How To: DIY Upholstered Folding Chairs

When we put up this post about the chairs from Anthroplogie being a good DIY inspiration, we had no idea that Shelly would get right on it! She pulled together this project in record time to get it in during DIY month. Check out the orignial post here and enjoy Shelly's how to below...

Project: Upholstered Folding Chairs
Time: 1 hour per chair
Cost: $20.00 each, including chair

You don't have to spend a fortune to have bohemian looking upholstered folding chairs. After an AT post last week, I scurried over to World Market and negotiated a good price for two slatted chairs from last season. For a cool $12.99 each, along with lots of colorful scrap fabric and a little foam and dacron, the hard slatted chairs turned into soft, foldup side chairs with a bit of bohemian flair. If you like the look, keep an eye out at thrift stores - I've seen wooden foldup chairs on many occasions.

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Tools and Resources:

  • Slatted folding chair
  • Fabric scraps
  • Foam for seat and 1" foam for back
  • Dacron to cover foam
  • Spray adhesive
  • Stapler and staples
  • Double welt cord or gimp
  • Hot glue gun and hot glue
  • Scissors
  • Pliers to remove staples, if necessary
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Step by Step:

  1. Choose a variety of printed fabrics to use
  2. Measure, cut and staple a piece of 1" foam around the slatted back starting under the bottom rail and going up and over the top and attaching back under the bottom rail
  3. Repeat Step 2 with dacron padding
  4. Cut a 1 1/2" or 2" piece of foam that will fit the seat of the chair. With scissors, cut the sharp corner off the edge of the foam (bevel it) so it will have a soft edge.
  5. Spray adhesive on the bottom of the seat foam and press it in place on the seat of the chair.
  6. Cut a piece of dacron batting that will cover the seat foam and will also be long enough on both sides to tuck down through the side slats to the bottom of the chair.
  7. Staple the dacron and foam at the front and rear of the seat by stapling the dacron to the slats just barely behind the front and back rails. There will be slight gaps between the slats where you can't staple.
  8. Place the seat fabric on top of the padding and begin securing the fabric with 3-4 staples at the center front and center rear of the chair and then pull firmly out towards the sides while stapling.
  9. With a dull tool, tuck the fabric down through the slats at the sides and attach it on the bottom of the chair's outside rails, pulling and smoothing from the center towards the corners.
  10. With your chair folded up and laying flat, begin attaching the fabric underneath the bottom rail, smoothing out and stapling in place towards the edges.
  11. Pull and smooth the fabric up and around the chair back and attach under the bottom rail with a few temporary staples to hold it in place.
  12. In order to get the fabric attached to the sides of the back, you need to smooth and flatten out the fabric and padding in order to staple it in place. Remember that there will be gaps between the slats where you can attach the fabric directly to the side rails, the staples will later be covered with trim.
  13. Now remove the temporary staples from the bottom of the back rail and smooth and pull the back fabric down while folding the cut edge under about 1/2" and secure with staples, keeping staples and fabric folded neatly and even.
  14. With either double welt cord or gimp, glue the cut end of trim under and attach the trim to cover all exposed staples, working carefully not to burn yourself on the hot glue.
  15. Attach the trim to the front and back of the seats where there are exposed staples and tuck the trim edges down between the seat side rails on either side.

For DIY super customization, you could add a third wooden slat on the back to extend the upholsterable area. World Market does carry other styles of wooden folding chairs that cost a bit more, or are sold in sets of four.

Related Links:

  • DIY Inspiration: Colorfully Upholstered Folding Chairs
  • Top Ten Folding Chairs