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by | Dec 6, 2013 | Tutorials, upholstery | 27 comments

I finished painting, staining and slip covering the four Craig’s List chairs for the dining room a fewweeks ago and have been on the hunt for chairs to use for the ends of the table.

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 As it happens, I’ve had two other French cane chairs that are almost identical to the Craig’s List ones in my basement stash.  I bought them at Lucketts for $50/each, but haven’t been excited to work on them.  The seats on both of them are broken and I wasn’t sure how to deal with that.  The caning isn’t in sheets, but hand done, so I wasn’t about to try repairing the cane!  So, they’ve been sitting in my basement for over two years.  The ones I bought off Craig’s List had pretty good seats, but at some point, an upholstered seat was made for them, so I used that as my inspiration for “fixing” these chairs.

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Since the chairs are almost identical, I was able to use those cushions as a template to make a wood cutout that fit on the seats perfectly.  I then added two inch foam and a layer of thick batting.  All of the layers are held together and to the wood cutout with spray adhesive.  I cut the foam with an electric carving knife…like the kind people use for turkey.  I coincidentally received mine as a white elephant gift and it was perfect!

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To attach the seat to the chair, I again looked at how the “pros” had done it on the Craig’s List chairs.  The seats were stapled to the cane using cardboard upholstery strips, so that’s how I did it.  I did have to address the tangled mess of punched out caning, though, so I put a piece of cardboard over it, to keep it from hanging down, fraying further, etc.

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It is the underside of a chair, so it doesn’t have to be pretty.  Just sturdy.  The nice thing about this method is that it can be removed without damaging the cane.  So, if you have a chair where the cane is in good condition, but you want to add an upholstered seat, you can still do that and remove it later if you change your mind.

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Now the seat is functional and ready for a pretty slipcover…  

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I’ll show you how to make one of those next…


Now, you may have noticed the absence of Christmas decor posts on my blog this year.  That’s because I hadn’t done one thing to decorate for Christmas.  Not one thing.  So, finally yesterday, I decided it was time to put on the Christmas tunes and do a little bit of decorating.  It’s going to be on a smaller scale this year than it has been in the past.  We are having a lot of family over, so I want the house to look festive and my boys are really excited about it, of course, but it’s all going to be simple.

Here’s what I started with…

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 I used brown paper that is in the drop cloth aisle at the hardware store.  It’s meant to protect flooring when renovating, but it’s great for craft projects.  It’s thinner than brown craft paper, so it holds a fold better, but it looks the same.  And it’s really cheap for a huge roll!  The blue and white butcher twine is from Hobby Lobby.

I filled a large ironstone tureen with pine cones (sent to me all the way from Arizona by a very sweet reader) and some sheet moss.

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 And I sprinkled a few seasonal nuts and sparkly ornaments around an ironstone tray with a preserved boxwood topiary in it on the dining room table.

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Very simple.  We’ll hopefully get a tree this weekend, weather permitting.

Tomorrow, though, I have an upholstery date with a sofa…


  1. Lou

    Thanks for the info on fixing the cane chair! I have often passed up nice looking, inexpensive chairs at flea markets due to poor condition of the seats and not wanting to have to pay to have them re-caned. You make this fix sounded almost simple enough that I could do it.

  2. Yuko @ northfield gate

    Thanks for sharing the seat tutorial. I have some chairs with a saggy caned seat, so I can definitely use that trick! And I’m loving your simple Christmas decor. I haven’t really decorated for Christmas yet, and I want to keep it simple yet pretty.

    Hope your boy will feel better soon. I have two little boys myself and I know they play really ROUGH!
    Have a great weekend,

  3. Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker

    I love your Christmas decorations! We are going on a walk today to collect some pinecones for our decorating.

    I don’t put out a lot of decorations: a tree, a nativity, some greenery around the nativity, our stockings, and a wreath on the front door.

    Last year I added two plain wreaths inside the windows, which I had wanted to do for about 6 years. I was pretty excited about that.

    Then I started looking at decorating blogs, and I was amazed at HOW MUCH was decorated. I thought perhaps it was just because they were home décor bloggers.

    Then last night I went to a progressive dinner.

    These houses were filled with decorations.

    I have realized, after looking at so many houses, that it is the natural elements that I love the best, and I am thrilled by your simplicity, Marian. It’s nice to know that not everyone decorates every corner of every room for Christmas.

  4. Kristin

    Bravo on the chair fix. As for the decor for Christmas–simple is better in my book! And I go for the natural look also. We do have all the colors of the ornaments and a red and tan gingham bow that cascades as the tree topper. Other than that I have kept it simple over the years finding less is more (and less likely to look tacky/overdone/cheesy!). I go for the white poinsettias also. Your decor looks lovely. We had a dusting of snow last night and decorating the second tree is on the agenda for today–off I go!

  5. Rita loveday

    Caning a is pretty simple…taught my adult son in 2 evenings. It is a seven step weaving process. You could learn that too,

    • Lori

      I was going to say that caning was fairly simply to learn as well. My daddy caned our kitchen chairs when they wore out, and I so wished I had learned from him. You just need to remember to keep part of the old part that is caned so that you have a pattern unless you want to do an new one.

      I am really glad that Marian showed the alternative to caning for those who do not want to do it. I would have never thought to do what she did!

  6. Jeanine C

    There is such beauty in the simple. Keeps my focus on the meaning of Christmas…the celebration of the grestest gift of all~ The Lord in human flesh.

    Blessings this beautiful time of year 🙂

  7. Laurie

    I had no idea there was such a thing as “upholstery cardboard”!! What useful information you provide!

  8. Siouxie Q

    I love the simplicity of your Christmas decorating. It’s just perfect. Any tips on where a gal can get discounted boxwood balls?

  9. Karen Henning

    Where on earth do you get the time to do all this and blog? I admire your energy and talent and wish I had half of it to get some of my list of projects accomplished! You rock!

  10. Debbie

    Good to know about the caning mini repair. I have passed on chairs when the cane was a mess since I knew having it done by a pro would be expensive. Thanks for sharing.

    One can never go wrong with simple décor – I love it.

  11. Sharon

    Great ideas on the cane chair repairs! I’ve been doing my share of repairs lately on stools, etc. and getting quite handy with cutting out wood shapes! That can get tricky.
    Love the preserved Boxwood and wishing it was readily available here in Australia …

  12. Jelena

    That was a great information on how to fix a broken caned chair seat! Now, I won’t be afraid to get a chair if the seat is not perfect. Good to know that the fix is fairly simple.

    Oh, and I love those pine cones in a tureen! I will have to start collecting pine cones next year, when we go hiking, and preserve them for winter decorating. We have a lot of Ponderosa pines both here in town and in the Hills.

  13. Kerry

    Love your stuff! I do a lot of upholstery. When cutting foam for seats with a wood base that you glue the foam to as a general rule leave the foam a half inch over hanging all the way around. And the fabric will last longer and look better. You probably already know this. I can’t tell if its just slip covered or upholstered. I just started following you so I have no idea if you do a lot of upholstery. So please don’t be offended if you already know this. I haven’t had a chance to read all of your blogs. But I love love love your style.

    • Melissa

      Kerry – thank you for the tip about cutting the foam a half inch over hanging. I just upholstered my first chair seat this week. Luckily I just tacked the fabric on and I can easily take it off and put a new piece of foam in it’s place. Marion thanks for the tip on the electric knife. Why do you put batting put over the foam? Thank You

  14. Wendy Lee

    Could you explain a little about the cardboard strips? What are they used for and why? This would be a great help, I am just tipping my toes in reupholstering and any information would be helpful. Thank you.

    • Miss Mustard Seed

      The cardboard strips are used for a few things in upholstery. They can be used as I did, to give staples something to grip or they can be used for creating a straight fabric edge to fold over…like on the corner of a wingback chair.

  15. Karen

    Marian the chairs look beautiful. I’m trying to decide what kind of slips to put on my chairs..Ruffles,box pleats oh my! I cant decide. Your Christmas decor is looking good too.

  16. Cindy

    Brilliant! I have some little frenchy caned chairs that i love – but they are so creaky and fragile feeling, i wonder if putting a cut out wooden bottom on the seat would make them sturdier?


  17. susan allen

    MARIAN!!!!!!! if you learn to cane chairs and are good at it I’m done please find something your not good at lol lol lol

  18. JaneEllen

    Years ago we bought an oak side chair at the swap meet in San Diego for $10. The caned seat was in bad shape so hubs did some calling, found a place in S.D. he could buy caning and the wood stuff that goes around the edge to help keep the caning on the chair. The caning was in sheets and the stuff to keep it in was by the yard. This was many years ago before computers to do searching for us. He’d never done anything like that but he did a great job and that chair seat is still hanging in there despite being stored, moved, etc. If somebody wants to take their time and be patient the caned seat can be completely replaced. The back also if needed.
    Love the tip about the cardboard on the underside of seat. If needed I’ll have to do that with chair talked about above. Happy weekend

    • MJ

      Wickerwoman dot com has a directory of people who do caning. Wickerwoman is an old hand at this and has a website, last I recalled.

  19. Nicole Gan

    what a great job. I really have a seat like this one that i was about to throw it away. Now I do not have to.

  20. Chris T

    I love reading your blog & get many ideas, from what you do. We have a shop where we do caning & woven seats of all kinds, it’s in Buckhannon, WV, it’s also an antique shop, we’ve been weaving for 34 years now. I keep track of the years by my youngest daughters’ age, she was a year old when we wove an antique rocker that we had inherited and we could not afford the .35 a hole that was being charged at the time.
    When the cane is damaged & hanging down, as yours was, you could just cut it out, no need to save any of the cane. The chair seat could then be woven using the holes & it will become the same pattern. The sheet cane & the handwoven are not interchangeable. I like your slipcovers, you do a beautiful job sewing them. I’m a long time reader, first time writing.

  21. Debbie @Dewdrop Gables

    Thanks for this tutorial! Next time I find a sad looking cane chair, I won’t pass it up (which I’ve done in the past…too bad) The chair looks awesome now, you’d never know! I have to pin this, thanks Marian.
    Debbie 🙂

  22. Shayna

    Id love to know what kind of wood and what thickness you used for the base of the new seats. I’m working on a similar project and want to make sure they are strong enough. Great post!

  23. Claire Hill

    Where do you get his striped linen or fabric that you used for the slipcovers?


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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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