Grey chair before + after

We found this chair on our second day in Barcelona. If it had been lovely brown leather it would have stayed as it was, but the musty smelling pleather had to go.

For a very long time I have been lusting after a pale grey velvet chair. I actually wanted a velvet sofa, but velvet is expensive. I recently found some lovely material; it’s not exactly velvet, but a very fine corduroy? But it looks and feels like velvet and at 2 euros a meter it was good enough for me. It was too late for the sofa, but the chair still had a chance.

It was only available in a light beige colour, so I decided to dye it grey. I used exactly the same dye as I had previously used on some IKEA curtains, which turned out pale grey. So for some reason I was expecting this fabric to be the same colour. No. Every fabric absorbs the dye differently and can turn different shades or even a totally different colour. I knew this, it was a rookie error. So, not pale grey, kind of bluey grey. It wasn’t what I’d planned but I still like it.

Sorry for the lack of pictures, this was done pre blog, but I am long overdue to recover my other living room chair, so when I finally get round to that there will be pictures and instructions a plenty.

So as always when reupholstering a chair, the first step is to remove the dust cover (which will probably be old and gross) and then the 20 billion staples that are attaching the old fabric to the frame. This takes ages.

I then removed the arms (held on with nuts and bolts) sanded the rust from the metal legs, tightened all the nuts holding the legs in place and spray painted them black. I am still toying with the idea of trying to achieve an aged brass effect on the legs. Let me know your thoughts ….

I placed my fabric wrong side up onto the base of the chair and pinned it at the front to give me the seams for sewing. A quick blast on the sewing machine was all it took, I pressed the seams and then fitted it to the chair using my electric staple gun. I love that thing. love it.

Start at the front in the middle and put in a few staples, making sure that your seams are in line with the wooden corners of the frame. Then pull it tight from the back in the middle and staple, staple, staple, working your way out to the edges. Finish stapling the front making sure you are pulling it tight, but evenly the whole time. Then repeat for the sides, again, starting in the middle and working outwards. I then did exactly the same for the top part of the chair, stapling it to the back of the frame.

Armchair during

I drew around the arms onto my fabric to get the size and shape, allowing a few inches for seams, and cut out the pieces. Put the pieces onto your arms with the fabric wrong side down and pin them together over the arm. This way you get exactly the shape and size you need. If you pin it carefully and tightly the seams should all line up with the corners of the frame. You can then ‘peel’ off the pinned fabric from the arm and sew it.

Once it’s sewn together its quite a quick job to pull it back over the arm, now with the fabric right side out of course, and staple it to the bottom of the arm using the same technique as before and checking your seams are lining up as you go. At this point the arms can be reattached.

Grey chair arm close up

I bought a piece of new foam for the chair cushion and covered it with the last of the fabric. I do it more or less the same way as I covered the arms; laying the fabric over and pinning it around the cushion shape, then peeling it off and sewing. Then adding the panel at the back with a zip. Again, more detailed instructions on how to do this when I reupholster my next chair!

I only just had enough fabric to finish. It was a very close call! When you hand dye fabric, make sure you have enough to cover your whole chair! I had 3 meters, which was only just enough, especially as I had to make the fine lines of the corduroy line up across the whole chair. When it comes to fabric and covering chairs, more is more.

Grey chair finished

Grey chair in living room


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