Vintage Chair Reupholstery

My paternal grandfather was a bit of a pack rat, in the best way. He had multiples of most tools, etc. When he passed away 12 years ago, we all knew it would be a process to clean up his property. My grandmother passed away 16+ years previously and his second wife was planning on moving back into her old house. My husband and I went up to my grandpa’s property with a bunch of my cousins and other family to help clean up and sort through was was going to the dump, to metal recycling, and to be sold at the auction. Enter this chair:

I was SMITTEN by the lines, the sparkly aqua vinyl, everything about it. I just couldn’t let it get thrown away. I had very little sewing skills at the time, but my husband and I kept it and moved it from place to place since it was very sentimental to me.

This chair was made by Douglas Furniture. They had their heyday in the 1960’s, which is when I imagine this chair was purchased. It was in my father’s house growing up. Can you imagine the conversations that happened while someone was sitting on this chair? I’d love to hear them.

Fast forward to a few months ago and my husband and I started plotting what we could do to save this chair. I looked at a few tutorials and dove in. These tutorials were particularly helpful to me to wrap my head around making piping, sewing piping on, what in the heck piping was, which Bernina foot to buy to make piping. You get the jist.

Sewing Bench Piping

How to Reupholster a Chair

Piping: How to Make and Insert Covered Cord

After doing what I considered enough internet research, I purchased my canvas fabric, 1/16″ piping (I wanted a delicate look), Bernina #12 foot, and went for it. My first step was making a template of the seat bottom, making piping, and sewing the piping onto the cushion cover.

There can not be enough pins in existence for a piping project, in my opinion. I am not a pinner, at all, but please use pins! I also find it imperative to cut the piping fabric on the bias. You really do need the stretch to make it around corners.

This is what the Bernina #12 foot looks like. It has a groove built in it to make it a breeze to make piping. Moving the needle position made this a lot easier to manage as well.

This is what my unstuffed cushion cover looked like. I was pretty pleased with myself for making it this far and not completely ruining the project. I ordered 2″ high density foam, cut the foam to the shape I needed, covered it in 2 layers of batting, and then stapled and stapled and stapled the batting down before I did the same thing with my cushion cover.

My husband cleaned up the chrome legs using water and aluminum foil and then he screwed the cushion onto the chair.

We used my grandma’s screwdriver and my heart had all of the feelings.

In order to make the chair back, it was a lot of trial and error. I didn’t take any photos because it was honestly a bit terrifying to McGyver this project. I made a sleeve of 2 layers of batting, then stapled it down before I put on the chair back fabric. I needed to box the corners on the front and back before I added the piping. There was seam ripping and a lot of fear, but eventually it turned out amazingly well.

Is this chair perfect? Absolutely not! It has imperfections galore, but I am so pleased with how well it turned out. I love, love, love having a piece of my grandparents in my home and the beautiful pop of Rifle Paper Co. Canvas doesn’t hurt a bit either!

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