March 20, 2011

Chair Weaving Tutorial

Here it is.  The much requested how-to on weaving chair seats.


Find a chair that needs a new seat.  Ladderback chairs are great. Lots of rockers are suitable.  Remove all the old chair weaving.  Clean up and paint or stain if necessary.  If you paint it, give it plenty of time to cure before weaving.  The yellow chair in this post came from a recent yard sale.  It was already an interesting chippy yellow so I didn't even bother to repaint it.

Find material - lots of it - and rip or cut it into strips. I usually make my strips about 2 inches wide, but you can vary that for different looks. I mostly use old sheets, but sometimes I use tablecloths, curtains, or nice fabric.  I love finding sheets at Goodwill or yard sales to re-purpose.  You can use a wild assortment of colors.   Sometimes it looks good.  Sometimes it looks obnoxious. I've done that in the past with awful results.  You can use a single color. (I recently did a set of 4 chairs with dropcloth fabric.) My favorite thing is to use a limited color palette for a more coordinated look.


Find a good movie to watch.  You're going to be here for awhile.

Put all the fabric strips where they are in easy reach.  Have scissors nearby.

Start tying the strips across and under the chair.  If the fabric has a good side and bad side, make sure the good side is facing out where it'll be seen.  Don't worry too much about loose threads.  You want the strips fairly tight, but there's no need to be obsessive about it.

I like to tie the knot on top where it's easy to get to then slide the strip around so the knot is on bottom.  You can only do that for the pieces going across.  (Is that weft or warp?  I've forgotten weaving terms.)

Scrunch the strips together towards the front (widest end) as you go.  Keeps adding more strips til you get to the end.  I ended up with 12 strips front to back on this particular chair.  There will be a lot of knots with pieces hanging down underneath.  I cut those ends to about 4 inches.

Now for the weaving.   You have to know at least a little about how to weave because I don't think I could adequately explain that to somebody who has no idea at all.  If you ever did a paper weaving project in elementary school, you probably know enough.

I weave a few strips on top, then turn the chair upside down and weave it on the bottom.  I weave so the ends meet somewhere in the middle of the bottom and then I tie the two ends together.
I cut the ends to about 4 inches and tuck them under so they don't show from the top or the bottom.  Try not to put all the knots in one spot.  Try not to put any knots too close to an edge.

Turn the chair back over.  Scrunch the strips together.  Weave in more strips. Keep adding more strips til you finish.  Clip the loose threads. Stand back and admire your chair.

By the way, this is not my favorite chair that I've done.  This one is very chippy and rustic.  I'm in love with greens right now and the last green chair I wove is probably one of my favorites.  I have 4 rockers that I hope to do soon.  I'm thinking about doing them in a similar look.

How does it hold up?  You won't believe how well!  We have cats and dogs.  I have  rockers with woven seats and backs that have been on a porch year-round for over a decade.  The fabric is a bit faded, but the seats (and backs) are still strong and sturdy.  They are comfy, too!

If you use this tutorial to weave your own chairs, I'd love for you to let me know how it came out. Send me a photo if you can!

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