French style armchairs with wooden frames and nailhead trims are one of my all time favorite makeover projects! It is a project that usually inspires many DIY-ers and I receive tidal waves of questions regarding “how-to”! I felt it was time to revisit this subject as it’s been a while since a mermaid or the adorable giraffe/zebra chair. So today…… we are headed down the rabbit hole with the Alice Chair!
Meet Alice in Wonderland sitting in her chair on a chair! She’s even more brilliant than I imagined her in my head! In fact….she sold within hours of posting her online!
The “before” of this chair really wasn’t bad at all! Sometimes the “before” is hideous and begging for a re-do. This chair was fine…..but just a little too serious for my liking. I found this chair on Facebook Marketplace…. and only had to drive about 30 minutes to pick her up….. and I got her for a steal!
Before we start
When considering a chair to paint…… you really need to evaluate a few things first.
1. Is the fabric smooth? The fabric needs to be free of “pile” or any type of raised pattern, velvet or tweed. These fabrics are very difficult to keep soft.
2. Is the cushion firm? This type of chair is really the only type I paint. The seat cushion is firm and doesn’t give too much when you sit on it. Painting grandpa’s oversized deep-seated squishy cushioned chair is NOT recommended.
Clean & Prime
I began by giving the fabric a good vacuuming. I cleaned the wood frame with White Lightning to remove all oils and possible furniture polish build up. Then, I painted all fabric with BOSS Primer in Gray to block out color as well as a few stains that appeared when I misted the fabric with water. A single coat of BOSS did the trick. When fully dry…..I used my DB finishing sponge and ran it very roughly over the dried BOSS to knock back the hardened outer shell of the primer…… and then dusted off with a brush.
Time to Paint
I painted the seat in Fluff in preparation for Midnight Sky stripes. Used full strength Fluff…. then continued to spritz it with my water mister bottle to spread it easily. I do not wet my fabric first. I painted the front and back of the chair in Fluff in preparation for Soft Pink painted Harlequin pattern. Once fully dry….. again…. I used my finishing sponge to smooth out the surface and dusted with a brush.
The stripes are done by using a template that I created years ago with brown wrapping paper. It is exactly 2.25″ wide. I lay it down and trace the stripes…. and then fill in every other one with Midnight Sky. I thin out the Midnight Sky black with water so it goes on fairly sheer so this does require a second coat. Again…… use the finishing sponge and dust brush.
The Dixie Belle Harlequin stencil was used to create the diamond pattern as a backdrop for the planned transfer art. This technique is the same as using it on hard/solid surfaces. Just move quickly and pounce with a very dry brush directly toward the stencil….. being careful to *not angle* your brush at all. Do not add water to your paint that you are using to stencil with.
Now it’s time to apply the Alice transfer. It is important that your paint is fully dry so I allowed my Alice Chair to dry overnight. I also recommend only using the transfers on the BACK of the chair….. the most unused portion of the chair. I do NOT recommend using these on the seat!
You apply the transfers to fabric in the same way you do to hard surfaces. Using the rubbing stick and working carefully from the outer edge of the transfer until it begins to release. This is a technique that takes practice. If you’ve never done this before…. I advise you purchase TWO transfers…. one to use for practice that will allow you to “mess up” without pressure. Once you’ve gotten the feel of it… you can use your second transfer for your actual project.
Make the fabric & transfer become one
Once your transfers are in place, the next step is vital for success with transfers on fabric. You MUST burnish them. This requires the finishing pad or a fine grit sandpaper. You must use it roughly over the transfer to really press the transfer into the underlying paint and fabric fibers. You want them to become ONE. You cannot have ANY portion of the transfer left floating above the fabric or it will lift and peel. Do not be afraid to rub the transfers hard! I have listed all transfers used in the shop section below. But I do need to let you know that the Alice in Wonderland transfer only has THREE clocks. I used the Hot Air Balloons & Clocks transfer as well which has EIGHT clocks!
When the transfers are in place.. you can paint the body of your chair. I used Plum crazy and it only took one coat for full coverage. I chose to shade the outer edges of my fabric with the plum crazy. I love this “ghosting” look of marrying the Plum Crazy with the Fluff.… as if over time the the two colors blended. I did this by using my mister bottle and allowing the plum paint to touch the white fabric as I painted. Then used my La Petite and Best Dang Brush to fade them together until I had it just the way I wanted it. I let this dry overnight.
Next, I “glazed” the Alice Chair using VooDoo Gel Stain in Black Magic. Working in sections, I applied it full strength with a small craft brush and wiped back with a damp cloth. This really tones down the Plum Crazy leaving it with a rich and deep tone of plum. VooDoo Gel stain does not require a top coat. Once it dries it acts as a final coat for your chair. I still choose to top coat over it for added protection.
It’s now time to paint the nailhead trim. I use a small scoop of the Gemstone Mousse in gold and mix it with a dropper full of Top Coat in Gloss and stir well. I’ve listed the droppers and medicine cups that I use to mix my mousse with. Once it is in liquid form I used a small craft brush to hand paint each little nail head. This takes time but it is very easy….. and quite therapeutic…. and really helps to give the chair a beautiful final finish.
I also applied the GOLD wax by DB with my finger to the decorative carvings on the chair.
The last finishing touch was the black and white harlequin floor that I added beneath the feet of Alice and her royal buddy. I hand drew and hand painted this so they didn’t appear as if they were floating. I think it’s a really nice touch.
Making it last
Once completely dry,. I used the Easy Peasy Spray wax to seal the entire Alice Chair…… wood and fabric! I pour the liquid into a bowl…. and use a soft brush to apply it over the fabric, transfers, stripes, gold and wood frame. It dried completely clear and quite quickly. Do not over saturate your transfers…. just a light brushing will do! When completely dry…… you need to use the finishing pad to burnish one last time., and dust clean.
I think this Alice Chair is just gorgeous! And it makes me so happy to know that it was purchased to be used in a newborn Wonderland inspired baby nursery for a new little baby girl! I knew as I was creating it, that it was meant for someone specifically….. I just didn’t know who! Now I do….. and I couldn’t be happier!
We have all of this on the live tutorial on YOUTUBE….. click HERE to watch this chair come to life in detail, subscribe and maybe save it to watch later!
If you’d like to create a painted chair but this seems overwhelming…. I actually offer a full 2 hour class on how to paint a fabric chair. You can find that tutorial here.
I hope you give this a try and that you enjoy it as much as I did!
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See you next week!