Tuesday, October 11, 2011

how to: refinishing your vintage finds (part two)

This is part two in a two part series of refinishing your vintage finds. Or semi-vintage, as is the case with these folding chairs inherited from Partner-in-Crime's grandmother. Fairly comfortable due to the padded seat and back, these chairs were not so easy on the eyes. But I knew there was still life in them. A few hours later, they looked like this:

In part one, I covered how to spray paint a great find. But what if your find includes some um, less than current, fabric like these beauties? Part two will teach you how to do a basic re-upholstery job. Often with simple chairs, you can recover the seat without having to actually sew anything because the back or bottom is covered or not visible. That's the case with these folding chairs. Recover your chairs in five* easy steps after the jump.

*Okay, okay. Six. But the sixth one is reattaching the seat.

Step one: Gather your supplies
You'll need:
Fabric of your choice
Upholstery stapler and staples
Vintage find

Step two: Remove part to be upholstered. 
In this case, the back screwed on to the fabric while the seat was just pried off the metal base. Save any screws or other items you'll need to refasten it.

Note: at this stage, I used the instructions from part one to spray paint the chairs. No sense leaving them beige!

Step three: Make your pattern
This only has to be rough, but trace around your seat or back pad, adding about two inches in all directions. Since I had a striped pattern, I tried to line up the stripes in the same place for each pattern.

Step four: Iron
Believe me, it's worth it. You'll get much smoother lines.

Step five: Staple!
Use an upholstery stapler and go slowly. Line up the top and staple one there first to anchor your fabric. Then pull tightly around the bottom and secure your fabric there. Then work slowly around. Notice how when going around curves, you want to layer the fabric to make a smooth line. Get the folds in the back so the front is smooth. As you work, frequently flip the seat over in your hands to look at the front.

Note: If you don't need to remove the existing fabric, don't bother. If you need to add more padding, then you will have to remove the existing fabric.

Step six: Re-attach to your chair. 

Bonus: check out the first re-upholstery job I did for more inspiration!

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