Friday, January 26, 2018

Sewing Chairs

Back in April, I saw some great chairs at the Channahon Quilt Show (bottom 10 pictures on the post).  I figured that I could recover a couple chairs myself.  I'd just recovered a sewing machine chair a few weeks before. This summer, I bought 4 folding chairs just for this project.  I've recovered 2 of these chairs.  The other 2 chairs will just have to wait their turn to get recovered.  I've written a tutorial on how to recover these chairs.

First, you need to get chairs that the chair pads screw onto the chairs. 
4 screws hold the top chair pad to the frame
4 screws hold the bottom chair pad to the frame

I got these chairs at the local Meijer grocery store when they were on sale.  They were about $15 per chair. 

The fabric is all from my stash.  I have a nice stash of 'sewing themed' fabrics that I'm finally starting to use.  I used fusible fleece as my backing for these.  I didn't want to add a 3rd layer, since the screws are short, and too many layers would make it hard to screw the chair pads back on the chairs. 

First, I took the chair pads off.  I labeled the direction on the bottom of the chair pad so that I could get it back on correctly.  I then cut some fusible larger than the chair pad.
fusible fleece as backing for chair pad

I then fused the fleece onto the back of the fabric I wanted to use.  Make sure it lines up nicely.  I then quilted thru the layers.  I don't free motion quilt, but, this would have been a great 'practice' for free motion quilting (or ruler quilting).  I was in a hurry, so, I just did straight line quilting on one chair fabric, and cross hatch quilting on the other chair fabric.  You can't see the quilting from the front in the pictures, so, I took a picture from the back of one.  I didn't really want my stitching to show, so, I used white thread in the white areas and black thread in the black areas.
straight line quilting from the back

I used part of a panel for one chair, and cross hatch quilted it.  I had a tiny bit of coordinating fabric to use for the top of the chair.
panel section, quilted

coordinating fabric for the top of the chair

Ok, that was the easy part.  Now for the harder part, attaching the fabric to the chair pads.  You will need a stapler and a hammer.  I had to go buy the correct size staples.  I used 1/4" staples.  Anything longer might poke thru when the chair is sat on.  Ouch!  The hammer was used to finish driving the staples in.  No matter how hard I pressed down, the staples didn't go all the way in, so, I hammered them the rest of the way in.  Do this on a firm surface (I was bad, and used my cutting table). 

Start by lining up the chair pad against the back of the quilted fabric.
chair pad lined up against back of quilted fabric

On one chair, I used fabric with stripes, so, it helped to get the fabric lined up nicely.  First, fold the fabric back over the bottom of the chair pad, and staple one side, in the middle.  Then do the top, then both sides.  Turn the chair pad over to make sure everything is lined up nicely before you start putting in more staples.  *Tip:  Leave the screws in the screw holes so that you can find them easily, and so that you don't accidentally staple into the screw holes.  Yes, you will be covering up the screw holes when you staple the fabric down. 

When you are sure everything is lined up nicely, then finish stapling all 4 sides, leaving the corners till the end.  You will need to 'pleat' the corners in a few places, to get them to look nice.  Here are the backs of the chair pads.
pleated corners are stapled down

some of my pleating on the corner
The bottom chair pads are the easy part.  That is why you want to do them first.  You can learn on the bottom, easy part. 

Now, to do the harder part, the top chair pad.  With the curves, you need to go slower, and be more careful.  It isn't hard, it just takes more care.

First, line up the quilted fabric against the front of the chair pad (back).
lined up, ready to start stapling 

Put one staple along the top edge, in the center.  Then put one staple along the bottom edge, in the center.  Turn over to make sure the fabric lines up like you want it to. 

Next, put a staple along the bottom, one on each side of the staple in the middle.  Now do the same with the top edge. 

Now you need to put one staple along the curves on the side, slightly stretching the fabric as you go.  Do the same with the other side.  Turn over and check, to make sure it looks good. 

*Tip:  I put 2 staples in each place, one slightly lower than the other, on all the chair pads, to secure the fabric well.  

As you go along the curves, you will need to 'pleat' the fabric, and staple each pleat.
pleated the edges along the curves

up close of the pleats along the edges

I stapled close to the edge of all the chair pads.  This was only a problem in one area, the bottom of the back chair pad.  You can see some of the staples from the back of the chair. 
one staple peeking out after the chair back is attached 
Personally, this doesn't bother me, since no one is going to be looking at this part of the chair.  They will only be looking at the chairs from the front of the chair. 

One more thing before you attach the pads to the chairs.  Remember those screws you left in the chair pads?  Well, now is when you need to cut away the fabric around those screws.  You can 'feel' for the screws, then carefully cut around the screws to expose them.  Using sharp, pointed scissors makes this much easier.  Keep trimming until the entire screw is showing. 
showing fabric cut around the screw

Remove the screws, and line up the holes with the holes in the chair.  Make sure your chair pad is going the correct direction.  Put the screws back, thru the chair screw holes.  *You will need to press hard to the chair pad, to get the screw to engage.  Do NOT tighten the screws until all the screws are attached (in case you need to adjust the chair pad).  When all the screws are attached, tighten all the screws.  Do this with both chair pads (bottom and back).  Woohoo!  You are DONE! 

This is the chair I finished last night.

up close of the chair pads

And here is the chair that I finished this morning.

up close of chair pads

*  You can also paint the chair to match the fabrics, if you'd like.  I had thought of this, but, since it is winter (way too cold to be outside), and I was in a rush, I didn't do this.  These fabrics look nice with this color paint.  Depending on the fabrics I pick for the other 2 chairs, I might spray paint them before recovering them.  Just take the chair pads off, get some spray paint you like, and spray the chairs.  It would probably take 2-3 coats to cover everything. 

These chairs will be in my vintage sewing machine booth, at my quilt guild's quilt show in March.

March 10 & 11, 2018
Richland Grade School
1919 Caton Farm Road
Crest Hill, IL 60403

Come visit me (and the chairs) at the quilt show!  I'll have some 'wheelies' on these chairs, too. 


  1. Very cute! You've reminded me I have a Singer sewing chair I need to recover. I'll get around to it one of these days!

  2. Your chairs are adorable! I was hoping to make it to this show but I will be at a hockey tournament that weekend. Enjoy! ~Jeanne

  3. So cute! I wish I had saved the computer chair and just recovered the yucky fabric.

  4. Love the striped chair with all of the bright colors. Since the staple that is showing on the back of the chair is on black fabric, take a black Sharpie and color over the staple.

  5. Those chairs are so pretty, and I really like the fabrics. I recovered the seat of my cedar chest in the same manner. It's fun to give furniture a makeover.

  6. Great job and sew sensational. Gives me a jolt to get several done for my studio. Thanks

  7. Awesome! Love those chairs! I have Singer sewing benches in my sewing room and when the vinyl cracks or looks yuccky, I cover them with fabric covered with selvages or a piece of upholstery them a nice makeover. I should dig into my stash of sewing themed fabrics :-).

  8. Wonderful! I love the covered chair and thanks for the tutorial. Wish I could see the show.

  9. Great project and fun fabrics! Thanks for sharing. Now I will be on the lookout for chairs to cover. We have 3 sets that I don't need to cover and like the way they are so I will watch for an odd one or two that need recovering.

  10. Oh you are a creative one you are! Nice job on those, love the sewing machine fabric-perfect for this.

  11. Oh, my. I have four of those chairs in my basement. Hmmm.... These chairs are so cute with the sewing fabric. Thanks for a detailed tutorial with all the bits about taking care when recovering the chairs.

  12. Wonderful job Cheryl! I am inspired.

  13. Oh! These are so pretty now. I have two really gnarly padded folding chairs somewhere - perfect candidates for some fabric therapy on them!

  14. I'm trying this again. Google, I want my comments back in my inbox!!!!


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