Working with Vinyl Stretch on a Dinette Chair

Submitted by Susan Chuang on 

Hi, Stephen. First, let me say that the information you share on line is SO helpful!  I'm currently taking an adult school upholstery class, but I've supplemented what I learn in class with information available online.  Just the other day I showed some students in class how to enclose welt by stitching on the bias, which I learned from one of your great slideshows.  They were shocked at how easy it was to do using your technique.

My next project is to recover a diner chair with new vinyl.  This is the first time I've worked with vinyl, so I have some questions about patterning and cutting because of the stretch.  I took apart the original vinyl covering carefully, hoping to use it as a pattern.  But the original vinyl (especially on the back pieces) has been stretched out of shape and is also kind of "crispy," for lack of a better word.  The pieces won't really lay flat enough to serve as accurate patterns.

The back is curved, so I know that the inside back will be smaller than the outside back.  The boxing is also curved.  I removed the cotton padding and made paper patterns by tracing the wood frame against the inside back, outside back, and boxing.  If I then add 1/2" seam allowances to these patterns, do you think that would make for a good fit?

For the seat, I removed the padding, traced the wood base, and added 1/2" all the way around for my seam allowance.

The vinyl I purchased has a good deal of stretch across the roll, but not up the roll.  I was planning on cutting all my pieces across the roll because the vinyl has a "brushed" texture to it which runs up and down the roll, and I would like the brush lines to run up and down my chair.

For the seat pattern in particular, I'm wondering if I need to make the pattern more narrow from side-to-side.  I'm worried that when I go to pull the vinyl tight onto the seat, the vinyl will stretch from side-to-side and pull my welt lines on the sides beyond the side edges of the wood base. (I hope that makes sense!)

I remember seeing a post on Get-Up-And-Go that said vinyl boxing should be cut up the roll. Unfortunately that post doesn't seem to be available for viewing anymore. (  Do you think it's necessary for me to cut my seat boxing up the roll?  When I was calculating how much vinyl I needed to purchase, I had planned on cutting my boxing  across the width of the roll.  (I only need 54" for the entire boxing.)  If the boxing needs to be cut up the roll, I don't have enough yardage since I only purchased 1-1/4 yds.

I know you must be very busy with your own upholstery work, but I hope my questions are clear and that you might have time to share your experience with vinyl.  I always look forward to seeing what tips and advice you have to share online.  It's truly appreciated by novices such as myself!

Thanks in advance,

Susan Chuang 

  diner chair in vinyl