Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Grain Sack Chair

Major props to The Graphics Fairy, a fantastic blog which provides free clip art, vintage images and ideas for projects that are so inspiring!

I had purchased a chair at an estate sale for $20, and wanted to cover it in something really cool. Thanks to the free ideas on The Graphics Fairy, I found an awesome grain sack image. Grain sack chairs being all the rage and all, score - but they can run you about $1500!

Here are a few examples:

With a little trial and error, I was able to recover the chair in unbleached cotton ($20) from Jo-Ann, applying the grain sack image using citra-solv to transfer the image, and apply nail head trim. Total cost - $60. What a deal!

Here are the steps:

1. Purchase a chair from a garage sale, estate sale, or antique mall. The uglier the fabric, the better.

2. Take off the old upholstery. I just used pliers mostly. To remove staples, use a staple remover. To remove nails, use the back end thingie on the hammer. Sure it has a name I just don't know it.

3. Check out the batting. That's the padding. If it is sufficient, as mine was, leave it be. If it is insufficient, buy some cotton batting from a fabric or upholstery store and pad 'er up.

4. Now cut out pieces of fabric that have at least 4-5 inches extra on all sides for each piece of the chair.

5. If you want to do an image transfer, print out the image on a LASER copier (not inkjet) or have a toner-based copy made. Then put the image face down on the fabric, and brush on some Citra-Solv. This is a cleaner and degreaser you buy at Whole Foods. Then use a spoon and sort of rub it in. That's called burnishing, I have learned. Take away the paper and there you go - a cool image on your fabric!

6. Then, pull and stretch the fabric and use a staple gun to secure it down. Then cut off the excess fabric.

7. Finally apply some sort of trim, which you will need to cover the staples and otherwise make the chair look finished. I used nail heads because I like that look. Buy nail head trim in strips where you only have to nail in every fifth one. Or you can use a ribbon trim or, if you are Bold and the Beautiful, you can do a welting cord.


  1. There are so many wonderful blogs but sometimes I'm lost in the techniques they discuss, a simple explanation of "what the heck is that" is greatly appreciated!! Thank you for explaining what burnishing is. Loved your chair!

  2. This chair is to die for! I absolutely LOVE IT!
    Queen Bee Studio

  3. Amazing! You couldn't have explained it better. I've always shied away from these sorts of chairs when I'm out vintage browsing bc I assumed one had to be pretty much a professional upholsterer to do a decent job. Now I'm ready to give it a go! One question - the Citra-sol is applied to the back of the copy, with the printed side on the fabric right?

  4. fantastic! I'll be sharing this :D

  5. I lurve this so so much, Thanks for sharing.Now to find an awesome chair......

  6. It's called a claw hammer. Yep, that thingy is claw. LOL

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