Pin cushion upholstery with Spruce

Spruce Cover

Last week I attended a book tour event for Spruce; A Step-by-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design by Amanda Brown. At the event we made pin cushions which were the perfect micro project for using some tools of upholstery. 

The event was hosted at Creative Bug who has created several upholstery tutorial videos with Amanda. I hear there are more to come. Check them out here.

Amanda and I in front a fabulously painted ikat patterned wall. Photo and wall by Courtney Cerruti.

Amanda and I in front a fabulously painted ikat patterned wall. Photo and wall by Courtney Cerruti.

It became very addicting to make these little pin cushions. A lot was learned from making the first one who's lessons were immediately implemented on the next. 

First attempt to last attempt pictured left to right.

First attempt to last attempt pictured left to right.

While making the pin cushions I realized what we were making were tuffets. Little miss muffet sat on her tuffet... So too humor myself, below are little miss muffet stand ins sitting on tuffets.

I've had some experience with upholstery projects and one of the more challenging elements has been working with the staple gun. My parents have helped me with the projects and have always been the muscle behind my non-electric, non-air-powered staple gun. At the upholstery event Amanda had pneumatic staple guns for us to play with. My mind was blown and now I want one badly. Armed with the right tools and this book I know my future projects will have skies the limit results.

The first upholstery project my parents and I tackled was an upholstered headboard (shown below). After reading through the Spruce book there is so much information that could have made that project go more smoothly. I have fond memories building this with my parents but with the right tools and knowledge for implementation it probably wouldn't have taken all three of us to tuft the buttons.

I'll admit a decorating secret (the shameful kind). The bench above I made without any assistance and I finished off the underside with straight pins. It will be the first thing I staple whenever I get my hands on a pneumatic staple gun.

Amanda states in her opening she learned about upholstery through trial and error and the desire to have a unique home that didn't come from a box store. If you share that desire get this book. If upholstery sounds challenging this book will make it feel do-able. And of course start out with a simple project. Perhaps not a headboard like myself. I have a big project brewing in the back of my mind so I don't think this is the last I'll be sharing about upholstery.

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A note of full disclosure. I received a reviewers copy of this book. Words and opinions are my own.

Bright blue chairs

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Over labor day weekend my parents came for a visit to celebrate my birthday and help me with some home projects. For the project I'm sharing this week the only credit I can take is choosing the fabric for these chairs. The upholstery work was all done with my moms craft knowhow. My mom has taught me a lot of crafting skills over the years and I'm still learning from her!

My mom always has her eyes out for quality furniture. Knowing I'm always seeking an improved dining room table she found the mid century style table and chairs in these pictures at her local consignment shop. She was confident we could easily cover them with new fabric. The only information we have about the pieces are that they were built for a furniture show. They have no labels and we don't know if they were ever in production. There is also a matching credenza now living at my parents house.

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Before/After

Before/After

Upholstering is not as difficult as it looks. It just takes some time and patience and watching a lot of youtube videos. My moms best guess was that these were professionally upholstered in the 80s. The padding wasn't so bad and didn't smell weird so we opted to just cover over the old material. It would have been too much labor to remove all the staples holding the old fabric on.  

Underside of seat.

Underside of seat.

The seat cushions were the easiest. Basically just wrap and staple with a staple gun. Some additional hammering was needed on the staples as well. We used black interfacing to finish the bottoms. 

Top view of chair back.

Top view of chair back.

The top side of the chair backs are actually stapled as well. The chair back uses two pieces of fabric. You staple the two pieces as though you were sewing an inside seem. When you pull the two pieces of fabric in opposite directions it looks as though it was sewn. The staples are hiding on the inside.

Underside of chair back.

Underside of chair back.

The staples on the underside of the back are exposed. This doesn't deter from the looks because you can't actually see them unless you're laying on the floor taking a picture like I was. 

Side stitching of chair back.

Side stitching of chair back.

The old upholstery used stapes on the sides of the chair backs. If you have an electric staple gun that may be a way to go but we found hand whip stitching with an upholstery needle to be a better look. Again these stitches are a testament to all my mom has sewn over the years. I tried to sew one corner and my stitches were more uneven and my fingers were left numb.

Back of chair back.

Back of chair back.

The wooden buttons on the back of the chair are the last part of upholstery trickery. These buttons hide screws underneath that hold the back to the frame. They are readily available at the hardware store and a drop of wood glue holds them in place. They come in oak which means they did not immediately match the rest of the wood stain. I pulled out my Prisma Color pen set and found a near perfect match to hand color each button. Ten years after college I'm still finding uses for that pen set.

The captains chair.

The captains chair.

The captain of the chairs.

The captain of the chairs.

Tac has been thoroughly enjoying the chairs. When he's not napping next to me while I work at the table he's hunting me and batting at my hands.

The chair project took a full exhausting day to complete. While my mom toiled away in the dining room my dad and I were painting and working on a couple projects for my bedroom. I'll be sharing those next week.

Besides the cost of the furniture the project was very affordable. The bulk of the cost was fabric which we spent $36 on. And I have fabric left over to make something else. So if you see a piece of well loved furniture with good bones take a chance on it. Take it apart and find some youtube videos to help you out.