DIY Painted Fabric Chair

Posted by Dani on October 16, 2013

DIY painted fabric chair
This post is about breasts. And fabric painting. And crazy upholstery projects that we have no business taking on. And a beautiful Naked Lounge Chair.

We all know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. This disease is huge and heartbreaking, and people pitch in however they can to help fight this thing. Because as my blogger friend Lynne Knowlton says so eloquently, Cancer Sux. Big time.

Every little effort helps. Here is my youngest donating her hair last October to Pantene Beautiful Lengths. Her beautiful gold hair went to someone else who needed it more.

donating hair to cancer

And around the same time, Nads and I were able to help in a fun and creative way. We created our Naked Lounge Chair for Battle Pink, to help raise money and awareness. We had the bright idea of reupholstering a chair with hand painted fabric that said “breasts” loud and clear. This was an ambitious project for us, considering we had very little time. And no upholstery experience. Or fabric painting experience. Or even a chair. Very ambitious.

We needed help – and lots of it. And the amazing thing was that everyone we asked said yes. No hesitation. Not one bit. Cancer touches people in heartbreaking ways, and people are often inspired to respond with the best they have to give. Frontier Sales, a fabulous used furniture store in the east end, gave us a great chair. Talented Canadian artist Shawn Skeir painted the fabric for us when we chickened out. And the amazing people at Scarborough Interiors helped us with the upholstery. It all came together to create our stunning Naked Lounge Chair. A gorgeous naked figure lounges on the chair, reminding us to think about our breasts, talk about our breasts, and get to know our breasts like the back of our hands. Awareness is our weapon here, ladies, and this month is the month to talk about “the girls.”

This beautiful chair sits in my living room. She’s quite a stunner. And she looks just as good as she did a year ago, proving that painted upholstery lasts. Yes, people do sit on this naked lady, and find her quite comfy. Gorgeous, practical, and naked – what’s not to love?

Have you ever thought about painting fabric for a project? I’m here to say you can do it, and it’s easier than you think. And don’t worry about being artistic, because even our test pieces of fabric look fabulous, where we just played with the dyes and splashed them around. Trust me, you can do it! Here are the DIY tips you need to know.


1. Find A Simple Chair And Remove The Upholstery

First of all, we chose a chair in a simple design with good bones. No wings, arm panels, or box pillows – these are too challenging for an upholstery beginner. We carefully removed the original upholstery and kept all the pieces, which provided templates for cutting the new fabric. The stuffing in our chair was in great shape, and didn’t need to be replaced. You can find more details and pictures here.

2. Design Your Fabric

The next part was designing the fabric. We chose natural looking upholstery-grade cotton from our go-to source, Designer Fabrics in Toronto. Very important: before you cut your fabric, wash and dry it to pre-shrink and remove sizing. Nothing worse than a shrunk naked lady!

Pebeo fabric dyes

Try to use good quality fabric dye. We used Pebeo Setacolor Opaque and Transparent dyes, which were perfect for the watercolour-like painting technique Shawn Skeir used. We were careful to choose colours that worked well together – nothing too clashy. Have a look at this post for more details. Here you can see the painted strips we used to make our contrast piping.

diy painted fabric chair

Although the artwork on our chair is professional, I have to say that even the rough test samples looked fabulous. The abstract designs and splashes that we created when we were experimenting looked amazing. So don’t be afraid to try this even if you think you don’t have artistic talent!

3. Get Out Your Staple Gun and Re-Upholster

diy painted fabric chair

The last thing we had to do was upholster the chair. Scarborough Interiors was an enormous help for us, but if you choose a simple enough design I think you can try it yourself. Our chair had a simple front and back, and we just stapled on the fabric and glued on piping at the end to cover the staples. The box seat needed some sewing to add side panels to the top of the seat. The piping on the seat adds a nice touch, but was a little fussy to sew if you’re not experienced. You can always leave this off to simplify the project. More details are available here.


diy painted fabric chair

22 Responses to “DIY Painted Fabric Chair”

  1. Lisa says:

    I love that your daughter donated her hair. What an inspiration!

    • Dani says:

      Thanks Lisa. I know quite a few of the girls’ friends have done this,too. I think it’s great that young kids have a way to make a difference.

  2. Maya Fitz says:

    wow. looks amazing. I love that it’s both functional and art at thr same time. You must be so proud of your daughter too! What an inspirational family.

    • Dani says:

      Thanks so much Maya. It was a great project to work on. I was really proud that my daughter chose to do that. But I’m truly amazed at how many young girls are donating their hair – several of their friends have done it. I don’t think I would have even thought of that at their age!

  3. That chair is gorgeous! Love hearing about how you added meaning to the month by supporting these fabulous initiatives!

    • Dani says:

      Thanks Kat. It is such a HUGE cause. I was really moved that everyone we asked said yes without hesitation. I didn’t mention in the post, but the deadline was tight and not only did I ask for help, but I needed it yesterday! No one hesitated. People are really amazing sometime.

  4. wow, THAT’S AMAZING. 🙂 I don’t think I could do it myself but, I think it’s GORGE.

    • Dani says:

      Thanks Nancy. It was a great cause, too. The campaign that we participated in raised over $10,000. And now I have a cool chair in my living room!

  5. Tairalyn says:

    Well done. Very cool. The chair turned out gorgeous, and for such a beautiful meaning.


    • Dani says:

      Thanks so much Tairalyn! We were really happy with the results. And I have to say the chair is pretty practical, too – we have been sitting on it a whole year and it still looks as good as new.

  6. Wow – that chair looks amazing. You have some true talent!

  7. Jonnie says:

    OMG, I love that chair! Its beautiful! The naked body doesn’t jump out at you right away because it flows so well with the entire design.

    • Dani says:

      Thanks so much! It’s true – the naked lady is a little subtle, but after you see her the first time, she really jumps out at you!

  8. your chair it’s beautiful, love how you worked with pink (I love pink very much) & yes we need to start talking about our girls and take care of them! 🙂 I’m sure you must be very proud of your daughter for cutting her hair for such a great cause

    • Dani says:

      Thanks Ingrid. Yes, I think this is an important cause for all women and girls. I am proud of her, and so glad so many young girls are doing this now.

  9. Great job on the chair! Love the colours. Sounds like generous spirit is genetic in your family!

    • Dani says:

      Thanks so much, Karen! I was so impressed with how people were so willing to help. I think with breast cancer, awareness is half the battle.

  10. Great job on the chair. It turned out stunningly. And yes, Cancer Sux!

  11. The chair really is stunning and for such a great cause with only the best of intentions, and a great statement piece.

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