Friday, March 27, 2015

Furniture Friday: Advice on Upholstering a Channel-back Chair

You'll notice that in this post all of my photos have people in them - none are staged.  I redid this chair sometime between the end of 2006 and the beginning of 2007.  It was fun for me to look back at them!

OK, if you take a look at most of the new upholstered furniture around these days you'll notice that not many pieces are covered with the "channel back" design.

They seem to be rarely made anymore, or the ones that are made new, are very expensive! Like anywhere from $400-$4000 expensive (for a real stuffed channel back with thick, deep panels, not just darts sewn in to look like slight channels)!

In my opinion they are costly because they require a little more sewing skills than normal upholstery jobs and have to be sewn evenly and stuffed evenly or they turn out wonky. 

So, what can you do, if like me, your sewing skills are minimal and you don't really want to re-stuff the AMAZING channel back chair which you just found?! 

Well, let me tell you that a glue gun is your friend when upholstering a channel back.  

This is the first chair I upholstered, ever!  The fabric on the channels were shredding with age and wear, but the channels themselves were in wonderful shape.  The adage "they don't make things like they used to" can, and usually does, apply to old and vintage furniture.  That stuff was built to last!

When I brought the chair to the class, the instructor, a 30 year veteran of upholstery and who was a fantastically patient man named Gary Malec,  said that I was crazy to start with something so complex!  But it was the only chair I owned that needed work so he decided to make it easier by showing me this secret!

Basically, I took everything apart from the chair in usual order (back off first, then outside arm panels, inside arm panels, etc.) except that I left the front in tact.

Yeah, excuse me looking funny, just walking in the door.  My husband snapped this - but currently I am pretty excited that I actually found a picture of the chair with the back off and just the front channels still in tact!

Once all the nails and staples were out, and after re-doing the springs, the instructor had me take a large rectangle of fabric and drape it over the front of the seat back.  Then we just started from the center, placed a thick strip of melted glue, and tucked the fabric into the groove.  After that, he instructed me to go the one one next to the center, then the opposite side, and so on and so forth until I was at both the right and left sides of the chair back. 

The green upholstery is setting against the window (you can also see the cedar love seat that was talked about here)

After that it was just your regular upholstery job!  So, don't fret if you can't sew well, just give some glue from a glue gun a try and you should be set!

In case you'd like to give completely re-doing a channel back a try,
This is an example of taking an 18 channel chaise lounge and making it into a 7 channel one.  I tip my hat off to Karen and her hard work - she made the channels even and the reduction of channels really turned out nicely!
And Kim, from Kim's Upholstery has a four part YouTube tutorial on how to do it well.  

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