My husband rescued these patio chairs from a work job where they were getting tossed out.
At first I was like… “Really? These are so ugly.” but he insisted they were sturdier than our cheapo set (which he, my sister, and my cousin assembled out of a box, if that tells you anything). And he was right. They’re better quality. The leg joints don’t make my worried it might break the minute I sit in it. So there’s that.
I started looking around for ideas on how to give these chairs a makeover. I had a nice canvas fabric in blues and greens that I’ve moved at least 4 times and had yet to use. This seemed as good a time as any to actually cut into it and make something. I used the fabric color scheme to inspire my paint choices.
This project has two parts: spray painting the metal of the chairs, and sewing new covers for the cushions. If you’re doing initial research like I did, let me say now: *You CAN spray paint the mesh fabric on your chairs!*
Spray paint supplies – (mostly) the usual:
- Wire brush (to take off any rust)
- Drop cloth/plastic cover
- Spray paint
- Paper towels and cleaning spray
- Painters tape and paper or extra plastic
- Recommended: a mask
- Sewing machine
- All-purpose thread
- Needle and thread
- No-sew hem tape (optional)
- Outdoor appropriate fabric (you’ll need at least a yard, I used canvas)
First I used my wire brush to smooth it down and get most of the rust off the chairs. Then I sprayed it and wiped it all clean before getting my paint cans out. Before I could paint, I also had to hand tack part of the back of one of the chairs because it was separating and loose around the bar of the back support. After all that prep work, I was ready to do my first color: I painted the top bar of the chair in green to break up the (very bright) blue a little bit and tie it back to my fabric. Then I covered the green rail in paper before I started painting the rest of the chair blue.
I always get cursed with wind when I’m ready to do a spray painting project. This was a poor time to remember that I meant to buy a mask at the hardware store for my next spray painting project, but forgot when I was confronted with all the aisles of goodies. I highly recommend using one when you’re doing a large spray job. (Also, don’t forget to wear junky clothes. I wore a tank top I actually liked and now it’s been added to the craft clothes pile because the wind added some real weird blue mist patterns to it.)
As you can see, I didn’t spend too much time (or spray paint) perfecting the seat support that will later be covered by the cushion.
Next, I took on the sewing half. I cut open the existing cushions and took the padding out, and laid it on my fabric as a template. I decided to do the easiest pillow casing I can think of – cutting your fabric into just one strip instead of two matching pieces. Then I pinned it closed on the sides, sewed the sides closed, and was left with just one opening to close up.
I didn’t take the best photos during this part because it was pushing midnight and I was just trying to get finished in time for our BBQ housewarming the next day. There are some better instructions over at Confessions of a Serial DIYer. I focused mainly on taking pictures of finishing the corner, because that’s what I had the hardest time following instructions for:
You will have a flat casing with two sides sewn up – then you are essentially going to fold the corner on itself. That little flap sticking out beyond the main “triangle” shape is normal. Sew behind your pin (close to the main body). When you turn it right side out, it should look like this:
Then, you can either a) hand stitch the pillows closed, and make that side the back so it’s not facing outward or b) use some magic hem to fuse it closed with your iron. I opted not to hand stitch it, because my cushions weren’t square (i.e., it mattered which side of the cushion faced forward because they have a thinner end that is supposed to be agains the chair back) and I didn’t know until way too late in this process that I was making my cushion in a way that would leave the hand stitch facing frontward and very visible. I used my fusing stuff and it turned out really nicely.
Make sure you do a final check of your chair bodies for any spots you might have missed (or areas that got messed up when the wind kicked your drop cloth up against the wet chair…)
I had to do a little repairing of my green section, which meant protecting the rest of my nicely painted chair! That’s one of the downsides of spray painting – there’s no super easy and not messy way of doing small touch ups.
Bam! My chair makeover is complete. (Now I just need to figure out what I want to do to my little patio table….I didn’t spray paint it to match because I would like a bigger one. We’ll see what I end up doing with it!)