Chairs come in all shapes, sizes and styles; in this article I’ll take you through the general principles for how to re-cover a sprung dining table chair. If you’ve got a fabulous old table and chairs – you can give the chairs a new lease of life by re-covering them. Alternatively, you might have a relatively new table and chairs; but with a young family…
I know how frustrating it can be when one of the kids spills their blackcurrant juice on a chair – leaving a particularly nasty stain. Either way, there’s no need to feel you have to go out ad buy new chairs. Save money and the earths resources by seeing how to make chair covers.
Removing the Old Covers
First put the chair upside down and rest its seat on the table. Depending on how the existing chair cover is fixed to it; either use a wooden mallet and an old chisel to remove the tacks or a staple-puller, to remove any staples. If there’s a cover to the chair back, also remove the retaining fixings off the back cover. If you do need to use a mallet and chisel for this job – always ‘knock’ in the direction of the woods’ grain.
Re-covering the Chair Seat
You could, of course, take this opportunity to add a layer, or even totally replace, the existing cushion or padding on the seat. Anyway, having cut the material to size; lay it on the seat making sure that any pattern is centralized. Hold the new cover in position temporarily with one fixing tack hammered lightly into the back of the chair.
Smooth the cover over and hammer another temporary tack to the front and centre of the chair. Smooth the cover again at each front corner and again lightly tack in those front corners. Smooth the cover towards the back and fold the back corners over and against the legs. With a pair of scissors make a diagonal cut at each back corner to within 1/4 inch of the leg.
Then cut each of the two back flaps to overlap the legs by 1/2 inch – but, do not cut above the top edge of the chair rail! At each corner you can now push any surplus material into the chair and tack both sides at the back legs.
Working at the back of the chair; fold under the side edges and tack the material down, it’s probably best to simply follow the line of the old tacks. At intervals of 1 inch add tacks all around the chair and hammer home properly the temporary tacks. At the front corners pull the material tightly and tack at the centre of the legs.
Using the outer corner of the front legs as a guide, cut up the material to the line of the tacks. Pinch the surplus material and fold it around the chair leg and towards the back of the chair; then secure the folds with three tacks each. With a sharp knife trim the material just below the tacking line and cover the tacks with a suitable backing tape.
Re-covering a Chair Back
Having previously removed the old covering; cut the piece of material 1 inch wider and 1/2 inch deeper than the area it needs to cover. Laying the cover over the back-rest, fix it into position with tacks or pins every 1 inch. Trim the material in line with the wood then cover the material edge and tacks, or pins, with backing tape.
Re-covering a back rest can be a lot easier if the back rest material appears on both sides of the back of the chair. For these back rests – it usually sits in a frame, allowing the removal of the whole thing. You can then wrap a new cover over it, securing it with tacks or fabric glue below the frame line; before simply replacing the backrest into the frame.