how to recover an armchair

The perfect spot for a daydream

February 26, 2013 · 30 comments

I recently added a little armchair to my workroom as I thought it would be nice to have somewhere comfy to sit while doing bits of hand finishing.

In reality it has actually ended up being more of a substitute dog bed than anything else because my cheeky little dog, Gatsby, tends to assume that any soft surface is there for his comfort!

I do sit in it occasionally, however, and have a good read of one of my pattern cutting books or dream up my next project.

Armchair reupholstered in new fabric

I bought the original chair from Ikea (catchily named Ektorp Jennylund) with the intention of re-covering it. I have already done this with two of the same armchairs in our lounge as it was the only affordable way to get a customised chair that I could come up with.

I picked the chair because it is quite delicate as armchairs go so doesn’t take up loads of space and it has a fully removable cover- I am no upholsterer!  It was also pretty bargainous being from Ikea!

I bought some lovely Clarke and Clarke fabric for my workroom chair from Fabrics Galore in Clapham near where I live in London as I luuuurved the pretty soft colours and was only £12- very reasonable for home décor fabric!

I actually think it is drape weight fabric rather than upholstery weight but the chair won’t be heavily used so I’m sure it’ll be tough enough to last a while.

To make the pattern I simply unpicked the Ikea cover and marked the back of the fabric with notches so I knew which piece joined to which. Then I used the fabric pieces as my pattern, laying them on top of my own fabric, pinning them and cutting them out.

I had pre-washed my fabric as I knew this cover was going to end up being washed  (err dog anyone?) and I didn’t want any post-construction shrinkage.

Re-cover-chair-pattern pieces

Gatsby helping cover armchair

After cutting out my pattern pieces I overlocked all my edges before stitching them together- trying to finish them afterwards was going to be way too fiddly as the chair  has piping in places and only a 1cm seam allowance.

I did lengthen the skirt pieces 6cm as the Ikea cover had the chair equivalent to ankle swingers going on for some reason!

I also carved a chunk off the back of the sponge seat cushion with a bread knife- yes a bread knife (the things I get up to) It actually worked like a charm!

I did this because for some reason these chairs have been designed with a seat cushion that overhangs?  I couldn’t really work out the benefit of this and it bugged me aesthetically.

recover armchair skirt

I bought quite chunky piping cord and cut bias strips of my fabric that were 4cm wide. I used my zipper foot to stitch my piping down so that I could get nice and close to the cord.

The construction of the chair was generally pretty straightforward, although I was definitely glad to have notes on the back of the original pieces once I got to the end of the day.

reupholster chair piping

Having completed my third one of these chair covers and remembering what a simple process it was I finally brave enough to unpick my favourite pair of jeans and use them as a pattern.

I had been meaning to do this for ages but I loved them so much it seemed a bit too painful! I’m super glad I did though as within a day I had recreated them in a lovely pale pink ready for the Spring. More about that in a future post.

Armchair recovered in new fabric

Have you ever unpicked something in order to recreate it? Would you do it again?

Thanks for reading!

Ami x

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