Organic cotton upholstery fabric and what to do with it.
We get many questions about upholstery -- what fabrics will work best, obviously, and how to do basic projects. In an attempt to reduce a bit of the mystery, here's some information that just might help.
For fabric choices, your best bets are woven fabrics (of course) that are fairly heavy. You want them to have a tight weave and to be fairly durable, especially if the piece you're going to upholster will be receiving a lot of wear and tear: if you're covering a couch that will have kids and pets bouncing on it, it'll need a much stronger cover than if you're covering a side chair that's mostly for show. Some of my favorite upholstery fabrics are:
- Cape Cod
- Embossed Melon
- Natural Herringbone
- Abundance Hemp
- Natural Canoe
- Dark Brown Heavy Hemp Herringbone
- Natural Hemp Twill
- Sassafras Bark
- Shellgame Twill
- Natural Light Hemp Canvas
- Brown Sugar Stripe (I have a chair-sized futon covered in this and it is SO PRETTY!)
- Wavelength Twill
(That doesn't mean these are the only upholstery fabrics, of course -- just that they're my current favorites. Just about any tightly-woven fabric can be used for upholstery/slipcovers, depending on what your particular needs are.)
Here are some how-tos from around the web. Many call for materials that I would want to swap out for a safer alternative: organic batting instead of conventional, natural latex instead of foam, etc. Your choices are, of course, up to you!
How to reupholster a dining chair set -- a video from the ReadyMade Magazine folks. Their plan includes foam and spray adhesive, both of which I would personally avoid (I'd choose a natural latex, obviously), but it's a good demonstration of how easy it is to recover a basic chair seat.
How to reupholster a (more complicated) channelback chair or sofa.
Here's another solution, for those among us who prefer less work: leave the original fabric on and simply sew another layer on top of it. Demonstrated on an office chair.
How to upholster a headboard using a frame or a piece of plywood (make sure it's formaldehyde-free, though, and do use organic batting!).
How to reupholster a couch, in words (no pictures, and no video).
Here's a photograph-rich description of how to make a couch slipcover; she's frank about how much work it is but yet makes the task seem eminently doable.
If that seems like a bit too much work, consider making a sofa wrap -- they're quick to make, easy to swap out to change your decor, and can be ever so elegant. Winnie just made one, and her only comment is an enthusiastic "I love it!"