Thursday, December 29, 2011

Adventures in Reupholstering

Ok, it's official. 

I broke my upholstering cherry last night. 

I had sort of expected to come into work today with bleeding fingers and a doctor's note detailing just how many staples he'd had to pry out of my body but somehow I managed to walk away from this adventure not only intact but with a lovely new hamper. 

I've always wanted to try my hand at upholstering. I would see these images of beautifully done swingback chairs that went from dingy to damask in the seconds it took to scroll down the page. 

You know which ones I'm talking about. 

That blog you've stumbled across here and there where the crafty genius found some lovely bit of furniture for only a dollar and somehow managed to slap new fabric on it and make you more jealous than you thought possible. 

Every time I'd see one of them, I'd tell myself "Oh yeah, that could be ME sitting in that comfy chair that looks like it came straight out of a Ballard magazine" but I've never had the courage to try my hand at it. Well, I decided to change that. Life is about challenging yourself to try the things you never thought you would, like how many oreos you can fit in your mouth at one time, and so it was time to upholster something. I wanted to start small so I looked around my local Goodwill and found this lovely little hamper. 

Isn't she pretty??

I snagged her for a whole $6 and brought her home. The wood was in perfect condition but the cloth on top...well. Ew. 

Yeah. Ew. 

It was grungy. 
There were stains I didn't want to know the origin of. 
It smelled funny. 

I knew she would be beautiful once I got that nasty fabric off though. The inside had a white cotton liner in it attached with velcro so I ripped that badboy out and just tossed it in the wash. This is the empty basket. I love the color of the wood. 

I took my trusty multi-tool and plucked out all the staples holding the straps in place and then unscrewed the lid from the hinges.

I say this like it was easy. 

That would be a lie. 

In actuality, there was a lot of cussing as those tiny brass screws stripped faster than a hooker in a millionaire's house and I was forced to get them out using a pair of needlenose pliers. 

But I digress. 

 Point is, I got the lid off. Go me. 

Next, I pulled out the staples that were holding the cloth to the board and was pleased to find a fat cat underneath. He decided to help me so it was all good and I let him stay. 

The padding already on the lid was still good and had mercifully survived without any stains. YAY!

I had some trouble deciding on a fabric to put on the lid but a while ago I'd come across a sundress at, you guessed it, Goodwill! I could never wear it but that didn't stop me from buying it because the fabric was pretty and like an addict, I convinced myself I would use this at some point. Hooray for being right for once. 

I cut the sundress in half and then sliced up the side of the part that used to be the bottom. 

I placed my lid in the center of the fabric and, starting from the top, I pulled the fabric down and stapled it in place. Then I pulled up from the bottom, making sure the fabric was taught, and stapled that in place. Each side got a single staple as well and once I was assured that I hadn't completely messed up, I attacked the fabric like a spaz, stapling every spare inch I could reach, pulling the fabric tight around the corners as I went. I wish I could say I had photos of this step but alas, I was so caught up in stapling that I forgot. 


Anyway, use your imagination. It's stapled. 

A lot.

Then I had the hubby critter help me hold it in place while I put in new screws. Thank god I have a ton of them from all the other crap I've taken apart of the years. I stapled the two ribbons back in place on the underside of the lid to keep it from falling all the way when opened and voila!

Ok, so it's not perfect but it makes me happy. The seams down the top are from the panels of the dress but I like how they look. It's hard to see here but the fabric actually has this neat blue/purple sheen to it.

What'cha think? I like it, myself. I can't wait to put the liner back in. It's not actually going to be a hamper. Instead, I'm going to use it to hold all my magazines, clippings, ect that inspire me and are currently jammed on my bookshelf. I'm tired of hunting through them to find my Sherlock Holmes novels so I'll be glad to have a place to put them all. Also, sorry for the complete lack of professional looking photos showing my hamper in the perfect lighting with random items placed around it to make it look perfect but frankly it was late when I completed this and there was no sunlight left to make my work look awesome. 

Again, use your imagination. 

So has anyone else ever upholstered? Any tips I missed? 

Linked here:

 Ladybird Ln   



  1. It looks great, love the fabric. I love my staple gun, no mis-adventures yet, although the dog isn't too keen on the noise. I have no great tips -it's all about keeping it tight isn't it, and sometimes an extra pair of hands really helps !

  2. Looks great! I am *always* too impatient to wait until daylight for good lighting & stage my pix too! ;-)

  3. Hi Otter..I LOVE this post..It turned out FAB..:)) Thanks for always sharing so much inspiration.Stopping in to say THANK YOU SO MUCH for being a lovely bloggy friend this year. I look forward to SO much more in the new year with you.. Cheers to success, love, health and Wishing you the HAPPIEST OF NEW YEAR'S.. xoxoxox..~M

  4. I think it turned out awesome. Love the fabric. Hope you will stop by and share this project at my link party that opens each Tuesday night at 8pm EST.


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