DIYdiy projects

diy project: printed burlap chair

by Grace Bonney

a few months ago when the amys and i went to brimfield, i was surprised to learn that those pretty linen chairs with the printed numbers on them were actually stamped. i had always assumed they were upholstered with some sort of fabric, or vintage bags, that already had markings on them. while some of them are, the vendor we spoke to (who had tons of these things) said that most of the ones you see these days are actually stamped. so when i heard from d*s reader deepa, i knew just how to answer her “how do i get one of these chairs?” question: make one!

so i was thrilled to hear back from deepa yesterday to see the final result. deepa created a stamp and worked with an existing chair and added a french linen fabric (a lucky score at a local fleamarket). the finished product looks so much like the vintage pieces you see in antique stores that i couldn’t resist sharing her basic how- to here. whether you’re working with an elegant french chair, or looking to staple gun a simple dining chair or stool with burlap/linen, the look is remarkably easy to create- all you need is fabric paint, a stencil and a little elbow grease. thanks so much to deepa for sharing! *click here to learn how to make the paper wreath above deepa’s chair!*

CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!


-Linen or soft burlap (you can find this at your local fabric store or an online shop like Purl Soho)
-Fabric Paint


1. Choose the text or numbers you’d like to use. On your computer, write them in your desired font and then either email the document to your local Kinkos/Printing Shop or bring the file in on a disc.

2. At your printing shop, ask them to blow up the file to your desired printing dimensions (just use a measuring tape on your chair to see roughly how wide and tall you’d like the font to be). Then ask the shop to print the final result directly onto plastic or a thick laminate paper.

3. Cut the plastic out around the letters and voila- you have your stencil!

4. To create a weathered look, Deepa watered down black fabric paint and use that to gently stencil your text onto your fabric.

5. Once dry, if you want the piece to look even more weathered, you can gently brush over the painted text with a light sandpaper- just be careful not to tear or snag the fabric.

You’re Done!

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  • Fab, I have been wondering how to get that effect, I’m in the middle of doing up a chair which i have already painted black, this would look great on it! thanks for sharing.

  • Literally, I saw this and my heart skipped a beat. I have never done anything this crafty in my life but I swear, some time next year I’m going to make a chair like this. Thank you so much for submitting projects like this!!

  • I too am a sucker for typography – this chair has such a cool french country vibe! thanks for the diy instructions…now on to the search to find a chair to try it on!

  • oooh! I have been wrecking my head about how to update my kitchen chairs… this is perfect!

  • I absolutely love the effect of the industrial looking stamped type juxtaposed with the more ornate french country chair and anything with nail heads makes me swoon. Can’t wait to try my own version!

  • I absolutely love the industrial looking type juxtaposed with the more formal french country chair and anything with nail heads makes me swoon. Can’t wait to try my own version.

  • Amazing! Quick word of advice–don’t use burlap–it sheds when you sit on it. I’m doing a similar project and love the look of burlap but have been advised against it by many upholsterers.

  • I am also a sucker for typography and absolutely love these chairs. I have an antique bench that would be the perfect project. The wood is not in great shape so I’ve always planned to paint it – turqoise perhaps. Thanks for sharing such inspiring projects.

  • Hi everyone, thanks for all the compliments on the chair! Trust me, if I can do this ANYBODY can! Sophie: I live up in the hills in Berkeley, California.

  • Thanks for all the compliments on the chair! Trust me, if I can do this ANYBODY can! Sophie: I live up in the hills in Berkeley, California.

  • I absolutely love this chair idea, but I’m very arts and crafts challenged and I’m not sure i understand how you got the linen on the chair without it looking stapled and all. How did you hide the staples or whatever, especially on the back and around the sides? is there a trick to this i don’t know? It looks so professional!

  • What Clare said– I just bought a chair like this to redo, and need helpful how-to’s on stripping it to repaint, and recovering with a new fabric..

  • Hi I am getting ready to do this chair and was curious what font do you think would be the closest to that used on the chair above. Also, I bought linen looking paint drop cloths at Lowe’s. Have not taken them to the upholster yet but anyone tried that fabric yet.
    Thanks, Mary Beth

  • How could I make this type of covering more durable for daily use? I have 5 little guys who stain everything.

  • I have used the painters drop cloths from the hardware store for re-upholstery projects and they work great!! A nicer, softer finish than burlap… and they take stenciling well. Love this project… love anything vintage-y and with text!! Thanks for sharing!

  • Love the chair and have two almost exactly same as yours. Looking for “how-to” instructions but can’t find them anywhere. Can you help locating for me?

  • Love this! I had trouble finding printed burlap that I liked locally – here in Seattle we have all sorts of coffee bags available, but they seemed to me kind of “industrial” or bland. I did find this place, that had some neat and colorful designs. They have shipping minimums but oooh the designs are so much nicer than any of the others I’ve seen! http://upcyclenw.com