Saturday, June 20, 2015

Chair Recovering & Decorative Stitching How-To

Last week, Grant and I met someone from Craigslist to buy a buffet and came home with a wooden chair.  

It happens.

The chair is Depression-era and is still in good shape: it doesn't wobble or creak, and the finish is mostly intact.  

The problem? The fabric covering the seat, so I decided to recover it.

I used a canvas drop cloth that I had already bleached to soften the color and texture.  I laid the fabric out on the floor and placed the seat on it (Grant had already unscrewed it from the chair for me).

Keeping in mind that I would need about 2.5-3 inches extra on all four sides, I cut out a square piece of canvas to work with.

Once I had the square cut out,  I realized that just a plain beige seat would be pretty forgettable.  I scavenged my craft shelves and found some navy thread that I could use for some decorative stitching.  My sewing machine...

...has about 90 different types of decorative stitches, and I landed on one that resembled the cross-stitch type of design often found on grain sacks.  I wanted to do two side-by-side rows of stitches running from the back of the chair to the front.  The next problem: how do I make the rows centered and straight?  The answer: an iron.

I folded my square piece of fabric in half and ironed a strong crease to give myself a centered, straight line.

Moving over the my sewing machine, I aligned the the left side of the presser foot with the ironed-in fold...

...and ran the decorative stitch down the fabric, making sure the left side of the presser foot stayed directly next to the ironed crease.

I repeated the process by turing the fabric 180 degrees and realigning the presser foot with the fold.  This gave me a little something like this...

With the detail in place, I centered the fabric on top of the seat.

Keeping the fabric centered, I flipped the seat over to begin stapling the new cover in place.

I stapled the center of the detail first then repeated at the opposite side of the seat at the other end of the stitching (after pulling the fabric taut).

I then stapled the other two sides.  Once all the sides had one staple in the center, I placed staples every 2 inches or so around the seat (excluding the corners).

I pulled one corner of the fabric taut...

...and pulled it towards the center of the chair, making sure the folds are evenly spaced around the corner.  The picture might make more sense...

Then, I just stapled the little flap in place...

Just lather, rise, repeat on the other three corners, making sure the folds around the corners match each other as closely as possible.

Now the seat is all ready to be reunited with the chair!


And pretty easily (and affordably), the dated-looking chair has a fresh, new look.

Happy restoring!

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