I found many chairs on First Dibs that fit the bill for my dining room table; the Les Arcs chair, leather sling chairs and woven variations, but nothing that fit my price range. I decided to make my own from the frame of a $25 Ikea chair and they are the perfect fit. Each chair cost about $115, including the cost of tools.
Supplies for one chair:
1) IKEA Ivan pine chair: $25
2) Danish Oil in Light Walnut: to stain the frames
3) 21 vegetable leather strips: Weaver Leather will cut strips 1.5″ wide
4) 100% pure neatsfoot oil: to condition the leather
5) Tools: awl, brass upholstery tacks (9 per chair), hammer, short nails (0.25″ long), paintbrush
First, prepare the frame and the leather. I brushed one coat of Danish Oil on the frame and laid the pieces out to dry. I did not wipe off the stain. Remember, you will not be using the chair seat. I use my chair seats now as painting palettes for other projects.
Weaver ships long leather strips that need to be cut with scizzors down to size. For the Ivan frame you will need 3 strips cut 24″ long each (top of chair, across), 5 strips cut 18″ long each (top of chair, vertical), 13 strips cut 22″ long each (seat). Once the strips were cut I laid out parchment paper and painted neatsfoot oil on both sides of the strips – it doesn’t have to be perfect. The oil conditions the leather.
Now for the fun part..! Beginning with the back of the chair, evenly space and nail down your strips to the front of the chair – 3 across and 5 vertical, nailed to the bottom ladder. I used 3 nails to attach the end of each strip.
Wrap the vertical strips around the chair frame to cover the nail heads and secure underneath the top-most lip of the chair so that the railheads are not visible when the chair is upright. Wrap the horizontal straps first around the chair frame to cover the railheads and then weave across. The only nail-heads that will be visible are those on the back of the chair and under the top ladder. This is very important to achieve a finished look.
Weave across the three horizontal strips, covering the nail-heads and stretch tight around to the back of the frame. Since these will be visible, secure with brass tacks to finish.