How to Reupholster a Chair

Tired of your old, flat cushioned and stained chair? Let us show you how you can easily reupholster a chair on your own for a satisfying DIY project you’ll love!

Have you ever wanted to replace the old, flattened cushions in your favorite chair? Perhaps it is a family heirloom, or it’s looking a little worn, and you’ve always wanted to DIY to refresh its look. Thanks to our in-depth resources and exceptional quality foam cushions for indoor and outdoor furniture, you’re ready to start your journey into breathing new life into your favorite furniture. You’ve learned how to measure your cushion for a replacement, how to cut foam for your cover, how to glue foam together if you need to, the ins and outs of fiberfill wrap, how to stuff your cushion, and even the supplies you’ll need to complete the task—you’ve got everything ordered and ready to go!

There might be one little detail you missed, however, and that’s how to reupholster a chair! Don’t worry. We’re here to help you with your project from start to finish with some excellent tips, tricks, and instructions on how to reupholster a chair so you can DIY a beautiful piece of furniture!

Where to Start
The first thing you will want to do before beginning to reupholster is gathering the right supplies, and if at all possible, keep and use the old upholstery seat as a guide for your new pattern pieces. Meaning, before you sit down and start, you might want to remove all the old fabric and preserve it as much as possible, then begin carefully measuring all the pieces and cord lengths. This will help you immensely by giving your measurements to help determine how much fabric you will need. And remember, when in doubt, err on the side of caution and buy more material than you think you need.

Materials List
• Needle-nose pliers
• Notepad and pencil
• Marking pen
• Scissors
• Staple gun
• Straight pins
• Sewing machine
• Flathead screwdriver

• 3/8 or 5/16-inch staples
• ½ inch batting
• Upholstery fabric of choice
• Chalk
• Polyester welt cord cellulose piping
• Upholstery weight thread
• Tack strips
• Fabric glue, optional but good to have on hand.
• Upholstery tacks or nailhead trim, optional
• Black breathable fabric for underside of chair

The Steps to Reupholster a Chair

First Step
Try and photograph the chair before you begin striping the original covering. These photos will help you and become a reference for when you begin to reupholster.

Begin to disassemble the chair as needed and remove the upholstery fabric. Please do your best not to tear any old pieces as you need them to create patterns. Remove the black cloth from the underside of the chair (if it has any) and loosen the pieces that have been attached to the chair frame. With your marker, mark each old piece with the location it came from on the chair; for example, label fabric as ‘outside back,’ or ‘rightside back,’ ‘seat,’ or using ‘T’ for top and ‘F’ for the front.

You may notice that in each piece, there are welting and tack strips. If possible, note the location of welting and where the pieces are sewn together and preserve the welting and tack strips to use a measure for your new pieces.

Second Step
If worn or stained, you may want to remove old batting from the chair or seat. Feel free to see any damages done to springs and webbing. If so, you may want to stop here and order or use any replacements you might have on hand. This is also the optimal time to sand, prime, or paint the frame or legs of your chair if you want to—then let dry.
If you are replacing the batting, you will want to begin by cutting a piece of ½-inch-thick batting to cover the chair back and seat. Cover the chair back first, then begin stapling it down. You can prevent visible indents from appearing due to the staples by lightly pulling on the batting around each staple to hide the staple inside the batting. For the sear, cover it in batting the same way as the back.

Make Your New Pattern
Lay your original fabric from the chair wrong side up, next, on the wrong side up of your new fabric, ensuring you’ve got the grain or pattern in the direction you want—then pin in place and cut around the pattern. Make sure to leave at least 2-3 inches of the extra fabric of the original pieces to give you something to grasp when you begin stapling the new fabric. Repeat this process for each piece and transfer the markings for direction, welting, and seams to your new pattern with chalk.

Step Four
Place your new marked pieces, such as the inside back, right-side back, on the chair in the appropriate locations. Pin your pieces together and make any adjustments to the fit you may need. You might need to trim some excess to make it fit snugly, but once you are pleased with how everything fits, pull the fabric taut and begin to staple it in place on the apron of the chair seat. Use as many staples as needed to secure your new upholstery fabric and keep it smooth. To keep your staples hidden, place them on the chair back where they will be covered by the back panel of fabric, and trim excess when you have a section finished.

Step Five: Welting
Use your old welting pieces as your guide. Find the length of welting that will go around the seat apron and the top and bottom. Cut 2-inch wide bias strips to equal the length, and allow a few extra inches. Join your strips with diagonal seams, trim the seam allowance roughly ½ inch. Fold your bias strip around the cord and use a zipper foot to sew in place. The welting will go around the bottom of the seat apron.

Step six: Sew Welting
Pin your side panel to the seat fabric and make any needed adjustments to the fit or pattern. Mark the position for the bottom welting. Remove the side fabric from the chair and sew the welting to the right side of the pane, at the top where and where marked near the bottom, start, and end at the back. If you’d like a finished edge, fold the end of the piping under before you attach it.

Step Seven: Attach Sides
Hold the right side of the panel up against the chair seat, begin stapling the top welting into place around the sea. Add a tack strip around the panel top against welting and staple in place. Fold the side panels over your tack strip, making sure to pull tight, then staple in place on the underside of the chair with your welting fitting in as snugly as possible along the edge. Feel free to snip notches in the fabric underneath the chair seat so that you can smooth everything around the corners. Use your flathead screwdriver to tuck any excess upholstery underneath.

Step Eight: Attach the Back
Place your chair’s back panel into position and fold the right side over the top of your chair back. Apply a tack strip to the top of the back rear and begin to staple in place. Next, fold the panel back over the strip and pull it tight toward the bottom of our chair. Fold your bottom edge under and begin to staple to the underside of your chair. If you have any raw edges, use your flathead to tuck them away. Reassemble your chair if you need to and trim any further excess materials.

Last Step: Underside
Cut your piece of black breathable fabric at size for the underside of your chair using the old piece for your guide. Turn your chair upside down and staple the black fabric to the underside. This will conceal any springs, webbing and act as a dust cover. Make sure the new fabric is tight against your welting and cover any raw edges.

And that’s it! Turn your chair right-side-up and feel free to enjoy your reupholstered chair that looks and feels like a brand new chair!

Posted in DIY, Foam Cushion, Furniture Repair, Seat Cushion Repair

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