This post has been a LONG time in the making. These chairs had me doubting my ability to finish a DIY project – they were my Achilles heel for the past few months. And the item that was questioned often by the family.
“When are you going to finish the chairs?”
“GET OFF MY (CANE) BACK (CHAIR)!”
Yeah. They were that type of project.
It wasn’t until Mom stepped in with her reupholstering wisdom that I was FINALLY able to finish and ship these puppies off to a new home. So in reverence of the long and arduous chair journey, here is the last post on how to reupholster a cane back chair that does not have a removable cushion. It was difficult (impossible) to find a tutorial online or through YouTube that was for a non-removable cushion chair.
Please, anyone can reupholster a removable cushion – it takes talent to tackle a spring cushion from scratch. I happen to have heaps of talent. If you need to get caught up on progress so far, check out this post on the initial redo.
First, I would recommend (read: seriously listen to me) that you save all pieces of the chair that you remove – cushions, fabric, any other important to replicate pieces.
Mom and I started off by tracing out a pattern for the butt foam using the old butt foam, which was then promptly thrown out because it was covered in mouse and cat pee.
I used an box cutter to cut through the first layer of foam and then scissors to shape and cut the rest.
The notches fit around the posts of the chair.
After fitting the butt foam, it was onto the fabric. When I attempted this project the first time, I guessed how much fabric I would need. That meant I screwed up royally but that may have been why I bought a lot of extra fabric. I purchased this nautical print from OnlineFabricStore – the link for this particular print is right here – the fabric features an anchor (you know I love anchors when I have a tattoo) and a light gray, almost invisible writing underneath of nautical words and other pictures.
To truly figure out how much fabric, you will need to use the butt foam cushion that you just expertly fitted. I purchased 3 yards to be safe.
We cut the fabric with an extra 3 inches around a similar pattern that we used for the butt foam – we did not cut out the notches.
Side note: if you are working with a patterned fabric, make sure that you are matching up the pattern and cut the area that suits your pattern needs.
Once the fabric was cut, we put the foam back onto the chair and laid the fabric out with the pattern in the correct position. Once your fabric is laid out, cut a SMALL starter line towards the center of one of the posts. DO NOT cut too much – you will regret this move.
Cutting a small amount at a time allowed us to figure out the perfect way to tuck the fabric into the area around the post.
The fabric will look wrinkled and you will want to throw the chair across the room or onto a burn pile out of frustration BUT it is a matter of tucking, stapling, and pulling.
Using a 3/4″ staple in the handy, dandy Bostitch staple gun, we pulled the fabric taut and stapled away near the first post. Mom then cut the second line near the next post and we repeated the process. Make sure to keep the fabric tight and continue to check that the pattern is in the correct place.
The post and fabric should look something like this if you follow the wonderful directions from above.
When we reached the corners on the front part of the chair, Mom and I have to figure out a way to fold and tuck the fabric in a neat fashion.
Storytime: Do you see the green tape on Mom’s finger in the pic above? We were just discussing how in the world Dad could have managed to have shot a nail through his finger using the staple gun. It must be an old person thing because Mom shot a staple through the tip of her finger the FIRST time she attempted to use the staple gun. Moral of the story? Old people and staple guns = blood. But as an endorsement, Frogtape is not only awesome for painting but also works well for wounds.
Back to the chairs.
Once the posts and corners were cut and stapled, I went back with the staple gun and added reinforcement to key areas. Like everywhere.
One of the last steps was to cut the excess fabric fairly close to the staples – the rest would be hidden with the trim.
The last step was the trim. Mom was nice and bought some small gauge trim but it wasn’t the look that I had envisioned for the chair. As I was leading Glory and Spirit over from the pasture one day, inspiration struck me. Lead ropes would make awesome trim. So I stole Glory’s new navy lead rope.
I removed the hardware and set up my glue gun. The staples needed to be “upped” so a 1″ staple was in order.
Starting in the back of the chair, I would glue the rope first right over top the staples in the fabric.
After the glue gun, I went back with the staple gun to make sure the trim was secure. Because I could just barely see the staples, I took a hammer and tapped the staples into the wood to hide them.
The hardest part was figuring out what exactly to do with the excess lead rope/trim. I decided to glue, staple, and trim up the end pieces to smooth out the line of trim.
The end result of the entire piece isn’t EXACTLY what I had in mind and the process was definitely one of the most difficult DIY projects.
Hopefully this tutorial will help a few people who are struggling with a cane-back chair that doesn’t feature a removable cushion. And remember, only you can prevent old people and staple gun injuries.