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Friday, April 27, 2012

How to Reupholster a Chair

I am finally getting around to revealing my newly reupholstered chairs! Sorry it took song long to post this but it took me a while to do this post. My mom came down over the weekend and we reupholstered my new chairs that I bought. I was a little nervous at first because this was our first time reupholstering anything. It was a success though! 

So what started out like this....

Now looks like this!

I am so proud and could not be happier with the way they turned out! It was a little time consuming and we ran into a few hiccups {like most DIY projects}. So I figured I would document how we did this so that hopefully if anyone else decides to reupholster a chair like this one, I may save them from a little stress! I am by no means an expert but hopefully this will make someones life a little easier! Prepare yourself...this post is long. I am a very thorough person, so I have a hard time condensing things!

How to Reupholster an Armless Chair


- stapler 
{I promise you want to buy an electric stapler! I wish I had! 
If not, prepare to have blisters and feel like your hands are going to fall off!}
- 1/2" staples
- sharp fabric scissors
-  screwdriver and/or staple remover
- pliers
- durable string
- large tapestry needle
- straight pins
- Stitch Wizardry
- button making kit
-fabric {I used 4 yards}
- Fabri-Tac

Step 1: Remove the black polyester covering from the underside of the chair. This will only be the beginning of removing millions {okay maybe not millions but it sure felt like it} of staples.You may choose to lay a sheet on the floor to prevent staples from being lost in the carpet.

Step 2: Once the bottom covering is removed {save this}, begin removing the piping by removing more staples {Save the piping.You can take the existing fabric off and use the piping to make your own.} I found that sometimes it was easiest to pull the staple up partially with the screwdriver then pull it out the rest of the way with the pliers.

After much hard work, you will have a few staples. Ha!

Clemson enjoys DIY projects too!
Step 3: Once you have the piping removed, you will be able to remove the back from the chair. Ours was attached with some type of metal stripping with tacks. I was able to stick the screwdriver up under the edge and pull it up. Then you could just pull it up the rest of the way from there. 

Okay, let me just go ahead and say I took a short cut and didn't remove the fabric from the seat or from the chair back. I put my fabric over it and you couldn't see through since the fabric is a thicker upholstry fabric. The chair was new so there wasn't any reason to remove the fabric if you couldn't see it. If the chair had been older then I would have removed all of the fabric. So this saved a lot of time because that meant less staples to remove. If you were to remove these you would remove the chair back and then the seat. Then proceed to my next step.

Step 4: Now you are ready to start cutting out your fabric. I knew I wanted the patterns to match on both chairs. So I laid the fabric over the chair seat the same way on both chairs and then cut the fabric to the size it needed to be. If you are doing this too, be sure that there is enough fabric to cover the other pieces too. It depends on the repetition of the pattern. This was just one of those things that I had to play with.

Since I had the back fabric off of the chair, I used it to cut out those pieces. If you remove all of the fabric, then you can do this for all of the pieces.

Step 5: Iron all of your fabric pieces before you start putting them on the chair.

Step 6: I started with the seat. This is where we had a little trouble getting the fabric to smooth out on the side. Of course, since I was so distracted with our issue, I didn't get a picture of it while we were doing it. Go figure... So I took a picture after it was done and drew arrows where to cut, and I am going to do my best to explain it.

For this step, only pay attention to the blue arrows. Before the fabric is tucked in you will have to cut slits in it where the blue arrows are located. Once the fabric is tucked into the back you will not be able to see where the slits were cut. You have to be very careful when doing this not to cut too far, because if you do then you will have a slit in the seat. So you want to cut it just far enough that you can pull the fabric around the sides and smooth it out. I would start with a tiny slit and the pull it back and then cut again, repeating this until I got it smooth.You may have to cut one more slit more on the outer edge if the fabric won't smooth. Just be very careful not to cut too far. Remember, small cuts!!! Once it is smoothed pull it around the back and staple it.

Don't mind my crazy stapling. They will be covered up with the back. It would have been a lot easier, if I had an electric stapler. I read on another tutorial that they recommended one but thought, "Nah, I don't need one." Boy did I change my mind after stapling 5 million times. I had a blister on my hand and it is really hard to use that stapler since it took all of my strength to staple. 

Step 7: Now you want to fix the front corners. I pulled mine to overlap and secured them with staples. Keep the staples as close to the edge as possible. This will help when putting the piping on. 

Step 8: The next thing you want to do is make your buttons with the button making kit. Really simple, and it comes with the instructions. You also need to clip the old buttons from the chair by clipping the strings found through the back of the chair. 

Step 9: To attach the seat back, I put the buttons on first. I used the buttons to stabilize the fabric to the back before I pulled it tight and stapled it to the back. This is where you are going to use the tapestry needle and durable string. Thread the needle with the string. There should be preexisting holes that you can use to thread the needle through. Have your fabric on the seat back and push the needle through from the back. Once through, put the string through the button and then go back through the chair. Tie a knot and secure it tight to the chair by stapling.

 Once all four buttons are on, you can begin pulling it around the sides and the top tight until you get it smooth, stapling and securing it. 

Now for the next part, you are going to pretty much do what you did when you did the seat.

This time you are going to look at the red arrows. You will make a slit before tucking in the fabric about where the red arrows are. This will help you get the fabric tight and smooth. Once the slit is cut, you can tuck in the middle and pull it through the back and staple it. Then the fabric that is on the outside of the slit that is still untucked will need to be turned under then pulled tight to the back and stapled.

Step 10: Once that is done you are ready to work on the back. First you can staple the batting back to the chair. Then you are going to want to turn the edges under on the back fabric piece using Stitch Wizardry. 

Then pin the back fabric piece to the back of the chair with straight pins. 

Then I decided to use Fabri-Tac to glue the back on the chair rather than try using those metal strips with tacks again. I just took out a few pins at a time and ran a small bead of the glue along the edge. Then I held it for about 30 seconds and stuck the pins back in while it dried. 

Step 11: Now you are ready to do the piping. Make your piping by removing the old fabric from the old piping. Then sew your fabric around the piping.

Then starting in the back, start stapling the piping to the underside of the chair. When you get to the chair leg, cut as close as possible to the stitching and then pull around the outside of the leg.

Step 12: Once the piping is on. Attach the black polyester covering over the underside of the chair. And your chair is complete!!!

Good Luck if you decide to reupholster a chair and hopefully this tutorial will help. I am so happy that I made this purchase and took this risk. It felt great to do something new and to succeed! This was a great excuse to have my parents and my little sister come visit me too! I have to say thank you to my sweet mama! She is the best! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!



  1. This looks like a nightmare of the utmost proportions! I am glad I wasn't involved in this project. Haha. You and Mom did a fabulous job and they look beautiful! If I ever need anything reupholstered, I know who to call :)

  2. Wow. Well done to you both. The end result is lovely. Thanks for the post. I may just make covers now...