Book Report! Spruce: A Step-By-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design

Hello, friends! I hope that you’re all well! In the past I’ve mentioned that I’m now doing upholstery for a furniture designer in Brooklyn, and it seems like many of you makers have an interest in upholstery. So, I’ve decided to share more about that here on the blog, beginning with a review of a book I’ve recommended to everyone who’s told me they want to learn about upholstery!

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When I first started at the workshop, I felt like I was really in over my head. The techniques were all so new to me, and my boss was away quite a bit and often had me work independently. I took tons and tons of notes every time she demonstrated a technique, but I still felt a little panicked when I needed to work through a project on my own. So I looked around online and ordered Spruce: A Step-By-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design (Amazon affiliate link or Indiebound) after seeing it positively reviewed. Long story short, I love this book!

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The book is written by Amanda Brown, who runs Spruce Upholstery in Austin, TX (their Instagram account is a fun one: @spruceathome). Her style is so fresh and fun, and it makes the book really inspiring.

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I appreciate that she spends time talking about how she designs a space, starting with an empty room and adding furniture to it. We’re in the process of redoing and replacing some old hand-me-down furniture, so it’s helpful to get a professional’s opinion on how to balance statement pieces with quieter ones (this is a struggle for me!).

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The book walks you through five projects: a Louis chair, a slipper chair, a wingback chair, a three-seater sofa, and a cocktail ottoman. There are tons and tons and TONS of photos, so you can comfortably follow every step yourself. Plus, Amanda shares lots of inspiration images for each style to help get you thinking outside the box with your fabric choices… I loved these images!

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Another clever feature is the color-coded chart pictured below. This shows you where in the book to find instructions for different upholstery features, so you can mix and match them to suit your own needs. Super helpful! Before I had this book I frequently tried to google information when I was stuck, but I didn’t have the proper terminology to find what I needed to know and even when I did, the info didn’t seem to exist online. So this solved that problem most of the time.

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The book is really thorough– it covers everything from calculating how much fabric you’ll need to sewing matching throw pillows. Webbing, foam, tufting, welting… you name it, it’s in there! Many of these techniques I’ve never learned at the shop (since we specialize in midcentury modern furniture, there are some techniques that we just don’t use), so I was excited to see them demonstrated in the book.

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Personally, I think that upholstery is a craft that’s helpful to learn in person, but if you can’t take a class, this book is a great resource for you. It’s also just a nice book to help you think about your furniture in new ways. January always gives me a big ol’ dose of cabin fever, so every year around this time I start looking for ways to jazz up my apartment. If you have to be stuck inside, your home should be as, well, homey as possible!

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If you’re interested in more upholstery-related posts, then I have good news! I picked up a chair on Craigslist last week, and I’ll be documenting my makeover on the blog. If you aren’t interested in upholstery, I’m really sorry, and I may actually have some sewing content soon! I’ve felt so scattered lately that it’s been hard to focus on sewing, but just yesterday I started cutting out a coat, so maybe I’ll have a garment to show you someday soon! 🙂

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