How to Change the Upholstery on a Chair


Chairs work hard inside the house and often the fabric on the chair may become damaged or stained. For a simple dining room or kitchen-style chair, replacing the upholstery on a chair seat and slip-covering a chair back can add years of function to the life of the chair. Matching the seat and the slip cover allows you to update the chair to new colors, patterns and fabrics.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Pliers
  • Quilt batting
  • Fabric
  • Scissors
  • Staples
  • Sewing machine
  • Pins
  • 3-inch-wide ribbon
  • Hook-and-loop tape

Change s Dining Chair Seat Cover

  • Unscrew the seat from the chair, using a screwdriver. Usually a screw is in each corner on the underside of the seat cushion.

  • Strip off the existing fabric, using a screwdriver and pliers. Remove as many of the staples as you can.

  • Place quilt batting on the work table. Position the seat cushion over the batting. Stretch the batting over the front edge of the cushion to the back. Staple in the center about 2 inches from the seat edge. Pull the batting up over the back edge and staple in the center. Pull and staple the center of each side. Continue stretching and stapling from the center out working your way around the seat. Staple every inch. Ease the corners. Cut off any excess batting with scissors.

  • Position the fabric face down on the work table. If the fabric has a pattern or design that should be centered on the seat, check that it is aligned. Pull the fabric over and staple from the center outward the same way you did with the batting. Staple every inch and ease your corners. Cut off any excess fabric and screw the seat back onto the chair.

Slip-Cover a Dining Chair Back

  • Fold upholstery fabric face down over the top of the chair back with a few inches extra resting on the seat. Pin along the top edge, following the shape of the chair. Pin from the widest point on the back straight down. Stop your pins at the top of the arm if the chair has arms.

  • Sew along your pin lines with a sewing machine. Trim your seams to 1/2 inch. Turn the fabric right side out and fit the fabric on the chair. The cover may be loose near the seat. Fit the cover around the arm and measure how much of a gap you need to leave for the arm. Fit the front and back hems to fall just above the seat.

  • Remove the cover and sew the hems. Measure from the hem to the bottom of the arm hole and cut hook and loop tape to fit. Repeat for both sides. Cut two pieces of 3-inch-wide grosgrain ribbon 36 inches long in a color that works with the fabric. Apply no fray to the ends of the ribbon.

  • Sew hook-and-loop tape from the hem to the arm hole on the back pieces of the cover on both sides. Slip one end of the ribbon underneath the arm hole and with the other half of the hook and loop tape crossing over the ribbon. Sew one piece of the ribbon and tape onto the front pieces of the cover on both sides.

  • Slide your slip cover over the chair. Connect the hook-and-loop tapes under the arm holes. Draw the ribbons around to the back to gather the fabric around the contour of the chair and tie the ribbons into a nice bow.

Tips & Warnings

  • The back of the slip cover can be made longer and tapered to create a tuxedo tail for a fun look.

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