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Fancy Makeover: Jeans Cover for an Old Chair

Fancy Makeover: Jeans Cover for an Old Chair


Did you know that jeans fabric has been invented 300 hundred years ago? Since then, jeans were worn as an uniform by workers and inmates, and also were used for haute-couture fashion garments on catwalks in Paris or New York and Milan. I can’t imagine a fabric more popular than this one.

And here’s my contribution to its development: a brand new upholstery for an office chair that was about to be thrown away. I saved it, and gave it a new appearance. Its new look makes me wonder how comes the furniture stores hardly sell couches or chairs with this type of upholstery.

This chair was still functional, but his faux leather was so damaged that you could hardly say the difference between this object and a Jurassic Park dinosaur.

I said to myself it was worth trying to re-upholster it. What could go wrong? In the worst case scenario, I would have thrown it away. So I grabbed some old jeans, the sewing machine, and the screwdriver, and here’s what I did next. It’s not the easiest project in the world, but this is not rocket science either.

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First Step: Disassemble the Chair

Let me tell you from the start that this project is not the easiest I have ever made, but it’s reasonable in terms of effort and required skills considering its result. You could cover all the chair in fabric and have it fixed there for good (upholster it). I’d rather use a cover, sewing different pieces that I could later undress and wash, since my boys usually work as an unstoppable human stain factory.

Let’s see what you need for this project.

  • 3 pairs of old jeans
  • a detachable zipper for the lower side of the backrest
  • a cord long enough to tighten the lower side of the cover for the seat
  • multipurpose foam in the same size as the seat (optional, if needed)
  • sewing machine, along with the proper thread and needles
  • upholstery stapler for fixing the fabric on the arms
  • screwdriver in the proper size for the screws

First, you have to disassemble the chair into pieces: the backrest, the seat and the arms. Remember where each screw goes so you could properly put all them back at the end of the project. Mark them with a number, to keep them in order, so you won’t miss them.

Upholstering the Arms

For this part, total upholstery for the pads is the best option. Cut a piece of fabric big enough to wrap the pad and fix it on the inner side using the stapler. Be sure you leave the screw holes uncovered, by chopping small pieces of fabric on each side, as you see below.

Use as many staples as you like, since the fabric has to be perfectly fixed below the pad.

The Seat

Second part is the seat. I had to find a way to repair the pillow too since it was thin and old, so I grabbed a piece of multipurpose foam and I’ve placed it below the cover.

As for the cover, I cut a pair of jeans and used the legs for sewing it. I cut off the thick seam that you can usually find on the inner side of the leg, and I turned each leg into a plain piece of fabric. I sew them together to have one big piece of fabric for the whole seat cover. The seams that used to be on the outer side of the leg are now disposed beautifully on each side of the seat. To cut the cover, I left enough fabric to wrap the seat, the sides plus another 5-in, then I cut the corners round, as you see below.

Stretch the jeans on the seat as it should be at the end of the project, and fold the fabric on each corner, for a neat appearance. Sew it and cut the excess to keep the same length. You might need to cut again to round the corners, but it’s ok, you just have to look for a straight line on the margins.

Next, you have to fold the fabric on the inside and sew 1.5-in from the margin, as you see below. You will use this seam for the cord, so you could tighten the cover on the seat. 

I wouldn’t say it really hard to do it, would you? Just take a look at this intermediate result, and you will be really proud of what you’ve accomplished so far. And more is still to come!

The Backrest

The last but not the least. I’ve used another pair of jeans, and took the same steps for using the lower side of the legs. Here I go again with two pieces of fabric, in the same size as the backrest. I’ve cut two more pieces of fabric for the sides, and cut them round at the upper corner, following the line of the chair.

After sewing them all, I got something similar to a pillow cover, with 6-in of fabric left loose on each side, so I could easily dress the backrest with this cover. The zipper had to be on the lower side, so here it is! I had to make one more fold close to the zipper, on each side, to keep the fabric tight on the sides, but loose in the middle, where is more pressure on the cover while sitting.

That’s all the sewing for this project, now let’s get back to the screwdriver and the screws.

Assembling the Chair

Do you remember what you did when disassembling the chair? Basically, now you have to take the same steps in reverse. But before that, there is only one more thing to do.

Each of the parts has holes for screws in them and you need to be sure they are all accessible for screwing. Since some of them are covered in fabric, you have to pierce the fabric to make room for them. Use a sharp object, like a screwdriver or  scissors, to make the holes visible and press the fabric around them. Be sure that the fabric is stretched as it should be while sitting, in order to prevent these holes from ripping.

The Result

Fix the screws and tighten them, and you’ll get a brand new chair with the fanciest cover you can make from ucpycled jeans!

It took me a few hours to cut, sew and screw my new chair, but it worths the effort.

I just can’t understand why you never see new couches and chairs dressed in jeans. They are awesome, and it’s incredible how resistant is and how good it looks in almost any environment. Am I right?

What do you think of this project? Would you give it a try? Share you thoughts and you might help another DIY-er develop his or her new project!

Share this project with a friend that loves DIY! And if you love this type of content, I’d be happy to have you on my emailing list, so I could send you over more projects and DIY ideas! 

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Mary-The Boondocks Blog 15/02/2017 - 17:12

Gabi, it sure was worth the effort. This looks gorgeous! I nearly fell of my chair when I saw it. I love, love, love it! I wish I had your sewing skills to make something like this. And I would absolutely cover something in denim. I love the cozy look it gives.

Gabi 15/02/2017 - 17:36

I would be happy to make one for you if you were closer. 🙂 I really would, since I loooove sewing. I have a few more sewing ideas, but I’m waiting for warmer days to put them into practice.

Pili 17/02/2017 - 0:34

Wow Gabi, this chair is unique!! What a creative way to recycle old jeans and update a damaged chair! I’d love it you share it at our link up party so others can be inspired too, it is life every Friday.
Enjoy the rest of the week!

Gabi 17/02/2017 - 10:09

Thank you, Pili. 🙂 I’m happy to attend your link party, of course! 🙂

Pili Gomez 24/02/2017 - 11:34

Thanks so much for sharing it with is, I am featuring it later today at the party. Congratulations!

Gabi 24/02/2017 - 12:31

OH, Pili, it’s great! Thank you 🙂

tarahlynn 17/02/2017 - 19:16

That turned out amazing – pinning to my chairs board! We would love to have you at our To Grandma’s house we go link party that opened this Wednesday morning and lasts all week! Its at grandmashousediy.com 🙂

Gabi 17/02/2017 - 20:56

I am happy that you like it. And thank you for the invitation, I will surely post projects there 🙂

Christina in FL 20/02/2017 - 18:05

Hiya Gabi! WOW!! I followed you here from your post on Hometalk. Sweet makeover!!! May I assume you used a 100/16 jeans needle in your machine? What kind of thread on top and bottom. I am thinking Jeans thread in the top and a 50 weight poly or cotton in the bobbin?
You have me now as a new subscriber. Thanks so much for all the details!

Gabi 20/02/2017 - 20:04

Hello, Christina, it is great to have you on board! 🙂 You are right about the needles, they were 100/16, but the jeans were not the thickest I have seen. If they were thicker, I would have used 110/16. As for the upper thread, there is no mark on it, but the seller told me it was made specially for sewing jeans. I have used regular thread for the bobbin, and both of them were made of cotton, not poly.

Keri 24/02/2017 - 5:26

That’s an awesome makeover!! I love working with jeans as an upholstery fabric, they’re so durable and stylish. Your chair looks amazing!

Gabi 24/02/2017 - 12:45

I really loved doing it! I was surprised how easy sewing jeans was, so now I’m totally motivated to do it again, with some other piece of furniture.

Claire Pillarboxblue 25/02/2017 - 21:50

You have done a brilliant job here. I have upholstered an office chair in denim myself before but my chair design was less complicated than yours. I love it congratulations, and it looks much better than before.

Gabi 25/02/2017 - 22:03

I love your ottoman, I’ve seen it and I love it! I hope you won’t mind if tell my Romanian readers about it 🙂
Thank you very much for your kind words!

Ananda 16/03/2017 - 5:16

hi gabi! this chair turned out great! such a creative use of jeans! i think it looks better than a lot of fancy fabrics! i am almost done with my first chair makeover, it is so much work! =)

Gabi 16/03/2017 - 15:50

Ananda, there is a lot of work behind this, but I feel like it’s worth the effort. I can’t wait to see your makeover, your projects are always great! 🙂

Robyn Gist 28/04/2017 - 20:05

Love this idea! I too wish I had the sewing skills to do this to my ugly office chair. Great job!!!

Gabi 28/04/2017 - 21:45

Thank you, Robyn. Unfortunately, some sewing skills are required for this project. But many other projects can be developed really easy, like this 60-SECOND NO SEW & NO TOOLS SEAT COVER. Before having this jeans cover for the office chair, I used an orange blanket to wrap it in a similar way to what you can see in the link that I gave you.
I hope it will work for your chair too. Anyway, your comment is food for thought: seems like I had to expand the no-sew cover topic and find a solutions for office chairs too 🙂

Mari 11/06/2017 - 20:08

How did you finish off the base of the chair. I have old chair I was going to put out at a yard sale, but now I want to do this too. Great idea.

Gabi 11/06/2017 - 23:24

Mari, thank you for appreciating my project! The lower of the chair has a cover that can be taken off for washing, while the base is as it used to be, it’s not covered in fabric, if I got your question right. That base is made of black durable plastic and it was ok as it was.

Betty Burnett 11/06/2017 - 20:28

What a awesome job!!!! I wouldn’t get far o a job like this maybe I could get as far as putting the jeans on the arm of the chair Lol

Gabi 11/06/2017 - 23:21

Putting the jeans on the arm of the chair is the first step to take, and this is how I started too! Don’t despair: small things always start with a small step like this, Betty! 🙂


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