Saturday, April 28, 2012

Tutorial: re-covering chair seats

We bought six chairs with our kitchen table when we moved in to our house, 5 years ago. The chairs are wooden and very sturdy, but I never really liked the seat covers. Cream-coloured ultrasuede, you say? In a house with a teenager and people who eat a lot of spaghetti? YUM.

I'd had my eye out for some good fabric to re-cover the seats for quite a while. My mom and I found an enormous fabric warehouse in New Jersey on the way back from visiting my aunt, where we picked up 3 yards of this blue, green and yellow (on a cream background...I need my head examined) upholstery fabric.

During Kate & Mom Week 2012 (recently concluded), we tackled the project. It could probably have been done in a day, but we spread it across about a week, which I think prevented blisters and backache!

Materials (for 6 chairs):
-3 yards of fabric (we had some left over)
-screwdrivers (to unscrew the seats from the chairs AND to remove the old staples)
-pliers (to remove the old staples)
-a staple gun
-staples to go with the staple gun
-a hammer (to bash in any reluctant staples)
-tracing paper for the pattern (optional) + pencil
-something to hold the pattern or old cover down with
-clean towel

We started out by removing the seats from three of the chairs (we didn't want to get stuck mid-project and leave nowhere to sit...)

Once they were off, we removed the staples from the covering fabric (a lightweight gauze-y thing to keep the seams tidy). Then we started on the staples.

They were BEASTLY staples. Two of the chairs must have had someone with a new shiny staple gun, since instead of the normal -  -  -  -  - pattern, we had |||||||////||||||----|||\\\\\. Thanks, dude, that was SUPER fun.

Once we had all the staples out, we took the old covers off, checked the foam (which was good enough to re-use on 5 of the 6 chairs), and then we used my pattern tracing paper to trace around the old covers to create our pattern. For the one chair with crumbling foam, I went to The Foam Shop (thank you, internets) in Ipswich with the offending piece and the rest of the seat and they cut a new foam seat for me.

After cutting it out, we weighted the pattern down on the fabric, wrong-side up. Pros use pattern weights. We co-opted some coasters along with the tv, dvd and skybox remotes. Oh, and some dice. What? They held the pattern down just fine.

Then, we put a towel down on the kitchen table (just in case). We laid the fabric down wrong-side up, with the fabric for the front of the chair closest to us. We then put the seat down, front of the chair closest to us, also wrong-side up. We checked the fabric to make sure the stripes were evenly spaced across the chair base and wouldn't run slonchwise across the seat, and then pulled the front piece up and onto the fiberboard base.

Kerplonk with the staple gun.

Second staple went in at the back of the chair, directly across from the first staple. Then, after pulling the fabric tight, we stapled one staple into each side. There are YouTube and Instructables videos in case I'm being confusing...

We picked up the seat and inspected for wonky-ness and puckers, and if it was all fine, kept going.

For the corners, I made little pleats. Any staples that didn't quite go all the way in (like that one down there) got a whack from the hammer.

Last step was re-attaching the covering fabric, and then screwing the seats back on to the chairs.

My mom's tips (she's done a LOT of these...):
-keep the fabric stretched TIGHT
-if you get a crinkle, take the offending staples out and start over
-don't staple your fingers to the seat
-start in the middle of each side and work outwards, evenly, like this:
-  -  -
-  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  
then rotate to another side and repeat

Ta-da! We were super-pleased with how well they turned out. Don't they look happy, all together?

Thanks for all your help, Mom!

1 comment:

The Foam Shop said...

Thank you for mentioning The Foam Shop in your blog post - it is much appreciated.