Monday, July 25, 2011

How I Did The Chairs

Well thank you all for all the loverly comments on the new-to-me chair transformations, they are already a great help to our family, I didn't even realize how much we needed them! I wanted to get into the deets of how I did them. For the primer, I used Rustoleum Clean Metal primer. Yes, you read that right...primer for metal. Why? Just cuz. No. I'm kidding....I discovered metal primer covers all sorts of slick surfaces from ceramics to well, chairs. It covers like a dream. You'll see. I get it at Walmart and it will be next to the 'Rusty Metal' primer, don't get that, get 'Clean Metal' primer, it's white. For the paint I used Valspar Gloss white. Have you seen that Valspar has a line of spray paints at Lowe's now? It's not a super new thing, I just think it makes sense, I use the Valspar line of paints often and now I like the spray paint too. I'm glad they've dabbled in the spray paint realm. If you are a spray paint fanatic like me, go check out all the different colors.

I considered buying a paint sprayer, but honestly, I just don't paint enough furniture to justify the expense. I did invest in a spray paint handle though, this baby is a gem! It was practically like using a sprayer! This really saved my hands, I think it was under three dollars. I highly recommend grabbing one.

Now typically I'm a Krylon girl, all the way, but this is a little different than spraying my latest knick knack. These are chairs that will be used, moved, hit, scraped, kicked, knocked over, dragged, jumped in, etc, because I live with a bunch of heathens boys. They are rough on furniture, especially that little one. I have used the Valspar spray paint before and noticed that the finish seems thicker, for lack of better word. It says that it is quick drying, I have to disagree with that....compared to Krylon, it took twice as long to dry. But that's ok, in my opinion, I traded dry time for durability. Oh, and look at the shine. That's what I was after. It says it has the 'perfect finish', I do agree with that.

On to the seats. The foam on the existing seats were pretty wimpy so I wanted to add some foam to beef the seats up. I bought the foam at Hobby Lobby, but I saw it at Walmart as well. I bought the 1" roll of foam and cut it out using the wood as a template.

I used linen to cover the seats in an oatmeal color. It's neutral but has lots of personality with texture. The only real challenge is making sure it is straight, but it wasn't too bad. I used the original fabric as a pattern and used a staple gun to attach. The corners were a bear...I tried to get them as neat and straight as I could and stapled a lot.

The piping, for me, made this project really special. I use a lot of green and when I found this fabric, I was really excited to figure out how to incorporate it with the chairs.
However, out of everything....this was my problem area. See, I'm not a seamstress. There is a reason why the word STRESS is in the word seamstress, because it can be stressful!

At first, I cut the green fabric on the bias. After doing some research I found that fabric goes around corners better if it is cut on the bias, so that's what I did. Plus, I thought the weave of the linen would be contrasted beautifully if the piping was biased. So I cut all my fabric, joined all the ends together, and proceeded to sew the piping.

Problem. The fabric kept wasn't smooth, and was not tight around the piping. I was sick to my stomach not to mention mad. I did some more research. Found out that I should be using a piping foot on my machine. Along with doing research, I emailed Suzanne. She suggested that I might be pulling and stretching the fabric while sewing, causing it to twist. Well, I didn't want to invest in a piping foot (30.00) for a little bit of piping for six chairs. SO. I decided to re cut all the fabric NOT on the bias. Don't worry, I've come up with an idea to use up all of the fabric I didn't use...So here is how I sewed the piping, not on the bias, and with a zipper foot. :)
Cut 2 1/2-3" of fabric:

Fold piping into the center of the fabric and slip under zipper foot:

I found that letting it sew a little on the angle got it tight enough. With the fabric just cut (not on the bias) there was no stretching and the fabric didn't twist.

To attach the piping to the seat, I used the staple gun, right over the linen. I started at the back and stapled around. I used my hand to feel the edges and flipped it over every so often to make sure it was looking good.

And look at this, the corners turned just fine! The bias cut wasn't even needed anyway! Although, I am trying to stop being so anal about the piping weave and the linen weave not contrasting like I wanted...I know no one would have noticed but me! :)

It turned out great and I love how it gave it a really finished look, and of course a great pop of color.

I was concerned about getting the piping to fit around the arms on the captains chairs, but it was completely fine! I just had to push it down a little bit and it looks really natural.

The groove in the wood looks like it wanted some piping! :)

Thanks so much for stopping by! If you have any additional questions, let me know in the comments.

6 Chairs...........Goodwill
Spray Primer.......Walmart
Spray Paint...........Lowe's
Spray Paint Handle...............Lowe's
Cotton cording for piping......Walmart from Wrights

Foam..............Hobby Lobby (click HERE)
Green Fabric...........Walmart

Did you miss the 'Before' pictures? Click HERE.

Wanna see a video on creating piping with a piping foot? Click HERE.


  1. that pop of green really "makes" your chairs and i think you did a great job with piping...something i have yet to try my hand at.

    just wanted to let you know how much i enjoy your blog!


  2. I have an odd question for you. I know you redid your kitchen fairly recently and we're looking to do the same this fall at some point. Would you recommend clean metal primer for builders grade oak cabinet doors too? We're trying to avoid sanding them :(

  3. Thank you Judy!

    Elz, I used Zinsser 1-2-3 primer for painting the cabinets and did not sand, it's formulated for slick surfaces too. Honestly, I think it would be really expensive to buy cans of primer for the cabinets, and you'd have to mask off everything. If spraying is the way you decide to go, maybe consider renting or buying a paint sprayer for the kitchen cabinets and use Zinsser. It would probably end up less expensive.

  4. Michelle,your chairs are fabulous. I love that you added the green piping. They turned out beautifully. Hugs, Marty

  5. I love the way your chairs turned out. They are beautiful. I wish I had the courage to try the piping.

    I have the very same chairs. Our neighbors had them & every time I went into their house I wanted to steal them. They decided to go ultra-modern in their new home and the entire dining room set became mine. Mine have been every color under the sun over the past 10 years. I never get tired of them. They were Country White for the past few years. This summer I decided to bring some color into our kitchen. I used Valspar spray paint too. I found wonderful beachy striped fabric in green, turquoise and white. I painted 3 chairs green & 3 turquoise. I am thrilled with the results. I am also usually a Krylon girl, but loved the colors and results of the Valspar.

  6. Marty, thank you!

    Norell, that sounds fantastic...those are my colors too! :) I love the idea of 3 green and 3 turquoise.

  7. Thank you so much b/c I have always wondered how in the world I would do the piping! It's brilliant I tell you!

  8. Love the pop of color piping! Cane chairs are my weakness lately. Great job!

  9. Wow, those look fantastic!! GREAT job! And for future reference, you can notch the fabric as you turn the corner to rid some of the excess fabric and the corner will be no problem. That's how you do piping on a pillow, at least.
    GREAT job....I love them!

  10. I LOVE that you used piping on these chairs the way you did. When I ever get around to finishing out my couple of other chairs, I will HAVE to try this.


  11. Ok...I see this has not been addressed here. How do you plan to keep them clean? I would love to do this but am so anal about spots. I am afraid I would not let anyone sit on them lest they get soiled.

    I really do like the look of the chairs.

  12. Just found your blog yesterday and I'm already loving it!! LOVE the way the chairs turned out! I took on a painted chair project recently too! I sanded, then started priming (paint and brush), after 2 thin coats of primer (and 3 hours for just 2 chairs), I'm seeing brush strokes and drips I didn't catch from odd angles, so after reading your post I'm switching to spray! ...Curious how many coats of primer and color you did? Any clear protective top coat to get that shine??

  13. Suzanne, thank you for that great tip, I will remember that!

    Karen, my sister said the same thing! The only solution that I came up with...I bought additional yardage of the linen. Should any heavy soiling occur, I'll recover. I did consider doing what Tobi Fairly did in her dining room, she covered her fabric covered seats with plastic (the kind from the fabric store). That would be a great alternative.
    We'll see how things go in the coming months. :)

    DIYgirlandguy, I did two coats of primer and two coats of paint. Flipping the chairs over (to get underneath) in between coats. I really like the smooth finish with spraying. I did not do a spray sealer, the Valspar shines like that.

  14. This was a great tutorial and I do love the way they turned out. I really like that pop of color!

  15. Your chairs are fabulous! What a great tutorial!

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  16. Wow. This is a great blog. I am also thinking of having my chairs "re-fashioned". Although they don't really look old or something, I just want something refreshing. I think you did a great job and I'll give you an A for the efforts for the cushions.

  17. Hello, I think that your chairs came out Flawless! I haven't had much luck with spray paint. I painted a tv tray and a coffee table and everytime I put something on them the paint cones off when I lift it. That has been a horrible experience for me. It might have something to do with using the cheap spraypaints huh? :-)


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