DIY Easy Upholstery For An Old Chair

Hi. Angela here with another DIY post.  

Here is a quick tutorial on how to save an old chair in need of new caning. 


This is what I started with. Well actually, I started with chairs that had ripped cane. I used scissors and a flat head to remove all the existing cane

My initial plan was to paint these chairs and distress them. However, they were missing one key part- SEATS! I have caned before and TRUST ME it is a long tedious job - one I do not plan on doing again anytime soon. 

So plan B: I enlisted the help of my dad who is a doctor by trade but a craftsman at heart. We call his work area Geppetto's workshop. For those of you that know me well, you know I like to get 100 things done in the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee and I would like to attribute that to my father. Although that is not always a trait to brag about, when it comes to projects like this we both are good at seeing them through to the end - and quickly at that.

My dad cut seats out of heavy grade plywood. He followed the lines of the chair to make sure they fit in well with the curves and turns. He said next project I ask help on, he is making me do the cutting since he knows I am still afraid of the table saw. I guess its about time that I learned, huh?

Up until the night I finished these chairs, my plan was still to paint and distress them. I was going to screw them down from the bottom up and use furniture tacks to embellish the seats for a little pizazz.  

However, our first class at The Workshop was fast approaching and I needed them done (see above reference to my crazy need to get a million things accomplished at all times). 

My order from came and I was inspired. I had ordered two over sized coffee sacks for something I had been dreaming up but hadn't yet started. So, I pulled out the sacks and started cutting. I cut the edging off where they were sewn together so one sack gave me two pieces (a front and a back). Two pieces, two chairs - perfect.

I laid the wood seat frame on the sack with the pattern facing up so I could see exactly where to position the seat before cutting. Once positioned, I cut away the excess fabric roughly in the shape of the seat - making sure to leave plenty of excess, which can be trimmed later. 

The easiest way to cover a seat (this goes for dining chairs and the like) is to do your corners first. Some people say do them last but the corners are the hardest part so why not knock it out. Make sure the fabric is centered and pulled firm but not too tight to each side. This is also helpful so that you don't pull too much fabric over from one side while working on the other.

Gather the material in a bunch over the corner and start to fold a little where it naturally wants to go. Once the edge looks smooth and you don't have any major bumps use your staple gun and secure the fabric (don't mind my oh-so-dry hands, anyone have some Eucerin?).  

Once the corners are done, follow the edge of the chair by pulling the fabric and stapling it down. Once all the loose edges are tacked down you can follow the material outside the staples with scissors and trim away any excess.

This literally took about 15 minutes to complete. I know because I was already running late to relieve my husband from his fatherly duties when I started (why not cram one more thing in, Eh?) Next time I'm at the shop I will secure the seats to the chairs from the bottom up with screws. Note, I did not add batting or any padding to these but if you want to. add the batting first, cut away excess after it is stapled down and then cover with your material as above. You will see the finished produce over at The Workshop the next time you take one of our classes. See you there!

What do you want to recover in your home?
We would love to hear your project ideas below.

~Angela for Phantastic Phinds

Fully stocked in Chalk Paint®
decorative paint by Annie Sloan


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