Bertoia Style Chair Pads in Slightly Regrettable Naugahyde

I bought these Elle Decor “Holly” dining room chairs after we moved two years ago. The chairs are apparently copies of the Knoll Bertoia Chairs. My chairs were $100 each and the Bertoias sell for $890. I didn’t find out they were copies until I posted on Instagram. I just thought they were cool wire chairs!

Elle Decor “Holly” chair

The chairs came with a bright white, 1/4″ thin vinyl pads. In addition to not being very thick, they kind of glared at you? I decided to remake the pads using a 1″ thick, high density foam pad purchased locally at House of Foam. They have a location downtown on another out east in the County.

New pad slightly pink, old pad is white

My material is Naugahyde in shade “surf”. We debated between a pale pink, pale green and a turquoise and settled on this. We wanted *some* color, but nothing that would compete with table linens. I was/am stressed at the thought of them getting dirty from over-dyed jeans. But, I’ll survive.

Iteration #1: I used the original pad for my initial design. The Singer Guide to Sewing For the Home says to make a seam allowance that is 1/2 the height of the pad + 1/2″ for SA. That would be a full inch for me and waaaay too bulky if you’re using leatherette for the cushion.

Ver. 2

Iteration #2 shaved 1/2″ off the seam allowance and an aggressive notching at the curves. I also cut one pad 1/8″ smaller thanks to a tip on Instagram.

Version 2.0 / 3.0

Iteration #3 I still kept one piece of material smaller, but dropped down to 1/4″ seam allowance. The Naughadye has a bit of stretch to it and this gave a slightly overstuffed vibe and curved to the chair.

Raw edge version

Iteration #4 Just a 1/4″ seam allowance, wrong sides together and leave the edges raw. I do have a new binder, but four layers of faux leather was just too thick to get through the attachment.

Once I figured all this out (I got enough material to make 14, but only need 10). I got to work. Now, full disclosure, I didn’t figure out the raw edge treatment until I was almost done sewing most of these pads the “traditional” way. So, the chairs by the china cabinet have the raw edge. The rest, under the table, do not.

I sewed these on my new TL-2020PE and it was like butter. I used a size 18 needle (16 was fine for sewing, but the final four layer closing seam needed the 18) with a topstitching / buttonhole thread in the bobbin and needle. Like sewing with leather, avoid backstitching and tie off ends. I also just raw finished the short ends. No tabs or ties either.

The authentic chair pads are $225. Replacements on Etsy are $60 to $80. I made mine for about $25 each, plus my labor. Mine are also faux leather on both sides, so probably “nicer”.

If you’re going to do a shaped style like this, I would use duck cotton on the bottom or skip the faux leather all together if not having perfectly smooth shape is going to bother you. I originally planned to use 1/2″ thick foam and bind the edges, but the 1″ thick was available locally and is so lush to sit on. These are incredibly comfortable now and I look forward to the day when we can have eight people or more over for dinner again.


This corner is a little dull and needs color and window treatments

Now that this is done, I’m starting a quilt for the living room sofa, then something like nine throw pillows for the sectional and club chairs, and finally, some zhuzed up IKEA curtains over the summer. After all the soft furnishings, I have a VERY vague idea bout replacing the formica countertops in the living room with a new solid surface along with different hardware on the cabinets. But, knowing me, I’ll be all done with decorating for another two years.

Formica countertops in the right corner. We have direct sun when it’s not overcast, so shades down for fabric protection.

11 comments

  1. I do greatly admire your iterations in making a pad you enjoy!
    It’s something I need to do and have been putting waaay off.
    Not saying mine will happen any time soon, but a hearty Thank You for all the excellent information!

  2. I enjoyed following your determination to find the best technique! The non-glaring plump pale pink looks good. As you figure out next steps, I’m thinking that everything you have worked out for yourself re clothing–colors, line, proportion, etc–can be transferred over to home decor.

  3. I once made an entire sailboat full of cushions with heavy vinyl like that. Piped all the seams. Never again! These look so nice.

  4. That is quite a project! I’m always so interested to see someone else’s process. Smart to get extras so you could experiment without worry. They look so comfy! Oh, and I should have started by saying the end results are beautiful.

    • Thank you! That’s very kind. While I love the color and material, they are overall not quite where I imagined them to be? But turns out no one is really looking that closely, lol.

  5. I am gearing up to do a gentle little revamp of our living room textiles, too, and I am aiming to be done by the time that we *maybe* get to see each other again, lol! I ordered some velvet from etsy recently and it showed up looking the color of a full on superman cape, so I am waiting for another order to arrive. Also, if I come to your house wearing overdyed denim and I forget that I am wearing them, please bring out a towel for me to sit on!

  6. Wonderful project! And I didn’t know about your foam source; I’m glad to add it to my list of local businesses.

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