December 3, 2012


We are in full swing of the holidays, and with Thanksgiving behind us, many of us may be gearing up again (if we are lucky) for a house full of folks for Christmas as well.  And if you had a few extra bodies on Turkey day you may have found yourself lacking the extra seating for said bodies. So, I've put together a quick folding chair DIY to show you how a drab thrifted or curbside folding chair find can be turned into great extra seating that isn't a blight on your beautiful holiday table. Inspired by my friend Beth's recent how-to and my last post on neutrals - I decided to tackle a cool vintage Samonsite folding chair I'd been eying at my favorite thrift store.

I was lucky enough to snag this book of patterns by Lotta Jansdotter at another favorite thrift store (Urban Thrift!) for $2 and I decided to try out one of her geometric prints on heavy muslin (gives you a linen look at 1/3 the price).


  • folding chair (any kind so long as it has an upholstery seat / back)
  • primer
  • spray paint (you could go with a satin or gloss spray - either will work)
  • fabric (I chose a heavy cotton muslin, but you could use linen, duck cloth, ticking fabric, canvas, an old sweater - really anything that will hold up over time/use)
  • scrap batting, white fleece, or flannel to give your fabric a nice back drop (I upholstered over the existing faux leather cover)
  • scissors (not pictured)
  • staple gun
  • stencil (the one pictured here is by Lotta Jansdotter, but you could make your own or use a stamp, even a potato stamp!)
  • stencil brushes/sponges (again Martha Stewart)
  • screwdriver and/or small wrench for removing seat cushions
Time: 2 hours
Total cost: $10 (I had most of my materials on hand)


1. Remove seat and back from the folding chair.

2. Wipe down the frame of the chair with a damp cloth and let dry.

3. Prime the frame with spray primer that works with metal. Mine was gray but I could've + should've just use a white primer since I was painting my chair white.

4. Paint the chair desired color with spray paint (satin or gloss finish work equally well)

5. Layout your fabric and place your seat and back panels onto your fabric to measure how much you will need. You will only need 1.5-2 inches overlap on the back (enough to pull down snugly and staple into place).

6. If you want to stencil your own fabric, lay out fabric pieces already cut to size on a flat surface. Position your stencil according to the shape of the seat or back panel and dab the stencil with fabric paint until good coverage is achieved - you don't want to use an excessive amount of paint because it will leak under the edge or your stencil. Don't worry about little imperfections - a handmade look is what you are going for! Let you fabric fully dry (you don't want to mess it up during the upholstery process).

7. Lay your fully dry stenciled fabric face down on a flat but protected surface. Next put down your white batting, fleece, or other white scrap fabric to give a nice backdrop to your outer fabric. This step is not completely necessary but I think it helps to give a better overall look. Using your staple gun, carefully pull your fabric tight and secure with staples, alternating opposite sides to keep the fabric as tight as possible. Be sure not to cover the holes to reattach your seat and back panels.

8. Trim excess fabric and reattach your seat and back panels to the chair frame.

9. Admire your chair and put your feet up!

Have fun with it - do something outside your comfort zone - a bright color a funky fabric. It is just a folding chair!

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