How-To: French Tuft a Cane Chair…From the Flea Market

Here is another “bookmarkable” How-To step-bystep project from our DIY expert, Shelly…

Project: French Tuft a Cane Back Flea Market Chair
Time: 5-6 hours
Cost: $36.88 plus tax

The real worth of a DIY-er is his or her nimble ability to adjust and rescue a project that’s heading south. This tufted cane chair conversion did not unfold technically, or visually, as planned. Fortunately, adjusting my vision freed me to find an unexpected look. For a moment I lamented the loss of my deep button tufts, but that technique wasn’t my goal here. Now, this bright, cheery french tufted striped chair and pillow combo have unexpectedly become the frontrunners to my new Spring palette.

Tools and Resources:

  • 1 1/2 yards of fabric
  • 1 yard of dacron
  • scissors
  • spray adhesive
  • ruler
  • staple puller or flathead screwdriver
  • crescent pliers
  • seam ripper
  • embroidery floss and needle
  • staple gun, manual, electric or pneumatic
  • staples
  • gimp (trim for chair back)
  • hot glue gun and glue (not pictured)
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Step by Step:

  1. Take notes of chair teardown
  2. Remove dustcover, seat screws and seat
  3. With staple remover or flathead screwdriver and crescent pliers, remove staples and seat cover
  4. Using seam ripper, remove boxing from top of seat cover
  5. Iron both piece flat
  6. Remove welt cord from inside back of chair
  7. Remove button tufted cushion piece, take buttons out
  8. Remove outside back fabric
  9. Iron all back pieces flat
  10. Lay all pieces on new fabric (we’re not using welt cord on the new seat cushion)
  11. Cut out new fabric
  12. Plug button tufting holes with dacron, spray entire front of foam with spray adhesive and add a fresh piece of dacron to the top
  13. Stitch the seat boxing to the seat top, overlapping and stitching at the center of the back. On seat top, topstitch seam allowance to the inside of the seat top 1/4″ from the seam.
  14. As with all seat upholstery, set anchor staples in the center of the front, back and sides, moving and smoothing outwards towards corners, fold crisply and staple in place.
  15. Place new fabric on the plugged back piece, mark where the french tufting is desired
  16. Thread 5 strands of embroidery floss through an embroidery needle and take 1/2″ stitches from top of cushion through fabric, dacron, foam and a small square of dacron used for an anchor on the back side and push needle back up through to the top. Tie firmly, forming a tuft. Put ends together and tie another larger knot as close to the fabric as possible. Cut floss leaving 1/2″. Repeat for all desired tufts. These will look like old fashioned mattress tufts.
  17. Now place new fabric for the outside back on the inside of the chair frame. Center and line up stripes, begin attaching as stated above-center of each side, moving out towards edges. Cut off excess fabric.
  18. Center the tufted back on the inside back of chair frame. Attach at the top and bottom. Fold the edges of the sides under to fit on chair frame and staple in place moving from center outwards towards corners.
  19. Beginning at the bottom, attach gimp (trim) with hot glue to cover the staples all around the inside back and ending at the bottom of the other side.
  20. Replace the seat cushion on the frame, replace the screws and add a new dustcover.
  21. With an inexpensive graphic placemat, make a jazzy lumbar pillow for your new french tufted flea market find.

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