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Pimp My Furniture: Rocking Chair Part II

Hey there! I can’t wait to show you the end result of this chair project. If you missed part one, be sure to check it out and catch up. Now on to part II! I’m very excited about how it turned out.

When we left off, it was looking like this:

I’d prepared the frame and we were ready to cut the supports and foam for upholstery. Brettles got right on the seat support using his jig saw (after only a little encouragement- ha) and I got to work on the back support. I actually just used some spare cardboard (which you can see in the picture above), because I wanted it to be sturdy but thin. Since the caning was still in good shape on the top, it didn’t need a lot of extra support, just something to secure the fabric to.

After getting the supports cut, I moved on to the foam. I bought a large sheet of 2-inch foam and originally planned to use it for both the seat and the back. Cutting it out and shaping it was by far the most tedious part of this project. Not because it was difficult, but just because it’s messy and the baby beast wouldn’t stop trying to eat the pieces of foam that were sticking to everything!

To cut it, I just traced around my support boards onto the foam and used a bread knife to cut them out (if you have a carving knife that would be better- I don’t have one), and then used regular old scissors to shape the edges. I didn’t want sharp square edges for this chair, so I trimmed the foam into a slightly curved profile.

Once that was done, I started on the actual upholstery. I did the back support first, and started by using spray adhesive to secure the foam to the cardboard. Then I wrapped it all in batting. Once it was ready for the actual fabric, I had to make sure it was lined up just how I wanted. With a strong pattern, you always want to check and double-check that it is lined up correctly. I wanted the back chevron to point upwards, and the seat to point down (going in opposite directions out from the middle of the chair) for a fun detail, so I made sure everything was centered and cut out my fabric.

Once it was all cut, I wasn’t quite sure how to proceed, so I just used my old standby trial-and-error method to attach it to the seat back. Unfortunately, this trial was an error.

Once I got it up there, something about it just didn’t look quite right to me. I left it that way for a few more days and even asked a few friends for opinions, but finally decided there was just too much padding for the back of the chair. Plus I wanted to attach it in a way where there was less mess (ie- fabric and staples) showing that would need to be hidden later. But that meant that I had to essentially start over… and all my work in cutting and shaping the foam was wasted! Drat.

But I didn’t want to half-ass it, as my dad would say, so I took it apart and worked on a new solution. I really wanted just a small, slight curved padding for the back, with a larger more comfortable and stable padding for the seat, so I came up with the solution of using pillow stuffing. I reused my cardboard and just shaped the stuffing into a little mound, then recovered the whole thing with the batting and fabric I’d already cut.

This time I used pins to secure the fabric to the cardboard and then pulled it tight and stapled the edges to the chair (see pics below if that doesn’t make sense), which was more difficult, but resulted in a much cleaner edge to cover. And it worked out great! Just what I had in mind, and much better than the first try.

Once that was done, I followed the same upholstery steps for the seat. This time just working my way around and stapling the fabric to the bottom of my support board (like you normally would for an upholstery project).

But I ran into another issue with figuring out how to attach the seat to the chair, since there was literally nothing to screw it into. So I do what I usually do when I encounter a problem, I put it on the back-burner while I worked on something else!

I moved on to the detail work (my favorite part!) of the chair back. Now, Ideally, you’d probably want to use a welt cord or double welt to cover the edges and staples, but I wasn’t confident enough with my sewing skills to attempt to make those myself yet (read: haven’t used my new machine yet), so I opted to just use regular old bias tape as an edging detail instead. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, bias tape is basically just thin strips of fabric that have been cut on a bias (usually it’s used to edge clothing or quilts or other such things). That means it is cut at an angle to the ‘grain’ of the fabric, instead of straight across. This makes it easier to bend in whatever direction you need to, without the fabric puckering. Welting or double welting cord is basically the same thing, but has a cord sewn into it. It is usually used for upholstery edging because it bends easily and covers uneven edges and staples. I fully plan on learning to make my own welting one of these days. Maybe I’ll even redo the edging on this chair at that time, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see! As for bias tape, you can buy it at any fabric store in various sizes and colors.

(The cording in the photo above comes into play later, fyi.) Back to the project. I opted for a bright pink trim to stand out from the yellow fabric, and just used a thin bead of fabric glue to attach it to the edges of the chair. I love the contrast!

I had quite a bit of scraps left over, so I also bought a fabric button kit and made four pink buttons to add even more detail to the chair back. Making fabric buttons is super simple. Just follow the directions on the back of the package!

To attach them, I just marked where I wanted them to sit on the chair and used upholstery needles to securely fix them to the caning of the chair. I would recommend using upholstery thread, which is much thicker and stronger than regular thread.

I made sure to pull them pretty tight, so they were slightly indented into the chair back. Then I crisscrossed the thread and knotted it securely. When I was finished, the back of the chair looked like this:

Obviously, I needed to cover that up, so i just cut another piece of cardboard, spray-mounted my fabric to it and stuck it (wedged it) in place. It was a pretty tight fit, which was good, but just to be sure it wasn’t going anywhere, I added a few staples around the edges to hold it in place.

Then I covered those edges with my bias tape edging too. By now the chair was looking pretty good! Minus the seat thing of course.

But, I had finally come up with a solution for that. Ok, really Brett had come up with a solution. (Thanks, Bud!) We ran to Lowes and picked up a pack of these metal brackets for about $2.50:

Which we then screwed into the chair frame. This gave us a nice little ledge of sorts that the chair cold sit on (it also rests on the wood frame of the chair- if you are counting on the brackets supporting all the weight, you may want to go for something a little sturdier). Once all four brackets were in place, I sat the seat in place and marked where they lined up from the bottom. Then I cut away the fabric and batting from those spots, so it wouldn’t tangle in the screws, and we screwed the seat in place! Yay!

All that was left was adding trim to the seat, but there was a little too much space here to use just bias tape without it just folding into the seam (this is why cording comes in handy…). So I filled the space by attaching bare cording (which you can buy at any fabric or craft store) and covering that with my bias tape trim. Voilá!

And finally, here is the finished chair!

And the chair in V’s room, where it belongs.


And in case you forgot, here’s the before/after comparison. I just love it!!

So, what do you think? Much cuter right? I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out and it was so worth the extra effort to make sure it was just how I wanted. Yay project complete!!

I hope you’re having a great weekend!
Dawn

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18 Comments

  • talonshautsetcacao

    How did you attach the first pillow (the up one) Staple or glue Thanks a lot

    Reply
    • Dawn Sailors

      I used a staple gun to attach the pillow and cardboard backing to the chair frame. :)

      Reply
  • Jmttngr23

    i’m currently still working on my rocker, but i finally made it to the stapling of the cushions on the actual chair. the part im stuck on though is adding the piping around to cover the staples the picture below is the type of piping i have but im unsure of how to  glue the piping on without it looking sloppy and not having the excess fabric showing and was wondering if maybe you had any tips or ideas?  if not i understand, because at this point it seems kind of impossible haha

    Reply
    • Dawn Sailors

       Hey! Sorry for the late response. I was having some technical difficulties. Yeah that piping would be a little tricky. From my understanding (and mind you I am not a professional seamstress) that type is meant to be sewn into the seams in upholstery. The type that is glued on to cover staples is usually a double piping, or you can use flat trim (what I went with), or that crocheted looking flat trim. Sorry I hope that helps. I don’t know if there is a good way to attach the single piping with glue??

      Reply
      • Jmttngr23

        yeah, i wasn’t thinking too much when i bought that piping. i’m thinking i’m just going to return it and buy the double piping. thanks for all your help! (:

        Reply
    • Mrs. RQ

      Hello, if you haven’t figured it out, or if anyone else is having the same issue, you may want to use a double cording to make it work. It’s actually quite easy to do if you have a sewing machine. I found a tutorial at this blog -> http://bit.ly/1aKPH7i

      Reply
  • Jmttngr23

    I’m currently working on this same project and I’ve read your entire post, but I’m still a little confused as to were you stapled the back cushion at? You said you stapled it directly to the rocker, but by the picture I can’t figure out how or were still? Sorry, I’ve been having a lot of trouble figuring out the best way to add cushions to my chair in general and your blog is the best one I could find to help me. 

    Reply
    • Dawn Sailors

      Hi there! Sorry, I don’t have better photos of this step. I first used straight pins to pin the fabric onto the cardboard backer and then I held that in place on the chair and stapled all around the edges, through both the fabric and cardboard, into the front of the wood frame. I followed along the edges where the caning was before and tried to cover the caning and get my staples into the solid wood frame. Once it was stapled, I just covered the edges with my trim, so the staples don’t show. I’m attaching a photo that explains it a little better. (And I’ll update the post to add it in too, thanks!)

      For the very back-back of the chair, I just fit the fabric covered cardboard into the opening and put staples directly above it, as close as my staple gun would allow. Those were into the inside of the wood around the edges, and just to keep it from falling out. Then I covered those with trim also. I hope that helps.

      Reply
      • Jmttngr23

         ohhh okay! thanks i understand now. i realized with the new picture you posted that you also used actual cardboard, for some reason i was thinking of the really thin wood that is sometimes behind tv entertainment centers and dressers. haha, this way it’ll be easier. i was also wondering, in your opinion, the wicker on my seat part is still in really good condition, so do you think it’d be sturdy enough to just use cardboard for my seat, as well? or should i use the wood?

        Reply
        • Dawn Sailors

          Well, on the one hand, if it’s held up well so far with just the wicker, you might be able to just use cardboard. After all, the makers intended it to work just fine the way it is and cardboard just adds an extra layer of stability to it. That being said, if it were me, I’d go with wood, just because I’d hate to ever have to redo it if it were to give out, and we tend to abuse furniture around here. The piece of wood I bought from Lowes cost less than $5.00 so not much of an investment for the extra stability. The caning on ours seemed to be in great shape until my husband sat on it. Apparently it was made for petite women and not giant men. Haha. I’d love to see photos of your chair when you get it finished! Email me!! :)

          Reply
          • Jmttngr23

             just saw your response, i’ve been out of town, but i’m starting the painting of the chair and the cushions sometime this week. i’ll definitely  let you know how it turns out! thanks so much for the advice!! (:

  • Little Lovables

    Awe, it turned out so cute! Love the fabric especially.

    Reply
    • Dawn

      Thank you! I love the fabric too. Can’t stop staring at it :)

      Reply
  • Caia

    An electric knife is awesome for cutting foam!

    Reply
    • Dawn

      That’s what I’ve heard! I have it on my wish list. But I have about a million other things on there too, so we’ll see. :)

      Reply

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