Thursday, May 16, 2013

How to Fake-Upholster a Wingback Using Staples and Hot Glue

 You guys! I did it! 

Ok, truthfully my chair not completely finished. Don't tell anyone! I ran out of hot glue. 

And, oh yeah, there's another one to fix.

I've had these wingbacks for about 17 years. Ok, months. Not quite two years. I know, because I had to sneak away from my little baby Josiah who was still nursing to go pick this set of wingbacks up. They were a craigslist find for $35. Both--not each! I wasn't thrilled with the mauve but thought I'd get around to covering them right away. Well, my little guy turns two today and I'm still working on this project! Does that ever happen to you?

So at first I wanted to reupholster my chairs from drop cloths, a la Miss Mustard Seed, or sew proper slip covers with the drop cloths. But then I thought I was way out of my league. My sewing machine and I don't get along THAT well. 

So then I started seeing (because I was looking) all of the posts on painting over upholstery. Bingo! Except, no, it sucked. If you care to scroll up two pictures, the chair on the left suffered from this experiment. I used the right tools and thought I followed directions, but not only did it take forever, but it made a huge mess, ruined my spray bottle, cost a lot more than I wanted it to (paint + fabric medium), and left my chair crunchy! I'm glad some people have success with this method, but I did not.

Somewhere between pins on upholstering box springs with staples and DIY desperations, I resigned myself to spending a little more money to save my basically ruined chairs. I bought 5 yards of duck cloth in off white for $30. My one chair did not use all of it, but I'll need a couple more yards to finish chair #2. 

I also invested in an $8 stapler and a couple packs of staples.

Working in sections, I'd hold up a length of fabric, eyeball the measurements, cut off a section on my roll of cloth and tuck/staple it in.

I learned pretty quickly that the staples only stayed in where they met wood, so I resorted to using my hot glue gun in those places, and where I didn't want the staples to show.

For instance, in the photo above I stapled the first layer of cloth around the rolled arm, then hot glued the flat section on top of it. I also glued the section of white cloth next to the brown but stapled the edges of that front flap under the chair and behind the legs where it would be tucked under another layer. 

I worked on this project for a couple hours at a time as I could. It took three days for one chair.

 I'm sure the second chair will be faster because of the learning curve, but be prepared to invest several hours of your time for this. 

One technique I learned was to staple the under side of the flap of fabric (here it's the back of the chair), then flip it over and pull it tight. One more strong, stapled, hidden seam!

On the back, you saw how I stapled the top and this shows how I stapled the bottom. In between those steps I tucked and glued the left and right edges, as I had already stapled the side panels and I needed to cover everything up. The hot glue worked very well on this material (duck cloth) and isn't visible at all. It's also a pain in the neck to pull off if you make a mistake! Not that I would know... {ahem}

 See, all pretty and hidden! I need to spray a few wrinkles out of my fabric. I also plan to scotch guard these like crazy, as there's no way to wash the fabric and I have three little boys can be messy.

The cost of this project is still pretty sweet when you end up with two pretty chairs! Let me break it down:

2 chairs on craigslist - $35
10 yards duck cloth - $60
stapler + staples - $12
hot glue sticks - $5

Total = $112

Oh, look at that, a before/after shot that isn't spliced together!

 What have you pieced together and totally loved lately??


  1. Staples and hot glue?! No way! It looks great!

    1. Thanks Ashley! I'm pretty happy with it. Didn't you have great luck with painting a chair? Wish that had worked for me!

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  3. This is right up my alley! I can do three types of handy work, staple gun, hot glue and duck tape. Outside those, I am up a creek. ;) did you cover the cushion? I want to do this, but did you hire someone to cover the cushion? It looks great!!! Thanks for showing us your technique.



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