Military chair makeover

Give a tired chair a military makeover with this stylish project

We loved the overall shape of this tapestry-covered chair but felt it needed an update to make it really stand out. By reupholstering it with a bright military coat and giving it a lick of paint, we instantly gave it ‘wow’ factor.

You will need:
sand paper
damp cloth
Chalk Paint in Graphite, £18.95 per 1l tin, Annie Sloan
paint brush
Shabby Chic Chalk Paint in Metallic Gun Metal, £6.60 per 125ml, Rainbow Chalk Paints
Clear Wax, £8.95 per 500ml tin, Annie Sloan
clean, dry cloth
old military-style coat (the larger, the better)
dressmaker’s chalk pins
sewing machine
needle and thread
fabric to match your coat
upholstery tacks

1 Begin by removing the fabric that currently covers your chair. Our upholstery was held in place with tacks, so it was fairly easy to remove using a hammer and screwdriver. If your tacks are in good condition, keep them aside to re-use later in the project.

Step 01

2 Once your fabric has been stripped away, sand the woodwork of the chair all over and wipe down with a cloth. Apply two coats of Chalk Paint in graphite. Add a dab of gunmetal paint to the raised details of the chair to make them stand out. Once dry, apply a coat of clear wax over the paint using a clean, dry cloth – this will seal the paintwork and protect it.

Step 02

3 Lay the coat out flat, with arms outstretched. Cut each sleeve off along the seam line; keep these aside for later use. Cut along the side seams to separate the front and back of the coat, then across each shoulder seam, to take the two layers apart.

4 Measure the chair’s back rest – ours was a rectangle, so was easy to reupholster. Add 4cm to the measured length and width of the back rest (these will be folded over to form a 2cm hem) then using chalk, mark it out onto the top of the coat front, including the collar along the top edge. You may need to add extra fabric to the sides of the coat front, depending on how wide it is. If so, utilise fabric from the arms of the coat, or find a fabric that matches closely. Pin into place and machine top stitch to hold the various pieces together, including the buttonband. Fold the edges over to the wrong side by 2cm and pin in place.

Step 04

5 Cut a piece of wadding to the size of the back rest and place it in position on the chair. Lay the rectangle you prepared in step 4 on top, and use upholstery tacks and a hammer to secure it in place, making sure to space the tacks uniformly.

6 Lay out the coat back. Measure the seat of the chair, and cut the coat back down to fit – as with step 4, you may need to add extra fabric to the sides of the coat to fit the seat well. Cut and lay wadding into position over the seat, then place the fabric on top, folding all edges under by 2cm once again. You may need to trim the edges a little and manipulate them into position around the legs of the chair or corners.

7 With the back rest and seat covered, now it is time to cover the side panels. We constructed these panels entirely out of matching fabric.
As before, measure the size of each panel, add 4cm to the measurements, then cut, fold and pin the edges. One at a time, place them into position on the chair sides and hammer into place with tacks.

Step 07

8 Finish up by constructing the front panel of the chair. To add a little extra detail, we cut this piece from the remaining coat front – working further down on the garment, at the point at which the front pockets were positioned. Start by tacking the buttonband together so you can work on the coat front in one piece. Measure the panel, add 4cm to each measurement, then draw and cut out the piece. Fold each edge under by 2cm, pin and then tack into position to finish.

Feature and styling: Sophie Holt
Photography: Lizzie Orme

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