Ugly office chair re-do: NO SEW!

My friend Natalie lives far away, and a LONG while back I posted some diy thing I did on my Facebook page, and she insisted that I should write a blog.  It’s been in my head ever since, so I’m finally taking her advice… she had better be one of my first followers 🙂


Our office chair is gross.  But like many chairs, it has good bones, and is still in good shape except for the nasty blue fabric that was covering its cushions.  Andy hated that blue, it didn’t go with anything in the office (I’m pretty sure he brought it home from work one day a decade ago, because they redecorated or something).  And to top it off, one of the cats loves to sit on the back and use it as her personal scratching post.  So it was time to do something.


I found some gorgeous fabric from JoAnn’s– bonus, it was on the clearance rack!!  So after buying a yard, for $8… I was ready to rock.  Or so I thought.

For some reason, I forgot that I’d need to cover the front AND the back of the backrest.  Obviously, you don’t cover the bottom of the seat.  But I realized that I didn’t have enough fabric.  (So if your chair looks anything like mine, you’re going to need about a yard and a half of fabric.)  Well, we live 15 miles from the JoAnns, and I’m lazy.  And cheap.  My go-to move is to see if my stash has anything I could sub in.  More on that later.

The first thing I did was take the leg/s/wheel thing off.  A hex key was all I needed for that.  Then the arms came off, and the backrest came off the arms.  Sorry, I didn’t really take a shot of the “before”.  Rookie blogging errors…

Once all the pieces were separated, I laid the fabric right-side-down and put the seat down, so that the edge comes up around the bottom enough for me to staple-gun it down.  Then I lined up the opposite edge and cut the fabric, again leaving enough to bring up around the bottom.

The key with staple-gunning stuff like this is NOT to work clockwise or counter-clockwise.  To really avoid wrinkles and the fabric pattern twisting, it’s important to put a couple staples into one side, then work on the opposite side, staple a couple places, and go back to the original side until you have both sides done– then go to the other two sides, the same way— back and forth.   I used three of those rows of staples for this whole project, plus a row of little finish nails.


For corners, (again– sorry, no pics!) I grab the corner of the fabric, and pull it up and staple it down, and then lay flat, stretch and staple down the pleats.

Once the seat and the seatback was done, I needed to figure out something for the back of the backrest.  I looked through my stash and miraculously found the remnant of a sweater that I’d cut up and used for mittens… obviously, if you’re a small person, you couldn’t use your clothing, but this was a size L and I stretched the bejeezus out of it!   I actually had the forethought to take an in-progress shot at this point:Image

Then came the task of putting the chair back together.  One of the challenges came with needing holes in the fabric into which the screws go.  The blog I referred to as a tutorial (see below) said just to poke holes into the fabric with a scissors.  But when I did that, it made these lines in the fabric:


See them?  By nothing short of the grace of God, I got to cover those up with the arms of the chair.  But I’d think twice about gouging the holes with a scissors… I’m not sure what I’d do instead, luckily I don’t have to think about it.

I thought I’d have to learn how to use Andy’s finish nailer to attach the sweater-covered back to the rest of the backrest, but he just gave me these little finish nails that fit into his staple gun.  They worked great.  I just sort of lined up the back by feel and eyeballing it.  It’s curved to fit the lumbar curve of the chair, so it wasn’t too tricky.

And… the finished product!  Squeee 🙂



I can see little puckers where the sweater was nailed into with the finish nails, but I really don’t mind.  I might even go pick up some silver thumbtacks to hide them, someday 🙂  The attitude I have with projects like this is that I can’t mimic the no-wrinkle corners of a store-bought product.  It won’t be perfect.  But *I* did it.  So ha 🙂

What do you think?  I’m really happy with it.  My neighbor came over and did some good-friend-appropriate gushing.  And now Andy isn’t wishing he could just throw this chair away,  AND we saved a BUCKETFUL of money improving this chair instead of replacing it.  Yay!

Super-huge props to Joyful Abode for the great tutorial.  If you’re using my post as a tutorial, I’d recommend visiting this site to see what I missed 🙂


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