January 25, 2012

DIY Houndstooth Upholstered Vintage Teak Chairs

 

You have seen our houndstooth upholstered vintage teak chairs before, but have you ever wondered why there are only ever two visible?


We actually have a set of four, but the other two have been languishing in the basement, un-upholstered, since we wrapped up the first two chairs in 2009.  Embarrassing?  A little.  But I think we should applaud this procrastination because 2009 was pre-blog, so without the procrastination there would be no tutorial of how Hubby & I upholstered these chairs and did our part to keep the staple folks in business.  You'll see what I mean because we finally tackled the other two and can now show you the how-to.


Hubby & I have our own way of doing this that guarantees a smooth and secure finished product.  However, it also makes it miserable for whoever tries to undo your lovely work, because we use way too many staples.  Ha ha.

Supplies:
  • Quilter's batting (we used three layers - how much you need will depend on the size and number of your chairs)
  • Upholstery grade fabric (again, dependent on size and number of your chairs - I also bought extra in case some genius spills tomato juice on one)
  • Staple gun
  • 8mm staples (many)
  • Pliers
  • Screw driver (to remove seat)
  • Patient set of second hands

Get Upholstering:

Remove the chair seat:


Save the screws some place you will find them, just in case it takes you three years to wrap up this project:

These screws have literally been in this bowl since 2009

Remove the staples, using pliers.  I really got attached to the tool pictured below because, although it is meant for cutting, it has such a fabulous grip.  I used it for pulling 2.6 billion staples from the sub-floor after ripping up carpet for hardwood floors.  But pliers are what most folks use.



Throw out the old foam - especially if it is a vintage/used piece.  Blech.  I've seen people keep the grossest foam that is starting to disintegrate.  Trace and cut out three layers of quilter's batting (it is a cheap, cushy alternative to foam), or foam if you prefer, using sharp scissors because dull scissors will only make your life harder:



This is where we deviate a bit from other tutorials (you can skip this step if you'd prefer).  Once cut out, we affix the batting to the chair seat with a few staples so we're not wrestling with it and the fabric simultaneously.  I don't see a lot of people do this, but it makes life so much easier.  After affixing, trim some of the excess batting for less bulk in the finished product.



Throughout the whole process, stop periodically and check fitment.  You don't want bunches of fabric on the underside of the seat where it will be affixed to the chair frame. 



With the batting wrangled into submission, trace and cut out the fabric (making sure the pattern is "facing" the same way on each chair).  You can use the old fabric as a template.

Begin upholstering by pulling the fabric tautly and stapling in a few staples on one side, then the opposite side, checking the alignment and also the tension. These first few staples really anchor your fabric, so take your time.  It helps to have a second set of hands so one person can hold the fabric and the other can staple.




Keep working your way around the seat, pulling the fabric tight and stapling.  Pull corners especially smooth, even if that means you have a bunch of excess fabric a few inches from the edge.


For corners, we pull tightly and keep checking the make sure it looks sharp from the top.  To tackle the bunching, we make slits in the excess fabric once it's stapled in place.  This allows us to overlap the fabric and really staple it down smoothly.  It is hard to take a photo of that because this print is so busy when zoomed in on.




We go a little staple crazy, I know this.  We even add a second "ring" of staples so everything is smooth.


When you're done, you can add a cut-to-size piece of no-fray, very thin material to make the work look a bit tidier (for anyone who happens to be hanging out under your chair, I guess).  This involves more staples.


And that's it!  Reaffix the seat to your chair and host a dinner party.



Now we have a full set of four.


We like to leave a little love for future DIY-ers.  Anyone who is ambitious enough to remove the staple overkill happening here (gosh, I hope it's not future-me) will be affronted by this message:


P.S. Am I the only DIY'er whose nails get totally wrecked?!?  They looked so pretty in my latte post but now the deep plum shade that previously looked so chic is all chipped and worn, making me look like a disgruntled teen.

35 comments:

  1. i cannot say enough how much i LOVE the wood on those chairs. i want a teak dining set!

    and my nails are always a hot mess...

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    1. I find that teak really varies. I am really happy with the rich, deep tone of the wood. These were kept in a basement forever and that seemed to make them darker. They have lightened up since being brought into a sunlit (ish) space. Some of my teak is more orange-y and I'm not sure I like that . . .

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  2. I was just thinking how awesome your nails looked--after gawking at those chairs. I don't even attempt to keep my nails painted. Back to the chairs. Gorgeous! Way to go, girl!

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  3. I've always thought those chairs were gorgeous! You did a great job recovering them. I signed up for my upholstery class and start next Monday. I'm so excited!

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    1. Yay!!!! I'm excited to hear all about it!

      P.S. Given your excellent post on strange upholstery choices for vintage pieces, I am happy you approve!

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  4. They look great! I love me some houndstooth and I love your message to the next person who decides to reupholster them ; )

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  5. HAHA! I refrain from painting my nails when I know I will be doing a project like this! I think the houndstooth is just perfect on the chairs... which I am going to sneak into your house and steel by the way!!! LOVE THEM!

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    1. Now that you know I only use two, you probably know I won't even notice the other two are missing for quite some time. Lol.

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  6. You’ve done the impossible! You’ve make reupholstering look easy! I have been dying to try a project like this but the process looks daunting but I think I could manage this! They look fab!

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  7. Gorgeous! I love them.

    I'll admit... I've kept the batting and the foam for my reupholstery project. It my defense, it's all in great shape! Perhaps this will inspire me to get it finished!

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    1. If it's a great shape or was yours to begin with, go for it! But I buy vintage pieces that either have really, really worn out foam or potential for bed bugs and other nasties. I'm just easily grossed out and do things normal people don't :)

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  8. The chairs are super fabulous! I can never maintain nail polish. I love it, but I always seem to ruin it within a few hours.

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  9. ur work is neat is so precise...i always loved ur chairs..nice to know u re did them, awesome!

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  10. Those chairs are just gorgeous. The houndstooth is a great choice for the chairs too. xx

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  11. the houndstooth look so perfect on that chair!
    fyi- for some reason your blog and a bunch of others weren't showing up in my reader, but it just corrected itself so i will be catching up!

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    1. Good to know, thanks! Blogger has been giving me all kinds of problems. Pages won't load with internet explorer, I've had to use firefox, and the message boards say it's a blogger problem but no solution yet. Sigh . . .

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  12. Tanya, these are two of my very favourite things...teak furniture and houndstooth. One of my very sad realities is chipped nails from all my diy projects and painting;) Awesome job girl!

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  13. Tanya, these are fabulous! I love the teak houndstooth combination! I reupholstered a set of antique chairs in college-- and I left them in the basement of the apartment when I moved because I was too lazy to stuff yet another 4 items into the moving truck. I always thought about going back to that apartment and asking to check if my chairs are still there! Now I'm 1400 miles from my old chairs-- but thanks to you I'm on the lookout for new-to-me chairs to beautify!

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  14. Awesome job on the chairs. They look gorgeous. As for trying to keep a DIY manicure safe when you don't have time to touch up...only tightly fitted latex gloves work for me, but it takes a while to figure out how to do stuff with them on. Good luck!

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  15. Tanya great tutorial and great transformation! I found you through The DIY Show Off and I'm pretty sure that I'll follow your example for my old kitchen chairs too! Will let you know when I do. Have a nice day!
    Olga, your newest follower!

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  16. Love the new look you gave these fabulous chairs! Super cute blog! So nice to meet you at the Canadian Design Bloggers meet up!

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  17. Love the chairs and the fabric! Glad to hear you were able to fix your nails - I was thinking about how awesome that nail colour is while I was reading this post :)

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  18. Hi Tanya! These chairs are pretty fabulous! Love them! I am following you now! Your blog is lovely! Angie xo

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  19. SO fab! I'm totally digging these chairs, great tutorial!

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  20. love your note! I am stealing that idea when I do my chair

    also, love the teak chairs- you did a great job!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! I love that your chair will have a funny note too ;)

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  21. That looks super easy! Thanks for sharing!

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  22. Sweet looking teak chairs - and I love the idea of the note on the bottom. They will be great for when I can pass them on down to my kids.
    -Jak

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  23. Hey, I think any nails are impressive, and yours probably looked great when freshly painted. Love the vintage set, but having done re-upholstery before, I'm most impressed with your smooth corners. Gotta get me a second pair of hands.

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    1. Awww, thanks! Yes - two hands definitely makes a huge difference. And I am the picky one who fusses and holds things in place, while Hubs staples often, although parts I find easier to do alone.

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  24. Yes, chipped nails are def cool! Cool redo too! Houndstooth rock!

    Lisa B.
    SoCal Femme

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  25. Ex-Montréaler living abroad, and came across your blog when looking for ideas for my vintage teak chair re-do! Definitely have taken a few of your ideas and colour schemes into the rest of my apartment. :)

    -Meaghan

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    1. Hi Meaghan, I'm so jealous you're living abroad!! I spent four months in Hungary and loved it. Such a different pace of life.
      I'm so happy you've found some inspiration here for your apartment :)

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