I received some great ideas from a question posted about the broken caning on all of my dining room chairs. I've been shopping for six replacement chairs as the caning repair is going to run $200 ish per chair and that doesn't include the broken frames.
Replacement chairs are $225 each or more because of a size restriction. Spouse says he can fix the frames, but can't do the caning. This caning extends from the top to the bottom of the chair back and keeps one's back from falling through.
I think that it is a wonderful idea to re-do your chairs yourself. I think that recycling and re-using is a great idea; it not only saves money but keeps things out of the landfills. Your idea to attach a padded board to the front is wonderful, but go one step further and cover the pad with a piece of fabric. Then, on the back, cut to the shape of the chair, a piece of thin cardboard and cover that with fabric too. You can attach it to the chair with glue or upholstery tacks all around the edge. I just re-upholstered a 1950's chair that had the cardboard on the back, I figure, if it has lasted for 57 years on this chair it wouldn't be a bad idea for you to use it on your chair. I would also recover the seats of the chairs with the same fabric that you re-do the backs with. I used a bed sheet for my re-upholstery project, you get a lot of fabric for the price. I only wish that I had taken before and after pictures to share with everyone...so, you make sure to take pictures, ok?
Persnickety Paula - Could you post some after the fact pictures of your re-covered chairs?
I must have mislead you, not intentionally of course. My chair is not a dining chair, but an upholstered side chair. The picture is not the greatest, sorry. I have re-upholstered kitchen chairs that only needed the seat material changed out, and that was very easy. It gave me the confidence to try other chairs. I re-upholstered some chairs that had metal arms and legs and the seat and back cushions were vinyl, they were easy too, they only had to be unscrewed from the metal frame and I used a stapler to attach the material. This last chair I removed all the bright orange fabric, used a seam ripper to take it apart, and used it as a pattern to cut my new pieces. The biggest thing about trying to redo chairs is to get over your fear, you can do it! At least give one a try and if it doesn't work out you don't have to do anymore. Good luck to you!
To Persnickety Paula,
You did a lovely job on that re-upholstered chair. I bet your talents run toward sewing clothing and other arts and crafts.
I understand that replacement caning is available - But you might also consider something like replacing the caning with filigreed wood/ or metal mesh - which you could spray with metallic paint.... You could also weave leather strips to form a backing for the chair - (see the post about making a chair seat out of belts!) OR get a piece of leather, cut it to shape and nail it to the chairs.....
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