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Chair Basics

September 19, 2010

Even if you’re not into the DIY ethic that permeates today’s design blog world, everyone should know how to do a simple dining chair reupholster. Here is a chair I found across the street from our house. Things I look for in street finds? The bones. This chair has a neat scroll back, and solid construction.

The Before

This chair has been through two incarnations. The first was to match our dining room chairs, which were mis-matched but similar. The fabric (attached with a very useful simplicity of a staple gun–more details below) was a silk stripe and now that the chair lives in our studio, and has been recovered with a fun Amy Butler print.

This the the first After

With any basic dining chair reupholster, you’ll need:

staple gun, 1/2 yard of fabric per chair, batting, flat head screwdriver, hammer or mallet, and safety goggles

You can either screw off or just pop off the seat. Using a flat-head screwdriver to carefully remove any staples or hammer to remove nails, take off the current fabric. It’s a good idea to throw away any batting that has been on a chair that is a found chair. Smells can linger in there.

So, get some new batting and lay it out flat over the wood seat base and over the sides. Carefully decide how you’d like the fabric pattern to show on the chair, and measure and cut each piece of fabric before beginning. Make sure to leave at least a two-inch border around your fabric cut so you have plenty of fabric to staple.

Place the fabric right side-down, and put the seat base with batting on top. Stretch the fabric over the wood seat (and the batting) and staple the center of each of four sides first. This is important. Side, side, top, bottom, works best.To get a really tight fit, it works best to have two sets of hands, or a foot holding the fabric really tightly in place. Check to make sure your fabric has not shifted. Keep going with the staples.

The second incarnation of this chair

At the corners, fold the fabric in a a way that it does not bunch (like you’re wrapping a gift works well). Do the back corners first to practice (as they don’t show as much) then the fronts. Repeat with all the chairs. Your project should take about three hours from start to finish for four chairs. Good luck!

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