Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Reupholstering Dining Room Chairs with Painted Silk

Supplies Needed to Reupholster Six Dining Room Chairs:

Silk Paints (Jacquard Brand), water based resist (note to self: purchase heavier gutta next time) and six yards of12 mm raw silk (only available on line): slubby and heaviest available.  The silk was ordered from Dharma Trading for about $6/yd.  Wash the fabric and dry in dryer on medium heat.  The product says there is an 11 percent shrinkage fabric on this silk.  This is correct!

Process: silk fabric was cut larger than the chair seat and a large canvas frame was turned over and re-purposed for stretching the silk canvas. A heavy staple gun was used to attach the fabric to the back of the canvas frame...the staples are easily removed after the project is completed.

Resist was applied and painting started.  Note: Allow paints to dry thoroughly and then steam following the technique using newsprint for wrapping and steaming (three hours).  I used this tutorial from Dharma.  Newsprint was purchased from the local art supply store.

As a learning experience, I used two types of silk fabric paint.  One product for painting on silk must be steam set for three hours to set the dyes.  The advantage of this type dye is that it allows colors to flow into one another and results in greater control of the colors.

These are a couple of pictures using this steam set type silk dye and paint brushes with the too-thin resist that spread much too freely, creating large areas that were barriers (resists) to the liquid paints.

Finished piece of painted 12mm thickness of silk before the steaming process:

This is the finished silk painting on the seat of one of the dining room chair cushions: steamed, dried, cut and stapled onto the bottom of the seat cushion:

The second type of silk dye is set by heat only (simply pressing on the back of the painted fabric with an iron set to the silk setting). This type of paint is thick and requires a $13 bottle of formaldehyde based thinner which some painters might not desire because of the associated negative environmental factors.

The above picture shows the same type resist was used (I was too frugal to purchase another gutta for the second chair cushion and wanted to start the second cushion while the first one was drying).  The paint is the heat set type product, with little room for blending colors.  Instead, the colors were applied one on top of the other.

Finished but not yet applied to the chair cushion: (note that the background is the natural color of the silk fabric):

Completed chair cushion with poppy motif:

Four more chair cushions to complete.  I will continue using the dyes requiring the steam method.  These cushions will NOT be matchy-matchy.  For people with OCD, this might make you squirmy, but it is OK in this household.

Update on 2/16/12, third chair cushion finished:

Update on 2/18/12, fourth cover completed with heat set dyes and little blending allowed:

5th chair cover:

Last one...a bird of paradise.  Who wants to sit on the bird of happiness?


  1. Lovely results - I think it's nice to have different pictures on each chair - the paints I use just iron and then rinse then iron again - none of this 3 hr business! it seems hard work. I do like the vibrant colours. By the way the chairs themselves are beautiful and lend themselves really well to silk painted seats. I am jealous!

  2. Each one beautiful, unique and would be just fine with me:) Have a blessed day, can't wait to see them all! HUGS!

  3. Your chair covers are fabulous. And, the procedure is very interesting how the colors blend. I especially like the poppies! You are so talented, and patient!

  4. Wow, these chairs are beautiful! Very clever of you!


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