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Upcycle: Discarded Restaurant Chair Reupholstery

created on: 11/29/08

  If you can find a set of sturdy restaurant chair frames, with or without torn vinyl, negotiate a price and load'em up.  A local furniture consignment shop had these four stackable sturdy chairs in the corner of the basement.  I stripped off the black vinyl from the seats and the upholstered panels that make up the front and back of the seat backs.  To discover how to convert restaurant rubbish to kitchen table darlings....

Materials and tools:

  • fabric
  • scissors
  • sewing machine
  • 1/4" staples
  • staple gun
  • small carpentry nails
  • small hammer
  • crescent pliers
  • screwdriver

created on: 11/29/08

What you do:

  1. Strip old fabric off of chair and wipe off all dust and cobwebs from chairs.

created on: 11/29/08

2.  Pull out remaining nails around chair back.

created on: 11/29/08

3.  Determine fabric placement on panels, add three extra inches and cut out fabric pieces for chair fronts and backs.

4.  Using very short staples (1/4") begin securing fabric at center of each side, pulling out towards corners.  Check out the stapling technique right here.

created on: 11/29/08

5.  Fold corners nice and clean and secure with staples.

created on: 11/29/08

created on: 11/29/08

created on: 11/29/08

  Now for the professional's secret for attaching the panels.  Use this technique only on woven fabrics, not good for silk or delicate fabrics.

5.  Push a small carpentry nail into the fabric and padding.  Tack it through the panel into the chair frame, but not all the way down.  Leave enough sticking up so that you can get grip on the nail with the pliers.

created on: 11/29/08

created on: 11/29/08

created on: 11/29/08

created on: 11/29/08

6.  Clip off the nail head and gently tap the nail a little farther down into the padding. The nail should be tapped down enough to hold the panel onto the frame but not so much that the panel could just be pulled off.  It needs to anchor the fabric covered panel, but not be felt when you lean back.

created on: 11/29/08

7.  Repeat this process with three nails at the top and bottom and two or three on each side.

created on: 11/29/08

8.  Attach fronts and backs to each chair.

9.  Trace wooden chair seat onto a piece of paper or scrap fabric for a pattern.  Add 1/2" all around for seam allowance.

10.  With tape measure, measure all around chair seat and cut a 3" strip for "boxing" of chair seat that matches the chair seat pattern.

11.  Match boxing onto chair seat fabric, pin and stitch all around, folding the ends at the back side so that the boxing comes together as a folded edge at the center back.

created on: 11/29/08

created on: 11/29/08

12.  Pull sewn seat fabric over foam covered seat, insert a little extra stuffing into corners to fill out corners. 

created on: 11/29/08

created on: 11/29/08

13. Re-attach newly recovered seats into the chair frames.

 

created on: 11/29/08

What were once discarded, hopeless, ripped vinyl restaurant chairs have been given new life with a few DIY reupholstery techniques. 

created on: 11/29/08

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Anonymous on Jul 20, 2013:

Thank you so much for posting this!  Everyone posts about replacing the chair seats, but never talks about the backs!  I've been trying to figure out how to reupholster the backs on some second hand dining chairs I have.  I took one of the backs off and saw those little pinched nail stubs and couldn't figure out what type of nail looks like that or how to reattach everything.  Thank you for your tip about clipping off the nail heads!  That was so incredibly helpful!


dewonangus on Nov 30, 2008:

Your chairs look fabulous ... all we need now is to see a picture showing the table and the new paint job!  Thanks for the great "how to".  Looking forward to trying it in the New Year.


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