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How To Reupholster A Chair? Top Full Guide 2022

Are you wondering how to reupholster a chair? You may be surprised to learn that it is not difficult. All you need are the supplies, time, and patience. Once you have draped and wrapped your fabric around the back of the chair and fastened it securely in place, all you need to do is sew on some buttons for decoration or use a staple gun. If this sounds like something you would like to try out, Focal Upright recommends checking out our blog post below for more details!

How To Reupholster A Chair

What Do You Need?


  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Camera or notepaper and pencil
  • Marking pen
  • Scissors
  • Staple gun
  • Straight pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Flathead screwdriver


  • Staples, 3/8- or 5/16-inch
  • Batting, 1/2 inch
  • Upholstery fabric
  • Chalk
  • Polyester Welt Cord Cellulose Piping
  • Upholstery-weight thread
  • Tack strips
  • Fabric glue, optional
  • Upholstery tacks or nailhead trim, optional
  • Black breathable fabric for the underside of the chair

Reupholster Your Chair

Step 1: Select An Old Chair To Reupholster

Select An Old Chair To Reupholster

You have to choose an old and awful chair, perhaps a dining chair. And this one was really offensive.

You must also choose a fabric. This is a difficult step, so I advise you to shop around or browse some websites that offer design ideas. There are two options when it comes to how much fabric you should buy.

  1. You can attach a measuring tape directly to the piece to get an estimate of how big each panel will be.
  2. Wait until all the fabric is removed from the piece, then lay out the panels to better understand how much you will need. It is always a good idea to purchase extra fabric for “oops”.

Step 2: Start at Bottom

Start any chair by starting at the top edge when you’re removing fabric or pieces. Most chairs have the bottom finished. Therefore, it is best to start removing the fabric from the chair’s base. This will ensure that the last pieces of fabric you remove are the ones you place back. This tip is for those who bought the chair at a garage sale. Spray the chair with Lysol disinfectant several times while you are taking it apart. This will also help to eliminate odors.

Step 3: Take out the Exterior Frame

To access the fabric, I had to take out the bottom chair frame. I used a flat head screwdriver with a hammer and a thin flathead screwdriver to get the frame and chair apart. Then I simply pried it apart. I recommend using work gloves to avoid any staples or nails that may be exposed.

Step 4: Take your Panels out of Order – Start at the Bottom

It is easy to see the staples used. This is the most tedious part of the project. Be careful when removing fabric to ensure that it can be used as a template for any new fabric. These can be removed using any method you prefer. I used a pair of pliers and a flathead screwdriver. Full disclosure: I tried to pull the fabric in one piece after removing the first few panels. Although this worked, the material can easily rip. This is not a significant problem, as long as you can see the general pattern for each panel.

Step 5: Ply-grip

Ply-grip is our worst enemy, but also our best friend. Ply-grip is the name given to sharp, metal teeth found on large areas such as the sides and back. These pieces are incredibly sharp so be careful. You can open them with a butter knife. I didn’t want to spend too much on the ply grip, so I decided to reuse it. With your pliers, you can grasp the fabric and pull it out from the ply grip.

To open ply grip, use a butter knife. Yes, I look creepy in those gloves.

Step 6: Take Out All the Old Fabric

Before you remove the original covering, photograph the chair. When reupholstering the chair, take both an overall and detailed photo.

Assemble the chair and take out the upholstery pieces. Be careful not to tear the fabric pieces that are still attached. Start by removing the black fabric from the chair’s underside. Next, loosen the frames. With a marker, mark the location of each piece on the chair. You can label the pieces with a marker pen: outside back, right side, left side, inside back, seat and sides. To indicate the direction of the chair’s piece, mark “T” for top and “F” to indicate its front. Each piece should be noted with the exact location of the welting and where they are joined. Keep welting pieces and tack strips for later use.

Step 7: Replace Batting

Remove old batting from the chair’s back and seat if it is stained or worn. If springs or webbing are damaged, repair them if needed. If desired, sand, prime, or paint the legs. Let dry.

If necessary, cut a piece 1/2-inch thick batting to cover the chair’s back and seat. Tape the chair back down first. To avoid visible indents caused by the staples, wrap the batting around each one so that the staple is within the batting. Then cover the seat with batting, folding in neatly at the corners.

Step 8: Create a New Pattern

Create a New Pattern

Place the original upholstery pieces on the wrong side of the new patterned fabric. Pay attention to the direction and grain of the pattern and the placement and direction of the motifs. Pin the pieces in place, and then cut around the pattern. Leave 2 to 3 inches beyond the stapled edges. This will allow you to grab the fabric when stapling. After they had been stapled, the original pieces were trimmed. This process is repeated for each section of material. With chalk, transfer the markings for direction and welting onto the new pieces.

You can combine the pieces to make covers for the back and chair seat. Turn the fabric pieces inside out and sew them together. Adjust for curves as necessary.

Step 9: Attach the Base Fabric

Use the “T” markings on your photos to guide you in placing the new inside back, right side back, and left-side back pieces on the chair. Place the seat cushion, also right-side back, on top of it. If you have pins to mark the corners of patterned fabric, make sure they are aligned with the corners of the seat cushion.

Once you are satisfied with the fit, pull the fabric tight and smooth the fabric underneath from the center. To ensure the fabric and keep your fabric tight and smooth, use as many staples as you need—place staples where they will be covered by a back panel on the chair back. Be sure to trim excess fabric.

The tack strips can be tricky. Upholsterers use tack strips to create clean edges along the sides and back. What worked for me was to attach the piece with staples at the top, then focus on the tack strips. Keep the fabric taut, and realize that the edge folds under (like pictured above), and hammer the tack strip in. You are left with a nice straight edge without any staples. Repeat the process on the other side.

Apply the cover to the seat base if you are using one. Adjust as necessary. Attach the fabric to the frame. Start at the front and work your way back. In the corners, tuck any excess fabric under.

TIP: The cuts don’t have to be exact. I typically cut about a half-inch around each piece. It’s better to have too much fabric than not enough.

Step 10: Start Welting

As a guide, measure the length of the welting that will be used around the seat apron’s top and bottom. You will need to cut enough bias strips 2 inches wide to reach the same length. Add a few inches for extra. Trim the seam allowance to half an inch and join the strips using diagonal seams. To sew the bias strip around the cord, wrap it around with a zipper foot. The welting will cover the seat apron.

Step 11: Sew Welting

Attach the side panel to your seat fabric. Make any adjustments needed to the fit and pattern placement. Mark the location for the bottom-welting. Take the side fabric off the chair and sew welting to the right-hand side of the panel. Start and end at the back. Fold the ends of the piping under to finish the edge.

Step 12: Attach Sides

The right side of the panel should be held up to the seat. Attach a staple to the top of the panel by tacking it against the welting. The side panel should be folded down and secured to the chair’s underside. Smoothen the corners and snip notches in the fabric under the seat. Use a flathead screwdriver to tuck in excess fabric.

Step 13: Attach Back

Fold the right side of the back panel over the top. Attach a staple to the top of your back rear. Pull the chair back towards the bottom by folding the panel back and over the strip. The bottom edge of the chair’s back should be folded under.

Slip the cover over the back of the chair if you are using it as a cover. Attach the fabric to the frame by pulling it tight. If you see any raw edges, tuck them under.

If necessary, assemble the chair. Remove excess fabric or string.

Step 14: Finish Underside

Use the old piece to guide you in cutting a piece of black breathable fabric for its underside. To conceal springs or webbing and act as a dust cover, flip the chair upside-down and attach the fabric to its bottom. The material should be tight against the welting, and it must cover all edges. Recover your chair by turning it right-side up.

Finish Underside


You may have a great chair, but it’s not giving you the look and feel that you want. Reupholstering your old furniture is an easy way to give them new life without breaking the bank. We hope this article has been helpful in getting started with the re-upholstery project for your home!

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