Use Old T-shirts to Recyle a Wood Ladderback Chair

How to weave a wood chair bottom from strips of cloth. Minimal crafting experience is necessary. With these steps you'll have a wood chair with the bottom woven from strips of cloth in no time.

Weaving the bottom of a chair with cloth strips requires minimal craft experience. With a few basic supplies and some elbow grease you can create a fun chair that will give you years of service.

Thrift shops are a great source of wood ladderback chairs, tables and other items to recycle. The ones without bottoms are especially cheap. If you want to buy several chairs make the manager of the thrift shop an offer. If it’s reasonable the manager may jump at the chance.


This article assumes that the wood ladderback chair only needs to be cleaned before being woven. Sometimes they need a little more attention. Beginning crafters should stick with chairs that are in the best shape.


Use a cloth that doesn’t fray. We tie dyed old t-shirts for the chair you see photographed. Other materials may include other knits or jersey. Cotton strips can work well if you fold them into thirds and turn the ends inside the fold. They can be harder to weave but can give a pretty effect.

Here’s what you need to weave a wood ladderback chair bottom using cloth strips:

Here’s all you need to do to create a unique but functional item.


Scissors (or quilting mat and rotary cutter)

Ruler with a hole on one end

Clean wood chair


1. Cut the material into lengths that are twice as long as the ladderback chair bottom is wide. Use either scissors or a rotary cutter.

2. Cut the material into strips that are 2 inches wide. It is absolutely necessary to cut the strips as straight as possible. Use laser guided scissors, a rotary cutter or regular scissors and a yard stick to help you cut straight.

3. With the chair facing you tie one end of the cloth strip to the chair bottom. Always leave at least 6 inches dangling below the chair rail. Knot well. Pull the cloth strip to the other side of the chair bottom and knot well. The strip should be firm but not so tight that you can’t get a ruler through it.

4. Repeat until you have the entire chair bottom covered in rows of strips going from one side to another.

5. Put a strip of cloth into the hole on the ruler. Working from front to back, gently weave the strip between the strips that go from side to side. Take the ruler down between the strip and the wood ladderback chair rail and the up the other side of the same strip. It will resemble a needle going up and down in fabric. The ruler will act as a needle going in and out of the cloth strips. Complete the process until you get to the front of the chair.

6. Pull the cloth strip and position it until you have equal lengths of the cloth strip hanging on the front and back of the chair.

7. Using your fingers push the fabric strip firmly against the side of the chair. Make sure it lies flat and even.

8. Repeat the process with another strip of fabric. This time you will go up between the tied fabric strip that is next to the rail and down on the other side of the strip.

9. Alternate each row until the ladderback wood chair bottom is full by following steps 6 and 8.

10. Tie the strips of cloth that go front to back firmly to the chair rail.

11. For extra security tie the ends of the cloth strips together on the sides go around to the front of the chair. The first 2 strips will be tied together, and then strips 3 and 4 will be tied together, and then strips 5 and 6 and so on. Repeat as you work around the chair.

12. Use the scissors, go around the chair and trim all the ends to the same length.

The result should be a beautiful wood ladderback chair.


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James R. Coffey
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