But hold the fort! That patio set that we've had for years is looking a little tired - especially since the roofers scratched some of the chairs by dropping shingles on them. So I thought, why not give them a little facelift?
Painting the Table and Chairs
This set has an enamel finish from the factory and it was in decent shape (no chipping paint or rough spots). I never really liked the color, though ,as it's a light beige and I always wants a dark bronze or black iron set. This is the perfect opportunity to set things right with some Rustoleum spray paint. I started by powerwashing the chairs and table and letting them dry for a good 24 hours. If you have a set that has chipping paint or a glossy finish, you'll also want to lightly sand the entire chair\table with either sandpaper or steel wool first. Perhaps the most important part of the process is the prep and it's absolutely necessary that the surface be structurally sound and completely dry.
While the chairs were drying, J. and I were standing in Strasser's Hardware agonizing over which color paint to use on them. Our house is a darker beige with white trim and black accents. We finally decided that black was too dark and picked Rustoleum's hammered bronze paint and bought a couple of cans to test with. The nice thing about the hammered finish paint is that it's very forgiving about overspraying (drips) and uneven surfaces. 6 cans later, we were finally done spraying and the table and chairs looked like new. You'll see them in a picture further down this post.
Now on to....
Recovering the Seat Cushions
I'm really picky about fabrics and I searched all over for cushions that I liked when we first got the patio set. When I finally found some that I liked, they only had 3! And they couldn't order a 4th because they were closeout cushions. Just my luck. So one of our chairs hasn't had a cushion for years. These were really nice cushions with a zipper in the back - a nice feature because you can remove the cover and wash it or replace the padding if you need to.
Which brings us to...
Step 1. Remove the existing cushion cover.
I suppose could just cut the ties off and leave the existing cover. But the primary reason for doing this is so that you can use the existing cover as a template for the new one.
|My old cushion. I like the pattern, but the brown is kind of boring. Did I mention that I hate brown?|
Step 2. Measure for your fabric and gather supplies
My chairs just have bottom seat covers, so this was pretty easy. If you've got the larger cushions that cover both the back and seat bottom, make sure you flatten out the paddding so that you get an accurate measurement. In my case the cushions are 18" deep by 20" wide.
If you don't have cushions and want to make some, just measure your seat depth and chair width. If you're making full cushions for both the seat and back, you'll need to include the chair height as well. And remember, when you fold the cushion to put it on the chair, you'll love some length. I'd add a couple of inches to the length of the cushion to account for that.
TIP FOR THOSE STARTING FROM SCRATCH: The easiest way to determine your fabric size is to cut your foam padding first. My foam is 1.5 inches thick. If you're sewing a full cushion, you don't want to go any thicker than that because it will be hard to sew through. Place your foam on the chair, fold it to contour with the chair and then trim it to fit. Now you've got a template to work with for the other chairs and you can determine your fabric sizes by measuring around your foam piece. (Just be sure to add a bit to the length and width, to account for the thickness of the foam.)
For my 4 bottom-only seat cushions, I had the following shopping list.
- Outdoor fabric - 2.5 yards (always give yourself a little extra!)
- Extra strong thread in coordinating color (1 spool was enough)
TIP: Make sure you buy OUTDOOR FABRIC that has been pre-treated to withstand the weather.
So off I went to Joann's. I had spotted some gorgeous red swirly outdoor fabric the week before but it was gone by the time I got back there. I even had them call 3 other stores and all of them were out. Agh! So I settled for the same pattern in chic black instead. With several 50% off coupons, the total came to just over $20 after tax.
Step 3. Measure and cut the fabric for the cushions.
I wanted to rectify the missing 4th cushion situation, and a discounted cushion for $4 at Home Depot was just the ticket. This one didn't have a zipper in the back, but the foam was the same size as my existing cushions. So I ripped the back seam out of the cover, turned it inside out, and used it as the template for cutting out the fabric for my new ones.
Fold your new fabric in half and then pin the old cushion on top of the new fabric so that it stays in place while you cut around it. Make a note of the seam allowance on the old fabric. Mine were 3/8".
TIP: Notice how the corners are rounded? You can leave the corners straight, but then you'll have very pointy corners in the stiff fabric and it won't look right. If you're creating new cushions from scratch, fold the fabric in half and round off two corners at the same time. Then fold it in half the other way and use the rounded corners as a guide for the other corners. That will give you 4 corners that are exactly the same.
Step 4. Cut and sew the fabric for the ties.
Next up, I used the leftover fabric scraps to cut strips for the ties. The ties on my existing cushions were 12" long, but I wanted them to be a little longer. So I cut the remaining fabric down into 16" long strips, then turned the fabric 90 degrees and cut it into 2" strips. Each chair takes 4 strips, so I cut a total of 16 of these.
Outdoor fabric is stiff and really hard to sew into a tube and then turn right side out. So, instead, I folded each strip in half lengthwise and pressed it. Then I opened it up and folded each edge in toward the center fold and pressed again.
Then sew the strip closed on the open edge. What you end up with is a strip that is about a 1/2" wide. Then fold over one end of the strip by 1/4 inch and then again by 1/4 inch and sew it into place. You only need to do this on one end per strip, as the other end will be attached to the cushion.
Step 5. Sew the covers together.
Now go back to the cushion fabric and remove one of the pieces. Place two of the strips in the middle of the rounded corners on the back of the cushion so that the strips are facing in toward the middle of the cushion and the edges are lined up with the edges of the seat fabric (as shown below).
If you're starting from scratch, you'll have to look at the chair to determine the best place where you can tie the cushion on. The bottom ties should sit right above where the fold of the cushion should be.
Now you're ready to sew the cushion together. Replace the top piece of fabric, make sure everything matches up, pin everything together so that it doesn't move around as you're sewing, and then sew along the edges. My original cushions used a 3/8" seam, so I did the same on the the new ones. Remember to leave the back open so that you can put the padding in. I started sewing about an inch before where the ties were pinned, continued around the cushion, and then stopped about an inch past the 2nd set of ties. When you're done, flip the cushion inside out and it will look like this:
Step 6. Assemble the cushions and final sewing.
Now stuff the padding into the new covers and adjust it so that it fits nicely. Then fold the edges of the opening toward the inside by 1/2 inch and hand-stich the opening closed.
TIP: If you're doing a full cushion, you're not quite done. You'll need to find where the center fold should be and do a straight-stitch across the middle.
And here's one of the "new" patio chairs sporting its shiny new paint job and new cushion!
|I think it needs a pop of color, don't you? Maybe a red or orange pillow.|
This project was "sew" simple and (not counting waiting for the chairs to dry) it only took me a couple of hours to do the painting and covers. The total cost was just $48 ($20 for fabric and $28 for paint). In fact, it was so easy that I wish I had done it years ago. If you're tired of looking at those old patio chair and cushions and don't want to spend a fortune on new ones, why not try your hand at making them beautiful again? If I can do it, YOU can do it.
And now I'm off to make a girlie drink and enjoy the new patio. That is, after I finish up a carrot cake for J.'s niece. It's her 19th birthday tomorrow and she' requested pizza dinner, so we'll be joining them for that this evening. I hope she likes the carrot cake - I'll be posting my recipe for that later this week so you can make it and enjoy it also. It is THE best carrot cake recipe ever. I promise.
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