ikea excision project (aka ‘how to re-upholster the seats of your kitchen chairs in an afternoon’)

Ikea and I, we’ve never really gotten on. While they’re good for certain things, most of my trips there have felt like a weekend outing to a 1990s version of Dante’s Inferno. All those winding levels lined w/ plywood…then you end up at a giant ball crawl? Yick. The major upside is the cookies. I do love the jam-filled cookies.  I was pondering these deep thoughts on Ikea, while gleefully ripping their fabric off our kitchen table chairs this weekend.  The thing I learned about their fabric is this…if you spend any time sewing, you realize that their prices are actually pretty lousy and their selection isn’t so hot (and may induce seizure).

This, like a lot of our projects, was more like a guerrilla strike.

[1pm on Saturday afternoon]
Me: Oh god, these chairs…
Husband-elect: Wanna redo them now?
Me: Yep.

And off we went to gather our supplies from the mainstay of suburban craft projects — Joann’s. When we removed the old material (well, more accurately, “materials”), we discovered that it was exceptionally gross. Since the kid was just diagnosed w/ mold/dust/dust mites allergies, it was also mandatory to get the stacks of ancient fabric away from him. And obviously to give him a new surface on which to apply his food…and drink…and tissues.

measuring tape
1/2 inch foam (available at a fabric store, usually in/near the quilting supplies section)
1/2 inch batting (same as above)
fab material for covers (ironed and cut into appropriately sized squares)
aileen’s glue or spray adhesive
tailor’s chalk or a marker
staple gun w/ staples
pliers (for removing old staples)
screw driver (for taking seats off)
scotch guard (optional for some, but not for us)

1) First, measure the seats and determine how much foam / batting / material you need. For ~17×20 inch seats we used 3 yards of foam, 1.5 yards of batting and 2.5 yards of material. The amount you need will depend on both the size of the seats *and* the width of the other materials. Just remember that materials are sold in different widths.

2) Unscrew / disassemble the seats from the chairs.

3) Use your pliers to remove staples and old material / filling.

three layers plus ancient foam and batting...yum

4) Place seats on foam and trace / cut out. Repeat the process on the batting. Try to hold your scissors straight up and down when you’re cutting, as it helps avoid making jagged edges on the foam. Also, if you use marker to trace your template, be sure to cut around it in a way were ALL of the marker lines are removed. If not, it may bleed through the fabric when you spray it with scotch guard. You can guess how i know this…

and trace again

5) Now assemble the seats, foam, and batting. First put a light layer of Aileen’s glue or spray adhesive on the seat, then affix the foam. Press it down firmly. Now carefully trim any excess foam from around the seat. Place batting on top of foam. Trim batting if necessary. I didn’t use glue here, as the batting was coarse enough to stay on the foam.

chair / foam / batting (pre-glue)

6) Staple fabric to newly “stuffed” seats. This isn’t difficult, but go slowly, being careful to pull the fabric taught but not too tight. You’ve pulled too tight if the foam starts to squish / pucker. For me it was easiest to hold the seat upright, with the right side facing me, while pulling the fabric towards the underside of the seat. The H-e would then stapled on the back side. You may need to create folds in the fabric to get it to lay like you want.

Tip: if the seat has rounded corners, start with those, then move on to the sides. It took me some trial and error, but this was the easiest way to get the corners looking nice / not baggy.

start w/ the corners

7) Add extra staples around the perimeter of the fabric to be sure it’s secure, then trim extra fabric.

8) Reassemble chairs, scotch guard the life out of them, and there ya have it…chickens replace Ikea!

i've got a thing for chickens

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