May 10, 2010

Tutorial: Reupholster your kitchen chairs

I think that this may very well be a universal issue for parents. You want a nice, comfy place to sit for dinner but you have young kids. When we went shopping for a dining set we had two rules. It had to have chairs that weren't ridiculously high so that when the kids toppled out of them ( as they would inevitably do) no one would need an ambulance ride. And they couldn't be upholstered because the kids would destroy them in a second. Know what we came home with? A tall table with bar stool height chairs and white upholstered seats. That's right, folks. I said white. What were we thinking? I guess we just fell in dining set love and lost our minds for a moment.

And the seats got gross fast. We started with brown towels folded over the seats, but of course the kids flung them off and ate anyway. Then I bought these expensive clear vinyl seat covers from Bed Bath and Beyond. Yeah, those suckers didn't stand up to my kiddos. Nope. They were torn and holey in no time.

Before long I was feeling guilty over getting so upset with the kids for dumping food all over our seats when we were the one that made the insane decision to buy white upholstered chairs for kids to eat on. I didn't want them to feel like we cared more about these chairs than them. But the stress level at the diner table was rising.

My mother in law said that some day I should get my sister in law to reupholster them for me. What?!?! I thought that was an intensive project. And she's telling me Stacy can do it? I thought I'd have to spend a thousand dollars getting them fixed and that it would be cheaper to just replace the seats. But this was interesting news! Someone I know can reupholster seats!

And of course if someone else can do it, I always assume I should be able to do it too, so I got to Googling and low and behold, it looked to be so easy! After talking to Joe about it first, just in case I blew it and ruined the chairs, I went and picked fabric for my chairs and got to work.

It's totally easy! Here's how
my chair before the project
You'll need:
fabric - For 6 chairs, I used 3 yards of fabric and it was a tight fit, so pony up for an extra yard if it looks like the store might run out of that print. You wouldn't want to do 5 chairs, make a mistake on chair 6 and find out that you have to re-do them all because the store ran out of the fabric that you chose.)
Staple Gun and Staples- make sure to get the short staples because you don't want to sit down and get a sharp poke in the rear! I used 3/8 inch staples
phllips head screw driver
Optional: Clear vinyl table covers- You can buy this by the yard in any fabric store or Wal-Mart. If you have young kids, you'll want to take the project a step farther and build in protection for your newly covered seats!

Flip you chair back on its back and find the screws that are going straight up through the frame and into the seat bottom. Take those suckers out! Now your upholstered seat should lift right off.

Now take your new fabric and spread it out. Place the seat bottom on the fabric in a corner and then adjust it to make sure that when you cut out your piece, the fabric will wrap far enough around the back side to be stapled into place. Now cut out your piece of fabric. Once you've confirmed that it is the right size, go ahead and cut the rest of the fabric into identical pieces so that you can skip this step for the rest of your chairs.

Now, beginning with the front edge, the one your legs hang over, tightly pull the fabric around and use your staple gun to attach the fabric to the seat bottom. No need to remove what was there before. Just cover it up and staple your fabric into place. Try to keep your staple line close to what it was before and make sure not to let any of your staples fall over the holes that your screw will need to go into when you put the seat bottom back on your chair frame.

You're going to fold and staple your sides in this order:front edge, back edge, sides, and finally corners. Before each staple, pull the fabric tight and make sure that you are not stapling ant wrinkles in place.

Everything I read said to do a hospital corner sort of thing for the corners and then staple it in place, but that looked kind of messy on my chairs with their rounded corners. When I looked at what had been done before, it appeared that they just took the corner fabric and pulled it straight towards the center on the diagonal and stapled it. I would recommend taking a look at what the manufacturers did and trying to mimic that in terms of the corners.

Once you've got everything stapled nicely, go back and trim your excess fabric as close to the staple line as you can. This will keep you from having fabric hanging down below the frame where you can see it.

If you don't have kiddos, you're ready to put your seat bottom back on your chair. Just line it up and put the screws back in. Nothing to it!

Now, if you still have young kids around, you'll want to go to pick up some clear vinyl and repeat the steps with the vinyl on top of the fabric for the chairs that you little ones will be dining on. Now you'll have beautiful new seats that will wipe clean with no worries!
These are my new chairs! I only put vinyl on three of them and the kids are required to choose a seat with a cover on it. We all love having new chairs with no stains on them! And not having to deal with separate seat covers is such a nice change from the ones that would fall off and get torn. Joe says that it is the best thing I ever did for the house! Hooray!!!

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