Restyled French Cane Chair


I have a serious weakness for chairs and this one immediately caught my attention with its pretty curves. I had no interest in attempting to repair the cane but thought it had potential with an upholstered seat as an alternative. An acquaintance put me to a challenge of getting outside my comfort zone by suggesting I do something in animal print. I decided that this was the piece I would do just that.
Sad but well-made cane chair, as found on Craigslist. The finish and cane had definitely seen better days but the frame was still very sturdy.
Lots of dust and grime. Even the intact cane was brittle so I knew it all had to come out.
The caned seat had broken away from the sides.
This was a tedious job: cutting away all the cane from where it had been tied to the chair frame. Sigh...
More cutting...
Finally - the seat is completely removed. The back was more of the same. Good thing I have patience (being stubborn and determined helps too).
After all the cane had been removed and the chair was clean, I painted 2 - 3 coats of gold metallic acrylic paint over the entire frame.
I did not have enough of the main fabric to cover both sides of the chair back, so I used a piece of black microsuede as an accent on the back-facing fabric. I stapled it close to the edge all around, following the lines of the chair back
I used a small razor to trim the black microsuede fabric close to the staple line.
To reinforce the seat, I put a few screws in through the inside seat ledge.
Using an upholstery stretcher, I stapled one end of my 3.5" jute webbing at the back of the inside ledge of the seat, then stretched with my stretcher at the front of the seat so that the webbing was taut, then stapled and folded the end back over and stapled again for reinforcement.
I continued installing jute webbing until the entire seat was covered; making a basket weave with each new piece. I also stapled a piece down the center of the back for additional support. I laid a piece of 1-inch foam over the back and stapled the printed fabric over the foam, close to the edge and going over the black microsuede, then trimmed close to the staples
I cut out a 1-inch piece of foam to the size of the seat opening, then picked and packed shreds of natural cotton batting on top of the foam to add loft.
I laid a sheet of natural cotton batting over the picked and packed cotton and tore away the excess, then stapled a piece of cotton muslin over all the layers to achieve the desired crowning (shape). Sorry... no picture of that :)
I covered the seat cushioning and muslin with the outer fabric then hot-glued black braid all around the edges of the seat and inner back (to cover the staples). And that... completes the chair :)

Suggested materials:

  • Metallic Paint  (JoAnn's)
  • Microfiber Animal Print Fabric  (Discounted Designer Fabrics)
  • 1-inch foam  (JoAnn's)
See all materials

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Have a question about this project?

3 of 6 questions
  • Judith
    on Sep 3, 2016

    Really beautiful, what kind of staple gun are you using?

  • And4788220
    on Sep 4, 2016

    Pls, what did you use to clean the chairs? I have same chairs with black grime. Tks so very much!!!

  • Hbr13835881
    on Oct 27, 2016

    Do you have a photo from the back? I am confused how to cover holes from cane

Join the conversation

2 of 74 comments
  • Barbara
    on Dec 17, 2018

    just beautiful!! love that style.

  • Lauren
    on Jun 5, 2019

    You have given me the push to get mine done! I've been intimidated by my dining chairs. Perfectionism has made me procrastinate, but this is just what I needed to take a leap of faith! Thank u for posting this tutorial!

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