Become an Expert Upholster: Re-upholstery Tips


The first stage is to web-up the seat, using rubber webbing. This webbing gives a little more spring than the jute webbing which was used with coiled springs.


The webs are tacked on the top of the rail, not on the bottom as would have been originally the case. The first webs are stretched from the back rail of the seat to the front rail. Take an end of 50mm webbing and locate it in the centre of the back rail.

Tack it down using four 16mm improved tacks (tacks with large heads) in a spaced line, across the width of the webbing, and 13mm in from the end of the webbing.

Stretch the webbing over the centre of the front rail, giving about a 25mm stretch for every 455mm of webbing. Tack off along the front rail as for the back rail. Cut the web, allowing an extra 13mm from the tacks. Proceed along the seat in this manner, leaving a 50mm space between each webbing.

The webs running the length of the sofa should be inter-woven with the webs from back to front. Take the end of the web and, starting at the foot of the sofa, interweave this for the full length and tack it in the centre of the rail at the head.

Take the loose end of the webbing at the foot of the sofa and, giving it the appropriate stretch, tack off and cut. Continue to interweave webs, allowing a 50mm space between them and making sure that you have an alternating weave on each web.

Headrest webbing

Web-up the headrest in a similar manner – with this exception: in the case of a plain finished back use rubber webs; but when diamond buttoning is to be used, jute webbing is best for the headrest and back rail.

For diamond buttoning, the next stage is to cover the webbed area of the headrest with hessian, turned in 25mm to give double thickness for tacking. Use 13mm improved tacks, spaced at intervals of about 25mm.

With a scroll headrest, tension the hessian from side to side, and stretch evenly from top to bottom. Avoid excessive tension on a small headrest as this will cause it to dip in the centre, and the shape of the scroll will be lost.

Cover the back rail in a similar manner. This is a flat surface, so equal tension can be exerted all round. If the seat is not to be diamond buttoned, there is no need to use hessian.

Cutting polyether and calico Measure the width and length of the headrest, adding 13mm to the width and 50mm to the length. Cut, with a sharp knife, a piece of reconstituted polyether foam to size. Next, cut two strips of 100mm calico the length of the polyether. Use a suitable latex adhesive to stick the calico to the long face sides, leaving a 50mm overlap at the bottom.

On the top surface of the foam block, mark a 50mm margin in from one of the short edges. Apply adhesive within this margin. Cut a 100mm calico strip the width of the block. Stick this to the treated surface area, allowing a 50mm overlap at the edge.

Positioning of polyether

Place the foam block on top of the hessian. Allow the calico on the short end to hang over the top of the scroll, with the bottom of the foam level with the backing rail.

Starting at the bottom of the headrest, tack the calico on the side of the frame; on the front edge, the calico must finish in the rebate of polished-wood facing.

Forming round the scroll

When the curve of the scroll is reached pleat the calico to form the foam round the curve. Finish off’ by tacking the calico on the top end, underneath the scroll. Undercutting the foam as required to shape it in.

Cutting the latex foam

Next, cut a piece of 25mm-thick latex pin-core foam block the same size as the reconstituted polyether foam fitted to the headrest. Using a latex adhesive, stick the rubber on top of the foam. An alternative method shown is to fit the polyether and the foam block as a single operation. Position the calico strips, tacking and pleating these round the head rest. Undercut the top back edge shaping this into the scroll.

Diamond buttoning

With a piece of chalk, mark the position of the diamond buttoning on the latex foam block. The diamonds can be as large or small as desired; 190mm x 140mm is a good, average size.

Measure carefully to find the centre and subsequent positions. Mark out the centre diamond first and work out to the sides, top and bottom.

Try to get an even balance, keeping the end rows of buttoning half a diamond width from the edges. Make a 25mm diameter hole on the four points of each diamond, cutting through the rubber and foam, exposing the hessian underneath. Use a long, sharp penknife for this job.

Securing the holes

Take a 380mm length of nylon tufting twine and, using an upholsterer’s long, straight needle, pass the twine down the hole in the rubber and polyether and through the bottom hessian, then back again up through the hole, taking up a 13mm long piece of hessian, to anchor the twine.

Even out the twine and leave the two strands hanging loose from the top of the hole; these are used later to secure the buttons. Repeat for all button holes.

Cut a piece of finishing cover the width and length of the headrest. Add an extra 125mm to each side, for overlapping, plus 38mm for each hole, to allow for pleating. Allow 75mm at each end to the length, measured from the bottom backing rail to the back of the scroll; again, add 38mm for each pleating hole.

Marking out diamond pattern

On the reverse side of the cover, mark out the diamond design you have made on the rubber, making the diamond size on the material 38mm longer and wider than the diamond measurement on the rubber. This also allows for the fold of the pleat.

Starting with the centre diamond, thread two strands of tufting twine and pass the upholsterer’s needle through the corresponding mark on the cover, working from the ‘wrong’ to the right side of the material.

Securing the buttons

Remove the twine from the needle and thread one end of the twine through the button loop, make a slip knot and pull the button down into the foam. Do not finally tie these yet.

Repeat this operation at all points of the centre diamond, adjusting the button tensions as required. Form the pleats of the diamond as you go. All pleats should fold down towards the bottom of the headrest; repeat this on all the diamonds.

When all the diamonds are positioned satisfactorily, tie off the buttons with a further slip knot.

Finish the cover over the sides of the headrest by tacking this to the sides with 13mm tacks. Take up the fullness in pleats in line with the edge buttons.

The top and bottom of the headrest are finished in a similar manner. At the polished-wood rebate edge, trim the cover neatly up to the tacks with a sharp knife, as this edge will be braided.

Webbing up the back rail is similar to that of the seat and headrest. Cover the webbing with 340-gramme hessian. Cut a piece of reconstituted foam, large enough to cover the whole back rail, finishing level with the top of the rail.

Fasten with calico strips, tacked to the frame of the headrest. Cut another piece of reconstituted foam the length and width of the back rail, plus 50mm, to overlap the foam already positioned on the front of the rail.

Stick this to the front piece of foam. Fasten with calico strips to the frame at the back. Cut a piece of latex pin-core foam block the length of the back rail and wide enough to cover the foam-bottom front edge and to form over the top back edge. This is stuck to the bottom of the front foam pad and taken over the back of the top rail.

As this back pad is only 255mm deep, there will only be one row of diamond pleating along the length of the pad. Mark out the rubber and cut holes, as for the headrest. Cut out the finishing cover to fit the length of the back rail, plus a 38mm allowance for each button hole.

Allow sufficient spare to tack off on the back of the rail at each end and deep enough to tack on the bottom rail of the seat and the top back edge of the back rail. Allow 38mm for each hole. Mark out the cover on the reverse side, as for the headrest, and button. Pleat out the fullness opposite each button at the top and bottom and tack off.


Cut a piece of reconstituted foam, 100mm thick supplied in 50mm thickness, two layers will have to be stuck together. Cut the pieces the length and width of the seat, adding 13mm to each measurement. Cut the corners to the shape of the frame and fasten to the frame with calico strips as for the headrest.

Cut a piece of 25mm latex pin-core foam block to the same size and shape as the reconstituted foam. Stick pin-core rubber on top of the foam and cut a piece of finishing cover the length and width of the seat. Allow sufficient to cover the edges and to tack on to the side, back and front rails.

Tack off, using sufficient tension to even out the cover, and round off the edges. Pleat out the fullness around the corner. Trim off the cover into the polished wood rebate on the front of the sofa with a sharp knife. This edge is now ready for braiding. This is later stuck in place with a latex adhesive.

Outside back covers

Cut a piece of finishing cover long enough to cover the outside back rail, plus 50mm for turnings, and deep enough to finish off under the seat. Cut a piece of pin-core foam block to the length of the back rail and wide enough to cover both the bottom and front edge and to form over the top back rail. This should be turned in 25mm all round and sewn by hand, with a needle and matching thread, then tacked off under the seat.

The outside back of the headrest is covered in the same way as the outside back of the rail.

To make a dust cover, which is tacked to the underside of the seat, cut a piece of hessian to the length and width of the seat frame. Turn in the edges 13mm and tack the hessian to the base of the seat, using 13mm tacks.

Finally, stick the braid on with the latex adhesive.

10. November 2011 by admin
Categories: Featured, Handyman Tips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Become an Expert Upholster: Re-upholstery Tips


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