Glider Makeover: Fabric Dye

I know there are a million posts out there about making over gliders, probably because they traditionally come in very limited, ugly fabric choices, but this is different because it does not involve sewing or upholstery.  It involves fabric dye and is pretty simple.  (I actually ended up upholstering this glider, but more on that later.)

I inherited a very well made and very hideous Dutalier reclining glider and ottoman when my boys were a few months old.  The wood was stained a medium brown and it had denim covers that were faded in some parts and almost worn through in others.  It looked something like this, but with sadder looking denim.

Here’s a partial picture of the actual chair.  (I, paranoid mom, don’t like posting identifying pictures of my kids on the internet.)


I used it and I loved it despite it’s ugliness, but once I was out of my newborn twin-induced haze, it’s ugliness became increasingly apparent and now with more free time on my hands (hurray for sleeping through the night), I added this to my project list.

This glider makeover is a story of perseverence.  When I started, I had 4 projects going at once, a limit I had to set for myself b/c I was spiraling out of control with my project FOMA.  FOMA + inflated sense of DIY ability + minivan (to pick up furniture) = dangerous number of projects.  When I finished, I was sort of happy with the results, but a week or two later, I decided I wasn’t 100% happy and decided to upholster it (more on that later.).  I still think that dying is a great option for those with non-faded, lighter colored covers or dying to a darker color.

In any case, here’s how I did my glider makeover part 1.

Dying the Covers Teal

  1. I removed the covers.  Most of this was easy (unzip or unvelcro), but the back part required lots of unstapling, which was annoying.
  2. The back cushion cover had cardboard sewn on to keep the shape, so I removed that.
  3. I washed all the fabric, but didn’t dry it.
  4. Then I washed at hottest setting with 2 packets of RIT color remover.  Since I have a front loading machine, it uses less water.  RIT says not to use this on blue denim, but I did anyway based on internet advice.  It didn’t do anything discernable.
  5. I ran a full cycle with detergent.
  6. I washed the covers in hot water with 1/2 c bleach.  Nothing happened.
  7. I was trying to avoid using bleach in a tub by using the washer, but since that didn’t work, I put the covers in a tub with hot water and about 1c bleach.  I left it for 75 minutes.  It was definitely lighter.  Since I was dying to a teal color, I didn’t need it super light, but just light enough that the teal would cover the denim color.
  8. I rinsed the covers in hot water (34 minutes).
  9. I left the covers in the washer and added 2 bottles liquid dye, followed by 1c salt mostly dissolved in 2c hot water and then 4c extra hot water.  I used some of that hot water to rinse out dye bottles.  It seemed like quite a bit more came out this way.
  10. I then ran a regular wash with warm water.  The water was clear, so I didn’t repeat.
  11. I ran a regular dry cycle.

The dye didn’t cover the original fading.  I’m not sure why I thought it would – wishful thinking I guess.  This wasn’t actually a dealbreaker since you couldn’t tell unless the cushion wasn’t in the cover, so when you were actually using the chair, it wasn’t noticeable.  The color was more of a turquoise even though in the picture (bottom of post), it kind of just looks like it’s still denim!

Also, the bleach and washing/drying was too much for my covers since they were pretty worn out when I started, so there was a small hole on one seam.  I tried to convince myself it wasn’t that bad, but it was.


  • $5 for color remover, but it’s useless, so you don’t have to spend this
  • $1 bleach from the dollar store
  • Tub – You probably have something lying around you can use.  I used a cooler.
  • $4 (I used a 50% coupon) 2 bottles RIT Liquid Dye

Painting the Frame

I was really happy with how this turned out.  It really transformed the glider from a blah piece of furniture to something I might actually buy!

  1. I used a sander and 120 grit sand paper to remove the finish from the chair.  I wasn’t totally thorough because there were lots of small in between areas.
  2. I wiped the dust off with a microfiber cloth and hoped for the best 🙂
  3. Then, I spray painted the frame black with paint and primer in one in a semigloss finish.  I did it outside so it wouldn’t be so stinky.  I had time for one coat each night after my kids went to sleep before there wasn’t enough light out.  I would do one side (chair upright) one night, then another side the next night (underneath) and glide the ottoman so I could reach all the wood.  Then I repeated for each coat.  It didn’t take a lot of time at once, but the duration was long.  If I had done it on a weekend, I probably could have finished in a day.

Most of the chair took about 3 coats, but there were some areas that hadn’t been sanded that required more coats.  It all ended up well covered though using less then 3 cans of spray paint and there has been no chipping or flaking at all.


  • $2 sand paper for sander
  • $6 (on sale for 50% off) – 3 cans of black spray paint

So, after all that, it looked something like this (I had already started my 2nd makeover when I remembered to take this picture!).

2013-09-21 15.06.16

Initially, I thought it looked pretty good (it looks more faded/washed out in this photo than in real life because of the lighting), but I wasn’t entirely satisfied, so check out Glider Makeover Makeover.

If you have a white/off white glider cover that is in good shape, I think dying is the way to go.  If not, and you’ve got some time to kill, upholstery is actually not that hard!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: