1970’s Chair Re-Do: A Tutorial

I’ve been meaning to post this for a while, but time does get away from me…so without further ado, a chair covering tutorial!
See the before and after:


Granted, the red vinyl covering on the original wrought-iron chair lasted a real long time. It was my parents first kitchen set. When they moved out of their apartment and bought a house they inherited a larger table and chairs from my mother’s mom. This set went to the basement, was stowed away for twenty some odd years till I rediscovered it in college and used the tabel and chairs when I set up and art studio in the basement. Eventually, when I got my own place, a family etc, we needed some chairs. I remembered these and put them to use in my kitchen. It came with a table that had wrought iron legs and we replaced the yucky old tabletop with a butcher block type octagon top a friend had stowed away. Eventually we found a beautiful antique farm table and these chairs have been adorning it ever since. There’s something about the wrought iron I really like. Somehow, they’re timeless but also medieval or spanish inquisition-like, okay they’re very 70’s and remind me of my childhood I suppose, even though they lived in the basement my whole life. So onward in revamping these 30 something chairs!

What you need:
A cushion cut to size (if your chair doesn’t have one)
Fabric to cover
Batting (optional)
Screwdriver
Staple gun & staples
Measuring tape
Scissors
Hammer (or use the screwdriver or something to remove the old staples)

Step 1:
Grab your old chair and flip upside down. Look for screws and un-hinge your cushion from your chairs frame.


Step 2:
In this case, there was just one rusted old screw in each corner. Check out the vintage manufacturing info!

Step 3:
Once the screws are removed, set aside that chair frame and get to work removing the old cover to the chair. Yank those staples out, check out how the old covering was put on for reference, try not to stab yourself with any of those yummy rusted staples….

Step 4:
Okay, most staples are out! Check out your cushion cover and see if you need to replace it (ie. any animals that have been living there for a while etc.) I won’t get into cutting foam cushions here as these were still bouncy and cushy! The wood could have been replaced but no one ever sees that anyways. The extra upholstery in the corners was there and I kept it for extra shape to the final cushion. If you notice at all in the picture in Step 3, the red vinyl covering was actually sewn, like a box and somewhat capped the chair cushion. Here, instead, I’m simply going to wrap the fabric over the cushion to keep it simple and quick.

Step 5:
Grab your handy fabric measuring tape!

Step 6:
If your chair is square, yippee, very simple measuring for you! Measure across your seat cushion. Just wrap the measuring tape around the cushion like you were tying a package. I added some batting for a little extra cushion and fluff so the edges would be smoother. If you add batting just size it to the length and width of the cushion and include the depth or height. The fabric is what we’ll be stapling, feel free to staple through the batting as well by adding 2 extra inches to each side so the batting will fold over the cushion edge with the fabric. That’s a lot of layers to staple through and may be a tight fit back on your chair frame-FYI.

If you’re just using the fabric the go ahead and measure the width of the chair and the depth then add two inches to each side, do the same for the length. I think my chair cushion was 23″ x 23″, it had a 2″ depth and then I wanted at least two inches on each side so I have plenty to staple (you can always cut it off later! So I cut the fabric to be a 31″ square of fabric.

Step 7:
Just a photo to show you how the fabric flips over the edge of the cushion-Tah Dah!

Step 8:
Begin to staple! Fold over one side and staple in the center. Go to the opposite side of the edge you just stapled and fold that fabric up and staple in the center. Continue stapling the opposite sides and moving from the center out to the edges, pulling tightly but not allowing and bunches or buckling of the fabric to occur.

Step 9:
Alrighty-Good job!!

Step 10:
Now the corners!
I simply folded them in a pleat. If you’re familiar with hospital bed corners on sheets when you make your bed (something my mom taught me from her candy striper days) you can do those! Be sure no rough edges are showing, probably the trickiest part of the whole sha-bang! One side is tucked under and stapled to secure it. You may want to test it out a few times before stapling just so all your corners with match. There will be a seam or pocket for that folded corner and if you like symmetry, you may want to be sure the 2 back corners of the cushion and 2 front corners of the cushion go in the same direction as each other. It will just look more professional in the end!


See the seam/pleat I’m talking about here below?
Staple like crazy!

Step 11:
Whah-La! Corners done….trim any unsightly edges! Flip the cushion over and admire!

Done! Sit and enjoy your new seat! You can choose to add the screws back on or not, pending thickness, the chair, etc.

One last note!!! On picking fabric, choose something that won’t show stains….just something to think of! Also, I used a heavyweight fabric or home decor fabric just so it wasn’t wimpy and wouldn’t rip once you sta on it! PLus it also matched my Ikea chair in the background-how about that???  Think they’ll last another thirty years???

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One thought on “1970’s Chair Re-Do: A Tutorial

  1. I have so many chairs to recover in my home. It seems that every chair my 8 year old son uses quickly becomes stained and worn. Actually anything he touches does that. I would really love to cover our dining chairs with some wool that I felt. I wonder if that would work well. Your chair turned out so beautiful. The fabric is really striking against the black metal.

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