Finished Upholstery Project - Pharaoh

Upholstery Tips for Beginners

Finished Upholstery Example

Working on your first upholstery piece can seem complicated. Though it is a process, this skill is easy to learn, but it all depends on what you can do to make the process easier. In today’s post, I will share some upholstery tips that you can apply to your current project. So without further ado, let’s begin.

Tip #1 – Think of Upholstery As a Puzzle

Upholstery is like a puzzle created in separate pieces then put together to make one solid piece. Please do not overwhelm yourself with the process; instead, break it down into phases and complete them one at a time. In the end, this will prevent stress, challenge your memory, and improve your problem-solving skills.

Tip #2 – Keep Your Old Pieces In Tact

When removing the fabric from off of the frame, keep the old material intact as much as possible. It can be a valuable reference point for mocking a previous pattern layout and being used as a template for the new pieces. Make sure that you recycle or repurpose what you do not apply. Repurposing or properly disposing of the fabric can reduce the amount of waste that goes into the landfill.

Using pieces from old upholstery to cut new pieces out.
Keep your old pieces in tact so they can be reused as templates for your new fabric.

Tip #3 Keep Track of Your Progress

So now you are in the groove! You have successfully removed all of the pieces, cut the new fabric from the templates, and are now ready to put it all back together. Great job! Now all you have to do is put it back together with the way you took it off. Wait, you did keep track of the progress, didn’t you? When working on a new project, always remember to keep track of your progress in some shape or form. Take pictures, recording yourself, stacking the pieces in order, or merely numbering the old pieces as they come off. Trust me, this seems like a menial task, but I can tell you that it has helped me through many challenging projects.

Labeling the old upholstery piece for future use.
Keep track of the pieces so that you will know what goes where.

Tip #4 – Invest in Quality Tools and Safety Equipment

I cannot tell you how important it is to have some quality tools and safety equipment handy when working on upholstery. Sometimes, you will find yourself coming across situations that call for a unique tool, such as needle nose pliers to remove upholstery tacks or a special stapler remover to remove small staples embedded in the wood. Having the right tools such as a stapler remover, mallet, and needle-nose pliers can help you get the job done faster and saves the number of bandages you may need along the way, which leads to my next point, safety equipment. Upholstering for long periods can take a toll on your hands. Having items like safety gloves and a first aid kit can go a long way.

If you are interested in seeing an example of me using my tools in action, check out my tutorial on “How to Remove Upholstery Tacks from Furniture“).

Upholstery Tools
Invest In Good Tools

Tip #5 – Look Beyond the Fabric

There is a chance that you may discover the need to replaced other materials while you work on your piece. Sometimes the replacement may be apparent before you start, like tufted buttons missing or a hole in the fabric, but then there are other things that you won’t notice until you may need to be replaced, such as the foam, springs, and frame to name a few. The goal is to check before you start taking things apart or learning as you go along. There have been a couple of situations that I had had when I thought the chair looked good, but once I took it apart, it was a whole different monster.

The bottom of a chair from a previous upholstery job.
Look Beyond the Fabric

Tip #6 – Pick the Right Upholstery Fabric

When you visit your local Joann’s Fabric or Hobby Lobby, you will come across many types of fabrics that you can use for your projects, such as apparel fabric, upholstery fabric, and fleece, to name a few. Even though many of them are very appealing, you have to know which ones are relevant to your project and the most durable. The retailer provides this information via labels or the store clerk. The fabric label will recommend the best way to use the fabric and possibly break down the double rubs (which we will cover in a future post). Another thing that will help your first visit is to go in there prepared with at least a few questions in mind:

  • How am I going to use this fabric?
  • Is it the proper color, tone, and texture?
  • Will any children or pets be using the finished product?
  • What is my budget?

Using the resources available and understanding what you are looking for, you will have little to no problems when you purchase your first fabric.

Upholstery Fabric
Pick the Right Fabric

Tip #7 – Don’t Bite Off More than You Can Chew

I know it can be very tempting, but if this is your first project, it is best to start on a small project like repainting a small coffee table instead of diving in headfirst into a large project reupholstering a couch or building a porch. Starting small will build your confidence when you are beginning to DIY. It will get you comfortable with the process, reduce the number of errors that come about, and will be more affordable in the long run.

Upholstery Project for Dinning Chairs
Start Small

Tip # 8 – Price Upholstery Fabric Before you Buy

Upholstery is typically not a fast-paced task, and it can get expensive quite quickly if you are not careful. Before you start working on a project, you should price the materials before you buy them. Doing so will help you determine if you need to buy things in parts and if the piece is worth the investment. Another perk of pricing the materials beforehand is the possibility of catching a sale. As an avid Joann Fabric shopper, I frequently go there for sales, and I even sign up for coupons. Overall pricing can save you money and reduces the chances of any surprises when you pick up your materials.

Upholstery Fabric
Price Before you Buy

So as you get knee-deep into your project, I hope you can apply some of these tips and tricks. What advice do you use when you work on your upholstery projects? Let me know in the comments below!

Have an awesome day and stay supertastic!


What tips do you apply when you work on your upholstery projects? Let me know in the comments below!

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