Have you ever bought a piece of furniture at an estate sale or yard sale later to discover it had more history than you originally thought? This was the case for my friend who lives in this old Historic town!
My friend Katie asked me if I could re-upholster her rocking chair that she got at a nearby estate sale for $20. She sent pics of the rocker and I thought it was something that I should be able to do so I told her to bring it on over 🙂
When I first saw it in front of me, I immediately knew it was pretty old but I figured I would get a better idea once I started tearing it all apart. She came fabric in hand!! No shopping required 🙂 I could tell that within it’s lifetime it had about 1 other re-upholstering job and that itself was extremely old. Nails had been used, not staples. Little clues such as the style of the fabric and the way that it was upholstered can help date a furniture piece. When I took everything off, the previous original padding showed signs that it had been originally tufted possibly in leather. There also had been reinforcement brackets that had been installed to fix the wood joints in some areas. Ed and I were thinking this was definitely an antique heirloom. Possibly late 1800’s or early 1900’s? And…Katie had no idea :0
Once I had all the padding and upholstered pieces removed, I asked Katie if she wanted me to refinish any of the wood frame. Considering how old it is, it was in really great shape. The wood has that rustic flair that she liked so she decided that she just wanted the padding upholstered. I was thinking to clean the wood with Krud Cutter or Liquid Gold but I was worried that the oils from those cleaners would somehow get on the new fabric as I was re-upholstering. I cleaned the wood with BONA which is the product we use to clean our hardwood floors. BONA does not leave any oily residue. It worked perfectly to clean the wood.
Separating out all the cushion pieces I noticed there was an old script on the bottom of the seat with what looked like a name.
Possibly the family name or the upholsterer? I told Katie all about it because wouldn’t it be cool if we could look up old records of names in this old town and possibly know who this heirloom rocker belonged to. Katie said she did some searching on the internet but unfortunately couldn’t find the name Tepper in our town. We thought it was definitely Tepper but perhaps we are not reading the letters correctly. What do you think Tepper, Pepper, or Jepper?
When I pulled the old fabric off, some of the cotton surrounding the contained padding started to shred in half. Because of this I thought it needed some extra padding. I decided that in some areas I would re-foam on the top of the seat and the rocker back support. This would give better shape and feel since the foam was a memory foam.
MY DIY re-upholstering secret tip:
I use a memory foam bedding topper just for these projects that need thin extra padding. I buy a bed topper from Ross or Marshalls and cut it up for a lot of my projects. It is so much cheaper!! If I needed a dense THICK foam I would get it online or a fabric store but with this project I just need to add a very thin amount of padding to add to the existing padding. You can also use an egg crate foam that can be bought in the camping section of your department store. Years ago I upholstered a wooden kitchen chair with layers of bedding topper and batting. Spending a fortune on foam is not always necessary. SHHH….a true upholsterer might choke right now.
To refoam the seat and the back support I used my POWERSHOT stapler. This is one of the best manual staplers. I have used others…..this is better. I use this manual stapler for small jobs and for tacking foam like I did in these above pictures. I later switch to my air pneumatic stapler for upholstering the fabric.
In my HOW TO RE-UPHOLSTER tutorial (part2), I described how I cut the new fabric by making a pattern with the old fabric. Check out that post HERE. However in this project, it was slightly different. Because the old fabric was so old and stretched out, for the life of me I could not get that old fabric to lay flat as a pattern piece. There was so much buckling, I actually had to cut the new fabric an inch or more larger around the old fabric. That way it would ensure that it would cover the padding completely.
Here are all my ROCKER re-upholstering pics.
I pleated the top roll to be symmetrical on each side. I was so excited how this back support cushion came out!
The pieces are done and waiting to get assembled into the frame. The black dust cover was added to the bottom and under the armrests.
I put the dust cover on the bottom of the seat. I glued the black dust cover over the staples under the arms as well. The arm cushions had small holes underneath where the cushion fit into wooden dowels on the rocker. I cut the black dust cover around those holes. That part will not be seen from underneath. The dust cover finishes off the fabric and makes it nice and neat.
I added batting to the back of the rocker. Once again I was replacing the shredded cotton. It really smoothed everything out in the back.
The tacking strip went at the top under the roll in the back of the rocker. For details on how I assemble with the tacking strip, check out my ‘How to re-upholster’ tutorial part3 HERE.
Originally the sides of the back were sewn. I decided to re-create that finished sewn look for the back. I used this special curved needle to sew all along the sides up and down.
My backup plan: I was thinking if the sewing didn’t go well, then I would just staple the back on each side and put trim on top of the staples. But luckily I didn’t need to do this. The sewing turned out great!! I did attach trim on the top underneath the roll to finish and straighten out the line where the tacking strip was. And to my surprise, it added a little drama. I was excited that the sewn sides really gave a neat and finished look in the back.
YES!!! I made Katie the pillow you see there! When one gets something upholstered , they have probably picked colors that match their room. However often times, they bring it home and suddenly say, ‘wow I wish I had that pattern somewhere else in the room to tie that furniture piece in better.’ I have thought this so many times in my own house. So…….I threw in a handmade pillow as a surprise. There was some extra fabric after upholstering and I just happened to have some coordinating remnant laying around for the back of the pillow…OK OK from my fabric hoarding stockpile 🙂 Her heirloom rocker will look that much better with a matching pillow in her room. It’s done!! I’m so excited for you to see the finished pics:
Katie had a vision with a great combination of rustic wood and fabric complementing each other. I really think it will be the centerpiece in any room she puts it in. As thrilled as she was when she picked it up, I am just as happy I was able to execute her idea! I loved being able to give her a little bit of knowledge about this heirloom she didn’t realize she had. Thanks Katie for giving me the opportunity…..And now back to my honey-do list that apparently Ed has for me! haha. Signing out with another project DONE…woohoo…..
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UPDATE: This party resulted in this rocker project being FEATURED HERE
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