How to reupholster a chair seat

I don’t know why, but the weekend around the 4th of July always finds me tackling some unexpected DIY project. Today, I wanted to share how to reupholster a chair seat.

Rehoholster slip seat

I bought these chairs several years ago and the fabric on them (see above) was fine – would never show wear and mostly matched my decor. Every once in a while, I’d think about recovering them, but would somehow manage to distract myself from the task. But, over the winter, I decided that I wanted to change the color palette in my main living area – which encompasses my living room and dining room. My original color scheme was green, cream and black, and touches of cranberry red. I’d also started adding in gold. But, I’ve come to feel that it’s too heavy a color palette and the idea of lighting up to a green (it’s my favorite!), cream and pink palette has really taken hold. I’ve lived here seven years and still need to paint my living room walls (16′ vaulted ceilings keep it from being a DIY project!). So, today, I was cleaning and putting sewing things away (gotta do it every now and again!) and got motivated to tackle this long put off project! I poked through my stockpile of fabrics and decided on this pretty green and pink fabric from Robert Allen called Vintage Berrie.

I decided I’d share with you the process to recover the seat cushions. It’s probably the easiest upholstery job one can tackle. First, I yanked out all the staples from the original fabric, which revealed another level of upholstery fabric and a pretty mediocre backing job.

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After ironing out the old cover, I used it as a pattern on the new fabric.


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Since I have a pair of chairs, I used the new fabric cut out as the pattern for the second cover and laid it on the pattern in the same spot – so I’ll have two matching patterned chairs.

Working from opposite sides, I used a staple gun and heavy duty staples to attach the new cover to the back of the chair. I started on the top and stapled a few inches, then the bottom for a few inches, then side to side, working my way to the corners. Depending on the weight of the fabric, you might need to trim the fabric on the corners to reduce the bulk. I also turned in the fabric to leave a clean edge (not done on the originals).

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This isn’t the best job one could do, but it does the trick. Anything more complicated, I’d be sure to use a professional upholsterer.

Et voila! Two matched arm chairs in a pretty new fabric! And if I weren’t also documenting this for the blog, it would have taken maybe 45 minutes, tops.


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You might also enjoy:

Reupholster To Save Time and Money


5 thoughts on “How to reupholster a chair seat”

  1. Thank you for sharing. I bought some lovely fabric (similar to yours in color, but striped) for my repro Queen Anne dining room chairs and wondered how on earth to reupholster them. And here you have provided me with a how to. Splendid!

  2. Thanks! I love the fabric too. And, I can change it anytime. (although it took about 8 years to change the other fabric).

    Yes, Eric, these are reproductions. I actually bought them in an antique store, but got a great deal since they were clearing out their inventory for new product.

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