do this, so can you!

Afterward, I found this site with more hints for a professional look. 

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