Upholstery Lesson: Preparation For Leather

Call me impatient but I really thought I’d be moving a bit quicker with my upholstery project, however when you’re learning the traditional way with an exacting tutor you soon realise that it’s the method that sets the pace…it involves layers and layers of material, stuffing and stitching and then some…

My first job was shaping a plump pie crust on the edge of the seat to secure the hog hair stuffing contained within by stitching and pulling tightly.


Next more stitching to the centre which would hold more hog hair to produce a nice even shape to the seat.






Stitching done, it was onto stuffing, distributing the hairy stuff right out to the edges whilst not plumping up the height of the seat too much. Once the entire surface was covered in black it was back to calico – temporary tacking all the way around until tutor Sarah B uttered those magic words: “Right, you can hammer home now”, music to my ears. So those temporary tacks were hammered in as hard as I could, ready for round two!


Back at the shop, it was time to prepare my chair for the final stages in my upholstery journey. Clean up time – so onto scraping and sanding off the horrible dark orangey coloured varnish to bring the wood back to a more natural tone.

Office-Chair-cleaning-up-wood Office-chair-cleaning-up-chair-in-calico
Once the wood was stripped clean I used a lovely smelling finishing oil to protect the wood and bring out a nice subtle sheen to the grain.


This is the seat and base stripped down and covered in finishing oil.
Office Chair seat and base wood cleaned up

Wood prepped, time to get out my rather racy retro red leather! So excited and scared at the same time…(such an expensive choice of fabric to go wrong – no mistakes please!) Using a paper pattern I cut my first strip of leather.


Da-dah! One rectangular shaped piece ready to go…all ready to go. This is really happening now!


No turning back now, tacking to begin. Steady hands check!

Office Chair small red leather piece first tacks Napoleonrockefeller.com

Sarah B helps with corners – precision is key!

Office-Chair-Red-leather-small-piece-tacks-in-corner-cutting Napoleonrockefeller.com

This is how the inside back looked like with temporary tacks in place (minus corners cut).

Office Chair small red leather piece with temp tacks in Napoleonrockefeller.com

From the back this is how my red leather back looked – stretched and tacked.

Office Chair Small red leather piece tacked in back view Napoleonrockefeller.com

With the leather piece in place next it was back to hessian, tacking onto the leather in preparation for some padding for the frontside of the back rest.

Office Chair small leather piece with hessian back Napoleonrockefeller.com

Office Chair Small leather piece hessian back complete Napoleonrockefeller.com

This was the end result – hessian tacked onto leather.  End of another satisfying but nerve wracking session, and I’m so ecstatic that I’ve chosen the vintage red leather (despite the high cost!)… I just hope that I don’t screw up anytime soon. Wish me luck and a shed load of patience!