How to Reupholster a Tufted Chair

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Tufted chairs may seem old fashioned, but when reupholstered with an elegant or fresh new fabric, they can serve as eye-catching accent pieces. Reupholstering methods vary widely based on the chair's particular body and upholstery construction, so make adjustments as necessary for your own project.

Things You'll Need

  • Screw driver or screw gun
  • Hammer
  • Staple remover
  • Seam ripper
  • Scissors
  • Upholstery fabric
  • Washer
  • Hot iron
  • Button kit
  • Sewing notions
  • Sewing machine
  • Upholstery needle
  • Embroidery thread
  • Unscrew and remove the chair seat, if it has this type of design. Turn the chair upside down, and locate the fastening screws on the seat frame. Loosen them, and pop the seat out. Repeat this step with a cushioned back, if it is also detachable.

  • Strip the chair of all upholstery. Keep the fabric intact for use as a pattern for the new upholstery pieces. Carefully remove staples and tacks to free the fabric. Use a seam ripper on any areas that are stitched to the chair or one another.

  • Remove the current button tufts by snipping the thread free in the back of the cushion. Remove any backing as necessary to get access to the threads.

  • Measure the areas on your chair you need to reupuholster. Get upholstery based on those measurements.

  • Remove the old upholstery fabric covering the buttons, or use a button kit to cover new ones in your desired fabric.

  • Iron and lay out the old upholstery pieces flat. Pin them to the new upholstery fabric, right sides facing up. Cut the new fabric into shapes.

  • Resew any previously attached seams on the new fabric, such as the seat cushion top and facing pieces. Put the tufted cushion and new upholstery piece aside. Leave one of the ends on any cushion covers open to cover them before putting the chair back together, or tack or staple the fabric onto the chair one section at a time, depending on the style and how you feel most comfortable working.

  • Lay the new fabric over the tufted foam. Mark the center of each tuft on the new fabric. Thread four to six pieces of embroidery thread through an upholstery needle and a newly covered button.

  • Guide it from the top down through the center of one of the tuft marks on the new fabric and all the way through the cushion beneath it. Pull tightly on the thread, and guide it back up to the top, as close as possible to the original entry point. Guide the needle through the button loop, and thread one or two more times, keeping the thread taut for a proper tuft. Knot and tie off the thread. Repeat this for each tuft.

  • Replace the chair cushions and hardware after the upholstery has been stitched, tacked or stapled into place. Tighten any screws on the seat and back cushions.

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