Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Free Chair to Fab Chair

Ahhh, exam week. It's a good week to be an art teacher. Since I don't give midterms, I don't have to grade midterms. So this week I've only had to work 2 days and even then it was only proctoring tests and I was done around 11 am both days. I am off work for the rest of the week! I have a little bit of grading to do, but I brought it home with me.

So, this week I'm working on some little sewing projects that I've been putting off. I'm not going to call myself much of a seamstress, I mostly make things up on the fly but somehow they usually work out...or they're a huge failure. Today, Mom's office chair. Fabulous or flop?

Every once in a while my Mom's work gives away old office chairs that have seen better days. I got one one last summer and my Mom got one a few weeks later. I recovered mine some time ago but didn't take step-by-step photos, but this time, I knew better!

What you need:
One old junky looking office chair
2 yards upholstery fabric of your choice
coordinating thread
strong string or ribbon (thin, 1/4 inch or smaller)
measuring tape
sewing machine (nothing fancy, mine is a little $129 dealy)

Here's the chair at first:

Now, when beginning a makeover it's very important that America's Next Top Model be on the TV, otherwise you're asking for trouble.


Anyway, that chair is not looking good, is it now? I mean, it was pretty blah to begin with, and then add in a bunch of stains and it's just a sad sad little thing.

1. First things first, disassemble the chair. This is where keeping all those allen wrenches from all your Ikea furniture comes in handy.


2. Lay out your fabric of choice, good side down. Lay the seat cushion of the chair face down on the fabric and cut out a piece of the fabric roughly the shape of your seat but bigger. Probably about 6 inches bigger. I am not big on measuring, just guestimate. Cut it smaller if your seat cushion is thinner.

3. Do the same with the back of the chair, but this time you only want about 4 extra inches around the shape, and you need to cut out one with the front of the back facing down and one with the back of the back facing down.

4. This is the only measuring I did. Measure how thick the side of your chair back is. Mine was 3.25", roughly (are you seeing a pattern here? everything is very "uhhh, yeah, that looks fine" with me)

5. Cut 2 strips of fabric that are 1.5 to 2 inches wider than the measurement you just took of your chair's back and half the length of the perimeter of your chair back.

6. Now, let's assemble the cover for the back. You just need to lay the pieces, right side down, on the back of the chair and then pin along where the seams will be. Your two long strips should meet at the top in the middle so there will be a seam there.

7. You don't want to enclose the bottom of this portion. You want to be able to slip the cover off the chair with the pins and slip it back on after you've sewn. You should leave flaps at the bottom. So, about 3 inches or so from the bottom of the back stop sewing the seams together and leave flaps of fabric on all 4 pieces. Fold the edges of the flaps over and sew them down so they look finshed. (This photo was taken AFTER sewing because it was REALLY hard to show with all the pins)

8. Now, carefully slide the pinned fabric off the back cushion and sew. I didn't take any photos of sewing because there's not much to see. You just want to sew along your pin lines, keeping the fabric inside out and removing the pins as you go. 

9. Returning to your seat cushion, take the shape you cut out and fold over and pin 1 inch all the way around the edge. Now, sew this fold down, leaving 1/2" between the fold and the stitch. YOU MUST LEAVE ABOUT 1.5" BETWEEN THE START OF YOUR STITCH AND THE END OF YOUR STITCH. This is where you will thread the drawstring (think of the drawstring on sweatpants, there's a gap between the two holes where the strings come out).

10. Tie a string or ribbon (ribbon was the strongest thing I had on hand, you want something that won't break with tension) to a safety pin and thread the pin and ribbon around your seat cushion cover.

11. Great, now you can put covers on! For the seat, place the cushion in the middle of your sewn/threaded fabric and pull your drawstring until the fabric closes up and is pretty tight.

12. Now you can slide your back cushion cover on and if you need to cut small holes in your fabric to get any screws through. Finally, reassemble the chair, and you're done!

Much better, right? Like I said, this one is for my Mom. Mine is a little more modern looking, with fabric from Ikea, but was made in the exact same way except that it had fabric on the arms that needed to be replaced.


Possibly most importantly, cost. It depends on the fabric you buy, but the total cost of this little project was a whopping $10 ($5/yard for 2 yards of fabric). Everything else I had on hand. You might need to spend an extra buck on the ribbon. And remember, the chair was free!

Enjoy it Mom!
(Actually, Mom uses a laptop on the couch...Dad will get the bulk of the benefit from the chair)

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