Small Projects

The links to various small projects are listed below.

How to Cover a Dining Chair Seat

Some dining chairs have seats that are part of the chair frame. Other  dining chairs have seats that can be removed from the chair. This article applies to covering a removable dining chair seat with a solid plywood base.

This will also show  you how to cut the plywood, the foam, and the fabric for the seat.

Fabric: The typical dining chair seat of this type takes about 2/3 yard (24") of 54" wide plain fabric for each 2 chair seats. The fabric for each seat is cut 1/2 the width of the fabric (27") wide by 24" deep. If you have a patterned fabric that requires matching, then you should allow more fabric. This video only applies to using plain fabric.

Foam: For a dining chair seat you can use 1", 1 1/2", or 2" foam. We recommend the the foam have a density of 2 1/2 lb to 3 lb, and between 42 to 52 ILD. For further information, see Foam for Upholstery. Cut the foam 1/2" wider than the wood base all the way around. For example, if your wood base it 20" X 16", then you would cut the foam 21" X 17". However, Dining chair seats are generally wider in the front than in the back, so you will have to take that into consideration. and that's all.

Wood base. We recommend using a 1/2" plywood for the base. After cutting the plywood to size, round the corners slightly and dull all the  sharp edges, with either a router or a metal object.

The Process:

Mark the middle on the seat on the bottom on the front and the back of the wood base. Glue the foam onto the wood base. The foam should overhang the wood about 1/2" all the way around the seat.

Mark the center of underside of the fabric on the front and back of the fabric. Use a marker that won't bleed through the fabric. A woodworker's pencil or tailors chalk are good markers.

Spread out the fabric face down on a clean surface. Lay the wood base top down in the center of the fabric. Line up the center marks of the wood base and the fabric.

When stapling, run the length of the staple to go the same as the edge of the wood.

To keep everything in place, put heavy weight, or your knee, or your elbow in the center of the wood base. Using a webbing pliers or your hands, pull the front of the fabric around to the bottom of the wood base. Put a couple staples loosely in the front. Go to the back of the seat and pull and staple the fabric the same as on the front.

Note, While we are lining up the fabric, we only use a few staples to keep everything in place. Sometimes we may have to readjust the fabric so we don't want a lot of staples in the fabric yet.

Pull the center of each side and put one staple loosely in each side. You should now have the fabric stapled in a cross shape, with the four corners loose.


How to Stuff a Chair Seat Cushion

There are many ways to stuff a cushion. I stuffed cushions by hand for many years. Some upholsterers have a cushion stuffing machine. Others have a cushion stuffing that uses vacuum. A noiseless "Silk Film" is sold for use with a vacuum Cushion Filling device. It comes 53" wide in a 20 lb. roll (of possible a few thousand yards). Upholstery supplies specifically for wrapping the cushion prior to stuffing it. However, since the roll costs over $120, this video uses a painter's plastic that you can get at your local hardware store.

This video shows you how to stuff a cushion with only using a Shop Vac and some thin plastic. The plastic that I use is a .31 mil painter's plastic that comes in a roll 9 feet wide and 400 feet long. You can also just buy a small package of a painter's drop cloth. The idea is to get as thin of plastic as possible.

You can probably use almost any vacuum that has a suction hose it. However a more powerful vacuum will just do a quicker job of shrinking the cushion.

(Once you start the video playing, you can click the icon in the bottom right corner to make it play full size on your screen)


To stuff the cushion:

  1. Cut a piece of plastic across the roll about 2 feet wider than you cushion width. (The piece of plastic used on the video was about 4 foot x 9 foot.)
  2. Wrap the plastic around the cushion in a big loop from front to back. Make sure that the plastic extends past the cushion to lay flat on the table a few inches all the way around the cushion.
  3. Put the cushion cover on the table in front of the cushion filling.
  4. Put the vacuum head on the foam or filling under that plastic at the back of the cushion.
  5. When you turn on the vacuum all the loose edges of the plastic will be sealed the for force of the suction.
  6. Once the cushion has been compressed to its minimum size, simply slide the cushion into the cushion cover, push it all the way in so that it presses against the front of the cushion. Before turning the vacuum off, align the cushion cover with all the sides.
  7. Turn off the vacuum, as the filling expands, guide the cover to keep the edges aligned with the foam. (If for some reason the cover is lopsided on the foam, just turn the vacuum back on to shrink the foam again. Then readjust the cover and turn the vacuum off again).
  8. When the foam has full expanded inside the cover, reach inside to the front of the cushion and carefully tear the plastic across the front and pull the plastic out of the cover. Again, be careful that you don't mess up the padding inside the cushion as you remove the plastic.
  9. After all the plastic has been removed, check the front of the cushion. If the foam or filling does not fully fill out the front of the cover, pull the cover      to back onto the foam (see video).
  10. Press the foam back into the cover as you zip up the cushion.
  11. Check on all sides of the cushion that the seams and corners are square on the cushion. Adjust if necessary.


Recover a Vinyl Dining Chair Seat

Tools Needed

Heat gun (or hand held hair dryer, or portable heater)

heat guh

Note, a heat gun gets very hot,

hot heat gun

Before using any form of heat on vinyl, please read this article on heat guns.



Rejuvinating a Feather Pillow

What you can do depends upon the condition of the cover and of the down & feathers inside. Are the feathers lumpy or have they just lost their fluffiness? Are you wanting the cushions to more fluffy, or to be more supportive. One problem with feather sofa or chair cushions is they might not have enough body to them and so you can just sit right through them.

To fluff them up you can either clean them, add to them, or replace everything. First, check the condition of the ticking cover, see if the seams are are tight or if any feathers are coming through. Make a new ticking cover or fix any holes in the old ticking before you clean them, you can take them to a dry cleaner. Or if you decide to wash them, put two of them in the load to counterbalace them. (This only applies if the cushions are small. If the cushions are large and thick, washing them might be a good idea as they might just get soggy in the middle and might take a lot to get them to dry out in the middle). In the drier put a couple of clean tennis shoes, which will help fluff them and break up the clumps. Also, make sure you dry them completely.

If they don't need to be cleaned, then you may just need to add more feathers. If you add more feathers you can just use some of your feather pillows, or you can go purchase some feather pillows. You can also purchase more down/feathers from an upholstery supply outfit, but you usually have to purchase a large bag of them, which is pretty expensive. That's why I suggest purchase feather pillows. YOu can often get them much cheaper than buying just the feathers.

Another way to add more body to a feather pillow is to add a foam core to the middle of the feather pillow. you can go to Down Feather with Foam Insert., which will show you how a foam core feather pillow is constructed.

Another possibility, if the feather pillows are quite old, is that the feather might have just disintegrated. As an example, I remember back some years ago when my wife wanted me to recover her favorite feather pillow, which she had since childhood. When I opened it up the feathers inside had completely disintegrated into a blackish yucky mess. I ended up making everything new for her. Down and feathers, like anything else, don't last forever. If the cushions get in too bad of shape, sometimes it's just better to make new ticking covers and replace the filling with new feathers/down



Washing Feather Pillows

How to Fluff Couch Cushions


Welted Dining Seats with pattern

Sewing the Dining Seats

Basic Instructions

Use 5/32" cording (mine is jute, but any regular 5/32" upholstery welt would do.)

Cut the welt fabric strips (that wrap around the welt cord) 1 1/2" wide. (if the welting (meaning, both the inside cording and fabric strips). My ruler is 1 1/2" wide, so I just lay it on the fabric and trace both sides of the ruler. This naturally leaves the welt strips 1 1/2" wide. When marking multiple welt strips, to mark

This article is just started, so isn't complete. Will be added to in the future.

Measuring and Cutting the Side Boxing

 When I cut the side boxing, I cut it about 2-3" taller than the finished height.  For example, if the finished height of the side boxing is 2", this is how I'd chose the boxing width (height). 1/2" top seam allowance + 2" finished height + 2" pulling and stapling allowance = 4 1/2" boxing width (this is approx., it could even be wider if needed). (I cut it this wide so that I have something to hang onto and pull with at the bottom of the seat base.) I then sew the side boxing and the welt onto the seat top.   

 I put the bottom welt on separately. Even if it was done that way before,  I do not sew the welt on the bottom of the side boxing.So, when I'm putting on the sewn seat cover, I'm only stapling one thickness at the bottom of the seat. I sew the bottom welt separately, which is put on separately after I have the rest of the seat stapled on.

Sewing the Dining Seats

Basic Sewing Instructions

Use 5/32" cording (we main use jute cording, but any regular 5/32" upholstery welt would do.)

Cut the welt fabric strips (that wrap around the welt cord) 1 1/2" wide. My ruler is 1 1/2" wide, so I just lay it on the fabric and trace both sides of the ruler. (If you would like to use this easier marking method, you can use any 1 1/2" wide wood or metal strips) This naturally leaves the welt strips 1 1/2" wide. When marking multiple welt strips at the same time, lay one edge of the 1 1/2" wide ruler along the edge of the previous mark, then draw beside the opposite edge of the ruler.

Sew seams at 1/2". (Wrapping the above welt fabric strips around the 5/32" cording, this seam allowance naturally happens. No trimming is needed.)




Starting at the back of the chair seat, leaving a several inches of the welting free, sew the welt around the edges of the seat top. It goes faster if you put the cording into the welt strips at the same time that. (This picture shows starting at the front, but this is because we are matching a pattern. We would normally start at the back of the chair.)









Sewing Corners
    When you come to the corners, you might want to just "walk" it the last few stitches before the corner. To walk the machine, press on the foot pedal just slightly, which will loosen the clutch, then use your hand to turn the hand wheel at the right of your sewing machine. Just turn it the last few stitches  before the corner. When you come to within about 3/8" of an inch of the corner, leave the needle in the fully down position so that it holds the fabric in place and "lift the foot" while you turn the fabric to sew around the other side of the corner. (all this is shown on the slide show, but since there is no sound, you have to know what you are watching for.)

Putting Fabric on the Frame

Rick, it shouldn't make any different in appearance which way you do it. Besides having the seat tops being the same size, the main thing is that you want to have the same height between welts on the side of the chair. To get a consistant height all the way around all the chairs, I use an adjustable square, as shown in this picture.

Click here to enlarge picture

To get a consistant height, measure the height of one of the chairs you have already finished. (Put the flat side of the square against the bottom wood base one of your finished chairs. Loosen the tightening nut, and then slide the ruler section down so that the end of the ruler is at the seam (which is also the inside edge of the cording.) When you have the correct measurement, tighten the nut on the square).

Now, as you pull and staple around the edges of the seat cover, put the square on the fabric (as shown in picture) before you staple it.

However, before you start putting it on, here  are some pictures of putting a cover on. (I have the pictures for the above chair seats, but don't have them on my website yet. But have these other pictures that will work in showing how it is done.)

Click here and See Pictures 6636 through at least 6674

Instructions, as also shown in the pictures:

  • Put sewn cover on seat, line up all corners.
  • Set elbow firmly on top of seat to hold in place. (keep elbo there until two opposite seat covers are in place.
  • Pull first cover down over corner, check that center of fabric cover is lined up with center of wood corner.
  • Use Square to measure height, then staple.
  • While still firmly holding the center of the fabric cover on the seat, turn the seat around so that you are working on the diagonally opposite corner. Put your elbow back on the middle of the seat, and pull the second corner over the side, measure and staple. Now that you have opposite corners fastenend, the cover will stay in place now.
  • Pull over, measure and staple the two remaining corners.
  • Check all the corners that the centers are all lined up.
  • On all the rest of the instructions, you will be working always in the center areas: Go to the center of the loose area, Center any looseness (if any) of the fabric in the center of the wood base. You should always have  an even amount of any loose fabric on both sides of where you staple.
  • Using this centering method, pull and measure the areas in the center of the seat sides. Pull, measure, & staple every few inches in the center of one side, then do the opposite side.
  • After you have a few staples on all sides, check that they all measure the same and are straight.
  • Then pull, measure, and staple the rest of the fabric.




Note: This tutorial is just in the beginning phases. Please help me improve it. If you find anything unclear or hard to understand, please leave a comment* at the bottom of this page. (*You need to register on thie website and then sign in to leave comments.)