Monday, January 25, 2010

How To: Upholster a Seat

In case you forgot, I bought some gorgeous chairs from Craigslist for a steal - $12 for four chairs! They have great bones but needed a little facelift. I started browsing fabric choices online and fell in love with some Waverly indoor/outdoor fabric from JoAnn. All of the home decor fabric was 50% off so I took note of the ones I loved and went to the store to see them in person.

waverly_mineral waverly_courtyardleaf

I decided to go with an indoor/outdoor fabric since it is easier to wipe off any spills and since these are folding chairs that would be used at parties, I knew spills were likely in their future. The Waverly fabrics needed to be special ordered and would take a few weeks so I decided to look around to see what else I could find since JoAnn has quite a selection of fabric and I was itching to get started on my project. I wandered into the indoor/outdoor fabric section and fell in love with a Better Homes and Gardens fabric. I also found a yard of white vinyl on clearance for $6 so I bought them both and immediately placed them on the chairs to see what I liked better once I got home.

IMG_2658Originally I wanted to paint the chairs white (Amanda, you know me too well and we’re only internet friends!) but then I started thinking about painting them a fun blue or maybe black (hence the white vinyl) since they’d be used at parties after all. I loved the look of the patterned fabric with the fun detailing on the back of the chairs so I chose the fabric on the right. Let me just say that J was not impressed with my fabric choice at this point but he didn’t have the vision like I did!

Upholstering a chair is quite simple and you can find instructions everywhere so I’m not going to pretend like I’m the first person to ever upholster a seat because let’s face it – I’m not. In fact, the first person I ever saw upholster a seat was my mom when she was recovering the antique dining room chairs YEARS ago. Look underneath your chair, if your seat fastens with screws you’re in business since your seat can easily be removed and reupholstered. Obviously you can’t use the stapler in your home office – you need a heavy duty stapler (either manual or electric). My manual stapler recently died so I bought the PowerShot 9100K Pro Electric Staple & Nail Gun Kit from Home Depot to try out.

Let’s get to it!

  1. Iron the fabric to get rid of any creases. Maybe you don’t have to do this but creases bother me so why not start with a flat surface?!?

  2. Lay the fabric out on the floor (right side down) to determine how large of a piece you need to cut for your chair. You can also remove the old fabric and then just cut out a new piece to the same size but that was too much work so I just pulled the edges up and over the seat to see if I had enough fabric (similar to when you wrap gifts – and this won’t be the first reference to wrapping gifts). Cut the fabric.


  3. Pull the fabric taut along the top side and place a staple in the center to fasten the fabric to the wooden seat base.

  4. Pull the fabric over the bottom edge and hold into place. Flip the seat over to make sure the fabric is lining up correctly. If you had something with stripes you want to make sure that the stripes are straight, before you insert any more staples. Flip the seat back over.


  5. Making sure the fabric is pulled taut but not *too* tight since you don’t want to weaken the fabric, staple the bottom edge of the fabric to the seat.


  6. Staple along both edges until you come to the corners. Now, corners are tricky. I like to wrap mine as you would a present (again with the presents!). It makes a nicely wrapped corner that follows the curve of the seat.


  7. Repeat for the two sides of the seat. That’s it! You should now have a perfectly covered seat cushion. You can trim any excess fabric from the edges since more than likely you will see a little bit of the fabric once the chair is folded up (if your chairs don’t fold and you’re doing this to dining room chairs you probably don’t care what the bottom looks like!).

  8. Place the seat on the chair to see how it looks. Make any corrections if necessary.


Upholstering all four took me under an hour since once I got into the groove it went pretty quickly. Have you ever upholstered a seat? How long did it take you for your first seat?


  1. I covered a stool with the green/white on the right!

  2. What a fun fabric print, I love your choice!

  3. Thank you! I'll definitely be doing this when I snag a "new" desk chair from Goodwill :)


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