Reupholstering A Chair


This was the. most. difficult. project. ever.

I had no idea.

Maybe we thought about it too much, or maybe we just don’t have the upholstery gene. Either way, it was rough.

My mom found these chairs for 5$ a piece at a yard sale:

They were covered in vinyl and were dirty and dated. But, we both thought they had potential. I had the brilliant plan that we would recover them ourselves. Yes, it was ALL me. My mom looked up a bunch of videos on how to do it, bought a bunch of supplies and took the old fabric off the chair.

Let me just say… WE ARE NOT PROFESSIONALS. Not even close. We didn’t do it all the right way, we just did it the best we could with what we had. So, anything I say from here on out is just my advice or opinion.

The following are the pics she took while removing the old fabric.

The video we watched said to remove the parts one at a time and leave the rest because it makes it easier. For most projects, I would say do that if you can. But, the old fabric on our chair was so gross and it needed to have all new foam and batting so she thought she would completely undo it first. She saved all of the old pieces of fabric for reference though.

Then, we starting putting some “foam” on. It really wasn’t foam just a really thick dacron material… like sheet batting.

This is where we made our first mistake. We should have just put the foam on the bottom and no where else. It made it so much more difficult to work around all of the rest.

One GOOD tip I have is start from the inside and work your way out. You almost have to because of the way things have to overlap and staple. But, here is the order to do this kind of a chair in:

Bottom, Inside Back, Inside Sides, Outside Sides, Outside Back

That was our first attempt at the bottom. We ended up having to redo it. You can see that the side pieces are separate from the bottom. That was how the tutorial said to do it, but it wasn’t how the old chair was, so we took all of that off and did it like the old chair. Basically, you have to lay the fabric down on the chair and carefully cut around things like the legs and stuff so its a tight fit. My second good piece of advice is use an air powered staple gun (pneumatic staple gun). They make them specifically for upholstery, but we didn’t have one of those. But, we tried using an electric staple gun first and there just wasn’t enough power once we had a few layers going on. And you really need the staples to stay in place or else ALL of your fabric will come off.

We did the inside sides before the inside back, but if you do the back first you can tuck some of that material down the sides by the arms and then you don’t have to worry about covering it all up. The sides will go over it and make it seamless. Our way worked though.

This was after we did the back. It took a lot of thinking to get the cuts right for the chair arms. Which is also probably why you should do the back before the arms. That way you don’t have to be as precise there and the arms are definitely simpler to cut.

And, now I have run out of process pics. We added a small cording piece (as you will see below) around the arms and back to help finish it off a little. We used a tack strip and a flexible ply grip to tack on the back and sides so the staples didn’t show. Again, we didn’t really have any idea what we were doing and when stuff didn’t work like it was supposed to or like we thought it would, we had to improvise.

But, anyway, here is the finished product:

There are some funky parts but you have to look pretty close to see them. Overall it turned out pretty well considering. The best thing to do for you first timers out there is to get a fabric that is forgiving. The zebra pattern was already pretty random and would look good in any direction, so we really didn’t have to do any matching or anything.

My mom just sent this picture to me today. She added a cute little pillow that she made with some leftover fabric. Darling, right? This chair will eventually belong in my house, but I didn’t have room to bring it back with me yet. I think she, this chair, and the other 5$ find are coming next week. So, I’m sure I will have more pictures to share.

Here are the links to the videos we watched on YouTube to do this chair:

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3A

Chapter 3B

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

(We have no affiliation with DIY Upholstery Supply, we just found their info helpful! That is also where mom ordered some of the supplies.)


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