Friday, January 13, 2012

Make Do Chair Tutorial

So, you want to try a make do chair.  You've come to the right place!  I am hoping with my explanation and pictures that you'll be able to make your own chair.  This chair was Steve and my second make do chair.  The first was a lot larger, totally make do (no chair was used) and was slip covered.  We ended up selling it and after many requests I came up with a no sew make do chair.  Please forgive my mistakes as I'm typing this with only one good eye at the moment. lol

The end product...

a ladder back chair
a heavy duty staple gun and staples
scrap wood for the sides and back.
fabric (I don't recommend using a stripe or plaid on your first one)  My fabric is a "linen look" for the sides and seat and a heavier upholstery fabric for the back. (I'm going to guess 3-4 yards should do it.)
a friend to help hold,pull, and staple lol
I used 1/4" loft quilt batting folded in half ( I had it on hand already.)  It normally comes in a roll.  You can use what ever loft you want.
nails (to nail the arms) black cut tacks (to finish upholstery I used 1/2" and 11/16" they look like cut nails but much smaller) and hammer

My chair was in pretty rough condition.  I had it sitting on my porch so the seat was coming off from being in the weather.

First, we finished taking off the seat.  If you have a chair with a decent seat you can leave it on and use that instead of putting a new one on if you wish.  I didn't want to paint the frame, but you could certainly do that if you wish.  I prefer the natural worn wood look.

After much planning we decided that starting with the seat was the best choice.  Steve cut the piece of wood for our seat.  I wanted it a little wider to accommodate my ever growing seat. lol. Steve still can't sit comfortably in my chair. lol.  Measurements are shown below.  Then we used screws to attach it to the frame of the chair.

Unroll your batting and cut a doubled piece at least 1" wider on all sides than all measurements of your seat. Cut your piece 24" X 21" X 16 1/2" at least.  Enough to be able to wrap the batting to the underside of the seat and staple it to the seat.

Once covered with your batting, take your fabric and cut it large enough to fold and wrap around the bottom of the seat just like you did the batting.  I tried to keep the fold on the corners to the side because it will be covered later.

Woohoo your seat is done!!!! Next we will be putting the back on.  We wanted an angle at the top.  You would not have to do this.  The picture is kind of hard to understand so let me explain.  If you want the angle the top of the board should measure 17" angling into 19" which is the width of the piece of board.  The entire height of the board should be 30" and 28" from the bottom of the angle to bottom.  The back should rest on the seat.  Then screw it to the back of the chair and the bottom.  We decided we only wanted wood on the front of the chair.  You could put a piece on the back if you so choose.

We now need to put the sides on.  The back of the board needs to be shaved down flush with the back of the chair.  The other measurements shown are accurate.  Remember the back is at an angle and that's why it needs shaved down. Yeah that's me freezing my tushy off in the background. lol.

Alright I hope I can explain this next step.  You will need to cut batting and the fabric for the sides.  I always allow extra batting because you can cut off excess as you go.  The fabric needs to be 1-2" larger than the actual side measurement.  This is where it might get confusing... take your fabric and lay it face down (right side of fabric to seat). Take the edge of the fabric, 1" or so, and fold the edge up so that the right side of the fabric is facing the wood of the side and still on the seat also.  It'll become clear in a minute.  Now take your batting as shown (getting it as close as you can to the seat and back of the chair) as you can.  Where Steve's index finger is you should have a sandwich type thing wood, fabric, then batting on top.  Staple as shown.  It is easier to staple the top of the batting first then tuck the fabric behind the batting on the bottom.  I apologize that my fabric and batting appear to be the same color.  I will add a different picture if it is still unclear how to layer. PLEASE let me know if I need to. 

Once you have the inside of the arm stapled as shown start pulling up the fabric and stapling it to the top of the arm.  You will need to do do some folding of the fabric in front as you wrap around the front and to the outside of the arm.  Make sure you leave enough fabric on the bottom to be stapled to the bottom of the seat on the outside of the arm. If you look at the right side (the arm in the sun) at the crease you should have a nice folded edge that looks finished.  This is because we tucked the edge up under the batting then stapled as we brought it around to the front of the arm. Now pull your fabric on the outside and staple as shown below.  Note we have the extra fabric stapled to the backing.

The next step is optional.  I wanted arms on mine so we happened to have some old boards to cut and make them.  The measurements are up to you, but we cut ours 16" long.  The front is 4 1/2" wide.  We then angled it back to the back of the chair. NOTE:  You will need to notch out a little to be able to slide your backing fabric and batting through when we are ready to cover the back.  Nail down your arms to the edge of the side piece.

Do as I say not as we did.  We forgot to notch it out.  We had to do it later.  It sure would have been easier to do it at the beginning. lol.  Note that the arm is flush with the wood back not the chair back.

Next we will add the upper sides.  The outside measurement is 12 1/2" and the top is 5".  You will then need to make a straight line down to make your angle. 

You will have a gap on the back as you screw the sides to the back piece. You might want to screw the arms from the bottom up through into the side too.  You may want to drill pilot holes so that your wood doesn't split while putting your screws in.

We are getting there... hang in there.  We will now wrap the batting and fabric around these pieces.

We are layering just like we did on the bottom sides. Wood, fabric, and then batting.  Start stapling at the bottom then pull the batting and fabric towards the top then staple.  You will need to fold your fabric at the top because of the angle from top to bottom to make it look ok.  This is why I don't recommend stripes because they won't line up. Lots of pictures to show you how we wrapped and stapled.  You will need to staple the fabric and batting to the underside of the arm.

We are almost done!!! I forgot to take a picture of this next step so I hope I can explain it well enough.  We now need to do the back of the seat.  Starting at the bottom of the front of the back (WOW that was confusing lol)  you will need to layer again.  Remember, place the right side of the backing fabric face down. (The seat and the right side of the backing fabric should be touching.)  If you use some kind of backing like me you will really need to be careful lining up the middle of the fabric with the middle of the back of the chair.  You need to cut your fabric at least 2" wider so you can fold the edges in to make a clean folded edge and maybe 4" longer to be able to wrap it over the top as seen below and tuck at the bottom of the front. 

Fold and staple.  We then went back and used cut tacks every couple of inches on the front to hold the fabric in place.

Now you will need to cut the batting and fabric for the back.  If you are using fabric like me you will need to match up the print before you cut.  We then started at the top (see pic above) layered the fabric then batting and started stapling.

OK my friends you did it!!! You made your very own make do chair.  If you have any questions please email me and I will do the the best I can to answer them. Thanks so much for the overwhelming response for a tutorial.  Now how can I top this tutorial?  lol  hmmmmm.... what do I want to make next ?????
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Rachel said...

WOW! That is too cool! Thanks for sharing with us!

annie said...

I love it, I want at least one or maybe half a dozen. Now go rest your eyes! Thank you, Mary, you're a peach!

Lee Hill Primitives said...

Thank you!!!! You are so sweet to make this tutorial and share it with us.Get well soon.

Carmen and the Primcats said...

Absolutely great tut! But I have a better idea... how about I just come up thee with my chair and we will have a make a chair day! Seems a lot easier. :)

Carmen and the Primcats

Kendra said...

Thank you so much for sharing. Two days ago I was hanging laundry out on the line to dry, the next day I was shoveling 6 inches of snow and using the 4x4. So I files the tutorial and will do this in the spring. I'll let you know how it goes! Thanks again.

Susan At Glen Oaks Primitives said...

Hi, Mary - how is that eye? Thanks for doing this tute. I really appreciate it. It's WONDERFUL!
You have given me the chance to have something that I couldn't afford to buy.

Susan At Glen Oaks Primitives said...

Mary, what did the specialist say about your eye? What are they doing
for you? I hope you at least don't have any pain.

nancy huggins said...

That is so cool..I will have to try that the next time I see a chair like that at a thrift sale. Thanks for sharing

Deppen homestead 1862 said...

Beautiful job on the chair~love it!! thanks for sharing~

Get well soon!!
keep safe & cozy~ brrr cold & blowing~

frontporchprims said...

You could make a small log cabin or something:) I love no sew anything tutorials. I can handle a staple gun.....I think. Thanks for the tutorial. -Steph-

A Primitive Place ~ Tammy said...

Love it! Thanks for sharing. I'll have to give a try.

Or better yet, I'll show my Mom and she can make me one!


Beckyjean said...

Thanks for the wonderful tutorial!! This is on my must do list.

Hope the eye is better soon!!