I have been wanting to recover these chairs since I moved in late 2017. At first, I thought that I should buy new chairs to match my table but I decided that was unnecessary. The oak chairs were so nice and keeping them goes with the eclectic antiques feel that I like. The fabric was not in my color wheel though. I was thinking about doing them in a solid smokey purple. Then I saw Chair Whimsy on Facebook. I love her chairs. She uses such bold beautiful designs. I realized I was selling my chairs short by planning on using a plain solid color.
Finding a beautiful print with purple has been a long journey. It is not a popular color. Even when a purple shade was the Panetone color of the year it didn’t show up in the decor fabrics.
Nearly every time I am in a fabric store I take a quick look in the decor fabrics. I finally got lucky. I must say the original fabric on these chairs has held up well – 18 years. It’s a stiff brocade. This new fabric is a meaty feeling polyester with the pattern printed onto the fabric. The original fabric is still intact so I decided to put the new fabric over the old.
The last time I did dining chair covers they were removable with a drawstring arrangement underneath. They were a lot of work. These were easier with stapled fabric. To recover these chairs was not as difficult as reupholstering the vintage chair that I posted about here and that was fun.
Gather Your Tools
Happily, the hard part is finding fabric that gives you the “feels”. Gather your tools. You don’t need many. You’re going to say that “Gillie, there is no way you recovered chairs with those nails!” I did!. They are jewels, not tools, baby! so I use the right tools.
A small flathead screwdriver for removing staples, with a hammer to help get the tip of the screwdriver under stubborn staples.
Pliers – these are your best friend.
Staples and staple gun. I have a couple. I like the Black and Decker because you push rather than squeeze.
Sharp scissors for cutting the fabric.
These seats were attached to the chair frame with 4 “L” brackets. Easy to remove
Then I removed the dust cover on the underside. It was stapled on. For safety; do not have your bracing hand, in my case that’s my left hand, in front of the screwdriver. If it slips while you are prying out a staple you do not want it driving into your hand. OW!
Time to recover chairs
Once the dust cover was off I measured my fabric, simply by placing my seat on the new fabric and cutting a big enough piece. Because my fabric design is geometric it was easy to repeat the size for the other chairs. Cut it bigger than you need, making sure that you can fold over 3 or so inches onto the backside of the seat.
Carefully place your design. For mine that meant making certain my lines were running as straight as possible from back to front. Place a couple of anchoring staples on one end then flip the seat over. Firmly, but not too firmly, pull the fabric taught. If the fabric distorts around the anchor staple ease off just a little and staple the opposite side. Then work your way around the chair. I do the straight sides then come back and do the corners. The corners take patience. I find every fabric requires a bit different approach to origami the corner. Take your time and aim for neat symmetrical folds. you may need to do some trimming and angle cuts to get the look you want. It has to look good from the top. What goes on underneath is your secret!!
When you are happy, trim the excess fabric and reattach the dust cover. Then screw the seat back onto the chair frame and you are nearly done.
Spray your recovered chairs with Scotch Gard or another upholstery protector and let dry. Now you are done. Now you can decide if the family are allowed to place their backside on your masterpieces.