When the fabric seat of a favorite old beach chair begins to tatter, fray, or fade, custom-make a new one out of durable, washable ticking.
1. The first step is to determine what size the seat should be. Measure the width of the chair at its narrowest point, and add 2 inches for the side hems. Next, measure the length between the top rail and the bottom. Double the length, adding 9 inches for the hem and an additional 11 inches so that the seat will drape slightly. (For Martha’s chair, the fabric measures 18 1/2 inches wide by 92 inches long.)
You can hem the edges with no sewing by using Steam-a-Seam, a permanent, washable fusing material available in several widths. Using an iron, press 1/2 inch on each side edge. Apply the Steam-a-Seam to the top of the pressed edge, and peel off the paper backing. Turn under another 1/2 inch, and iron for 10 to 15 seconds. For the end hems, make a six-inch-wide hem on one end and a 2-inch hem on the other. Press under one-half inch on each edge, and apply a 6-inch and 2-inch strip of Steam-a-Seam to the appropriate edges, spanning the width of the fabric. Peel off the paper backing, fold over the hem, and press with an iron for 10 to 15 seconds.
2. Lacing the chair through grommets allows for easy removal at the end of the season or for washing. You will need a row of 6 grommets along the top and bottom. The 6-inch hem will require a second row of grommets 4 inches toward the center and 1 inch from the edge of the hem. Starting about 1 inch from the side edge, make the first mark. Mark every 3 inches from that point, stopping about 1 inch from the other side.
3. To attach the grommets, start by using a grommet-hole cutter and a mallet to make a hole for each one. Insert the front of the grommet through the top side of the material, fitting the companion piece over the shaft and onto the setting base. Place the setting tool in the center of the grommet, and use the mallet to connect the two parts. Repeat this process for each of the grommets.
4. Attach the seat to the chair frame by using 1/4-inch-diameter nylon rope. Double the rope over about 10 inches, and knot it. Fold the wide hem over the top rail of the chair so the two rows of grommets are aligned. Wrap the length of fabric down and around the bottom rail of the chair, and bring it up to the top at the back. Thread the rope from the back through the holes under the rail, sandwiching the single row of grommets between the two aligned rows. Pull the rope taut, and double it over at the other end, knotting it close to the grommet.
5. To make a pillow that can be tied to the top of the chair, start with an 8-by-18-inch pillow and 1 yard of fabric. For the front, cut the fabric 1 inch larger than the pillow; for the back, cut two pieces of fabric that measure 9 by 13 inches. The two pieces will overlap so that the cover can be removed and washed. Cut four lengths of 2-by-20-inch-long fabric to serve as ties. On the short end of each of the two back pieces, press under 1/2 inch, then another inch, to make the hem. Pin, then stitch the fabric close to the edge.
6. To make the ties, fold the strips of fabric in half, lengthwise, so the top sides of the fabric are together. Allowing a 1/4-inch seam allowance, stitch along the raw edge. Attach a safety pin to one end, and turn right side out. At the other end, turn the raw edges inside about one-quarter inch, press, then stitch. Pin the pillow front to the back with the raw edges even and the hemmed edges overlapping in the center. Pin two ties, on either side, to the top of the right- and left-hand corners, 1/2 inch in from the side edges; the long ends should be inside the pillow cover. Using the 1/2-inch seam allowance, stitch around the perimeter. Turn the pillow cover right side out through the overlap, and insert the pillow.