The Chair Challenge

Earlier this year, my mom saw an advertisement from an upholstery shop that featured a chair just like one that she owns. Her chair, like the one in the before picture, had seen better days. She asked me if I could transform her chair into the after picture. Always up for a challenge, I said yes. It ended up being a bigger challenge than I thought. I know little about upholstery. I’ve made slip covers, but that’s not really the same. Armed with my few tools and the internet and YouTube, I gave it a go.

True to form, I neglected to take pictures at the beginning. Here is the chair after most of the double cord trim has been stripped and the cushion has been undone.


The frame was in good shape and mom liked the color of the wood, so no work was required except on the fabric parts. I used the foam and batting in the cushion to fill in the seat and put on a new cover in muslin to hold it together. Sorry, again no pictures. For the outer cover, I used an upholstery remnant that my friend Alison Cook had given to me recently. It’s a fabric that I liked a lot, but really had no use for it and was really glad to put it to good use for my mom. After watching a few videos online, I decided to be brave and cut into the fabric as it was laid out on the chair and without a pattern. Whew, it worked. Too bad my staple gun was so difficult. It took two hands to do a good job and that left no hands for me to pull the fabric taut. Somehow I made it around the perimeter of the chair.


I folded the fabric under around the arms and back posts of the chair. The bottom edge is cut off close to the staples. That was after I used a hammer to smash the staples in as best I could. The gold braid covers a multitude of sins. I was quite impressed with how easily the braid made curves and corners. It glued on like a charm with a hot glue gun. No burned fingers and all the strings of glued cleaned up easily with no residue showing.

??????????Best of all was the joining at the ends of the braid. I didn’t like the method that I saw online, which to be fair was on double corded braid. Overlapping the braid was too bulky in my mind. I cut each end with a 3/8″ or so seam and glued them under to make a glued butt joint that looks like it could be seamed.

??????????The finished chair:

??????????Aren’t the dragonflies wonderful? The armrest was just the right size for one dragonfly.

??????????Mom was happy and so am I. That said, I hope to not have to do this again.

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9 Responses to The Chair Challenge

  1. Dee Dee says:

    I LOVE it!!!! Beautiful!

  2. yvonne says:

    I love your chair. Great fabric and good job recovering it.

  3. nita butler says:

    Wow..beautiful color and the dragon flies are just the ticket! The fabric looks wonderful with the wood. The gold trim sets it off in a stunning way. Great job!

  4. alison cook says:

    oh my goodness! that is GORGEOUS! a new career has opened up to you!

  5. Jeannette says:

    Congratulations on refinishing the chair! You did a super job of it!

  6. Well done – upholstery is a good deal harder than one expects!

  7. Dianne Lafleur says:

    I love dragon flies and the chair is a wonderful use of that lovely fabric. My mom reupholstered a lot of pieces and you did a really good job.

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