Issue 12  •  Spring 2013

Getting Sticky With It: How to easily re-cover a chair

Written by Marguerite Nowak
So, you want to upgrade your room. But all you’ve got to work with is a ratty old hand-me-down chair from Great-Aunt Lulu. Or you only have fifteen bones to redecorate and all the chairs at Goodwill are green velvet...and that’s just not your thing. Well, I bet most of us can relate. If you’ve ever been a poor college student, or if you plan on becoming one soon, fancy couches and chairs are probably beyond your budget. However, there is a way to take charge and not spend a lot of money. Here’s a quick and easy way to spiff up any chair and make it look original. And the best part? You don’t even need a sewing machine.


So, you want to upgrade your room. But all you’ve got to work with is a ratty old hand-me-down chair from Great-Aunt Lulu. Or you only have fifteen bones to redecorate and all the chairs at Goodwill are green velvet...and that’s just not your thing. Well, I bet most of us can relate. If you’ve ever been a poor college student, or if you plan on becoming one soon, fancy couches and chairs are probably beyond your budget. However, there is a way to take charge and not spend a lot of money. Here’s a quick and easy way to spiff up any chair and make it look original. And the best part? You don’t even need a sewing machine.

Supplies
Cool fabric that you like. Look for remnants or leftovers at fabric stores. They are usually cheaper. Another option is a twin flat bed sheet, which can be inexpensive and come in lots of colors and patterns. You’ll need about three yards (nine feet) of fabric, depending on the size of the chair. That should leave you with a little left over in case of mistakes.

• Glue gun and glue sticks—you can find them at any craft store.

• Scissors

Optional:

• Duct tape

Directions

1. Make sure the glue gun is hot and that you have a piece of cardboard underneath it in case hot glue drips out.

2. Lay the seat cushion on the fabric. Cut a piece of fabric that is large enough to cover the top and sides of the cushion and wrap over to the bottom of the cushion by at least three inches, as if you were covering a textbook.

3. Directly apply a line of the hot glue along the old fabric and carefully wrap your new fabric over it, like you’re wrapping a present. Glue down the edges of the fabric on the bottom of the cushion and make sure the front is smooth. Fold the corners as if you’re wrapping a box.

TIP: Be generous with the glue and after you lay fabric on it, push the fabric down so it will stick—just be careful not to burn yourself.

4. The cushion is done! Woo-hoo!

5. Now, on to the rest of the chair. I like to start with the backbone of the chair (where your back rests when you’re sitting). Hold the fabric where the backbone and the seat of the chair meet. Next, pull the fabric up along the backbone of the chair; flip it over the top (the headrest area) and along the outside of the chair to the floor. Use scissors to cut the fabric where it touches the floor.

6. Now you can start again with the hot glue. Glue along the sides and the edges of the backbone area. When you flip the fabric over to the outside of the chair, you can let it hang or continue to glue it down along the back, depending on the look you’re going for. If you want, you can use the duct tape to affix the bottom of the fabric to the underside of the chair. (Hot glue doesn’t stick well on wood or metal.)

7. You’re almost a professional upholsterer! Now, on to the armrests. Here’s where you get to really be creative and decide how you want it to look. Do you want fabric to flow from the arms of the chair or do you want the fabric to be fitted to the armrests? Pleated or gathered?

8. Use the same technique of measuring the fabric as you did before. Hold the fabric where the armrest and seat meet on the inside, pull the fabric up along the side, and flip it over the top. Cut the fabric where it touches the floor.

TIP: Use this piece of fabric as a pattern and cut a piece the same size for the other side of the chair.

9. Glue along the inside of the armrest (make sure to start low enough down that the old fabric won’t peak up) and flip the fabric over the top. You’ve got choices here. Gather it up if you’d like, or lay it flat against the chair. You can even let it hang to the floor. You’re the designer—it’s all in your control. If you opt to fasten, gather or pleat, use the glue gun to attach the fabric to the outside of the chair. Repeat on the other side.

10. Time to stand back and admire your work. Do you like it? Anything missing? Depending on the chair, there may be a front section you can cover with fabric. If something’s not right, it’s easy to fix. Just add a little more glue and tuck and fold the way you like it.

You’ll be surprised how easy it is and how good it will look. I once used a navy blue striped bed sheet to cover a chair and it looked like something straight out of a glossy magazine spread. Feel free to experiment. It’s a great way to change your environment and create something completely unique, snazzy, and you!

 

Illustration by Jenny Kate 

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