Please Be Seated

January 18, 2012

This here, is a bench.

Not only a bench, but an ugly bench. We picked it up because we always need more seating and such and figured we’d do something with it eventually. Well, eventually finally came, after the inspiration of our new bed pillows. We picked up a new bench fabric at the same time and figured now was good. The bench was about $5, and the fabric I’d guess is around $10, and the trim another $5 maybe. Of course, Katie could say differently if she wanted.

Anyway, reupholstering is another thing that makes a piece of furniture look pretty snazzy and it can be simple to do. This bench required unscrewing 11 screws, removing staples, stapling new fabric, cutting said fabric, and hot glue. Not bad.

First, take your object and disassemble it. This was a pretty straightforward project, but if you are doing something a bit more complicated, be sure to track your parts and order so that you know how to get it back together at the end.

Once the top was off, we removed the staples holding the black fabric and the mustard fabrics on. The black fabric is basically to keep the raw edges from showing underneath. Remove your staples carefully if you want to preserve this piece of fabric. I find a flat-head screwdriver or needle-nose pliers are best for removing staples.

Once all the staples are pulled out, you should be able to lift the top fabric off.

Underneath, hopefully you find foam or padding that is in good shape. If your foam is in tough shape, you can get new padding, glue it down, and you’re good to go. Ours was in good shape so we just recovered over the existing padding. The white in the corner is some extra padding to help fill out the foam, which was missing a chunk in the corner. We also were left with the frame. I’d like to paint our frame at some point but we didn’t have a good color at the time.

Next, take your new fabric, lay it out right-side-down and place the bench top on it upside down. Staple one edge with a staple gun, starting at the corners and middle, and filling in the in-betweens.

Next, pull your fabric under so that it is tight. You want it to be tight so that you don’t get loose fabric on your cover. It may take a buddy to help keep it tight while you staple.

Now, there are a couple ways to go about the corners, which I think is the trickiest part. You can measure and cut your corners ahead of time, and sew them in to the right shape (Make a cut from the corner in, then fold together and sew), as was done on the old cover. You can ease the corner around like fondant and avoid a crease, or you can miter the corner by folding it. We chose to miter it.

Once stapled, you can clean up your fabric edges if you want, or place your backing (old or new) on the bottom and staple it. Then, reassemble!

Our final touch was to add a decorative trim around the bottom. In our “final pictures” it hadn’t been glued on yet, but I basically took a glue gun and glued it to the bottom of the top piece (not the frame!).

Voila!

So riddle me this.

French knots are a key point (ha) in embroidery. They represent dots, eyes, anything small and round. I cheat and just make small * shapes because I can’t, for the life of me, tie a french knot.

It’s supposed to look like

However, a quick search reveals these instructions:

  
  

Books, the Google, everywhere has this same illustration. And I still have the same problem that I. Don’t. Get. It. Every time I make one, it pulls through. I wrap more times, no change. I use tighter-weave cloth, it still pulls through. How do you make a bloody French knot?

Here is the gist of how to make one.

  1. Pull your thread through and toward you with one hand, needle in the other.
  2. Using your non-needle hand, wrap the thread twice or so around the needle.
  3. Using your non-needle hand, hold tension against the thread so it does not unwind from the needle. If you pull too tight, you will make it hard to pass the needle through the knot, too loose and it won’t be a nice knot.
  4. Use one finger to hold the thread and pass the needle down next to where the thread comes up. This was key for me- when I say next to, I mean one space/square/thread away. You want to have that thread between the two needle passes so that the knot doesn’t fall through.
  5. Hold the tension as you bring the needle through and let go as it gets close to the fabric and (allegedly) voila!

I’ll have to try this when I get home, but here is a video tutorial.

Until then, keep calm and french knot on.

Rach