At my job, I needed to know how to do a little upholstery but I didn't know how - so to rectify that problem I ordered some tools and a DVD to teach me how to do the more complicated upholstery stuff. I was determined to teach myself to upholster. I am a pretty good sewer to start so I had a good grasp on making pillows and piping but I had never applied it to furniture before. I had a couch that badly needed to be redone and so I began on my first upholstery journey.
I watched the DVD and even though the teacher had poor taste in fabric and was drier than a desert, I managed to glean enough to think I could attempt to reupholster my own couch. I can tell you right now, that my first mistake was starting with such a big project. Having never reupholstered before I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
I then began the grunt work: taking the couch apart. I really believe that the hardest part with reupholstering is taking the old fabric off. Well made pieces of upholstery often have about a million staples in them. Those commercial upholsterers do not joke around. They don't take any chances and so they staple and staple some more until there are piles of wasted staples on top of wasted staples. It's a bit ridiculous. Taking this couch apart took me a week merely because getting staples out of hardwood is difficult and by the end of each day my hands were red and swollen. Putting the couch back together took a lot less time - about 3 days. I had taken photographs of each step of the couch and copious notes on how it was put together so that I could properly put the new fabric on in the correct order. I had been told more than once not to use the fabric I took off of the old couch as a pattern pieces for the new couch. This is because fabric stretches and a lot of fabric gets trimmed off of the couch once it has been stapled. As well, you often need extra fabric to hold onto while you are stapling on the new pieces. I added an extra 2 - 3 inches on to my pattern pieces to allow for this.