Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Make-do Chair Tutorial

I have received many comments from you prim gals asking ever so nicely to share the instructions on how to make a make-do chair.  So, without further ado…. I will share a couple of pictures and the process that I chose to use.  Please remember that I am not at all close to being a professional at making these chairs, but if you want to try it out for yourself then go for it.  I enjoyed making mine and will probably end up making one for some other gals as well.  Also remember that you can do whatever works best for you so if you find another avenue that works best then perhaps you could share it on your blog too.  Good Luck ladies and be sure to share pics!!


Ok, the items that you will need are the following…… a sheet of plywood, nails, poly-fil (I used the stuff that is actually used for quilting), cloth of your choice and staples or tacks.

First of all, you want to coffee stain your cloth and allow it time to dry.  I use instant coffee and make it as dark as possible.  I normally like my cloth pretty dark.  Then you are going to get your chair….. this is what I used.


Once you have your chair, then you will want to cut your plywood.  I cut mine so it would be just a tad bit taller then the back of the chair.  You want to measure from the seat of your chair up.  I think my chair ended up measuring around 25 or 28 inches.  Then you want to cut your wood and apply it to the front and back of your chair.  I used a nail gun on mine, but screws will work too.  You just want to be careful that you don’t split the wood on your chair.  Here is a picture of what it looked like after I put the back on.


I then proceeded to put the sides on my chair.  I measured and then cut the sides to the same length as the back.  If you want arms to your chair then you just will need to cut and an “L” shape for your sides instead of straight down.  I thought for this being my first chair, that I would make it as easy as possible for me.  Here is a picture after the sides were put on.


So, once you apply the back and the front then you should come up with something like this…..


I then wrapped the plywood with the poly-fil.  Like I mentioned before….. the poly fil that I purchased was from Wal-Mart.  It is actually Quilter’s Polyester Batting.  I got the big bag and it is 110” x 110”  Queen/King and it says High Loft on it.  It was actually very easy to wrap the plywood with this batting because it comes in what appears to be a sheet.  I just wrapped and then used a heavy duty stapler.  Once you wrap it a couple times then you might need to use longer staples so be aware of that.  Here is what it looked like after I wrapped it with the batting.

091 092

Just make sure you get your corners/edges real good because they can be pretty sharp!  Once you are completed then grab your coffee stained cloth and wrap it just as you did the quilter’s batting.  If you can sew then it might be best to make something similar to a slip cover and then slip it over and tack it or staple it to make it nice and snug and tight.  I can’t sew so I just went the easy route and stapled mine.  My Mom has a make-do chair as well and the gal that made her chair tacked her cloth on.  Just depends on what you have available to use (I guess).  Here is a picture of my completed make-do chair.  Just remember to keep your cloth as tight and snug as possible when you are tacking it or stapling it into place.

045 046


Now, if you are looking to make yourself a cushion for your chair then you want to measure your seat and cut your wood out.  I just made my cushion a square, but if you want it to be perfect then you can cut out and round off certain edges to go around the wood legs on your chair (if you use a ladder back chair).  Once your wood is cut then I once again applied the batting and then covered it with the cloth that I had left.  I just wrapped the board like it was a gift and then all of the folds are of course on the bottom.  It is totally a make-do chair.  I was learning as I was making it and it was actually alot of fun.  It is great once it is finished and you can set back and say “I can’t believe I made that myself”.

A couple pointers for you…… I used Muslin for my chair and it was already somewhat dark which was nice.  I purchased 3 yards of fabric and I had some left over which is always a nice thing.  I did get that big bag of batting and I had a pretty good amount left of that too.  You can get a smaller bag or less cloth, but I always like to have extra just in case.  Hope this helps you all out.  I was definitely pleased with the way that my chair turned out.  Would I do things differently next time?  Perhaps, but once again…… I would be learning as I went along so I am not sure (lol).

Until Next Time…… Stay Warm!!


Linda said...

Hi Lisa.......oh, what great directions for your make do chair!
I have everything but the plywood so far. I will share with you when I get one finished.
Your blog background is great for me today. It is showing in black and the white font is showing up fine.
It no longer is stretched from left to right either.
Have a good day.

Tomatoe Creek Prims said...

Thanks so much Lisa for sharing the directions...I so want one of these chairs. I'll have to buy the quilt batting and get Stush to cut the plywood buy it sounds easy to do:)


basketsnprims said...

Thanks Lisa for such easy directions. Not sure if I'll do one but I sure like yours.

Anonymous said...

Blog is easier to read! I can't wait to try the chair re-do! Dori

mornings322 said...

Thanks so much for posting the tut. I love the chair. Now once I find a chair I will be able to make one myself.

Have a great day!

Gail said...


Thank you for your tutorial. I bought a small rocking chair frame for a $1.oo last summer with the intention of doing this but I didn't know where to start and felt very intimidated to try. You have made it look so easy that I can't wait to try it. I love your blog. I have been reading it for awhile and love the projects you tackle.


Craftyperson said...

Thanks Lisa for the easy tutorial for you make do chair...I am going to have to give it a try when I get some time....

Trena..Timeworn Primitives

In His service, Anne said...

Awesome chair...love it. One of my "to do's" to add to my ever growing list-lol. Looks great in your home! Thanks!!!! :)

Chatty Kathy~Palmetto Prims said...

Thanks so much for the tutorial Lisa!! One question, when you put the muslin on, where did you hide the raw edges? I have got to give this a try!!

Anonymous said...

You really know how to give directions that I can understand. I've never seen a make do chair in person and never heard of them until I started seeing them on blogs. I'm gonna have to make me one. Thanks for the tutorial!

LeeHillPrimitives said...

LIsa, Thank you, thank you!!!!!. You saved my life, It was an easy tutorial, love the pictures, I have everything to make my chair, only what I need is the batting. Thanks for share this.

Anonymous said...

Love your make-do chair!! I'll have to share your directions with my sister as she's wanting to make one for her 1861 home. Thanks for sharing how you made it.
And I must tell you again how much I love my game-board sign that I ordered from you.

Olde Tyme Marketplace said...

You are a doll~ thanks for sharing the how-to!

lovetheprimlook said...

Thank you so much for sharing this !!! I love the stand up rabbit too !!!

Hugs, Angie

Raggedy Angel said...

I have this on my list of things to do this year! Thanks! Beth

Willow said...

Wow Lisa you sure broke that tutorial down and made it look sooooo darn easy that I'm gonna have to try this out. Thanks sooooo much for doing this for us =)
Prim Hugggs n Blessins

Kaye said...

Lisa, a friend just called to tell me about your chair. Thanks so much for sharing your directions. DH made the chair a yr. or so ago and I have been too intimidated to finish it with the batting and cloth, now I think with your help I can get it done.So thanks again for sharing, I did ask a couple of girls how to do it, but wouldn't share.

Kaye said...

Lisa, a friend just called to tell me about your chair. Thanks so much for sharing your directions. DH made the chair a yr. or so ago and I have been too intimidated to finish it with the batting and cloth, now I think with your help I can get it done.So thanks again for sharing, I did ask a couple of girls how to do it, but wouldn't share.

Gettysburg Homestead said...

Thanks for the great tutorial!!!


ctlogcabin said...

Lisa ~~ Thank You so much for sharing your knowledge and experience with us. Your directions are very clear and easy to follow. Not sure I have the confidence to try this on my own....but have wonderful girlfriends and may just plan a project week-end when they visit. Love the chair you did, my hubby has asked me for years why I'm always picking up small odd chairs, now I know. lol
Hugs ~~ Connie xox

Harvest House Primitives said...

What a beautiful blog you have I really enjoyed touring it.

Bench Table And Chairs said...

Great article! Thanks or sharing.
Best Furniture Stores In Denver
Furniture Stores Denver
Glass Round Table And Chairs