How to print your own tropical fabric & re-upholster a conservatory chair

If you’ve got an old chair that you want to re-cover but just can’t find the fabric you want, how about printing your own? I’ve used iron-on transfers and added applique felt leaves to make my own unique tropical fabric design. Here’s how I did it…I picked up this woven chair from the carboot sale for about £5 (I can’t remember exactly, it may have even been less!) but it was in a rather sorry state. Even though it was sturdy and the wicker surround was in good condition, the seat had been re-covered a few times and was threadbare and torn. Even though I loved the shape, I wondered if an upholstery project was beyond me. After all, I’ve never had any experience of re-covering furniture with fabric. That is, apart from my kitchen chairs – but for that project I just stapled new fabric to the seats and it seemed like an easy fix in comparison to this project.This seat would need taking back to the padding, and completely re-covering. But that wasn’t the end of my worries – I also couldn’t find any fabric that I liked for the project. I searched in stores and online to find something that would look lovely in my home office, but everything I saw wasn’t quite right.Then a thought occurred to me; why can’t I make my own fabric? I’d printed t-shirts in the past, so wouldn’t it be possible to print my own design onto a sheet of fabric (in this instance, a pillowcase) and use it to re-cover the chair? I set about printing out images of colourful tropical flowers (these are from Shutterstock) and I wanted to include a toucan in the design = this year’s flamingo!When I’d cut out the photo transfer paper and positioned it into place, I realised that it would look better with some layers of applique leaves. I used a sheet of iron-on mending adhesive to add a sticky back to the felt and fabric I wanted to use and then cut out the shapes of a cheeseplant and tropical leaves.This added depth and texture to the design and was really fun to do! Peeling away the backing paper from the printed designs was such a satisfying moment and I was happy with the finished fabric. I set about stretching it over the seat and adding some finishing touches. Have you seen the latest issue of Reloved magazine? My upcycled chair project made it onto the front cover woo! The full step-by-step project can be found in the magazine so head out to WH Smith, Tesco or Sainsburys to grab a copy of Issue 54 now! Or download the digital edition of Reloved magazine from the website. And if you’ve missed any issues you can order back copies too.Let me know if you have a go at printing your own designs onto fabric and please share your tips in the comments below 🙂


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Cassie Fairy
Cassie is a freelance writer with a Masters degree in lifestyle promotion studies. She loves to 'get the look for less' so regularly shares thrifty fashion posts, DIY interior design ideas and low-cost recipes on her blog.

4 Responses

  1. Ooh lovely, you should definitely give it a go with your own chair Becky! I stapled the fabric around the sides of the seat and then used a hot-glue gun to stick the upholstery trim on to cover the edges – easy really! 🙂

  2. Thank you so much Claire! It’s now my cat’s favourite spot in my home office, haha!

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