Upholstery: Sofa and Armchair ! Before & After !

I wrote about the inherited tiger sofa, the 7 different dining chairs and the funny baroque armchair before. All in need for upholstery. Then, I confused my readers and myself while searching for the right fabric - but knew how to measure and calculate the right amount of fabric.

But it is all good now.

First, I had to travel to Italy this summer. I packed all the chosen fabric from Thailand into my suitcase. Before arriving in Calabria we stopped in Venice for a wedding. Then, I repacked the suitcase. The fabric continued the journey by car, while I travelled by air. Reunited in Pizzo, I entered the house - the sofa was gone! But that is another story that I prefer to skip.

It is all good now.

The craftsman who was introduced to us had a look at the furniture and the fabric. We explained what we want, he made a proposal, and we agreed. Since it was summer, the craftsmen would need longer than 10 days for the work. We were awaiting guests and did not want to miss dining chairs. Therefore, we decided to have them, the sofa, and the armchair picked up after the holiday peak Feragosto (August 15). When everyone and everything goes back to normal.

One day after summer, we were long gone back to Asia, our order was ready and delivered - or picked up -  from the tiny upholstery workshop in the heart of Pizzo. My father-in-law made some snap shots and mailed the result to us.

From what I see, the sofa looks good.
The armchair looks wrong.
The dining chairs look okay.

What do you think?

AFTER: calm grey fabric enhances carved sofa frame

BEFORE: the "tiger sofa" and it's story

For the sofa, there was a big surprise: I never saw the back! I did not know we would need fabric for the back too! I am very glad, I bought some spare fabric.

always have some spare fabric for surprises

From what I heard, my mother-in-law did not like at all the new upholstery for the armchair. She "discussed" with the craftsman - got a chair for free - and asked me to buy more fabric, in order to redo the seating cushion.

AFTER: the armchair - something looks wrong

BEFORE: it looked promising

BEFORE: the real before with gold lacquer
(previous pic is a 2nd chair that needed more work) 

Apparently, I was not clear enough about the fabric direction for the armchair, as well as for the dining chairs. One chair had even a similar fabric and the fine stripes ran from front to back - and not from left to right. But who knows why the craftsman changed direction.

Now, our 7 dining chairs of three styles have something in common: a dark finish and a bluish upholstery.

AFTER: dining chair

BEFORE: backrest broken, fabric riven 

BEFORE: unstable and rotten fabric

BEFORE: unstable and broken backrest
(fabric runs in the right direction!)

AFTER: all new! (sorry for blur photo)

Lessons learned:
  • Always buy more fabric than you need! Miscalculation or mishap may happen.
  • Explain your idea clearly! Direction of fabric, border, nails, finish tone or colour for wood - don't leave room for unexpected creativity.
  • Be sure about the finishing before choosing the fabric (silver seems not the right choice for our armchair)

Maybe, I should think about a DIY upholstery project next time? I researched some books about upholstery and think, this might be a good introduction:

A final remark and last photo:
AFTER: new upholstery with good vibes

Does anyone see the spots in the above photo? Not the spots on the wall. The two circles, below the light switch. I would have said, Angelo's camera has spots on the lens again. My friend says, these orbs are a sign for good energy in the room. Wow, my new upholstery has a great energy boost then! 

Photos: Angelo and Palazzo Pizzo

How much fabric is necessary for armchair, chair and sofa?

80 cm fabric for dining chairs

I did not plan to write yet again about  finding the right fabric, or how to calculate the amount of fabric that is necessary to do an upholstery job. But today, when I finally went to buy our, I almost made a mistake.

For the sofa, I was convinced that we need 4 meter and just made the guy cut the fabric. For the silk fabric of the armchair, I also asked for 4 meter. Then however, just before the salesman started cutting, I made him stop. I asked him, what he thinks I would need for an armchair. His prompt answer was "6 meter".

While I was searching for a photo on my phone to show him our armchair, he was taking out some charts to show to me.

chart that indicates the right amount of meter for fabric needed for upholstery of all different kind of chairs, armchairs and sofas (.80 = 80 cm, 1 = 1m, 2.5 = 2.5 m ... / 1 inch = 2.45 cm / 1 yard = 91.44 cm)

I was totally impressed, once again, how well they are prepared and trained to serve the customers. He looked at the photos of my armchair. Actually, I only had looked at one - the one with the leftovers of the upholstery - a front picture - and never thought of the back. Now, I was looking at the second picture, where the wooden frame of the armchair was totally stripped off all upholstery. I realized I need fabric for the back too!

The salesmen looked with me through the charts and we agreed that probably 4.5 meter would be enough, but to be safe I bought 5 meter (the silk fabric is 100 cm wide only).

The calculation of fabric needed is the same as for tiles needed in a bathroom or kitchen. Almost. Because you need to take into consideration the width of the fabric you have chosen. If you need for one dining chair e.g. 70cm x 70 cm of fabric and the fabric is at least 140 cm wide, you get two chairs out of  70cm length. And you need only 2.10m for 6 chairs. Is the fabric less wide, you can get just one chair out of 70 cm length, and would need 1.40m for two chairs or 4.20m for 6 chairs. So I took 80 cm times our dining chairs.

A wider fabric might be more expensive, but if you need less fabric, you might end up cheaper.

You need more fabric than it seems when:
  • you choose a fabric with a bold pattern. You probably want the pattern in the middle for an aesthetic symmetric look. The excess fabric on the sides often is waste. 
  • you have chosen stripes. You have to determine in which way the stripes should run before calculating. The entire fabric cannot be used as it would require to change direction.
  • you want piping for your cushions
  • you want the seat covers of your dining chair removable for dry cleaning

For the excess fabric you can find new usage: small cocktail cushions for another sofa to repeat the pattern in the room, patchwork floor cushions, blankets, or funny tents over kids bed and the garden.

Finally, it is a good idea to get your fabrics weighted in case you need to take them by plane. My shopping prey today weighs 4.7 kg, already 1/4 of a 20 kg suitcase (allowance in Alitalia national economy class).

This is what I have learned so far. I am not an expert. If you have any other tips let us know!

  • Furniture

    Give each room its own personality by choosing a focal piece of furniture and building up your theme around this with fabrics, accessories and lighting.
  • Tables

    Whether you're looking for side tables, coffee tables or dining tables, we've got a huge range of classic, quirky and contemporary styles available to buy online.
  • Bedroom furniture

    Storage is all important. Banish the clutter with bedroom furniture storage solutions, ensure your bedroom table can accommodate a morning tea and paper.
  • Bed

    Doubles, singles, divans, children's and guests; we have a huge range of beds to suit everyone. Choose your perfect style, pick your bedding and snuggle down.
  • Sofas

    The focal point of your living space, sofas are worth investing in. Choose from our range of leather, fabric and corner styles. Or treat yourself to a chaise longue.

The Story of a Sofa

And then their is this sofa.... It needs upholstery too (like the armchair and the 7 dining chairs). 

I do not really know what to say about that sofa. I do not even know exactly how we ended up with it. 

Some might say, what is wrong with this sofa? Why it needs a new fabric? It looks very elegant. - Yes, it does. And it fitted very nicely in the entrance of my mother-in-law's house in the Veneto, Northern Italy. The leopard print is absolutely her style and that's how she upholstered the sofa after having found it at her favorite antique dealer in Marghera some years ago. 

But one day, this sofa was in my house (well, also her son's house) thousands of miles further South in Calabria. 

My Italian in-laws are super generous. Whenever you say, you like something, the next day it is on your doorstep (if possible). So, you have to be careful what you say. But in case of the sofa,  no one said it would look nice in our entrance in Pizzo - not even did anyone say we like it. 

I think, what happened was that my mother-in-law just had found another sofa at her favorite antique dealer which suited her place better - and she wanted to rearrange the furniture in her house. I don't think that Angelo was transporting half of the household on the roof of his car all the way down to the South of Italy (11 hours drive from Venice), since there were some other pieces of furniture and household items that ended up in Calabria. Some were for my in-laws place down here. And some were for our house. Some don't match our taste at all. And some came in very handy actually. The rest we gradually return... The sofa just stayed.

It was clear from the beginning, that it does not fit in the living room. We placed it in the entrance, where people could sit down to put shoes on, or to pose their belongings while visiting. And if you look at it, its quiet cute, (seating space is 130cm / 52 inch). And if you look closer, it has two shells in-carved in the wooden frame. Beach Style! But the leopard print is definitely NOT going to stay! 

A new fabric needs to give the sofa a more modern look

A purple velvet would look elegant. But it is a summer house, and CC, my husband, did not want a warm fabric. 

Bold stripes, beach style? I was looking around at our local fabric outlet store. But I could not find any suitable stripes.

The entrance, where the sofa now is standing, we call "the Venetian Room", since Angelo had decided to paint the walls in Venetian red. And we have two Venetian paintings - guess where from? - From my mother-in-laws favorite antique shop in Marghera. Further, this room has not only red walls, it has a turquoise ceiling and a light blue walk through... complicated to explain, but it's a color folly.

In my earlier post, I told, how CC came fabric shopping with me. Just before the shop was closing, he passed by a grey fabric, that was displayed as a curtain. He stopped, and asked: "How about that?" - Yes, yes! I totally was with him. What a great idea. It neutralize and modernize the whole thing! It brings out the wooden frame, it reflects only colours we already have enough of - what a perfect solution. The fabric we have chosen, is not very thick, but it is a easy to handle polyester and therefor we get it at a super price too. It looks grey from far, but indeed it is a grey with a BLUE thread. Perfect!

I have photoshoped the sofa to visualize the greige upholstery.

The fabric is only 54 inches wide (137cm) and the sofa is 130cm long. 3 meter might be enough, but I am going to get 4 meter to be able to use it the other direction in case the material is too short.

Upholstery for an Armchair

Or how much a husband can accelerate fabric shopping...

When I was looking for a fabric for the 7 chairs that need repair and upholstery, I also was thinking of how to upholster an old baroque armchair and a sofa.

The baroque arm chair we found at an antique shop in Vibo Valentia was actually a pair of armchairs. We did not choose the above one, but the one that was already stripped off the remaining upholstery. We were thinking of getting a bold fabric, maybe kind of Paul Smith like stripes and paint the wood with silver lacquer.  

I love to browse our Jim Thomson outlet for fabrics. And finally, I do really need fabrics for my own. (The last time I had the pleasure to bring 11 kg of JT fabric to my fashion designer friend in Beijing.) Now it was our turn! And CC wanted to join me after I already did an initial trip and brought lots of swatches home. 

Unfortunately, it was late Saturday and almost closing time. But no problem for my fast decision making husband. In only 40 (!) minutes we went through the whole shop (five floors) and found all the fabrics we needed! For 7 chairs, 1 armchair and 1 sofa. Wow.

I was happy - but also frustrated! How can he be so fast? Last time, I was there almost 2 hours, and no results ....  Well, that's why CC is probably the manager and not me. But I am in charge for the interior! ... He realized, once again, that he actually could be an interior designer - maybe next life.

And after all, it was team work ;-)  

I like my bunch of swatches, so colorful !

The top swatches are our favorites!

1) my pre-selected silk/linen mix for the dining chairs
2) CC's selected fabric for the chairs is 100% silk
3) a polyester greige (for the sofa)
3) a 100% silk fabric with orange, green, gold and turquoise threats for the arm chair

Our selection so far ... we need 13 m in total... so not such a big decision to make... and prices are great.... now I should stop blogging and start acting... in the car and to the shop!

7 Chairs need Repair and Upholstery

These chairs are our dining chairs. We have three pairs - plus one. Two of them cannot be used at the moments since one is totally unstable, and one just got its backrest broken. The others are in a not much better condition.

In fact, since we got them, they were supposed to get a makeover, repair where needed and new upholstery. But so far we had no time. Since we could sit on them, we used them last summer and this spring. It had its charm. But now, it is really time to focus on them, before more brakes apart or people land on the floor.

Angelo will take care of the repair. Not sure, if he can do it by himself or if he is going to give them away. And my job is to look for suitable fabric.

Now, that sounds like another fun project. Since the chairs are all different, we were first thinking of different fabrics for each chair, or maybe for each pair. We could go with blues and yellows, or with purple as a contrast to the yellow wall. We could choose one pattern in different hues. Or one color in different pattern. - But don't we have enough "noise" in the dining and living area? I remember, I counted once six different colors on walls alone. And then my crazy, stunning, tile mix in the kitchen.

But why musing, when I can find out what fabrics are available at the biggest Jim Thomson outlet in only 10 minutes! (While Thailand and myself are suffering from the heat and I cannot enjoy Italy's spring right now, why not check out the cool air conditioned JT outlet with its friendly and well English speaking young salesmen? But the 10 minutes drive are generously calculated when there is no traffic in Bangkok. )

Fabric paradise, pattern delight, silk, cotton, linen mix, stripes, prints, pattern in all colors...

My choice were the more simple and durable fabrics - here some of my swatches of "beach sea sky" colors, some cotton, cotton/rayon, cotton/polyester and silk/linen:

Or we could go more colorful with only one pattern:

But that means no more table clothes - so far we use colorful table clothes from the local markets (I took it off for the picture above).

After all, maybe better to choose a light blue fabric that caught my eye first. It is a linen/silk mix, not ideal for dining table chairs though, a bit delicate as the salesman said. The texture has a bit of a rough, natural touch from the Thai silk, and the calm light blue would match our interior.

If we wanted to add more diversion, this fabric is available in different shades.

Or how about this waterproofed blue/golden cotton/polyester mix? It is impregnated by a special coat on the back and it's on sale. 290 Baht/m (about 7 Euro/meter), with a width of 140cm it gives upholstery for two chairs per meter. Ah, too much choice!

Prices are not bad at the outlet, and Jim Thomson stands for quality. I have a sofa upholstered with a creme white cotton fabric by JT. It is over 12 years old and survived many guests and kids. After each machine washing it looks like new! So, I might carry some fabric from Thailand to Pizzo in my travel bag this summer.

But now, I wait for CC to return from a business trip. Let's see what he thinks... he might not like any of the swatches. Or his mother will skype and say she just found some cheap and beautiful fabric in the market, and that's why she bought it already for us...

competent JT staff cutting and labeling a fabric swatch

Jim Thomson - Outlet Store
Sukhumvit Road Soi 93
Bangkok - Thailand
open daily from 9am - 6pm