DIY: Rustic Reupholstered Wing Back Rocker

Hello my Diyer's! I am so excited to share our biggest project yet! It doesn't seem like it would take that much effort but let me tell you - this chair was almost tossed to the curb on more than one occasion out of frustration and exhaustion. Just a little advice to those who would like to tackle this type of project, I would start your reupholstery journey on a piece of furniture that is a tad bit simpler. A wingback is a huge under-taking, especially for those who go in blind like I did. I'm so happy with how it turned out, however, try not to look too close because you will definitely see "first-timer's flaws" everywhere. Before I get started with my how-to, I made a little "essentials list" to give you an idea of the tools you will need to get you through to the end. Yes there is an end, I promise!!!

1. Wingback Chair: These can be found used on the cheap at resale/thrift shops, garage sales or craigslist (I purchased mine for $30 off of craigslist). The cheapest wingback I've found brand new is for around $300 at Ikea.  If you spot a used wingback that looks to be in bad condition, do not be afraid as it is most of time only the fabric that's in bad condition which you will be removing, so try to look beyond the fabric. It's all about the bones and build. As long as it's stable and still in tact, you are good to go!

2. Slip Joint Pliers: Any pair will do. You will use these paired with the flathead screw-driver to help when removing original fabric. (They will pull those pesky staples the flathead is unable to pop out.

3. Flathead Screwdriver: Any will do! This is your go-to tool to remove original fabric from your chair. This was my least favorite part of all and that's putting it nicely. All I have to say about this is "STAPLES!".

4. Fabric: Choose your fabric. Make sure that it is a thicker material as you will be pulling and yanking throughout this process. Light Cotton fabric may not be the best to use. (*I would also pick a few yards of burlap fabric liner to cover springs) We chose 5 yards of brown faux suede/leather as our main fabric & around 3 yards of brown lining material to cover up the springs.

5. Spray Adhesive: Any spray adhesive will do. This will be used to help adhere your batting/Dacron to your foam cushion

6. Upholstery Staple Gun & LOTS OF STAPLES!!: You will need a staple gun with power to surge threw layers of fabric and wood. I would invest or possibly rent an upholstery staple gun. This will become your best friend and save you a lot of time and headache!

7. Bonded Dacron:1 inch thick will give the extra softness to your cushion and fabric.

8. Medium Density 1 Inch Foam Sheet: We used 1"inch Thick X 24" X 72"- this will be used for the inner sides of your wings and armrests.

9. Medium Density 4 Inch Foam Sheet: We used 4"inch thick X 24" X 72" - this will be used for your seat cushion (if you are not re-using your seat cushion and backrest).

10. Curve-Ease Metal Strip: We used about 6 yards. This is used to seal the edges of your fabric around the curves of your chair to give a clean look without staples showing. You may also add piping if you are a sewer.

11. Wooden Mallet: This is to help reinforce and flatten your curve-ease around the edges to create a secure and smooth edge.
Let's Get Started!
So here is our chair before the beautiful madness began. I found this chair on craigslist from someone who it had been passed down to. It clearly was an older piece with lots of wear, however, it was extremely well-built and constructed to withstand generations of use. 

As you can see the cushion is flattened and the fabric has quite a few faded spots. You can't see it, but this chair was covered with years and years of cat hair, dust and dander. I actually moved it out to the garage and wore a face mask because of the allergens that were flying out of the fabric as we began the removing process.

Suggestion: Before you begin removing your upholstery, I would give your chair a good look-over and number each section that you will be removing (with chalk or marker). This will make the process of adding your fabric back on easier, so you know which section of fabric you should start with first. I wish I would've done this. I had to go back and look at photos I took (for this post) to see which sections I removed first. As you can see here, I started with the front piece of the armrest. I simply pried my flathead in the seam and pulled it away from the chair (pretty easy).

As you can see here the pieces are labeled so when you go back to add it with your new fabric on, you will immediately know which side to attach it to. Also - notice all the staples. Yes, ALOT of staple pulling ahead! 

I also suggest you save the fabric you remove to use as a template for your new fabric. I laid mine flat on my new fabric as I went along removing each section.

I then moved on to the sides of the chair (which I should've waited on, as the back should've have been the next to come off) The back overlapped all of the the front sections of the chair so I had to switch over and remove the back section just so I could remove the side section, ugh - I know a little confusing) Like I said previously, I would look over your chair and mark the sections that should come off first.

The Back should've been the first to be removed, as it is overlapping(covering up all the other sections as you can see here.

Be careful as you move along. These chairs have serious teeth going on. Not all are staples, there are nails too! Proceed with caution :)

Making progress with the removal. This is the point where I had to move out to the garage, as the dander and dust that was flying out of this chair actually started to effect my allergies. 

Template making. Place the front part of your old fabric template face down so the cut reflects the template accurately. I would also cut an inch or so outside the lines to give your a better handle on it when it comes time to yank and pull. You can always trim off extra fabric.

Fast forward to my blank canvas. Removing all the upholstery was honestly the most painful part of this process. If I can be honest, i actually stepped away from removing all the staples for a few weeks. It took all I had to get back into the garage and finish removing everything. It was also in the dead of summer mind you, so the heat didn't' help :/ However, I'm proud to say that I motivated myself to get back out there and finish the job!

The coil springs and ties were in great condition so I left well enough alone. Plus there is no way I have enough sense to recreate this grid, lol! I'm sure I could if I spent an hour or so researching. If you find components of your original chair  that are in good condition, leave it! There is no need to replace them if your batting or cushions or lining is in good condition. It will save you much time and headache! Mine just happened to be covered in cat hair so I removed everything.

Since we decided to turn our chair into a rocker for our nursery, my husband measured and cut the tips of the legs off to attach these runners we found online. We then sanded the original legs then stained them a walnut stain.

Next we covered/lined the springs and coils to add a barrier and a place to lay our future batting and foam against. We used this brown lining found at hobby lobby. I'm not able to recall the name of this material, however, we found it near the burlap (which you can also use as a lining as well).

Next we added our 1" foam (cut to size) to the inner portion of the wings, armrests and leg rest . It's best to start inside and work your way out ending with the back and bottom of the chair. We did not staple the foam to the back part of the chair, as we still had batting/dacron & fabric to add and planned to staple all pieces together to the back of the chair.

Next I enlisted my hubs to attach the Dacron batting to the inside of the chair on top of the 1" foam for extra cushion. This is where we used the spray adhesive to stick the batting to the foam, just so their was no shifting as we tucked it through the open areas of the chair.

Next we added our fabric to the inner portion of the chair. ( I did not get a photo of this, my apologies). You will want to pull your fabric very TAUGHT! You might enlist a helper to push so that you can pull as tight as you can. This will alleviate wrinkling and fabric becoming loose or buckling when you sit in the chair.

We then began working on the cushion.  We simply used the original cushion as our template and cut out the cushion using our 4" foam. We then added batting/Dacron cut to size to the top of our leg rest foam and top and bottom portion of our seat cushion foam (we left the front of the seat cushion without batting, as we did not want it to stick out more than it already is).

Next we added more batting/Dacron to the entire cushion and leg rest. If you know how to sew, then your cushion would be separate. I'm not a sewer, so we basically just wrapped the entire seat and leg rest as one piece. We did not secure the bottom until we added fabric as to not overload the bottom of chair with staples. 

After Fabric was tucked and pulled, we stapled to the back and bottom of the chair.

I apologize I did not document the back rest cushion. However, we basically did the same thing as the seat cushion. We ended up cutting our 4" foam in half (making it a 2"back cushion) as the 4"was a little too thick for our chair. We cut the foam to size and covered the front and back of foam with batting. We then pulled fabric taught and tucked through the side and secured with staples to the back of the chair. I actually sat in the chair while my husband pulled the fabric through the back just to make sure it was as tight as it could possibly be.

Next we moved on to the outside armrest and back of chair. We adhered our 1" batting/dacron (using the spray adhesive along with just a few staples to hold in place). No foam is required in these areas,as they will not be getting a lot of use.

Next comes the curve-ease metal strip. This helps to secure the fabric without the staples showing. Our staples didn't' seem to match up with the holes, so we secured our metal strip with nails. When you use your staple gun, make sure the staples are secured as seen in "essentials tools" photo above. One side of your staple should be inside the hole and the other on the outside of the metal tab securing it in place. We used nails, so our photo will not depict that instruction. I started with the outside wings, then moved onto the outside of the armrests.

Once you have your metal strip secured all the way across. You will then push the tabs partially closed. Note: you can see my "first-timer flaw" as my strip is not level. I had to re-do this step to create a straighter seam.

You will then lay your fabric over your section and cut to size, leaving about a half inch seam to be tucked into your metal tabs. I used chalk to mark my line, then cutting about a a half an inch to an inch outside the chalk line. Next you will use your flathead screwdriver to tuck your fabric inside the partially closed metal tabs. I used several different tools to do this, however the flathead screwdriver worked best.

You will then take your wooden mallet and hammer down your tabs, securing your seam tight. I enlisted my husband to reinforce, just in case my hammering wasn't tough enough.

As you can see the bottom portion is wrinkly, that's ok -it will be pulled tight as you work your way around. You will now move onto pulling your fabric down and securing with staples underneath your chair. Pulling as tight as you can. Once you have secured the bottom portion of your fabric, you will need to add your curve-ease to the side of your leg-rest as well. Repeat the same procedure. Mark your crease, cut about a half inch to an inch outside your marked line, then tuck with screwdriver and hammer secure with your wooden mallet. You will then pull your fabric taught and secure with staples to the back of your chair.

Unfortunately I did not document attaching the fabric to the back of the chair. My apologies!! However, it is the same procedure. I attached my curve-ease metal strip along the top back curve portion as well as the left and right side. I cut my fabric to size with a half inch to one inch over hang all the way around. I starting with the top, I tucked my fabric into the partially closed metal tabs of my curve-ease, then secured tight by hammering the tabs with my wooden mallet. I then pulled the bottom of my fabric as tight as possible and secured with staples to the bottom of my chair. Next, I moved on to the left side, tucking my fabric into the partially closed metal tabs then hammered down the seam with my wooden mallet. I repeated the process again on the right side.

Next, I finished it off by adding more of my lining to the bottom of the chair to cover all the overlapping  to give it a more finished look.

The last and final piece (which could be done at any time) is to remove old fabric and attach new fabric onto the pieces that are attached to the front of your armrest (the very first piece we removed). I covered mine with 1" batting, then covered that with leather fabric- securing in place with hot-glue. I then used my wooden mallet to secure the pieces (that already had nails placed) into the front piece curve.

And now we are FINALLY DONE!!! Throw on a few accent pillows and your Wingback Rocker is ready to ROCK!! (pardon the pun, I couldn't help myself  ;)

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and should you decide to embark on a wingback reupholster project and have questions, feel free to email me at fawnoverbaby {at} gmail.com! I would also love to hear how your project is going, feel free to share your journey in comments below!

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