Two for the Price of One: reupholster chairs and make custom shoes with the same fabric

Recovered Chair and TOMS shoes, with the same fabricBy Katie Miller

Quick look at the project:

  • 4 chairs: $97

  • Total time: 3 days

  • Other supplies: scissors, screwdriver, sandpaper, microfiber cloth, glue, paint, plain and patterned fabric.

  • And what to do with leftover fabric? Make your own custom shoes!

My main motivation for my latest “crafternoons,” was twofold—to save money and to reduce my consumption.  I graduated this past December from the University of Missouri with a Bachelor’s in Social Work and have since moved back to a suburb of Chicago.  I am very blessed to have my first “place.”  My grandmother moved next door to my parents about two years ago when her declining health made it more practical to live next to her family who could take care of her and to purchase the one-level house that had gone into foreclosure, making it affordable.  However, due to the same poor housing market that allowed her to move, in return, her condo did not sell while on the market for over a year.  Lucky for me, that means I now get to live in her old condo for relatively cheap rent!  My mom lived here when she was a teenager, and it hasn’t really been remodeled since then.  It’s pretty spectacular with its gold speckled countertops, peeling cabinets, and faded brown green carpet.  It’s home now.

I’m just starting out and am currently working as a full-time nanny until I begin graduate school, so I am very much on a budget.  At the same time, I try to be somewhat environmentally conscious, meaning I lug bags of recycling to my parents house, since our complex does not offer recycling, unplug my cell phone charger when not in use, and I’ve been a vegetarian for a year now.  (Fun fact: Giving up meat just once a week is comparable to switching to a hybrid car!  Times seven, that’s a pretty effective way to reduce your carbon footprint!)

I had acquired a table that was in my parents shed for several years that was my great-grandmothers’ kitchen table back in the day.  (My fiancé recently proposed with the same great-grandmother’s engagement ring, so both have a lot of sentimental value!)  I found four chairs from a very affordable furniture resale shop run by local churches.  The most expensive chair was $35, and the least expensive was $12, for a grand total of about $97.  I knew I wanted them all mismatched, and I found really nice, solid-wood, antique-looking chairs.  My next step was to choose four different colors, so I chose salmon, yellow, light blue, and navy blue.  I hope to eventually paint the sides of the table/walls a sage green to go with those colors.  Total, they took about three days to finish.  The steps I followed to finish the chairs were:

  • Turn over the chairs to unscrew the seats from the bottoms
  • Sand/scratch up the finish and then wipe the dust off with a microfiber cloth
  • Apply two coats of paint to each chair, letting the first coat dry completely before starting the second (I made this mistake on one of the chairs! The paint cracks into the wood grain if you paint a second coat over the first if it’s not dry.  This is fine if you like the distressed look, though!)
  • Pull off the old fabric from the upholstered seats except for the last layer, wrap with new fabric, pull taut, and staple the fabric to the bottom using a staple gun. (I used a really pretty and inexpensive toile de joie pattern, backed with a few layers of plain white fabric to give a clean pattern and protect from last layer of the old fabric, which was kind of gross.)
  • Make seat cushions for the remaining two chairs, using the same pattern of fabric for consistency.  (I purchased foam, cut it to the shape of the seat, pinned fabric to the foam, cut another piece of fabric on top, and then hand-sewed a seam together.  Don’t forget to remove the pins as you sew!)  For a general idea, see this.
  • Screw together the seats back to the bases of the chairs.

Since I had so much leftover fabric, and I was sick of my parents making fun of my “hole-y” TOMS shoes, I decided to cover my old grey TOMS with some of the leftover fabric.

For this, I first washed them in the washing machine and let them dry completely, covered the big hole in my right toe area with Aleene’s Tacky Glue to make a glue patch, cut the shape of fabric I wanted, folded over the edge, and sewed it over the original fabric.  I decided to paint the soles a sunny yellow to make them look more new and cover up some of the stains that didn’t come off in the washing machine.

Two crafts for the price of one, and I didn’t kill any trees for new chairs!  I hope you get inspired to create your own custom kitchen or shoes!  Happy crafting!

One Comment Add yours

  1. Monserrat says:

    I applaud you for caring about our earth and being so creative. Great job!

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