Introduction: Repair Your Camping Chair!

About: I live in Colorado, and love making things from stuff I have around :-D.

So I don't know if this has happened to you, but it's happened to us quite a bit. You have a camping chair that isn't even all that old, and through kids throwing themselves into it or whatever, the back of the chair gets ripped off one of its supports. A chair with a broken back isn't very comfortable for lounging around the campfire in, but you don't really want to throw away a mostly-intact chair and shell out ten bucks for a new one.

That was the conundrum we faced, so the obvious solution was to find a way to repair the ripped part. I figured out this method, that has worked great for us for many years! It brings the chair back to full functionality, and I've never had one of these patches break (and I've done a lot of chairs over the years). Not that it will grant your chair immortality, eventually the seat or the structure gives out, but it adds a long time to its useful life :-).

This is a very inexpensive repair; all you need is a needle and thread, a pair of scissors, and a scrap of sturdy fabric such as denim. Another great thing about it is that the patches can be made in advance, and stored, along with a sturdy sewing needle, in a travel sewing kit in your vehicle, camping trailer, backpack, etc, so if a chair breaks while you're on vacation, you don't have to deal with the annoyance of a broken chair until you get home, or go to Walmart (or wherever) for a whole new chair; you can just fix it on location!

Step 1: What You Need

All you need is:

  • A 6" x 6" square of sturdy fabric (I used denim from the "cutoff" part of some cutoff shorts)
  • A fairly strong needle (has to be able to get through the camping chair material)
  • Thread; I've used both normal thread and thick upholstery thread for assembling the patch, though I haven't yet tried normal thread for attaching it to the chair (I'm sure it would work though)
  • A pair of scissors
  • A thimble or something to protect your fingers while attaching the patch (I've used random hard objects to push the needle through)


  • Cutting mat, rotary blade, and square ruler
  • Sewing machine (makes the assembly process a lot faster, but if you don't have one you can do it by hand)

Step 2: Cutting Out the Patch

If you haven't cut your fabric to a 6" x 6" square yet, do it now.

Draw a line with chalk or a fabric pencil 1/2" from the edge on each side.

Use scissors or a rotary cutter to cut off the corners at a 45 degree angle, to reduce bulk (you don't want to have to deal with more bulk than necessary in this project!). I ended up cutting this one too far in; the cuts should ideally be slightly outside the line. It's not a big deal though; just a matter of aesthetics (cutting too much makes rough corners).

Step 3: Assembling the Patch

Now, fold three sides 1/2" inward, and sew them down. This can be done with a machine or by hand. These seams aren't weight-bearing; they just hide the rough edges of the fabric. Now fold it in half as shown, with the folded parts facing outward, and sew the top seam along the drawn line. I recommend an additional line of stitching above that to reinforce it. Now, turn the patch right-side-out. In this picture, you can see the rough corners cause by cutting them too far in; this doesn't affect the functionality.

Step 4: Get That Chair Back in Working Order!

Unfortunately I don't have a broken chair at the time of this writing, and I couldn't find any pictures of broken chairs before repair in our vacation pics, so I'll just be demonstrating the placement with a non-broken chair, and taking pictures of the completed patch on a previously repaired chair (but both are the same color, so it looks about the same...). The patch I made in the demonstration will be stored in the camping trailer in case it's needed.

Hold the corner of the chair back up on the support, and put the patch over the corner of the chair. Now sew the long edge of the patch, that isn't a fold, to the chair back material with a needle and thread. The padded chair material is very thick, and sewing through it can be hard on the fingers. I found it helpful to use a random hard object (like a rock, or the side of the scissor blades) to push the needle through the fabric. If you are using upholstery thread, a single line of running stitch (stitches that go in and out of the fabric in a straight line) is sufficient; if you're using normal thread, I recommend at least two lines of stitching, and I'd do it in backstitch for added strength. This is the most weight bearing part of the repair, so you'll want it to be strong. Make sure to secure the ends well (there are multiple ways to do this, here is an example from WikiHow), and use the needle to pull them to the inside of the patch to hide them, and trim any thread that sticks out.

Now your chair is as good as new! Yeah, the patch is visible, but I don't think it looks bad, and I value my $10 more than I care about my camping chair being a fashion statement ;-). Every time I've done this, the repair has lasted for years and outlived the rest of the chair, so I hope it works just as well for you!

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