Monday, June 18, 2012

My Not-So-Fun Chair Redo Is Complete!

 Thank. The. Lord.
My DIY chair redo is COMPLETE!!! Here's how it's looking now and what it looked like then....
 It seems like forever long ago when I picked up the chair at an estate sale for just $2.00.  I was excited to take on a full-on reupholstery project at the time, who knew it would be so difficult and take so much time to complete, yuck! But thank goodness it is DONE, DONE, DONE... and I still have all my fingers, LOL!
I tried to document the steps I took to refinish the chair but since I was learning along the way it ending up being a lot of trial and error- which isn't easy to capture in photos, let alone write it out step by step.  So, this really isn't a full tutorial, but I can walk through the  torturous memories general steps that took the chair from before to after.  Here we go!

That part is always really yucky, but I then had a look at my blank slate!
I ended up using Klean-Strip Premium Stripper to remove the paint from the legs.  I liked the look of the lighter raw wood and I wanted to leave some that was hidden underneath the old upholstery exposed.
After scraping off the old paint, I sanded the legs some more so they had a smooth even finish.
Next it was time to start the reupholstery part (aka the really crap-tacular time consuming part). 
Before covering the chair with any fabric I added a fresh layer of polyester batting in places where the chair needed some extra fill.  Once it came time to start the fabric I decided to tackle it in 4 parts....

- Chair Back
- Seat
- Left Arm
- Right Arm

I started with the chair arms.  I figured it would be easiest to start there since essentially all I had to do was wrap the fabric over each arm and secure it with nail head and staples.
When I discovered the carved wood arms hiding under the old upholstery, I knew I wanted to keep them uncovered.  It's a feature too nice to hide!  To keep them out, I laid the fabric over each arm and cut it following the curved shape of each arm.  Then I folded the cut edge inward so all you can see is the clean folded edge. 
Once the fabric was in place over each arm I secured the inside fabric (by the seat cushion) using a staple gun and stapling the fabric to the wood frame underneath.  It required a lot of muscle squishing the seat down and pushing the staple gun in enough to reach the wood frame... totally annoying and not fun.  For the outside edge I used A LOT of nail head trim to secure the fabric, but used the same idea of folding the fabric inward (shown below).
For the seat, I took a rectangular piece of fabric cut to fit over the seat cushion and pieced it together with a separate section of fabric to attach on the front edge.  I thought the double stitch detail would be a nice feature so the fabric didn't look as though it were just wrapped over the seat edge. Then, I stapled the fabric to the inside wood frame and used nail head trim along the folded bottom edge (shown above).

For the chair back part, I wanted to make it one piece that slipped over the top and fit the chair perfectly.  So I guess this step was kind of like making a slipcover/ chair cover.  I laid the fabric over the top, cut it where needed, and pinned it in place.  Then, I hopped on my sewing machine and stitched away.  The top two corners were really tricky, I had to sort of pleat them so they gathered.
Once I got the chair back cover to fit, I secured it in place similarly to the arms & seat by stapling it where it wasn't visible and using nail head where it was visible. 
Here's a look from the back that illustrates how each piece came together...
 I know it isn't 100% perfect but I am pretty happy with how it turned out and really I did learn a lot from the experience.  Knowing what I know now, I probably would have done a few things differently... maybe next time, if there ever is a next time???  I am not eager to start a reupholstery project anytime soon :)

Now all we have to do is figure out where to put it in our house, hmmmm....

Well, how do you think the chair turned out?


  1. It looks great! I can't believe that is your first upholstery attempt! It came out so straight and perfect. And you're right to leave the arms and legs as you did. It's just lovely!

  2. WOW! Great work on this! (you are so much more brave than I am!!) I love your blog... you do a really nice job with it. Be proud!!!

  3. Congratulations for hanging in there and finishing this project. You did an awesome job for your first not to start with a plaid fabric! lol Great job! Linda

  4. You are braver than me, I upcycle furniture all the time with paint, in fact I have made a business out of it...but upholstery...if it is a simple seat pad, no problem, but I am too chicken to try a whole chair! You did a fantastic job for your first attempt :)

    xx Karen

  5. 1st time around i think you did a great job i would be bragging up a storm if i did that well....add i grain sak or burlap pillow to it and wala your done!!

  6. I love it. You did a wonderful job. If I saw this chair I would buy it. I love how easy and comfortable she looks. Find a place where she can stand tall and show her new clothes.

  7. I think it looks fabulous!
    I would be honored to have you link this up at my "Cowgirl Up!" linky party, going in right now.


  8. Great job! Love the curved arms and all the nailheads.

  9. You did just fine! The chair looks great! I know how hard it is, glad you stuck with it. The next one will be easy peasy!

  10. Fantastic! I really love how it turned out- and I'm so glad that you let the wood show. The double stitch is a cute detail, and the nail head looks really sharp (and painful! lol!).

  11. What a great project. I love the look of the raw wood too. I'm wondering if that spray stuff is easy to use?

    Warmly, Michelle
    AKA a fellow Gladys Kravitz!

  12. I like the way it turned out - not bad for self-upholstery - you did a super job, and its a great new design. You could create a hot trend, you know!!! ....imagine the possibilities! They might make a great item to sell!!!


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