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December 12, 2012

Mid-Century Up an Ikea Chair – A Mini Tute

By Andrea

I know there are some mid-century purists out there who are not fans of Ikea furniture, however I am not one of them. I think with a little creativity, you can make all kinds of furniture work in your mid-century home.


This is Ella’s chair. It’s the child’s size version of the POÄNG armchair – which was actually a design Ikea introduced in the seventies, so that actually makes the design later mid-century! Although we’ve been looking forever for some actual vintage child-size furniture, what we’ve found has usually been pretty beat up and overpriced. So, we bought this chair, which Ella likes. I was never overly enamoured with the off-white upholstery, though. Especially when the purple Popsicle stain on it didn’t come out in the wash. And not to mention it shrunk. Boo. So I decided it was time to make a new, better fitting, more mid-century cushion for it.


Ella loves owls, so I decided to use the Michael Miller A Tammis Keefe Tribute fabric in Hoot.

I started off by measuring the chair, figuring out how big I wanted the pocket at the top and at the bottom to be, and measuring to where the back of the chair meets the seat. I chose a navy poly cotton twill for the fabric for the pockets, just because those are areas that are going to be under a bit more strain. I sandwiched the pieces all together, with the pocket pieces in the middle, and sewed around, leaving a hole on the side for turning and getting my quilt batting in.



Here’s what you should have – a big rectangle.


With two pockets, one at the top and one at the bottom.


The bottom pocket has Velcro, as the original chair has Velcro to help keep the cushion in place.

Next is to stuff it – I am using 4 layers of thin, 100% cotton quilt batting.


You will want to cut your quilt batting just slightly smaller than your finished cushion, as it will make it lie more smoothly inside.

After you’ve got your cushion stuffed, whip stitch the opening closed by hand. Next, you will want to get your measurement of where the back of the chair meets the seat of the chair. Mark this on the cushion, draw a straight line across. You’re going to stitch along here. (Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of this step!)

After that, I marked a few spots to tuft on the back portion of the cushion. To tuft, just used the eyelet stitch on my machine. This is primarily just to help keep the quilt batting in place. I didn’t do any on the bottom, as the stitching that separates the back and seat of the cushion will keep it in place there.


An additional note – when stitching across the cushion and dong the tufting, if you have a walking foot for your machine, it will make your life a lot easier.


And here’s the new cushion! Much more retro, and since I pre-shrunk everything before I sewed this one, it won’t shrink when I throw it in the dryer, yay!

Any questions or comments, please let me know below.

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16 Responses to Mid-Century Up an Ikea Chair – A Mini Tute

  1. Sara In AZ Reply

    December 12, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    Oh wow, I cannot believe how much better that looks Andrea….and I love that owl fabric too! SO cool, I’ll bet Ella loves it!!! 🙂

    • Andrea Reply

      December 12, 2012 at 4:03 pm

      Thanks, Sara! I am pretty pleased with the transformation, too. It really took the chair from being so-so to awesome, I think! Ella is definitely super pleased with her new chair, too!

  2. Erin Reply

    December 12, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    Cute! Now if only I could sew…

    • Andrea Reply

      December 12, 2012 at 4:04 pm

      Thanks, Erin!

  3. RetroRuth Reply

    December 12, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    Oh my gosh!! That turned out ridiculously cute! MUCH better than the plain one!

    • Andrea Reply

      December 13, 2012 at 2:06 am

      Thanks, Ruth! I agree, it’s definitely much nicer!

  4. sablemable Reply

    December 16, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    Andreaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!! I think Ella’s chair looks great (love blonde wood finish) and the new cushion is darling!

    Should be getting Mom’s old Kenmore sewing machine (circa 1959) out of storage soon. Wonder if I can still sew, LOL!

    • Andrea Reply

      December 16, 2012 at 6:02 pm

      Thanks, Sable! Sewing is like riding a bike – it will all come back to you 🙂

  5. Sarah Reply

    December 19, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    Thank you so much for this! I totally agree with you – while I would love to painstakingly recreate an authentic home, sometimes you need furniture NOW. Or are broke. Or in your twenties. Or all three 🙂

    I have a Pinterest board full of mass-market mid-century – inspired furniture and fixtures. Definitely adding this!

    • Andrea Reply

      December 19, 2012 at 3:18 pm

      I am glad you like the idea, Sarah – I am definitely with you, sometimes for whatever reason you can’t find the perfect vintage piece, so you’ve got to make something else work!

    • apsutter Reply

      December 20, 2012 at 2:48 pm

      Sarah, can you give a link to your pinterest please? 🙂

  6. apsutter Reply

    December 20, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    Ikea is fantastic and they really do make great furniture for how cheaply priced they are. I think it’s nice to have a mix of both some vintage pieces or really high end furniture and also some Ikea furniture or accessories. You can make really great built-ins with their pieces. My bf and I purchased a Kivik sofa, Kivik chaise lounge, and footstool last summer and they are holding up beautifully!! All the covers can easily be taken off and washed and everyone compliments them. Plus we bought the Kivik’s because they were slightly more pricy but the base was made of real wood and not composite. Plus since Ikea is so widely known and popular you can find really cool one of a kind mods to all their stuff.

    There is an absolutely fantastic blog called ikeahackers.net. You guys should check it out. It just goes to show what you can do with simple cheap furniture if you have a little creativity and are willing to invest some time and a little bit of love into your furniture.

    • Andrea Reply

      December 20, 2012 at 4:48 pm

      I too own an Ikea couch, apsutter – that I’ve had for so long that I don’t remember the name of it! It is one with slip covers, which is precisely why I bought it. As much as I’d love a mid century couch, the right one hasn’t come along, and with a two year old, the slipcover feature is fantastic! I am also a big fan of Ikea hackers – the ideas some people come cup with are amazing!

      • apsutter Reply

        December 21, 2012 at 5:00 am

        Ikea Hackers makes me jealous though because I’m not as creative as the people who submit their hacks lol. There has been one particular hack that I’ve been drooling over for at least two years where a familly took a very long and narrow room(kind of odd shaped to be honest) and affixed shelving to wall throughout the room and made an amazing study/library. I’ve vowed to do the same thing but I’ll need to buy a home first.

        • Andrea Reply

          December 21, 2012 at 4:51 pm

          Ooh, that sounds really cool! I’ve seen a few posts on there where people have created the look of custom built- ins with Ikea shelving, they’ve looked fantastic!

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