Ok, so I was cleaning my workshop and was about to throw this old bicycle seat out, when I noticed that it actually had a pretty neat shape. I decided to make something out of it instead, and so, instead of throwing a lot of things out (and thus clean up my workshop) I made an armchair for my daughter. Way to avoid cleaning!
For this project you will need:
A bicycle seat
Some sort of chair, unless you plan on building the wooden structure yourself.
A few brackets
A lot of staples and a staple gun
Old matress and a soft blanket, or whatever you want to use for upholstering. Just make sure that it is soft.
A hook needle
Time, about two days of work.
Step 1: Prepare the Pieces.
First things first. I had my daughter try out the seat. If she was too big, it wouldn't make much sence to embark on this journey to begin with. But as you can see, she approved with a scream, and so I proceeded and started out with cutting off the legs of the seat.
I then removed the legs from the broken windsor chair.
I placed the bicycle seat on the seat of the chair and marked out where I wanted the boundries of the bottom of the chair to be.
I then proceeded to cut the chair seat into size. I just used a regular handsaw to do the job. Then i filed the rest of edges into shape with my trusty rasp. -Took about 10 minutes.
I also cut the legs down in size, and moved the front legs a little back. Bear in mind: this is all made by free hand, so some things will be a little crooked. I am not planning on making this into a serial production.
Step 2: Mounting the Seat on the Seat.
You would want this constrution to be strong enough, so that a child can sit in it. Children tend to be a little more rough on furniture than adults.
I used the brackets that had previously been used to mount the bicycle seat on the luggage rack on the bike. This kept the seat in place.
I also reinforced the sides for the armrests. This made the chair a lot more sturdy and steady. It also kept the soft plastic from warping when exposed to tension.
Step 3: First Steps of Upholstering.
OK, just so that you know: although I am a cabinet maker and a furniture designer, nothing here has been done according to the golden book of upholstering. This is all done by free hand and a lot of it just came as I went along.
I basically just used what I had lying arround.
An sleeping pad was cut to size, using the old seat cover as a mold. I spray glued the inside of the chair and applied the cut-to-size sleeping pad.
I then spray glued it again and applied an old blanket I found up in the attic. I cut small pieces into shape and just applied it with glue.
This is not the softest padding imaginable, but my experience is that as long as the sitting angle is good, the padding doesn't really matter that much.
Step 4: Applying the Outer Fabric.
I found an old curtain and used it for the outer layer of fabric. This is where the staple gun comes to use.
started with the back. Here, I stapled the top first with a distance between the staples of about 5 cm (ca. 2inches). This was to make sure it was nice and flush all the way over.
When the fabric is placed and has no wrinkles anywhere, you can start to set the other staples. In the end, you will have the staples so close to each other that it looks like a solid line.
The seat was made by stapling the fabric to the backside of the chair, whith the fabric hanging on the back. I then put on the padding and finished up with stapling it all to the bottom of the seat.
Step 5: Painting the Fabric.
This might seem like a strange thing to do, but I did it for a set of different reasons.
When the paint dries up, it will tighten the fabric a bit and thus tighten out any minor irregularities.
Also, this is a childrens furniture, and if the paint you use is of a good quality, it makes a washable surface. I used a paint that was on a latex base. Good and stretchy and easy to clean.
Lastly, I just like when things have the same color.
Step 6: Button Up!
I added some buttons to it as well. This was not only for looks. They actually helped the fabric to stay in place. Since the construction is made of plastic, it was easy to make holes in it. I just used a pair of scissors.
Step 7: Adding the Backside.
One good thing about spring is that people tend to throw a lot of stuff out. I found this old piece of mattress in my neighbors front yard and asked if I could have it. She seemed happy to get rid of it.
I just took the mattress and held up to the backside of the chair. Then I marked the outline of the chair with a marker and cut it out with a pair of scissors. Obviously, some adjustments had to be made to make it fit really nice. I trimmed it a little thinner around the armrests, to make room for the reinforcement blocks.
The staples along the edge actually held the foam in place, so I didn't even have to glue it.
Step 8: Repeat the Process.
I went about the same way with the backside, as with the front. First I added a small layer of padding. This was a piece of fleece, from a previous project.
I then proceeded with the outer layer of fabric. Again the old curtain.
Then, when the whole backside was nice and flush, I cut of all excess fabric, but still kept about 1 centimeter extra fabric in the seam. You will see why in a bit.
Step 9: Paint Again.
Nothing much here. Just repeat step 5. Only this time, I used child labour.
Step 10: Final Detail. the Seam Cover.
This is by far the most tedious part of the process. It took about as long time as all the other steps combined, but it really completes the chair.
I cut a rim out of the black fleece and then bended it over both sides of the small seam i left uncut before I painted it. Then I proceeded to sow on the rim.
Here I used a pair of plyers and a hook needle. The hook needle made it all a little easier, since it found its own way out all the time. I suppose you could do this with a regular needle as well, but it would be a heck of a lot more work.
Repeat this process all the way along the seam untill you get to the other end.
Step 11: Behold Your Work and Be Happy!
Now, all you have to do is give it to someone small enough to fit in it. I recon a four year old is just the right size.
Now, time for me to go and clean out my workshop.