August 28, 2014

How To: 1970s Fixer Upper

One of the first and easiest projects I did myself was to reupholster a set of folding chairs and a table that Matt's mom gave us (Hi, Carol!). When I first moved to South Carolina, we did not have a table to eat on, nor did we actually acquire one (at least, not until we moved). In fact, she gave us the table not because we wanted somewhere to set our plates at dinner, but we actually had on-going game nights with friends and no where to play when we hosted the event at our house.

Priorities, people!

Anyway, she gave me the set which is made of real wood and vinyl. It's a nice sturdy card table. My only qualm with it is that it's a burnt yellow color that was all the rage in 1975. 

Pretty, eh?

And you'll have to excuse me as it was my first project and I didn't take many in-the-middle pictures. I never though I'd be blogging about it! But I digress.

It's a perfect table for what we needed, especially because it was easily stored and moved out of the way. It has served as a game table, a food buffet, a sewing platform and a computer building/soldering station. In the new house, it is the present location of Matt's 3D printer. It has served it's purpose very, very well. It certainly could have done all of those things without me messing with it, but where's the fun in that?

So I decided to re-cover it and I totally winged the whole process. Piece of cake. Here's how you do it:

What You Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Fabric in print of choice
  • Clear vinyl
  • Spray adhesive
  • Staple gun
  • Screw driver
  • Staple remover or pliers
  • Fabric scissors or rotary cutter
  • Fabric cutting mat (there's a good deal on this one that includes the cutter, the mat and a ruler).

What You Do

1. Remove the cushions from the chairs (most likely attached with screws on the bottom of the chair) and spread out the fabric or vinyl covering. Measure the length and width of the piece that was on the cushion and multiple the two numbers to get your approximate surface area. Now multiply the surface area by 4. This number tells you the total number of feet (or inches) of fabric you'll need to cover the chairs. If your chairs have removable backings, you may want to do this to them as well. Obviously mine do not. 

(You may want to convert this number to yards for ease of translation at the craft store or when ordering online and this website is very helpful). 

2. I also covered my table top, so I measured it for surface area as well. My table came with a foam topper (which I removed because it was falling apart. If yours has foam on top, make sure to add an extra inch or two to your fabric dimensions to guarantee coverage). When I purchased my fabric, it came in a bolt of fabric that was 45 inches wide and the table is only 36" x 36". I was able to fit two cushions across the width of the fabric so I only needed about 2 yards to do the whole project... but I love the fabric that I chose. So I bought 4 yards for good measure (and I have a whole bunch left over for other little projects!). 

3. Cut the fabric to the appropriate sizes using your fabric scissors or rotary cutter. You can use regular scissors in a pinch, but I prefer cutting fabric with fabric blades to help prevent fraying.

4. Lay a piece of fabric on a flat surface, face down. Spray the fabric with adhesive and wait 30 seconds or so - or follow directions on your adhesive - to get the ideal "tacky" surface before pressing your cushion or table top to the fabric (also face down). Make sure you have equal amounts of excess fabric on all sides of the the object being covered. 

5. Fold the excess fabric over the sides of the cushion. Pull tightly (but not too tightly that the fabric comes off the cushion) and staple the excess around the bottom. To facilitate the corners, I folded them sort of like you would wrap a present. It isn't perfect, but you can't see it, anyway. Your cushion should now be covered (with the exception of the bottom... unless you chose to cover that too. This is a laid back project. Just do it however you like!)

6. Screw the cushion back on to the chair. Repeat steps 4 & 5 for the remaining pieces.

7. This step is optional. I chose to cover the table in a clear vinyl so that it would be moisture proof in case of spills or if I needed to clean it easily. The vinyl is available in most stores that sell fabric or you can order some online for super cheap here. (Thanks Amazon!)

Here's a chair's transformation:

A vast improvement!
[When I was researching alternative methods of the project on Pinterest while writing this post, I found a tutorial on the same project using the same fabric. I was flabbergasted, but hey - great minds think alike! And her's came out even better than mine did - definitely go check them out!] 

I may go back to paint the chairs at some point to spruce them up with a jazzy color, but otherwise, I'm satisfied with the end result. Cheap and easy fixer-upper. My favorite!


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