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)
Staple gun & staples
Measuring tape
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???


When the Weather Gives You Rain, Make Rainbows…

We celebrated a birthday this month. It’s been 8 years, boy the time goes by. Due to all the rain this year and the kids growing like weeds my small home was unable to accommodate them so we had a birthday out this year. We did a paint your own pottery party and it was fun and the ladies were just the right age to enjoy it, plus I didn’t have to clean up anything, how awesome. Although, I really prefer having parties with family and everyone at home in the yard. This is the second time we’ve had a birthday “out” the other time was due to construction on the house and I have to say I can see why some folks get use to having parties at other locations, they are convenient but there’s just something so natural about having them at home and letting the kids create and be guided by their own instincts for a birthday gathering.

I decorated the cake the morning of, a little behind schedule you see. I had my 8-year-old helper and mom pop in to help and we each had a different vision of what an artists palette cake should look like, so we compromised and it did turn out cute. Nana and the birthday girl even made some quick edible paint brushes from licorice and fruit leather, which I was secretly asked to keep some aside for snacking on later….

So yes the color is a bit scary! But boy, what a fun cake to make and so fun to see everyone’s surprise when you cut into it. The kids thought it was so amazing and I must have told all the adults how to do it…I’m not a fan of food coloring (this cake used the food coloring gels) but once a year and the punch of these colors is enough to last till the next cake. I first saw this cake at http://www.omnomicon.com/rainbowcake but if you google rainbow cakes, you come up with all sorts of photos to peruse. I didn’t succumb to the  diet version with the soda that the link above suggests, I just added the coloring to the batter and went from there.

It was a lovely Birthday party, and turned out to beautiful day of course, the only one after weeks of rain. At least the ground got to dry up a little and later that afternoon about two dozen mud pies were made in the yard and baked a few days on our picnic table. I had to do some cleaning afterall, quite a feat compared to a birthday, but it was so awesome to watch them go to town on that mud!

Dyeing with Koolaid

The Supplies-

  • Several packets of Koolaid get a few packs of the same color if you are going to dye lots of roving or like super saturated colors.
  • Foam brushes or squirt bottles.
  • Cups to mix the dye in.
  • Some vinegar.
  • Warm, not über hot water.
  • Gloves, if you don’t want to get to messy.
  • Plastic wrap
  • Newspapers
  • Roving that has been soaked at least and hour

Lay down some newspaper to protect your work surface (koolaid stains). Place the plastic wrap on top of the newspaper in at least 3 ft lengths or more. You can lay a second length of plastic wrap down as well overlapping the first by about a half-inch or so.

Measure out your roving, or weigh it depending how careful you want to be, what project you have in mind etc. Let’s say 4-8oz.

Snake the roving in an “S” formation using the length and width of the plastic wrap.

Makin’ Koolaid-
Put your packet of Koolaid in the cup and add 1/4 cup of the warm water and a glug of vinegar…mix and add more water if you’d like to dilute it more.

You can pour the dye over the roving or use a foam brush to tap it onto the roving, just don’t separate the roving. Google different color concepts, splashes of color, complete immersion, patterns! This is an art form in and of itself! Break the rules, have your own test kitchen!

Wrap it up in the plastic wrap like a burrito or cinnamon roll (fold the sides in then top, bottom; start at one end and roll it up so it looks like the pic above!

Steam the rolls…for at least 30min. You flip them over when it’s at the half way mark. The steaming sets the dye and blends the colors a little….

…you’ll be amazed at the results. I’ll post more pics when I get a chance to spin these…and what I may knit from them. So fun!