This old office chair was destined for the tip, it was black, uncomfortable and would not raise in height to be of any use – but I am reluctant to send anything into landfill these days, so I decided to give it a new lease of life!
The seat and back came off separately, as they were just bolted on – sadly there was no way of repairing the old mechanism for raising the chair, so I decided to come up with a thicker seat to add height. The cushioning on the chair was not very deep, making it very uncomfortable. I bought some 3inch deep foam the width and depth of the seat. I placed the seat onto the foam and drew round with a marker pen. I cut away any excess from the foam to create a seat the right shape.
I covered the foam in wadding – to prevent the foam from being broken down by the movement of the cover using large stitching to remain in place. I used crochet cotton, which is thicker than ordinary thread and works well for this. Hand stitching is key to creating these covers, some can be done on machine, but its being able to sew seams closed that makes it easy.
To get a really crisp edge round your chair of any shape, simply lay your fabric right side up, lay the cushion on top and pin the piping neatly around the shape. You want the open edge to the rough edge of the fabric, the piped edge needs to be pinned hard up against your foam pad. I have a piping foot for my machine that makes the whole job so much easier. If you are making a box cushion you then stitch the side edges to the bias binding right sides together / wrong side uppermost.
You can see along the edge the seaplane has been pattern matched. I could have used on continuous piece but it uses a lot of fabric – making smaller strips is more economical. As the bottom of the seat was wood, I simply drew the fabric together and hand stitched, gathering in the fabric to make a clean bottom edge. I then used a glue gun to keep the fabric from fraying and covered it up with gimp. (glued over the seam edge to neaten it)
Then it is repeating the process for the back, here it was more challenging to get the right shape as the back section was very curved, however I laid out the piped edge around the back. You can see the original fabric of this seat, it was black with a stretch.
The back section did not have a uniform depth nor was it a regular rectangle, the top was wider than the bottom and the depth was thinner at the top and wider nearer the seat cushion. It is why I chose to do most of the cushion by hand, using the thinner crochet cotton because of its strength. You have much more control and the ability to stitch very close, which is not so easy when you wrestle trying to get your fabric under a sewing foot! I did do both the panels piping by machine and then stitched the sides by hand.
It isn’t perfect but it is complete! The shape turned out to be more complex than I imagined, but it is the hand stitching that makes all the difference. Stitching in the ditch with a curved needle meant all the stitches remained hard to see. However, it is hard on the hands, a good set of pliers is very handy to pull the circular needle through all those layers of fabric.
The wonderful thing about this revamped chair, is that the cushioning is so soft it is like using an armchair but with the added bonus of wheels! It will have more good years of use which is good for the environment!