Friday, February 15, 2013

Thrift Store Makeover: High Chair Edition

My husband and I recently struck gold at our local thrift shop. We brought home several baby items for just a fraction of their retail cost. I was especially happy to find this sturdy (and clean!) $2 highchair that clamps onto a table. It reminds me of the one my parents used for my sister and I in the 80's! It takes up so much less space than those huge free-standing highchairs. Unfortunately, the lovely vinyl teddy bear decor wasn't quite cutting it for me. So, I made a slipcover! I made it completely out of materials I already had at home. I love that I can take it off to throw in the washer. It's even reversible, so I can switch up the color if I want.

Here's how I did it:

I started by tracing the seat and back of the highchair onto a brown paper bag. I used this "pattern" to cut my fabric: four seat pieces, four back pieces, and a few strips for the front and top edges. I'm glad that I remembered to cut my pieces slightly larger than the paper bags. The seams that attach the pieces to each other will "shrink" your design.

Starting with the seat cover, I sewed the matching seat pieces to their matching strips. With the "right" sides facing each other, I tucked one seat fabric inside the other, sewed them together, and turned them right-side out.

You can see from the top left picture above how this seat cover will sandwich the original chair. Next, I pinned the loose-fitting fabric in place so that the seams I just sewed were pressed right up to the outside edge. Because my sewing machine couldn't quite maneuver the tight corners connecting the seat pieces to the strip, I had to do a little hand sewing before moving on.

When I first started this project, I wasn't quite sure how I would attach the slipcover to the seat. Should I use ribbons that tie in little bows? Should I use Velcro? I ended up sewing buttons onto both sides of each corner of the cover (a total of eight buttons - four on the denim side, and four on the checkerboard side). Then I used small hair ties (that were always annoyingly small for me anyways) to anchor the corners to each other.

It was then that I realized that I had forgotten to leave a hole for the little seat-belt strap. To solve this problem, I used a sharp precision knife to cut a slit in the center of my front strip. In an effort to keep this opening from unraveling, I finished off the edge with a hand-sewn blanket stitch. I'll have to wait and see how this holds up with use.

To make the cover for the back of the seat, I first sewed my two corresponding fabric pieces together, and checked the sizing. Satisfied, I put them together, sewed them up inside-out, and then turned them out the right way. Before running a seam around the entire outside edge, I had to make a cut-out for the back. I knew that I wouldn't want to take off the cover every time we have to move the seat, so we need easy access to the part that tightens the clamp to a table.

After making a vertical cut to my desired height, I cut a "V" at the top of the vertical line. This "V" allowed me to tuck in the raw edges. I pinned the fabric in place, checked my work on the actual seat, and then sewed the outside edges around the entire back cover.

Finally, I added the buttons to all the corners and added my hair ties. Done!

Showing off his newly discovered tongue!
And here's Jadon sitting in the seat! Since he's nearly six months old, we've been sitting him in it while we eat dinner for the last week. He loves to study us putting food in our mouths, and he'll even mimic our chewing motions. Soon, he'll get to enjoy "big people food" of his own!


  1. Alison,
    I have had one of these for several years, too, and a friend re-covered it with oilcloth for me (permanent re-covering, but wipable and very clean). There's another idea for you if you see another while thrifting (though I will confess they aren't easy to find---but they're wonderfully secure and storable---we've used ours for years for guests!).

    1. ooo...oil cloth. Never made anything with that. Good idea!

  2. Hey Alison, that's great! If your machine has this setting, you should just sew the hole for the strap like a button hole. It will keep it from unraveling.

    1. Unfortunately, my current machine does not have that function. And, to be honest, I've had machines with that setting and never had a reason to use it! Just another project for the future, I suppose. :)