How to cross stitch a chair base

This type of woven cane wicker chairs and stools were really popular in the 70s and 80s and because of the regular holes in their design, they make a great base for cross stitch. I picked up this stool for £10 from eBay. Just check to make sure that the base is strong and intact. 

Things you'll need

  • A chair or stool
  • Thick wool or ribbon (I've used 5mm velvet ribbon)
  • Some backing fabric for any areas where the back of the stitches are exposed (the back of this stool for example)
  • A chunky needle
  • Embroidery and fabric scissors
  • A glue gun or staple gun
  • A tape measure
  • Some pens and paper (preferably graph paper)
  • Wood paint (if you choose to paint the chair first)


How to stitch a chair base materials


If you wish to paint your chair before you start, then do this and leave it to dry for at least 48 hours before starting to stitch. You might also want to leave the wood of the chair base natural, but paint around the very edge of the wicker areas that will be seen outside of your stitches which can create a nice effect (as shown in my book Modern Cross Stitch). Again if you choose to do this, leave plenty of time for the paint to dry. 

Step one - create your pattern

Recreate the stitchable area of your chair on your graph paper by counting the number of stitchable squares on the chair and plotting them on the paper. Have a play around until you come up with your perfect design. If you are using a repeating regular pattern like I have, then remember to line it up with the centre of the chair carefully. Don't forget that you will need a pattern for all stitchable areas of the chair (in this case there is a small section of chair back too).

Create your cross stitch pattern

Once you have created your pattern, thread your needle with the colour of the central stitch and get going! By starting in the centre you remove any complications should you find that any of the holes around the perimeter prove too difficult to stitch into.

Step two - begin stitching

Bring your needle up through the central hole of the chair just like you would with regular cross stitch fabric. Draw the ribbon through until you leave a tail about 3-4 inches long behind the seat base.

How to stitch a chair base - bring your needle up

Stitch your first few half stitches, taking care to catch the tail of the thread under your stitches on the base of the chair. Turn the chair upside down occasionally to check this.

Stitch a chair case - catch the thread

Continue to stitch half stitches until you reach the edge of the seat base. You want to stitch as close to the edge as possible. This may involve sliding your needle under the wicker where it is tight against the wooden frame in places.

Stitching up to the edge of the chair base.

Step three - complete your stitching

Keep stitching in this fashion following your pattern. Take care to keep the ribbon or wool untwisted and flat. Slide your needle under the stitches every now and again to straighten them out.

Straighten your stitches

Keep going until you have finished your chair seat and back.

Completely stitched chair seat

Step four - covering the back

For any areas that exposes the back of your stitches, you may wish to cover with fabric. How you go about this might need a bit of tweaking depending on the kind of chair you have. Measure the area first.
Measure the back of your chair

In this case I decided to cut a piece of fabric to the same width, but double the height of the area to be covered. Make sure your piece of fabric is ironed then fold inwards to hide the raw edges all the way around. Run a glue gun along the inside edge of the area to be covered.

Glue the edge of the area to be covered

Now quickly press the fabric edges against the glue with the raw edges facing inwards to attach them to the inside of the frame. Press all the way around the edge to give a neat finish. You can do this in small segments if you don't think that you can work quickly enough before the glue dries.

Back of the stitched chair

And that's it. You can experiment with different thread textures and colours. The velvet ribbon that we used makes for a very tactile feel and contemporary look. Show off in your home with pride.

 Finished stitched chair


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