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Upholstery 1: Questions on Upholstery

Making a Foam Seat
Cleaning Upholstery

Question about making a foam seat:

We have an oak dining room set with chairs with woven seats. They have holes in them and cost a fortune to repair. I want to cut a board to-fit and upholster the board. How thick should this board be and do you have any more tips prior to me starting this project?


The board should be 3/8" thick. Make a pattern from cardboard or paper and trace the contour of the seat, allowing 1/8" less on sides and back for an easy fit.

After you cut the board to match the pattern and before upholstering, you may want to drill a few small holes (5/8" to 1") to allow air to escape from the foam when sitting down.

Use foam that is 2" to 2 1/2" thick. Cut the cushions 1/2" larger all the way round, as in the diagram. Drawing of a chair seat showing foam and where not to glue the upholstery.Glue the foam to the plywood using contact cement on one side of the foam and one side of the plywood to fuse them both together. Don't glue the foam within 1/2" from its edges. Allow the contact cement to get tacky (almost dry to the touch) and push it together to bond. Be careful to line the foam up with the plywood, because once it sticks it cannot be moved.

When cutting the fabric, carefully measure with a tape over and around the cushion and plywood to give allowance when stapling the fabric to the plywood, easing the corners to make a nice fit.

Put the fabric underneath the foam and plywood and lap it over so you have approximately 1 1/4" to 1 1/2" overlap to staple through. Tuck the material 1/4" under, so it will not ravel before stapling or tacking. Pull in the corners to make a nice fit. When stapling or tacking, tack the back first, then the front, then the sides, so it goes onto the cushion evenly. Then do the corners last.

Question about cleaning upholstery:

We have a second hand set of Queen Anne couch and chair. I am told that it's a better natural cotton material that will not clean well but it's pretty dirty. I even wondered about dyeing it. Is that a possibility?


You might try an aerosol-type Bissel or other type upholstery cleaner and try using a little water to lightly scrub the fabric. Use clean white towels to absorb the dirt and repeat until it all comes out, but try in an inconspicuous area to make sure the color does not run or pay a professional person to clean it. Vacuum it afterwards to get out any dirt that may have surfaced. If it comes out sufficiently clean, then use ScotchguardTM to protect it from future soiling.

If you feel you can upholster it, then give me the measurements of backs, seats (allowing 1 1/2" on undersides) and how many chairs and measurements of your couch parts and I can estimate yardage and tell you how to upholster it. There are suitable tapestries in places like Fabricland® and Fanny's® that would be suitable. They are usually 54" wide. You should probably use some cotton batting to repad. Using clean padding also helps keep it clean.

Let me hear from you on what you decide to do.


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