DIYdiy projects

diy project: jane’s patchwork chair

by Grace Bonney

today’s second diy project comes from the incredible pool of entries we received this year in the d*s diy contest. based in the netherlands, jane schouten is a phenomenal graphic designer and artist who has a seriously impressive portfolio full of incredible textile-based projects (really, it’s a must, must see). jane’s beautiful doily-bowl was a finalist in the diy contest (full instructions coming next week) but she also sent along a fantastic re-upholstery project that i couldn’t resist sharing.

jane is the proud owner of a vintage pierre paulin oyster chair, but was unhappy with the state of its thread-bare original upholstery. so she decided to customize and personalize its upholstery using decorative cut-outs, crocheted flowers and embroidery. with a large collection of vintage blankets to draw from, jane created a patchwork-style upholstery base, on top of which she added the details mentioned above. while we certainly all at the level of upholstering and embroidery that jane is, after examining her photos for a few days i felt strongly that the essence of this project was something that most clever diy-ers could tackle. if you have some leftover fabric, old blankets or maybe even old shirts, you could create a similar patchwork background to reupholster your favorite seat or stool. so, i hope jane’s project will be as inspiring for you as it was for me (or at least provide some much-needed chair eye-candy). click here for jane’s instructions or just click “read more” below.

Jane’s Reupholstered Patchwork Chair

You will need:

-a chair, an ottoman or anything else you want to re-upholster (for those with less upholstery experience we’d suggest something small like a stool or ottoman)
-vintage blankets or fabric (those with a quilted or thicker texture work best)
-power stapler (optional, but very helpful)
-flowers or other interesting objects cut out of fabric
-crocheted flowers (click here and here for tutorials)
-embroidery thread and needle (click here for a great embroidery tutorial)

1. Remove any existing upholstery cleanly from your chair or ottoman. You will use this to make a pattern for your new upholstery pattern. Using the old fabric as a pattern, cut your new upholstery pattern out of your blanket. (If you have more than one blanket you want to use, sew them together before cutting the pattern- see photo below). If you’re unfamiliar with the process click here for an illustrated look at cutting a new pattern from an old upholstery piece.

2. Gather any cut-fabric shapes or flowers you’ve created (there is a tutorial for creating these in the supply list above) and arrange them on the new cut-out blanket in a pattern or arrangement that you like. Pin them in place and then hand-stitch them onto the blanket.

3. At this point Jane added decorative embroidery and embroidered text to the chair (see photo below), but you can either skip this step if you’re not comfortable with embroidery, or follow the simple embroidery tutorials in the supply list above to add some personal embroidery details to the blanket upholstery.

4. Now you should have your blanket upholstery cut to size, decorated with cut-out or crocheted decorative details and embellished with any embroidery you like- so you’re ready to attach it to the chair. Jane used a power-stapler to reattach her form (which was cut to match the old pattern so you shouldn’t have much overlapping fabric to cut) but you can also stitch the new upholstery to the chair if you’re an experienced sewer or upholsterer. If you’re like me (D*S) you’ll want to get a strong stapler and attach (wherever the staples will be less visible) your new fabric that way. This method works best on a small chair seat, stool or ottoman where there are good places to attach and staple that won’t be visible. If you’d like to watch a fun video tutorial with D*S DIY editors Derek and Lauren, click here (this will show you how to attach and staple new fabric onto a chair. Just scroll down to the “re-upholster a chair” video)

5. Voila! You have a newly upholstered chair/ottoman/stool. Have a seat and enjoy your the results of your hard work.

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  • great job! i have a bright orange chair that i have wanted to re-upholster but have been a little nervous about taking apart. this beutiful work is exactly the motivation i need. thanks!

  • This is such a cute one-of-a-kind. It looks so cozy too, I would love to snuggle up in that chair with a book. Thanks for sharing Jane!!

  • I have a Marcel Breuer Wassily chair that is in pretty bad condition- but I love it!! I’m not sure what the best thing to do is…this DIY gave me the idea that maybe i could reupholster it in something other than – like the original- leather. Anyone have any ideas???

  • Sorry, we had a comment glitch so this didn’t make it through:

    Karina: Very creative way to dress one of my favorites chairs, the Pierre Paulin

  • One more:

    Carmen: This is amazing! Very inspiring! I wish she could share with us more pictures of her letters hanging on the wall. They are beautiful!

  • A few more came in- sorry about this:

    Jesska: This is so great! A collage you can sit and read a book in, and such lovely layers and applique’s, I love it.

  • This is really amazing – I love the bold use of color and anything with embroidered text I find cheeky and engaging. I’m totally inspired! :D

  • genius! Just a couple of days ago, I was desperately trying to fashion a slipcover for a sad little tub chair out of a fitted bed sheet. Impossibly dumpy looking, much to my dismay. But this is art. I have piles of fabric to use to tackle this idea! Kudos to Jane!

  • the chair is great.. but beyond the chair, i am so curious about the gorgeous lettering and words streaming across the wall. what are they made of and are tyhere any closer shots? grace, do you know anything about her displayed artwork?

  • kaitlyn

    if you follow the link to her portfolio in the post above you’ll see all of her artwork up close and personal ;)


  • This really is one of the most beautiful chairs i have EVER seen!, never mind wonderful use and contrasting fabrics.
    This has made me smile, and started a whole onslaught of concepts in my head!


  • Hmmmm…this gives me a few ideas. I have a chair desperately in need some redesign. It used to be a club chair that was too narrow in width to be comfortable. So I took a hammer and crowbar and knocked the arms off. Then I wrapped it in foam and some cheap fabric I had laying around. Now I have a comfy slipper chair. I’ve been looking around for a more permanent upholstery idea.

  • What is the best way to come across vintage fabrics like jane used? this is phenomenal and i’d love to take a stab at something similar, but my luck in fabric shopping has been very poor.

  • Oooh, think this is fantastic! Am so curious that the doily bowl made it as a finalist of the DIY contest over this…maybe this wasn’t entered?

  • Can you paoint me to a way to get in touch with Jane and her work. I sent this to a friend in the Netherlands who now wants to contact her.

  • Thank you all for the lovely comments!

    Doris- I get most of my fabrics and blankets fron thrift shops, some were gifts from friends and family.

    Deanna- you can contact me at Janeschouten@casema.nl

  • Hello, I have 2 Eames molded fiberglass side chairs with upholstery that I bought at a g-sale for $50 for the set! Structurally they are in mint condition (no rust on the legs and original glides). However, the original blue upholstery is a bit funky and I would like a brighter color on it anyway. My dilemma is that the upholstery is attached in such a way that if I remove it, I ruin the integrity of the edge of the chair, hard to explain, just trust me on this one. So, I would like to make almost a slip-cover of sorts, but have no idea where to begin or how I would get the fabric to conform to the scoop-back part of the chair. Any thoughts, anyone??

  • Wow. This is simply stunning. Have you thought about taking it to the next level and making a whole sofa?