A broken-in pair of jeans is one of the comfiest things in the world (denim is to humans as cardboard is to cats, right?). Unfortunately, they do eventually wear out. Luckily, they leave behind the best upholstery material: soft, comfy, durable denim. Chair seats wear out, too, especially kitchen table chairs, which can take a lot of abuse. Here we’ll show you how to combine the two, reusing your old jeans and improving the chair.
Reupholstering chair seats is straightforward. The seat bottom usually unscrews from the frame fairly easily.
The next disassembly step is removing the fabric covering. In most modern chairs, it is stapled on. You can usually pull most of the staples out just by gripping the fabric close to the staple and pulling upwards. Robo-grips are good for this, although other pliers will probably work, too.
I find that end nippers are effective for prying up particularly stubborn staples that I can’t get with the robo-grips. Continue prying up the staples until the fabric comes off. Remove any remaining staples that might get in the way of the staples you’ll want to put in later.
The foam padding is likely to be glued to the base. A little pulling and a little coercion with a razor blade can convince it to come off.
You’ll need a new piece of foam. Pieces from the craft store tend to be priced rather high, but you can use an inexpensive mattress topper, which is likely to be cost-effective, especially if you have more than one chair or other projects you can use it for. Two layers of egg-carton style foam can mesh together to form a solid block.
Place your seat platform on your foam pad and trace around it with a marker. It is preferable to be a little generous in the pad size. If it is too small, you could end up with a hard edge on your chair.
The last layer in your seat is the denim. Split the leg of a worn-out pair of jeans down the outside seam. You’ll end up with a nice wide piece of fabric with the familiar flat felled seam in the center. Cut of a piece long enough to leave a few inches in all directions. Stack up your fabric, pad, and seat platform and get your staple gun ready.
Start by pulling the denim tight on one end and tack a couple of 1/4″ staples in. Then pull the other end tight and tack there as well. Move on to the other two sides and pull tight and staple them down, too. Gradually work around the edges pulling tight for each staple. Be careful to avoid putting staples in where the screws attach the bottom to the chair. Fill in all the way around except for any corners.
Dealing with the corners is a lot like wrapping a present. You can fold in the sides and then fold over the front, or you can fold the corner over diagonally and tuck the excess material under. After the corner is down, cut away any excess fabric and add staples to fill in any remaining gaps.
Flip it over to admire it, and then screw it back onto the chair frame.
That wraps it up. You can now enjoy your comfier chair.
This technique will work for pretty much any shape, including round cafe-style chairs such as the one below.
1 thought on “Chair Reupholstery with Used Denim”
Thanks for the tutorial – I posted a "before and after" photo of two swivel chairs I reupholstered with some old jeans here:
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