Extend the life of a vintage chair, or simply give an ugly chair a makeover—reupholstering is the way to go. It’s green, it’s fun and it will give your room an entirely new look. Slipper chairs are easier to reupholster than recliners or club chairs since they have no arms.The biggest challenge here is keeping the fabric taut as you’re securing it. Feel free to have a friend lend a hand to keep fabric edges pulled tight as you staple it down.
Things You'll Need
- Marking pen
- Fabric scissors
- Staple gun
- Upholstery fabric
- Welting trim
- Masking tape
Diagram and Remove Current Upholstery
Draw a diagram of the chair with a marking pen and paper. This will be used to mark sections of removed upholstery and keep track of where each piece should go during reassembly.
Turn the chair over. Use pliers to remove the tacks and staples that are holding the current upholstery in place.
Remove all current upholstery pieces, marking them with a number and indicating that number on your diagram. You may need to use fabric scissors to separate pieces at seams. Try to remove these pieces in big, clean-edged shapes—you’ll use them as a pattern to cut the new pieces.
Cut New Batting and Upholstery
Cut one piece of batting that will cover the chair back and a second piece to cover the chair seat. Use cotton or cotton/poly batting for comfort and durability; if you select wool batting, make sure it’s needled wool instead of layered wool.
Staple batting to the chair frame. Try not to staple in the center of the chair back or cushion; instead, pull batting tight and staple it to the edges of these areas.
Cut new upholstery fabric pieces using the discarded pieces as stencils. Be sure to leave two inches of extra fabric on each edge.
Attach New Upholstery: Chair Back
Attach the chair back’s new upholstery first. Make sure fabric is taut and staple to the chair frame. It’s okay if you have extra fabric hanging off the sides; trim to half an inch with scissors.
Lay the chair front’s new upholstery in place and secure one side at a time. Tuck fabric bottom into the seat cushion’s batting and staple into place. Pull fabric taut over seat back and fold under until seam overlaps chair back seam by one-quarter inch. If the fabric appears wadded up or too bulky, trim until seam lays flat. Staple in place. Repeat process for side seams.
Cut strips of welting long enough to cover the seams you just stapled down. Sew in place directly over seam.
Attach New Upholstery: Chair Seat
Lay the chair seat’s new upholstery in place, making sure the piece of fabric is centered over the seat. From beneath the seat, pull the fabric’s edges to make it taut and secure temporarily with masking tape.
Staple in place.
Cut strips of welting long enough to cover any visible seams. Sew in place directly over seam. You may not have any visible seams on the bottom; it will depend on whether you used one large piece for the whole cushion, or had to cover the seat side by side.
Trim any excess fabric from underside of chair. Leave no more than a quarter-inch extending past your staples.
Tips & Warnings
- If the batting becomes unwieldy when you’re stapling it around the chair’s corners, fold and tuck the batting the same way you would a flat sheet when you’re tucking it under a mattress.
- Photo Credit Ablestock.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images
What Is a Slipper Chair?
A slipper chair is armless and has a low seat cushion. The short legs and lack of arms define the chair, but...
How to Reupholster a Tufted Chair
Tufted chairs may seem old fashioned, but when reupholstered with an elegant or fresh new fabric, they can serve as eye-catching accent...
How to Reupholster a Club Chair
If you've got an old club chair with a sturdy frame but it looks worn and dated, reupholstering the fabric might be...
How to Recover a Chair
You picked up that old but beautiful chair at a garage sale and brought it home, only to realize that the fabric...
How to Calculate Yardage to Reupholster a Dining Room Chair
You may not need to discard a dining chair with worn, stained, soiled or ripped fabric if its frame is sound. Instead,...
Do It Yourself: Reupholster
When learning to reupholster, choose a simple piece of furniture without complex folds, buttons and piping. Select upholstery fabric that is thick...
Victorian Rocking Chair Styles
The Victorians loved innovation and nowhere is that more plainly felt than in their furniture. Rocking chairs were a favorite item in...
Reupholster Chair Cushions
Reupholstering a chair cushion requires cutting out the top and bottom pieces, including seam allowance, cutting out the side pieces, notching the...