Upholstering a chair...

three3applesMay 14, 2014

I'm waiting to hear back from upholsterers regarding obtaining a quote and thought I'd ask on here what it would cost to upholster a new Martha Washington style chair in your geographic area. This wold be with a crewel fabric on a new chair frame. The chair new would cost just over $1,000.00, but I found a few used ones for sale for a fraction of that cost. My husband wonders if with the price for the fabric (not yet determined) plus labor would nearly equal a new chair upholstered by the chair company (Hickory Chair) and that there would be no point in going with the no brand copy.

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If you can get a new MRtha Wazhington chair for $1000 from a reputable mfg I would buy it new. We have two MW chairs from Hickory Chair that were originally priced at $1400 each in a silk shantung fabric I did not like -- no one liked them so they were on sale at a local furniture store for $800 each 8 years ago. I had them reupholstered immediately in a Clarence House fabric purchased through our ID. The upholstery (fabric plus labor) was about $1000 per chair incl delivery. So I would say that $1000 if that price includes a fabric you like, is a bargain. Although they do not look it, they are extremely comfortable chairs. Ours are in the library, which has 14ft ceilings, and the height of the mW chairs is perfect for the scale of a large room.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 11:49PM
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The link is to an upholsterer in Southern Maine. Here in CT, my upholsterer charges about 33-50% more than these prices. I would guess in the midwest you may be lower?

The same website has a yardage chart, fyi.

Generally, a chair you need to reupholster is not worth much;unless you happen to find bargain fabric and DIY. For the rest of us, its either a push or it's even more costly.

Here is a link that might be useful: upholstery cost

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 12:47AM
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EA offers a MW chair starting at $569, but depending on your chice of fabric, we know how high that could go! The one pictured looks like a natural color linen, just the basic for sure.

Here is a link that might be useful: chair

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 2:50AM
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Agree with above. After fabric and cost of upholstery, I don't think you will come out ahead.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 8:54AM
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Does the $1000 include upholstery with the Baron crewel fabric?

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 11:06AM
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No, the thousand dollars and change does not include the fabric, which I have not priced yet, but I know isn't cheap.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 1:48PM
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I'm in the South, so YMMV. I recently had my dining chairs reupholstered. The host chairs are MW style (upholstered seat and back, exposed wood arms and legs). I paid $150 per chair for labor. The upholsterer is one of the best in the area. His team did an excellent job on my chairs.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 2:25PM
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The crewel (on a 40% discount) is $220 a yard. Pretty sure I'd need 3.5 yards for the Martha Washington chair. Yikes, not sure it's worth this.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 2:26PM
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If you can't order the chairs in the fabric you want, it sounds as if this may be your only option. Ours came out at under $2000 per chair, and I am not sure if I would have paid too much more then (8 years ago).

If something happened to these I would probably go higher to replace them, as they have proved the perfect extra chairs, easily pulled into a conversation or up to a hearth.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 7:52AM
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Thanks for the info, kwsl, your prici g helps put this in context. I am thinking of doing the crewel on the seat and front and a plain velvet on the back. Thoughts?

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 3:05PM
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One thing that drives up the amount of fabric you need is the matching piping (or welting.) Since it has to be cut on the bias, it takes LOTS of fabric. (This is according to an upholsterer who looked at re-doing my DR chairs which have wooden backs and cushioned seats. She said 3+ yards/chair and I have 10 chairs so that was a no go.)

You can see the piping at the bottom of kswl's very pretty chair.

If you use gimp instead of matching piping, then you will need less fabric. The gimp isn't the same look as the matching piping (which I think is nicer), but it might be worth asking the upholsterer how gimp vs piping affects the yardage. Or you could consider a contrasting piping in a different fabric, for example if you do different fabric on the back.

This post was edited by chicagoans on Fri, May 16, 14 at 17:26

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 5:23PM
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I think crewel and velvet is a beautiful combination. You could have all the welting made in the velvet which would give you a great look and be less expensive than using the crewel-- which might be too bulky for welting anyway. I have always liked a contrasting welt. These chairs can also be used in a pinch at the dining or auxiliary table. Our two have seen a lot of use.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 5:40PM
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I will have to talk to an upholsterer to figure this out I think and then decide whether to buy the new Hickory Chair or get an off-brand one upholstered locally.

Thanks for the helpful comments. To be honest I didn't even know the term "welting" and didn't consider that aspect of upholstery. I like the idea of doing it in a contrasting fabric.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 10:46PM
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I'm glad Chicagoans brought it up, as it can add significantly to a job if the fabric is very expensive. Lots of fabrics are unsuitable for self welting, IMO. Sometimes the pattern is so large it doesn't even look like the same fabric when small widths are cut on the bias, and then there's no point in even using it because it won't look like self welt. Dressmaker details like contrast piping, the judicious use of more than one fabric, covered buttons, hem details, etc, can give upholstery a wonderful custom look. It's possible to order things like that from a manufacturer, but they make you pay dearly for it. Lee industries charged a 20% surcharge on our new swivel chairs for a four inch hem in a darker green than the rest of the chair and it was all COM to begin with. It's a good thing we never found that magical third fabric for an additional one inch band between the body of the chair and hem!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 12:59AM
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I finally got a quote to upholster the style chair I'm interested in. If I get the eBay chair (Martha Washington style) that is not the Hickory Chair brand, it comes with padding and cardboard, etc., and a local upholsterer can upholster it for me. Going this route would be about $600 cheaper. But, it is a no-brand chair and I wonder whether the padding, etc. will be the same quality as the Hickory Chair. Any comments on whether this monetary difference would be worth saving or if its too much of a gamble getting something that's not the name brand?

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 9:49PM
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What % is $600? I would only do it if it's a large % and if you are okay with a non-name brand chair; it looks like one for occasional use.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 9:57PM
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Ordering one from Hickory Chair in my fabric would be about $1700.00

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 10:59PM
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If it's an occasional chair, I think i'd risk it. I would not risk it for, say, a DR chair or a desk chair.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 12:01AM
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It's a chair for my keeping room, which also has a leather recliner and settee. There is no room
For additional seating in there. I think the chair will get used regularly.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 7:25AM
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That still seems like a lot for an occasional chair. MW chairs are very common on CL in my area and they go for very little $$$. If you buy on ebay you would also have shipping costs. If CL is an option for you I would check there for sure. Another idea would be to check fabricguru.com for fabric; since you won't need a lot, you might be able to get a very high quality fabric at a remnant price.

Keep in mind I live in NC where fabric outlets are plentiful. I have seen lovely crewel fabric in the $10 per yd. range. It would be hard for me to pay so much for fabric especially since you don't need a large quantity from one dye lot.

Good Luck with your project. The chairs sound like they will be stunning, whatever you decide to do.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 7:30AM
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You say the chair is in the keeping room and likely to get a lot of use. Does the back of the chair back up to a wall or does it float and is therefore visible? I ask because Crewel isn't the best fabric to upholster with because of it's low abrasion resistance.
I just looked at the Schumacher site, which would have crewel's in the price range you're looking in, and the Martindale rub test results are a very low 3,000 double rubs before the fabric wears through. A typical heavy cotton upholstery fabric rates +/- 31,000 dr.
If you want the crewel and are willing to mix fabrics you'd be much better off from a wear standpoint to put the velvet on the seat and the crewel on the back.

FWIW, I have a pair of HIckory Chair MW chairs c.1985 that I've reupholstered twice and am about to redo yet again - this time for color and fabric style, not because they're worn out. I also have two MW chairs that I picked up at a resale shop, also in the 1980's. They were an incredible find. I paid less than $200 ea and they are a far superior quality chair to my Hickory Chair branded chairs. I'm about to reupholster those chairs because the Greef fabric that I put on them has a floating yarn in the stripes that has completely worn through at the edge of the seat. I didn't pay much attention to the Martindale or Wyzenbeek numbers when I chose the upholstery.
The labor cost with the upholsterer I've checked with is $250/ea without nail heads. Nail heads significantly up the cost.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 8:44AM
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Good point about not putting crewel on the fronts of the chairs. However, more velvet on the fronts of the chairs, especially in a room with a velvet settee already, could be too much of a good thing. If I remember correctly, you have a very nice medium to large print for your curtains. Could you find a small print fabric that would look good on the MW chairs in colors resembling those in the curtains?

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 9:11AM
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All the furniture in the room is floating. I don't want to do velvet on the front of the chair for the reason kswl mentioned. I really like the look of matching the same print on the curtains on the chair. I have contacted Thibaut to see what the rub test results are for the crewel in the pattern of our drapery print fabric.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 10:30AM
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The Wyzenbeek rating on the crewel is 20,000.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 8:23PM
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With a combination of crewel and velvet the velvet is typically on the back of the chair like mine, I believe.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 10:02PM
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cool chair, voila. Did you choose the fabrics for it?

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 10:25PM
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