DIYdiy projectsUpholstery Basics

upholstery inspiration: geo maze barrel chair

by Amanda Brown

Although warmer weather and full blooms remind us that the grey days of winter are officially behind us, nothing rings in the season of margaritas (on the rocks with salt, please!) and outdoor fiestas like Cinco de Mayo. This month on Upholstery Basics, we create a geometric maze of colors with a simple striped fabric and feed our appetites for Mexican heritage and upholstery inspiration. Salud!— Amanda

Photography by Mel Cole of Rollins Cole

The full post continues after the jump…

Since I found this piece over a year ago, it’s been lovingly referred to as the turtle chair at Spruce. Green shaggy felt and tortoise shell back were no match for my vision and a staple gun.

A visit to one of my favorite Austin shops, Tesoros, produced a Guatemalan textile in a rainbow of stripes.

To make the geometric pattern, I cut fabric pieces on the bias, match the stripes, and seam them together to make a zigzag.

The back and seat screw together, so I remove the back to make padding and upholstering the seat easier. To reinforce and line the textile, I attached a layer of muslin over the padding.

By changing the direction of the stripes at every seam on the seat, I created a series of diamonds and a striking visual at the front of the chair.

For easier access, I flip the seat over to attach the last few staples to the bottom of the chair.

Are all of my seat staples concealed?

A mark on the padding helps line up the seam from seat to back.

To cover the barrel back, I drape fabric over the padded back and arms and mark the fabric where the stripes match and pieces meet.

Then I cut out the pieces and sew them together.

To conserve my Guatemalan textile, I sew a scrap of fabric to the bottom edge of the inside back and use it to pull and staple the fabric to the chair. When the back is attached to the seat, this fabric is concealed in the crack.

Back to stapling.

Pleated to perfection.

When the inside of the barrel back is complete, I bolt it back in place.

Webbing and burlap cover the surface of the outside back.

Followed by Pli-grip.

I drape the outside back just as I did before.

After sewing the pieces together, come a layer of Dacron and attaching the fabric.

The last few staples attach the outside back to the bottom of the chair.

Let’s get this swivel base out of the way and attach the dustcover.

Don’t forget to clear the screw holes!

One good dusting, and it’s finished! Creative pattern matching, seaming, and placement transform the turtle and a simple stripe into a psychedelic tribute to Mexico. All it took was a little imagination and a sewing machine.

Photography by Mel Cole of Rollins Cole.

Striped fabric available at Tesoros.

For more DIY upholstery and inspiration, visit the Upholstery Basics page or the Spruce website.

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  • Speechless. Because this is really amazing…. and to think you did it from stripes. Perfect vision!
    Nobody does this to furniture back in India…. we just send it to the carpenter. But this is so much more personal… I am inspired!

  • Thanks for the great tips!! This post is very useful to me since I have my one upholstery project, it’s a vintage legless leather chair that I found on the garbage :) I have a great african Wax fabric to reupholster it.

    I would like to see a close up photo of the attaching fabric in the back (on top of the layer of Dacron) step, because I’m not familiar with the Pli-grip system.

    The end result is stunning! I love the idea of creating your one geometric pattern from a simple stripy fabric. Great work!

  • That looks great. I should finish upholstering my half-done chair!
    How many hours of work would you say this took?

  • I consider myself to be pretty crafty and artistic, but this looks intimidatingly difficult! Yours is of course perfectly executed, I think I’s stick with a solid fabric for my beginner upholstery needs. It looks like a completely different chair though, well done!

  • Ines, last year I upholstered a leather bookshelf. See steps 14-19 from that tutorial to see more detailed photos of attaching fabric with pli-grip.

    Malia, from stripping to padding to fabric, this project took about 15 hours to complete.

  • I love all of the process images! Working in theater props, I get to do hack upholstery jobs, so your real deal really ignites my imagination. I love the stripes too!

  • Amanda, thank you for sharing. I will definitely try it myself. I work as an interior designer in Italy and at the moment -also because if the crises- re upholstering and recycling in general is the way to do things therefore your tutorial could come in handy. I also have to say that I really like your rings ;)

  • Okay, this is upholstery as art. Fantastic! Using that stripe to make your own design was genius.

  • Martha, you can see and purchase the chair through the Spruce website. Check out the listing here.

    Thanks for all the wonderful comments!

  • Espectacular ,
    eres una artista …. muchas gracias por compartir…. FELICIDADES !!!!