Sunday, February 10, 2008

Reupholstering a Bench

Level: Easy

This is an easy reupholstering project that anyone can tackle. It actually doesn't involve any sewing. Reupholstering a vanity bench finishes off a bedroom for example, to match the new drapes, a dust ruffle, toss pillows, and fabric-trimmed lamp shades. It was the finishing touch my guest bedroom needed to coordinate everything perfectly.

Make sure you use a drapery-weight fabric that blends with the rest of the room, or one of the fabrics you have used elsewhere in the room. The project is still simple even if the vanity bench needs new padding. Read on:

enough fabric to cover your bench, plus extra
staple gun or upholstery tacks


1. Using a soft measuring tape, not a carpenter's rule, find the length and width of the bench. Measure over the top of the existing cover. It may not be necessary to remove the old cover unless the color or pattern shows through the new fabric.

2. Decide on what direction the pattern will sit on your bench and whether it is necessary to center it before cutting the fabric. Allow plenty of extra fabric under the bench because you can always cut away the excess.

3. If new padding is needed try to find upholstering batting that is stiffer and more resilient than quilter's batting. Don't wrap this batting around the seat board because it will add too much bulk. Instead, cut a piece the size of the seat board. Two layers of this batting will be plenty and make it more comfortable to sit on.

4. Remove the screws that hold the seat to the bench and remember where the holes are positioned so you don't cover them up when attaching the new covering.

5. Work upside down on a solid surface and line up your layers before beginning. New fabric should be wrong side up, then the batting, and lastly the seat board. Upholstery tacks will work but a staple gun is much faster and easier.

6. Starting in the center of one long side of the seat begin stapling. It is necessary to keep the fabric in a straight line but not pulled tight at this point. Having a second person to help hold the fabric straight will make the job easier. Now work from the opposite side and pull the fabric taught before you staple. Don't staple the entire bench until you check to see if the fabric is straight and centered. Occasionally turn the bench over to see how it looks.

7. The corners are tricky on any upholstery job so make sure they are smooth and as flat as possible. The heavier fabrics will make this project easier. Try a corner before attaching the fabric to the short side of the bench because the job is easier when you have loose fabric to fold and play with until you get the fold you like. Sometimes it is necessary to cut away fabric to make a neat corner but do this carefully and thoughtfully so you don't cut away too much.

8. After attaching the new fabric around the bench, cut away the excess to make the back neat and so that nothing shows when the bench is put back together. Attach the screws that you removed so that the seat is firmly anchored to the bench. Now you have a new bench. Good job.

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