Here she is, doesn't it bring a little tear to your eye? It doesn't help that these pictures look like they were taken in a prison cell. They get better, I promise :)
If the pictures weren't from chair-prison, you'd be able to see that there are a lot of tack nails all around the edge of the seat. This is a giveaway that this chair is meant to be upholstered as-is, directly to the frame. I learned that in my super-duper upholstery class two years ago. This is an older style of upholstery, but is really comfortable when it's done because it "gives" with your...derrière. It's surprisingly strong, though I might not recommend standing on it.
So what you need for this project is:
2. Stapler & Staples. I have a pneumatic gun, but a normal heavy duty hand-held stapler will do the trick just fine.
3. Jute Webbing (can be found at any fabric store, or even at Wal-Mart)
4. Strong Fabric or burlap--doesn't matter what it looks like.
5. 1"-2" Upholstery foam, large enough to cover your seat.
6. Upholstery Fabric--again, large enough to cover your seat with a few inches extra on each side.
7. Glue Gun
8. Trim that coordinates with your fabric.
The first thing I did was prep and paint the frame. I sanded the frame down using my handy-dandy orbital sander, and then used Rustoleum's new water-based spray paint in black to paint the frame. This was the first time I used their water-based formula and I have to say I definitely prefer the regular oil-based version. It worked alright, though, so I went with it. A girl doesn't have time to do things twice, right?
Once that was done, it was on to the fun part--upholstery!! Here's how to upholster a chair directly to the frame.
Start with two strips of webbing in one direction. Staple one end (following the placement of the old nail holes as a guide), then fold over the excess and staple again. On the other end of each strip, PULL. HARD. Use the frame as leverage, because this webbing is pretty much all that keeps your lovely guests and small children from falling through the chair. Once that side is stapled, again fold over the excess and staple again. Many, many staples. Next, do the same thing with two strips in the other direction. If you have a larger chair or bench, just add more strips to give you more strength.
In the real world of professional upholstery, you're supposed to use burlap for this. But...I'm not a professional upholsterer, I didn't have any burlap, and this worked just as well! Sorry, upholstery purists. This fabric keeps the foam (next step) from pushing through the webbing and gives a nice, even surface.
Cut the fabric to the size of the seat, plus 2"-3" on each side (or if you prefer to leave it very large, it can give you more leverage when you're pulling it tight). Start at one side, staple that down. Then on the opposite side, PULL. HARD. (are you sensing a trend?). Staple that side down, as well. Next, do the same with the other two sides.
Once all the sides are stapled, fold the excess in on itself and staple again.
I generally get the best results if I start in the middle of one side, staple about 3" of it, then go to the opposite side and do the same thing. Then, I go to the other two sides and do the same thing. If you skip around, starting in the middle of each side, and just staple little-by-little, you will usually end up with the foam pad in the right place instead of a pucker. This rule goes for the fabric on top, as well.
Then, heat up that glue gun and take the trim that you bought and glue it around the edge of the cushion. Nope, I'm not joking. When I took the upholstery class I was shocked when my very-picky-professional-upholsterer teacher told me to just glue it on! WHAT! Real people use glue guns for everything, too?? Yes, I give you permission to just glue on your trim, guilt-free.
I used a thick cotton cording to trim this out, available at the Wal-Mart for under $2.
Now you've worked your tail off, and it's time to take a seat in your newly-upholstered chair!! Ahhhh...
Oh, so much better.
Thanks so much for letting me come and share this little beauty of a chair with you all! If you want to check out some of my other projects, you can find 'em at doodlebugonline.blogspot.com.
Happy Vacationing, Kate!
~The Doodle Bug