I had this really great inflatable camping chair that I accidentally popped one afternoon while I used it to sit on the garage floor and disassemble a VCR.
This incident greatly deflated my spirits, and set me out on a quest to create a replacement chair that wouldn't pop. And by-golly, I have done so! Now I can take apart all kinds of found electronics on my garage floor without having to worry about my chair deflating.
It can also be used for camping (obviously) and the beach.
Step 1: Go Get Stuff.
You will need...
- 24" x 100" worth of canvas (or equivalent - so long as one piece is at least 38" long)
- 6 yards of 1" wide nylon strapping
- 2 strap adjusters for 1" nylon strapping
- 6 pieces of 1" thick foam measuring 20" x 18" (or larger sheet for trimming to size)
- 4 poles that are 16" long x 3/8" diameter (any strong material with little give will do)
- black thread
- A sewing machine
- A yard stick or tape measure
- Sewing pins
- Something to melt the ends of nylon strapping (optional)
Step 2: Cut the Fabric to Size.
Take your fabric and cut it so that it is 24" wide by 80" long. If you don't have enough fabric for that, you can cut it it to be 60" long or 38" long. You simply have to make sure that you have at least a piece of fabric that is 38" x 24". This will function as the back section of the chair.
The front section of the chair can be made of two 24" x 20" sections of fabric if need be and sewn to together with the back later.
For my chair I used one 60" long section and one 20" long section (which I sewed on later).
Step 3: Cut the Foam to Size.
If your foam isn't already cut to size, now would be the time to cut it to size.
The size, to remind you, is 20" x18" and you need 6 sheets of it.
Step 4: Cover Half Up and Sew.
Flip the fabric so that the good side is facing up. Layout your foam on the fabric.
If your fabric is 60" or longer, layout the foam so that the fabrics can fold over it and cover it completely (the bad sad of the fabric should be facing up on top of the foam now). If it is only 38", then take one of your smaller pieces of fabric and cover the foam completely.
Pull the sides (and the top if need be) of the fabric tightly together and pin it in place. However, don't pin the two pieces together in the center of the larger piece. You are going to remove the foam through this opening after everything is pinned in place.
Once the foam is removed, sew along the line you just pinned (removing the pins as you go). Don't worry about reinforcing the stitching for now.
Step 5: Prepare to Be Strapped
Cut out 4 trapezoidal pieces of fabric in which the top parallel is 2.5" long and the bottom is 8" long and they are both 5" apart.
Next cut out 2 lengths of nylon strapping 21" long and 2 more lengths that are 7" long.
Take the 7" long lengths of nylon, loop it around the permanent bar of the nylon strap adjuster (see secondary picture) and make sure it is evenly folded in half.
Next, take your plastic melting tool and quickly singe the ends so that they won't unravel.
Also, singe the ends of the longer nylon straps.
Step 6: Strapping.
Now it is time to combine your strapping with the canvas strips that you cut out.
Fold the canvas strips in half evenly so that the backside of the fabric is facing outwards. You should now have a 1 1/4" flat edge on one of the sides. First, stick your long nylon straps between this edge so that only about 1/2 and inch sticks out visibly at the end (the rest should be inside the fold and drop out the other end). Pin everything in place and then sew along the diagonal and the 1 1/4" edge where the folded edges meet. Once you have sewn it, throw your sewing machine in reverse and go back over the seam.
Take the smaller length of nylon connected to the nylon strap adjuster and sew to squares with "X" shapes in them, one next to another. This will help in holding both sides of the straps together.
Afterwards, do the same thing you did with the fabric a moment ago for the longer straps. The big difference is that the strap adjusters shouldn't be long enough to poke out the bottom (see secondary image). Make sure that you sew them almost identically except for one adjuster being face up and one being face down. You need to do this so that the adjusters are on the outside on both sides of the chair.
Step 7: Even More Strapping! the Rapture!
Cut two 46" lengths of fabric.
Take your plastic melter and sear the ends so that they don't unravel.
Fold each end in 5" and tape them in place so that they don't move.
Both straps should now be an identical 36" long.
Step 8: Strapping Meets Canvas. Hello New World.
First find the top edge of the back half of the chair that you have already sewed the foam pouch for. You will use this as your top edge.
For this step you should also make sure that the good side of the fabric is on the outside.
Measure in about 5" from each side and pin down your 36" nylon strips with the folds face down (using your top edge to align the two strips).
When this is pinned down, slip the fabric/strap combo that you made in Step 6 under the 36" nylon strap so that the top of the combo is aligned right up to the top edge of each fold. Make certain that the nylon strap fasteners are both pointed face up and that these nylon/strap combinations are positioned so that the flat sides are close to one another, not far away (see picture for clarification).
Pin everything well in place.
Step 9: Sew Sew Sew.
To begin with, remove any tape that you may have used for holding down the nylon strapping.
Next, sew down the nylon strapping as seen in the diagram below (secondary image). Take note that orange lines should be sewn at least 2-3 times. This isn't to scale, but figure that the top box with an "x" in it should be about half an inch and the part not sewn on the inside of the straps should be about 2 inches.
Be careful not to sew down the one side of the chair that is already finished! You're going to need to obviously put the foam back in that pouch.
When this is done, sew around the inside border of each of the fabric/strap combo. Go over the nylon strap sticking out of the 1 1/4" crease at least 4 or 5 times with your stitching. At this point don't yet sew down the fabric/strap combo to the actual chair fabric. You will do that in a moment.
Now, you are now going to want to measure and pin together the chair fabric and the fabric/strap combo 1" away from the 36" long nylon strap. The square-like shape formed by this line should be sewn 2 - 3 times over (see pictures).
To finish, open up the part of the 36" strap that is not sewn and as best you can, sew down the lower half of the fold (so that the lower piece of nylon is affixed to the chair).
Step 10: A Small Touch.
Alright, this is primarily a decorative touch, but it will also ultimately serve a large function too.
Cut a strip of canvas roughly 4" long x 2" wide. Hold the fabric with the good side facing towards you and fold each end under and then sew it in place. You should be left with two clean looking pieces of nearly identical fabric roughly 1" wide by 3" long (see secondary picture).
Find the center of the 36" nylon strap sewn to the chair. This will be at 18". Center this small piece of fabric on the 18" center line. Sew it across the nylon strap about 5 times. This seam will hold your support bars in place on the chair.
Next sew down each side of the canvas strap following the edge of the nylon strap. When you reach the end, sew back; doubling up the stitch. Be very careful not to sew down the canvas patch over the nylon strapping while doing this (see picture).
Step 11: When in Foam.
Flip you chair back inside out. Take your first 3 pieces of foam and shove them inside the chair.
Take your other 3 pieces of foam and lay them out on the other half of the chair's backside. Fold your fabric over this new foam if its long enough or get a new piece of fabric to cover it. Pin down both sides (and the top edge if need be). Make certain that you have enough excess fabric on the middle edge that it will be able to wrap around the foam and tuck under in the center.
Remove all the foam and sew along the line you just pinned down (taking away the pins as you go.)
Step 12: Sew Frustrating
With your chair flipped inside out, fold all of the border seams over and over again upon themselves. Pin the seams in place. When done with that, sew them in place.
Flip your chair back right-side out. For now, put the foam in the side with the smaller flap of excess material. At this point, the foam may be slightly too wide. You might find that you have to trim off an inch or two worth to make it fit better.
Once the foam is neatly in place and positioned how you want it, pin the excess fabric to the center of the chair as close to the foam as possible. Then quickly sew the fabric together, removing the pins as you go. Depending on the size and configuration of your sewing machine, this is easier said than done. This may take a while and may make you crazy. I'm sorry, but it must be done.
Once done, cut a length of fabric about 5" wide and 21" long. Fold over the piece of fabric that you have just sewn down so that none of the edges are exposed and it is positioned over this new piece of fabric you have just cut. In other words, the new piece of fabric should be between the back of the chair and the top flap. Sew this down and then put the machine in reverse and go back over it. You should even probably put more stitches than that if you don't want the seam to rip out. Again, this is easier said than done, but it must be done... so there is little that can be done about it.
Step 13: Finish It.
Insert the foam into the other side of the chair. Trim this foam as well, if need be.
Tuck the excess fabric under the foam. Don't worry about sewing it. This should do for this side.
Insert whatever you decided to use as poles. Trim them as necessary.
Also, trim all visible excess thread.
Speaking of which, thread the nylon straps through the strap adjuster.
Sit on it and adjust to your preference.
Step 14: The Nature of Things.
Find an unspoiled patch of Earth and stare pensively out into space.