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Curved back chairs-club chairs

Started by Ageorge, November 03, 2011, 12:23:01 am

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I'm back for more help :). Everyone helped me so much on my decking question I thought I would try again. So I had a customer bring in two small club/barrell chairs. Looking at these, I thought they would be easy but I struggled all afternoon with the first one. To make it a little harder, there is a diamond pattern in the fabric so it has been difficult for me to get them all to look straight -on top of getting all the wrinkles out. The inside back in the previous upholstery (it has been done twice now) was sewn in three pieces (larger middle) and two sides with welting, which I did exactly the same. Is there a trick to making these easier? I got it done, but it took awhile, and I'm not sure I'm really crazy about the way it looks


I always anchor the 2 welts on both ends first, and start working the wrinkles out. What aspect in particular gave you trouble?
"Perfection is the greatest enemy of profitability" - Mark Cuban


Like sofadoc said the welts or seams need to be fastened and pulled real tight top to bottom this will remove most wrinkles if they are sewn right. Your pattern should be centered on each section center top diamond and bottom. After fastening the top and bottom welts then work from the center of each section keeping the pattern straight.
  These are not easy and you really need to pull the welts tight to start. Marking where the seams go on the frame might help also when you take it apart. That is if they were done properly last time.
Minichillo's Upholstery


November 03, 2011, 02:35:22 am #3 Last Edit: November 03, 2011, 02:39:10 am by kodydog
For a experienced upholsterer barrel chairs are easy. For somebody doing one for the first time with no one to show you how, they can be a nightmare. But here's some tips to make it a little easier.

You say there are two chairs. Hopefully you didn't take the second one apart yet.

You said it's been reupholstered several times. Hopefully the original cover is still on. And hopefully it was done correctly.

Regardless if your using the top cover or the original cover for a pattern, Take a good look at it before you strip it down. If it has a pattern, is it straight. Horizontally and vertically. If it is then good, if not then take some chalk and draw straight lines to use as reference points for when you start cutting. If its a solid you can look at the grain of the weave and see if its straight.

The back on most barrel chairs are usually made in three pieces. If they were not the pattern on the arms would want to start low toward the back and rise up toward the front. The seam should be several inches back from where the arms start to curve into the back. Generally the back is slightly smaller (side to side). than the arms.

Once you get it striped down take a look at what supports the back. Most modern barrel chairs are upholstered with webbing that will stretch with time. If they are loose you need to tighten them. If You don't you will have a fit getting all the wrinkles out when you upholster it.

I worked for a office furniture manufacturer and barrel chairs were one of their most popular pieces. I remember how frustrating it was to learn the correct way to upholster the inside back. Start by base tacking the back in place. 3 on the top back and 2 on the top arms. Step back and look to make sure every thing is straight. Now make your bottom cuts to fit around the back posts. Be careful, these cuts are hard to hide if made to deep. And cut for the front post. You can go back later and make the cuts deeper as needed. Slide the pulls under and base tack those. Once again step back and see how your doing. If anything needs to be adjusted now is the time to do it. Your seams should be the same distance apart from the center of the back.

Now your looking at it and all you see are a bunch of wrinkles. And your first reaction is to start pulling the fabric forward to get them out. Nope. I start at the center of the top back and start working my way around. A little to the left then a little to the right. Nice and firm but don't pull the tar out of it. As you work your way around to the top arms magically a lot of those wrinkles will go away. Work your way to the top front arm and take a breather. Is everything straight? Now there should just be a few little wrinkles left that will come out when you pull the arm forward to staple it. Once again don't pull the tar out of it or it will cause the back to "bridge". This is when the fabric pulls away from the padding.

Now simply pull your bottom pulls snug and you should be done.

Need more help, just ask.
There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.


Thanks everyone. I'm going to re-do it and try again. The welting wasn't laying flat the first time and when I tried to anchor those down, it stretched the fabric weird in the front and and I could't pull it in the center. Going try the whole thing all over again. I think it would be easier if the back was smaller than how it is. I don't think it was done correctly the last time, but I know hte customer likes the way it looks so we are going to try and do it the same way. Thanks for all the suggestions!


i have a barrel chair to do at home, is it much the same as doing a bucket helm seat ?

When i do those I make a bunched up pattern and it seems to work great ? and no need
for a seam in the inside.