Tag Archives: Upholstery

Finished chair

Crafty Challenge 9: Kitchen Chair Re-upholstery

Here we are! I managed to get my chair finished and before our display among ourselves even, although it then took me a week and a half to get the post up and ready.

The chair I chose to makeover is one of my kitchen chairs. Years ago, I received this wonderful 50’s table and chairs set from Memom (Mom to two Craftysisters and Grandmother to the other two). I loved the set, but the upholstery on the chairs was getting old and there were a few tears here and there. I decided that I would reupholster them, attempting to keep the same general style of vinyl, but more modern and more to my color scheme.

Original chair before re-upholstery

Original chair back with cruddy and old furniture tacks.
Here you can see the old and cruddy furniture tacks that I replaced.

I have actually already re-upholstered four of the six chairs and had started on a fifth when I made a common (well, common for me) error in judgement. I tried to used a piece of vinyl that was just a little too small. I was running out of material and didn’t want to buy some more (this even though I would need to buy more to finish the last chair). I have a tendency to make this sort of decision when I am too tired and should really just put the project away for a while. Well, maybe I learned my lesson this time. Anyway, I had already taken the chair back off and it was mostly finished, when the problems with the too small piece of vinyl really became apparent. There was no way to hide the staples holding the vinyl in place as the staples could not be placed in their proper positions due to the smaller size of the vinyl. At this point, my frustration in having to take all those darn staples out yet again caused me to set the whole project aside for about a year and a half. Of course, all this time the chair has sat upstairs in my loft as an impalement accident waiting to happen as the chair back was never put back on.

So, along comes this excellent opportunity to get back in the swing of chair re-upholstery and finally get at least another chair finished.

I found the color of vinyl that I wanted for the seats at Great Lakes Fabrics and bought quite a bit of it as I wanted extra for possible repairs later. The material is marine vinyl and I will eventually replace the backs with material from there as it is extremely durable. I wanted a marbleized effect that was reminiscent of the original fabric and this was similar and yet was much more my color style. I also purchased a large quantity of chrome half-dome furniture tacks from the same place. The white vinyl for the chair backs I purchased at Joann’s. I used high loft quilt batting from Joann’s for padding in my chair backs and a double layer of this for the chair seats.

Taking the chairs apart proved to be a great exercise is damaging fingers. I learned very quickly the importance of a good tack puller, pliers and wire cutters. There are over a hundred chrome half-dome furniture tacks on the back of each chair and that plus more than a hundred staples, makes taking the chairs apart a real chore. This is the step I really learned to dread more and more with each chair. I absolutely love the finished product though, so it is well worth it in the long run.

Finished chair

As this is my fifth chair to finish in the set, I can say that I have really learned a lot about re-upholstering kitchen chairs.

1. Always have excess material. You can cut off excess, you cannot add on more material after it has already been cut.

2. Wire cutters work very well to remove tacks and staples. The sharp edge grabs onto the tack or staple and pulls them out very handily.

3. Sub-staples, Sub-staples, Sub-staples. I got this from Craftysister Loryn who got it from Design Sponge. These are temporary staples put in at an angle and are meant to         be removed. Design Sponge has a series of wonderful upholstery posts that describe everything you would really ever need to know about re-upholstery. I really wish I had seen these tutorials before I got started on my kitchen chairs. This pretty much guarantees that I will be re-doing the first four chairs again.

Finished chair.

I am very, very happy with how my chair turned out and may actually get to the last chair in the set this week sometime. I am off all this week so, other than the heat, I have no excuse for not getting the last chair finished (other than the realization that I need to re-do the first four chair backs again anyway.).

Chair back with new chrome furniture tacks.

I just love how sub-staples make the finishing on the chair backs so easy! When I look at this chair compared to the first four, I just cringe.

Happy Crafting,


Before & After: Quick Chair Upholstery

Chair with brown upholstery
The Before Shot

I wanted a chair to put next to the back door in my mud room/laundry room/entry way if I needed to set something down or take off my shoes. This chair was my great-grandmother’s, a vanity chair that is part of a bedroom set. It has been up in the guest bedroom doing duty as a bedside table, and it’s just the chair I’ve been wanting for the mud room.

I put that brown upholstery fabric on five or six years ago, and it’s worn and too drab. I just wanted to do a quick and dirty upholstery job.

Chair seat removed
Chair seat removed

First things first, I removed the screws to take the chair seat off. This chair seat is a good example of why perfectionism isn’t always necessary. My previous upholstery job wasn’t that great. Two of the four screws holding the seat on were missing, and many of the staples holding the fabric on had loosened. It still looked fine and held together. Imperfection works!

Normally, you would use poly batting for upholstery, but when I did the first job I just used what I had around, which was Warm and Natural quilt batting. I put a layer of muslin over it to protect the batting, and it made this job really easy.

Stapling the finish fabric
Stapling the finished fabric

Here you can see most of the stapling of the new fabric. The print is random, so I lined the grain of the canvas up with the front edge of the seat. The fabric is a vintage paisley canvas from an auction years ago.

Fabric folded over the corner
The corners are the hardest part

Turning the corner properly is the hardest part, but it doesn’t have to be perfect. Cut away any excess to make it easier to fold.

The chair upside down on a table to reattach the seat
Reattaching the seat

To make reattaching the seat easier, put the chair upside down on a table.

Chair with new Pink Seat
Chair with the Finished Fabric

Here’s the finished product!

Chair in the mudroom
Finished chair in the mud room

And here is the chair in the room. I still have a few things to do, including finishing the baseboards, so watch for upcoming posts on this room.

For a really detailed explanation of chair seat upholstery, see this excellent guide from one of my favorite blogs, Design Sponge. The tool list given may seem a bit intimidating, but don’t let that stop you. I only needed a flat and a phillips screwdriver, staple gun, scissors, and water bottle (to keep a cat off my project!).