Recently, I joined a group on Facebook called The DIY Forum and they have monthly themed challenges that you can enter. For February, it was a no sew project with a twenty dollar limit. Since I had a chair that I purchased at a yard sale for a few bucks this summer that I hadn’t touched, I decided it would be a good time to get motivated on it.


It wasn’t exactly horrible. But it lacked personality. The finish was a dull brown that had seen better years, and the seat was definitely crying out for a new life. It was crackled and brittle. And dirty.


I sanded the whole thing down because I wanted to put new stain on it. I’d been painting everything lately and I thought this would be a good project to re-discover the joys of wood grain. Since I used a combination of power sanding and hand sanding, I really thought I had sanded it well enough…until I put the new stain on.

(Side Note: This project could also be titled “The Flip of Many Fails”. Here’s the first…)

Sanding Fail: A blotchy mess

Sanding Rule No. 1: If you think you have sanded enough, you’re wrong and need to go back and sand more.

Okay, maybe that’s rule number three or something…but it’s definitely near the top.

Please excuse the mess in the background. But you can tell by the saw dust I really did sand it. You can also tell by the paint and brush what happened after this picture.

I painted it.

Because I’m a huge fan of neutral tones, I went with a light brown as a base. Once I had it painted, I realized it kind of looked like the color of a band aid. It had about as much personality too. That’s when I got the bright idea of dry brushing.

I had never dry-brushed before. Can you believe it? But I knew it would add a little dimension so I decided to try it.

How hard could it be?

Apparently, I had no idea I had such a heavy hand. It looked great in spots, and a little splotchy in others. I know you’ll be disappointed that I didn’t take a photo of that fail, but I was pretty discouraged with it so I repainted it before I thought to document Fail #2.

But I can be stubborn, so I watched a few videos on how to dry brush (the right way) and after realizing what I had done wrong, I was determined to give it a try.

Dry Brushing
Dry brushing to add dimension

Better. Much better.

Now that I had the base of the dining chair done, it was time to move on to the seat. I pulled off the old cover and batting, and decided to replace it all. I went with a canvas drop cloth for the cover because I liked the texture and I thought the neutral tone would go well with the chair. And it was pretty cheap for a lot of material.

But I was also looking for a pop of color, so I decided to paint some color on to the canvas.

I’m a big fan of red. Plus, I already had some Americana Decor chalk paint in Rouge, and since I was on a budget, I started with that.

After researching what I could on painting fabric, it seemed like I was supposed to water it down, so that’s how I started.

I taped of where I wanted to paint, pressed my Frog Tape down for crisp, clean lines, and still ended up with Fail #3.

Painting Fabric Fail
Painting Fabric Fail

I didn’t even like the red as much as I thought I would.

I’ll be honest and say at this point I was honestly wondering if the DIY Fates had it out for me. Nothing was going right.

I let the canvas sit like this for a day or two, and every time I walked by it I gave it the stink eye. I was ready to try an iron-on graphic and call it a day, but I knew if I did, I wouldn’t be happy, and I still wouldn’t know what I had done wrong.

So I set out to experiment on different ways to get the look I wanted. It turns out, I only needed one shot before I realized what I had done wrong…I should NOT have watered down the paint. Apparently watering down is ideal if you’re painting a whole piece of furniture…not so much if you want the crisp lines.

After adding some brown to the red to darken it a bit, and applying my new-found knowledge, I finally had the look I wanted. I was so excited. After the paint dried, I sanded it lightly and waxed it to get a softer feel to the fabric.

Now all I had to do was recover the seat using a thin piece of foam, a double layer of batting, the new canvas cover, a few curse words on those corners and curves and many, many staples.

Crisp, clean lines!! Finally!
Crisp, clean lines!! Finally!

After reattaching the seat, it was finally done!

No Sew Chair

All in all, despite the fails I experienced with this project, I am happy with the end result and I learned a couple new techniques while I was at it. I also learned a few other things…

  • You’re probably never done sanding.
  • If you have your heart set on a look, keep experimenting until you get it right.
  • Don’t be afraid to try new things! You may get it wrong the first time, but you’ll always, always learn something.

So there you have it…my first DIY Challenge completed.

No Sew Chair



















Cost Breakdown:

Chair: $5

Drop Cloth $11

Paint, tape, foam and batting already owned.

Total Cost: $16

7 thoughts on “Painted Canvas Seat

  1. Did you huts wax the painted part and isn’t dirt/dust going to settle into the wax?

  2. Did you just wax the painted part and isn’t dirt/dust going to settle into the wax?

    1. Hi, Tammy…after I waxed it, I hand-buffed it with a soft rag so it had a smooth, but low sheen, finish. Its durable and doesn’t feel tacky or sticky. And it wipes clean…no dust or dirt has settled into the wax. I hope this helps!

        1. I just waxed it where the paint is. It made a world of difference in the texture.

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