The Ugly Chair Adventures (or Misadventures): Episode VI - Return of the Jedi

It is done. After battling the dark side of upholstery, my Jedi skills have prevailed and Darth Heinous is no more.

Spoiler alert: Darth Heinous dies and is redeemed in its dying moments so it can rejoin the force alongside Yoda and Obi-Wan.

Ok, I never claimed to be a master photoshopper.

It was quite an experience reupholstering this chair. I learned a lot in the process!

Let's recap...


Upholstery involves a LOT of staples. Copious amounts of staples. More staples than necessary, in the case of Darth Heinous. There were staples everywhere. Staples on top of staples. There were areas where the staples were piled 5 or more on top of each other. Removing the existing upholstery was the hardest part. It took me 10 hours to pull all the staples. Literally. Not exaggerating. If you decide to embark on a reupholstery adventure, be advised that you'll spend a ridiculous amount of time disassembling. However, there is hope - the disassembling was the longest and most tedious part.

And if you're lucky, the item you're disassembling might decide to pay you! I got a whopping 47 cents.

After the 10 hours of staple-pulling, my right had was noticeably swollen. That persisted through the next day. You've been warned.


Now, in my case, I needed to keep the original pieces intact so that I could use them as a pattern for the new upholstery I was putting on. Had that not been the case, I might have spent less time pulling staples and more time ripping things, but in retrospect, I probably would have pulled the staples anyway so that I wasn't competing with existing staples when reattaching the upholstery.

Once I had the pieces off, it was very easy to lay them on the new fabric and cut them to size. I also made sure to lay each piece right side down (and my new fabric was also right side down) so that I didn't wind up with mirror image pieces. My new fabric wasn't totally directional, so that played in my favor, but I did try to pay attention to general direction so that I didn't wind up with things looking wonky when I put it back together.

For the pieces that were not sewn, the cuts did not have to be exact. I left a little more room on my cuts and since all of the edges would ultimately be hidden through folding and stapling, they just had to make it to wherever they'd be stapled. And if there was some excess, I trimmed that off. Better to have too much than too little.

Staple Guns are Fun

Ok, not really as cool as a lightsaber, but still pretty awesome. My daddy was kind enough to be thinking of me while shopping at Menard's and picked me up a staple gun (and a variety of staples) for this project. How awesome is that?

And no, you cannot just shoot staples out of this thing into the air. It has a safety mechanism. Which is a good thing because knowing me, I would have stapled myself to the chair without it.


I found myself a little unsure of how to use tack looked straightforward when I pulled it off, but was a little wary about reattaching it. Googled around and found this helpful videodemonstrating how to upholster the back of a chair.

Also watched a helpful video from my friends at Sailrite (where this whole sewing adventure started for me) on reupholstering a chair. I didn't watch the entire video, but skipped to the parts I needed regarding the cushions. It's always helpful to see it in action.

Pictures & Notes

Take lots of pictures and notes. I took a lot of pictures to help me remember how things came apart (so I could put them back together in the same way). However, what I fell short on was the notes part. I wound up with a bunch of pictures on my phone and me thinking what is that even a picture of?

I think that mostly my lack of notes to go along with my pictures was driven by the anger I felt about the staples and how long it was taking to pull them out.

I did a better job taking notes on the cushion pieces. By the time I got to the cushions, I was over the staples. As I took the cushion covers apart, I was very careful to label the pieces (just used painter's tape and a sharpie) and drew sketches of how they were put together, along with notes of how I would reassemble them. This was tremendously helpful - don't skip it!

The ONE thing I didn't note on the cushions was the zipper placement on the bottom cushion. I didn't actually have the original cover on the cushion, so I think this is why I made some assumptions...and we all know what happens when we make assumptions...

I was so excited when I got the bottom cushion sewn back together, the cushion inserted, the whole thing zipped up...and went to put it on the chair. Sonofa. I had put the zipper on what I thought was the back of the wasn't! The cushion is rectangular and the zipper curved onto the sides, so when I put it onto the chair, this is what happened:

So, I had to get out my trusty seam ripper and pull the whole darn thing apart. And I had been extra zealous in reinforcing the seams, so that was a hoot to pull apart. Plus, I didn't have any extra fabric, so I had to be careful in ripping the seams so that I didn't wind up ripping the fabric. I'm fairly certain this happened because I recall thinking "wow, I haven't had to pull any seams yet!" Serves me right.

I got the zipper reoriented on the correct (short) back side of the cushion cover and sewn back together and now the chair is done.

My First French Seam

I noticed that the cushions had some sort of reinforcement on the seams. I was able to do what I think is a French Seam (at least that's what others seem to call it on google) on the top cushion. I wanted to do the same on the bottom cushion but honestly it was 10:30 at night and I just wanted the damned thing done. But, it's a removable cushion so if I want to do it over, I can do it later.

In closing...

Am I glad I did it? YesIt was significantly less expensive than buying a new chair. This chair probably sells for upwards of $3,000 and all said and done I spent less than $200 to do the whole thing. Fabric was a steal - Joann Fabrics was having a 50% off home decor sale, I got an end-of-bolt cut (50% off of the 50% off) and I had a 20% total purchase (including sale items) coupon, so for the fabric alone, I saved over $150! Woo hoo!

No more slipcover. I hate slipcovers because they don't stay put. Anytime anyone touched the chair, I'd be smoothing and re-tucking the cover because I am a little neurotic about things being out of alignment.

Fabric of choice. I wanted something kind of fun and exciting (not too exciting) and not boring. This way I got to choose the fabric and do what I wanted. The bones of the chair were good - nothing wrong with it, aside from the fact that the original upholstery was just awful.

Will I be doing this again anytime in the near future? NO.

Now that Darth Heinous is dead, I don't have any other furniture that upsets me. Not to say I won't ever do it again...just not in the near future. Mission accomplished, moving on...

The Journey in Pictures