Little Shack on the Hill

Life happens while renovating!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Hope Chest Re-upholstering Tutorial

Quite some time ago, like when I was about 14 years old...(so that really does make it 'quite' some time!)... my parents gave me a lovely cedar hope chest for Christmas.  I was thrilled!  I began stowing away all my special things in it...letters and cards, things that had belonged to my granny, old toys I wanted to keep, know...memories.

Then one day, I got married.  And had a beautiful baby girl.  She grew up into a lovely young woman, and I decided I wanted to give her my hope chest so she could store her memories and hopes in too.  So, I did.  That young woman is now married with her own family and home.  She would like to give the old hope chest a makeover and turn it into a bench as well as a chest.  As she has never done any kind of furniture upholstering she has asked for my assistance. Yay!
Now comes the fun part!  My daughter and her husband have just left to go on a much needed vacation, and I am staying in their home taking care of my delightful granddaughter!  I am about to tackle the hope chest makeover and have it ready for when she returns!  I have the required tools on hand and picked up a piece of foam for the top today. We had picked out the fabric before she left, so no hold up there!
So, without further delay, I will begin the transformation!
I looked on line for some ideas of how to do this project, but ended up just doing it 'my way'.  There are some really good videos on youtube which show you how to make a cover with lots of seams...but I wanted to avoid breaking up the fabric pattern over the edges.  This method is really just a matter of making seams at the corners.  The seams form the corners. Let's get started!
First step is to remove the lid of the chest from the base.
 Unscrew and remove all hinges, latches and fasteners.
Make sure you put the screws and hardware in a safe place
so you don't have to go searching for  them later!
  I put all the pieces into the trunk to keep it all together.

I find it easier to work with foam if it's attached to the wood,
 so I hot glued the foam to the top of the chest.
You don't need a lot, just swirl it around on the corners, one at time, gluing
each corner in place accurately before moving on to the next.
Then put a bit along the sides, just gently lifting the edges to put the glue underneath.

All stuck down.

Now I measure the fabric.  The chest top is 40" x 17" and the foam is 3".
I allowed 2" to fold under the lid as well as 1" for the height of the actual lid.
That meant that to the 40" width of the top, I added
4" for the entire height of the lid and foam X 2, (2 ends) and  2"  X 2 for the
 fold under the top which will be stapled in place.
 So that makes 52" total.  40 + 4+ 4 + 2 +2 = 52.
Always measure twice before you cut!
The measurement for the depth is added the same way,
 but starting with 17".  That equals 29".  I use the end of the fabric folded over to cut along.

Now, lay the fabric, right side down on the foam.
Measure from the foam edge to the edge of the fabric to align it correctly.
In my case there was 6" of fabric all around the foam.

I had a little helper at this stage of the game!

Taylor loves to help!
Open one triangular fold, tuck in the base to pull up the other sides, and fold the triangle down.
In order to help you understand what I am doing here, this picture of a paper folded box may give you a better idea of the seam.
 See the corners being folded inwards, those are basically the same as the corners I am making with the fabric.  Of course, mine will be to the outside, but still the same idea.

Next, grab your pins and a sharpie.  You need to pinch the
 seam at the corners to pin them in nice and snug. If you do them too loose
 the corners will be baggy, too tight and you won't be able to get it to fit on!
Pin and draw a line to give you an idea of where your seam needs to go.
 It is just a rough guide, this line. I also put a dot on the corner so I can see where I need to end the seam.

All pinned.

Sew your seams using a larger stitch to begin with.
It is much easier to remove big stitches if you need to adjust a corner.

Here I've put the cover on after stitching all the corner seams and turned it right side out.
  It fits pretty good!  Now I can restitch using a tighter stitch! 

In this step, we put the cover back on the foam and get ready to staple in all down.
I like to give a bit of extra strength to the corners where the wood will be pushing into the seam, so in order to do this, I do not cut the seams allowances.  Take the triangular shaped seam allowance and flatten it our over the seam.

Like this.  Now the seam is covered with an extra layer of fabric.

Now the stapling begins.  I start at the corners to make sure it is all lined up with the seams in place.
Pull the fabric snuggly and staple in place.  Press firmly with the staple gun!

Once the corners are all secured, start with the sides.  To do this, keep dividing the sides in 1/2.  Staple half way along each side, then 1/2 way between each staple until it is all secured.  

Once it has been all snugged down and stapled in place,
staple the edges about every 1/2 to 1 inch.
 You have a few different options at this point.  You can decide if you want to cover the edges
 with cardboard or paper or leave them.
 It all depends on what you like and how much exposure the seams will get.  I'm leaving these as is for the time being.

Here it is, all done!
I still have to re-attach the hardware, but I want to refinish the chest first. To re-attach the hardware, just use a sharp item to poke around and find the original screw holes and screw through the fabric.

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