You may not need to discard a dining chair with worn, stained, soiled or ripped fabric if its frame is sound. Instead, a bit of reupholstering often solves the problem. While professional upholsterers are always an option, a proactive, do-it-yourself approach and a little creativity can go a long way in bringing that chair back to its former glory days at a far lower cost.
Things You'll Need
Measuring the Chair
Create a rough diagram of the dining room chair you wish to reupholster using the pencil and paper.
Calculate the width and length of the inside back of the chair in inches, using the measuring tape. Always measure the surface at its widest point and, as far as possible, measure into creases and crevices. Note your calculations on the diagram.
Measure the width and length of the outside back of the chair. For the length, go from the bottom of the seat to the top of the frame. For width, measure across the widest edges of the frame. Note your calculations on the diagram.
Measure the width and length of the outside, inside and front of the arms if they contain fabric. Note your calculations.
Measure the width and length of the seat and, if appropriate, the front gusset, again going inside any creases or crevices. The gusset is the rectangular strip of fabric that covers the front of the chair seat frame. Note your calculations.
Use the calculator to divide each measurement by 36 to convert it from inches to yards. Round each measurement up to the nearest half yard.
The Cutting Layout
Plan your cutting layout by first noting that fabric is typically sold on rolls that are 54 inches, or 1.5 yards, wide and up to 50 yards long. Use a ruler to draw a scale diagram of the fabric roll, with six inches equaling one yard.
Diagram each specific piece of fabric needed within the fabric roll diagram by taking the width and length measurements you noted earlier. Arrange each piece so as to make the most economical use of the fabric roll.
Label each piece so you know which part of the chair it represents.
Use the ruler to measure the length of the finished fabric roll diagram in inches, and then convert the measurement back to yards to determine how long the piece of fabric is that you need for the job.
Always buy an extra yard or two of fabric to account for miscalculations, trimming errors, folds, and creases or crevices that are too tight to get a measuring tape into. Use leftover fabric for pillows or other creative accents. Place the fabric in various positions on the chair to decide which way you want the pattern to go before doing any cutting. Dining chairs that only have fabric on the cushion and seat back may require just 2 to 3 yards of fabric while those that are completely covered can use 5 or 6 yards.
If you don't buy enough fabric, the entire endeavor might be a waste. In particular, chairs with large repeating patterns often require 20 percent more fabric than plain chairs of the same size.