Upholstery Emergency!
June 12, 2012 8:15 AM   Subscribe

Can I use broadcloth to make covers for dining room chairs?

I purchased some Ikea Henriksdal chairs off of Craigslist and found someone on TaskRabbit who could make new covers for me in the fabric of my choice.

I really want a neon fabric and I found this on fabric.com: Timeless Treasures Super Solid Broadcloth.

My initial research said broadcloth can be used for upholstery, but this fabric feels pretty light to me. It's about as thick as the fabric in a nice men's dress shirt. The chairs won't get a ton of wear, but I'm trying to keep costs low and don't want to pay to have covers made that will tear or fall apart immediately.

Is it a good idea to use this fabric to create chair covers? Would it be a better idea to add some interfacing or stabilizer? Thanks for any advice you have.
posted by Colonel_Chappy to Home & Garden (16 answers total)
Upholstery fabric is thicker and more durable. If you love the fabric and can't find it in upholstery fabric, try quilting it to a thicker fabric, a stiff muslin, or a white, thicker broadcloth would do.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:31 AM on June 12, 2012

In my thrifty postcollegiate days I recovered the seats of chairs I found on the street with fabric from a bedsheet. They held up fine.

That said, I would not make chair covers out of broadcloth. They'll be saggy and wrinkly and sad. Slipcovers are usually made of stiff, almost canvaslike fabrics. (I would reupholster the chairs themselves in your neon, though. That night be a neater look anyway. Price that out, perhaps?)
posted by purpleclover at 8:52 AM on June 12, 2012

Don't do it, unless you're just going to bring them out for parties. Broadcloth can vary from tough to weak-after-one-washing.

Buy painter's dropcloth canvas, and dye it (with easy-to-use Rit dyes, following the package instructions to the letter). Almost as cheap, and 100x the durability. (If you're going for a dark or bold color, you may need to double or triple the amount of dye needed from what the package says, however.)
posted by IAmBroom at 9:00 AM on June 12, 2012

Sorry, missed the "neon color" part. You'll probably need Rit's "professional" line of colors, or some other brand of dye.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:02 AM on June 12, 2012

posted by IAmBroom at 9:02 AM on June 12, 2012

Don't use Rit dye on cotton. Rit dye is a low-quality dye. You're better off buying Procion dyes from Dharma Trading Company. The colors are much better, and you can apply them in the washing machine.
posted by Ery at 10:49 AM on June 12, 2012

Ery, I'd agree with you for clothing, but upholstery fabrics are rarely (if ever) washed, and Rit is just fine for that. Procion dyes may have better neon colors, though; don't know.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:53 AM on June 12, 2012

Thanks, guys. You've convinced me that this fabric on its own won't work. Unfortunately, slipcovers are the only options for the Ikea chairs--there's no real way to upholster them.

I spoke to the seamstress we found on Taskrabbit and she suggested lining the slipcovers with muslin. Is this a feasible option? I'm trying to do this on the cheap, but the cost is quickly blowing up. I don't want to buy 9 yards of muslin (though I know muslin is cheap) and pay for the work if the lining idea is also ill conceived.
posted by Colonel_Chappy at 11:16 AM on June 12, 2012

Muslin is a worse fabric than broadcloth. Thin cotton, prone to stains, wrinkles, and tearing.

Honestly: slipcover with painter dropcloths.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:22 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sorry if I wasn't clear, the seamstress suggested lining the broadcloth slipcover with muslin. So it would be both fabrics, with the muslin reinforcing the broadcloth. Still might be a bad idea, but wanted to make sure I was communicating her suggestion correctly.

I'm going to look into dying a dropcloth. A little apprehensive about doing it in the washing machine in our rental, but maybe we can make it work.
posted by Colonel_Chappy at 11:38 AM on June 12, 2012

Broadcloth is like quilting or shirt material. It's not upholstery material. You want something thicker.

This post says neon upholstery cloth is hard to find. I haven't searched for it, but that's the term you're looking for.

If you're flexible on color, there are numerous places which make Ikea chair covers with lots of fabrics.
- JCaroline
- Bemz
- Knesting

I'd probably buy nice dark pre-made covers (i.e. Charcoal) and accessorize in a different way.
- simple neon embroidery - maybe just lines, or make a plus sign + or something simple
- Neon stripe down the middle.
- dipped legs - lots of examples online, here's a reverse dip how-to
- lots of modern neon pops outlined on Door Sixteen
- add a few neon lumbar pillows
posted by barnone at 12:54 PM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Maybe a mid-weight canvas would work? Try searching for "bright" instead of "neon" - I am seeing some matches where "neon" isn't in the description at all.

Here is a bright pink fabric:

Here is a bright green:

Sorry, I can't get the link to the fabric you gave to load, so forgive me if these aren't the right direction.
posted by newg at 1:38 PM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

How about some chair cushions instead? It would need less fabric and you could maybe paint the chairs if you don't like how they look now?

As for fabric, I found this neon yellow outdoor fabric which would be great for frequent use, it says it is even waterproof!

Another one is this neon yellow fabric, not sure how heavy it is though.

I really like barnone's dip dyed legs idea - example - paired with a cushion it's almost as neon bright as a full on slip cover.
posted by travelwithcats at 2:06 PM on June 12, 2012

Ooh, yeah, outdoor fabric can be great and it's super durable! Stainproof! Not as 'cozy' as regular cotton, but it depends on the purpose of the chair.

If you're at all open to decorating advice, try doing a mock-up -- download some images of real rooms (similar to your space) with the chairs, digitally paint the covers neon yellow. See if you still like the room. Sometimes I get these great decorating ideas, go really far down the rabbit hole, and then realize that the idea would only work in a giant light-filled white loft, not my normal house.

Post a pic when you're done!
posted by barnone at 3:32 PM on June 12, 2012

If you decide to dye, definitely use Procion MX dyes, available from Dharma (west coast) or ProChem -- ProChemicalAndDye (east coast).
You can dye in the washing machine or in a large bucket.

If you want someone to walk you through the steps or answer questions, memail me. I do a lot of dyeing with procion dyes..
posted by LittleMy at 4:28 PM on June 12, 2012

I just wanted to let everyone know what we went with and how it turned out. We thought long and hard about dying canvas ourselves or buying other fabric. I just about drove myself insane Googling and considering options.

But we ended up having the covers made with the fabric we had originally bought for the purpose after the seamstress said she thought she could make it work (Timeless Treasures Solid Neon Broadcloth).

We're pretty happy with the end result: Chair pictures. I didn't iron before I put it on, so that's why it's a little wrinkly.

I think folks above are definitely right that these won't be workhouse chair covers we can use every day. But they look great and I have confidence that we can use them enough to more than get our money's worth.

Thanks, everyone, for your help and advice!
posted by Colonel_Chappy at 5:36 PM on August 12, 2012

« Older High-rest transit of venus images   |   Which filleting knife should I buy? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.