Give your chairs a makeover with custom Zazzle fabric!

Upholster a chair (or anything) with Zazzle custom fabric!

I'm obsessed with Mexican Otomi prints. Traditional Otomi patterns are intricate embroideries featuring super colorful animals and flowers. I've been looking to incorporate one into my decor for a while now, but at upwards of $300 for a good size piece the prospects weren't looking good.

Otomi fabric is completely hand embroidered. So. Beautiful.

Otomi fabric is completely hand embroidered. So. Beautiful.

Fruit bats. HOW COULD YOU NOT LOVE THIS FACE?

Fruit bats. HOW COULD YOU NOT LOVE THIS FACE?

After coming up empty in a search for affordable cotton-printed alternatives, I decided to make use of my artsy skills and Zazzle's custom fabric printing to whip up my own Otomi pattern. This way, I could include my favorite animals (think fruit bats, sphinxes, and cats!) and make it completely one-of-a-kind.

We just got our first grown-up dining table, and fabric would be the perfect way to update the bleh dining chairs that came with our old Goodwill table. So with a plan and a project in mind, I got started.

This is our old pressed wood dining table. Sad.

This is our old pressed wood dining table. Sad.

Referencing a bunch of animals in the Otomi style, I drew versions of my favorite characters and organized them into a repeat in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.

otomi-fruit-bat
The finished repeat.

The finished repeat.

Check out Julia Rothman's guide on how to make a complex repeat here! Or, if making art isn't your thing, you can purchase my Otomi fabric or any other Zazzle fabric on the site.

After bringing the pattern into Zazzle's custom fabric creator, I got stuck on picking a repeat size.... it was way too small at one size, but seemed huge the next size up. Going for bold over tiny, I picked the bigger repeat. Other than that quirk, uploading the pattern on Zazzle was super easy.

Zazzle's "Cotton Twill" weight of fabric was perfect, since I'd be using it to upholster seating and wanted it to hold up to all the butts sitting on it. For four chairs, I placed an order for 2 yards and hoped for the best.

The fabric arrived in about a week and looked great!

zazzle-fabric-review

It was a nice weight for seating, and had a quality print and hand. My one wish is that the colors had come out a bit brighter in person. The pinks skewed a little red and the darkest blues and purples looked similar to each other. Dark printing vs. screen is pretty normal, and I don't think anyone would notice without seeing my original art, so I was OK with it.

With fabric in hand, it was time to get started on the chairs!

The chair before spray painting. I forgot to take a shot directly after painting-- oops!

The chair before spray painting. I forgot to take a shot directly after painting-- oops!

To sit with the new table, I wanted a darker, less red finish. After unscrewing the seats (make sure you remember which chair goes with which seat) and priming with a thin coat of spray primer, I used some Krylon Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint I had on hand to spray over the old, gross finish. In a couple coats, the chairs looked brand new!

To reupholster the seats, I laid them on the fabric and cut about 3 inches around, to allow enough fabric to fold over and staple. I was careful to have the fabric pattern face the same direction for all chairs, and to pick parts of the pattern that would feature all my creatures.

I cut ~3 inches around the chair. (I removed the chevron fabric on the first chair, but got lazy and left in on for the rest. It didn't seem to make much difference, but if my fabric were more sheer I would have lined it with a white fabric first)

I cut ~3 inches around the chair. (I removed the chevron fabric on the first chair, but got lazy and left in on for the rest. It didn't seem to make much difference, but if my fabric were more sheer I would have lined it with a white fabric first)

Upholstering is really easy. To start, pull the fabric taut and staple once in the center of each side. Pull in the corners and staple each corner once. 

Then, just work your way from the middle and staple like crazy, being sure the fabric is taut and straight as you go.

The corners are just slightly trickier. Fold each side in a way that minimizes visible lumps from the front. When it looks good, staple away, and trim any excess.

After upholstering the seats, I just screwed them back on to the chairs. Make sure to match the right seat with the right chair, in case the screw holes don't quite match up. (I learned that the hard way...)

Tada!

Made-over chairs with our new dining table! 

Made-over chairs with our new dining table! 

I am so happy with my dining chairs. They fit in wonderfully with our new table without being super matchy, and it's fun knowing that the fabric is personal to me rather than being mass-produced. Even if you don't want to make your own fabric, painting and upholstering chairs is a really easy project, and browsing designs on Zazzle or Spoonflower can score you some super unique fabric of your own.

Good luck! :)

Products featured in this post:
(Referral purchases go toward art supplies and cat food!)

  1. Otomi Large-Scale Fabric - Zazzle (also available on Spoonflower)
  2. Krylon Oil-Rubbed Bronze spray paint - Amazon