How to Make a Memory Chair from a Special Shirt


Christmas, and the Holidays in general, are all about family—making memories, giving, loving, and just being together. Since our son, Jordan, passed away just before Christmas in 2014, it has been especially important to me to find ways to honor, remember, and include him during the Holidays. This year, I was inspired by this poem to do something special for Jordan:


I decided to make a chair just for Jordan using one of his old shirts. It took about an hour, and I think it’s a great way to include our loved ones who have passed.


All you need is a padded chair, a shirt (or fabric), chalk/mineral paint, finishing wax, staple gun.

1. Remove the seat from the chair. It’s usually just attached by four screws underneath.

2. Remove existing fabric. It helps to have a staple remover, but you can do it with pliers and a hammer. If you're lucky, your husband will surprise you and do this part for you (thanks Jase!)

You will also remove the fabric underneath the seat.


3. Paint the chair. I always use chalk/mineral paint so I don’t have to prime, strip or sand first, and because I can get the look I want every time. I make my own chalk/mineral paint with BB Frösch Paint Transformer. It’s the most affordable, the best quality, and I can make it any color I want. Besides that, I only mix up as much as I need for a project so I don't waste paint. I used Benjamin Moore “Dove Wing.” It’s kind of a “putty” white—not too creamy but not too grey.


My daughter helped me paint the chair. It took exactly 6 minutes for the first coat, and it only needed two coats! I couldn’t believe how much faster it went with two of us. She could see spots I missed, and vice versa. We also put the chair on my table before painting. It’s so much easier to see all the angles this way.

4. (optional) After the paint dries, distress. I distressed the chair lightly using 220 grit flexible sandpaper. It’s the best way to sand spindles because its flexible, and you can see through it to gauge how much distressing to do. This also helps give a nice smooth finish that feels as good as it looks.


5. Seal your work to protect the finish. I waxed the chair with clear BB Frösch Premium Finishing Wax.


6. Center your seat on your shirt (or fabric.)


7. Trim to at least 7 inches wider than your chair seat.


8. Using a staple gun, staple the shirt or fabric to the underside of the seat. Staple the center of each side first to make sure the fabric is pulled evenly, then finish one side at a time. Turn the cushion over every few staples to make sure you are pulling evenly.


9. Staple a piece of fabric over the underside of the seat cushion to hide the “ugly,” I just used a scrap of fabric leftover from another project since I didn’t have enough of the shirt fabric. It doesn’t matter what the fabric looks like since you won’t see it. I used the fabric I took of the bottom of the seat cushion as a pattern.


10. Screw the chair seat back onto the chair.


11. Decide where to put your loved one’s special chair!


I can’t decide if I like it better where I planned for it to go, or by the tree…



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