How to Reupholster a Chair- Easy DIY Tutorial


In our house, we have exactly 5 chairs, purchased over 5 years ago in a moving sale, when my husband and I were first getting married. (Ok, we have 4 plastic chairs on our porch that we use when we have company, but those aren't "in our house.) Those chairs have held up well over the years, but the one part that hasn't- the fabric seat covers. With lots of use, as the only chairs we have, the seats got so grungy and nasty and gross and disgusting that I felt embarrassed having people over and offering them a seat. I half wanted to throw those seats out and buy new ones, but I couldn't justify the expense when they work perfectly, even if they looked a little too icky.
I inherited this piece of sturdy, thick, plaid fabric, and inspiration hit me- I'd use this fabric to reupholster our chairs and lend new life to them.

This was such an easy project- I did most of it while nursing the baby or holding her on my lap. Frugal too- because I inherited the fabric, my only outlay was on the staples for our staple gun- the package cost 2 dollars, and we didn't use even a whole package. If I had had to purchase the fabric, it would have cost me a bit more, but even so it would have been pretty low cost.

So, how do you reupholster your chairs yourself?
Here's how:

Equipment Needed:
Staple gun
Screw driver
Foam (if needed)
Your chairs

1. Take your chair.

2. Flip it over so you can see the bottom of the seat. Ideally put it some place high up, like a table, so you have easy access to it without bending down.

3. Get your material; make sure you have enough for all your chairs.

4. Find where the seat of the chair is screwed on to the frame, and unscrew. On the chairs that I did, there were 5 screws holding each seat in place.

5. Take your seat and leave it on your work surface.

6. Put your chair frame down to give you more room to work.

7. Take your material, and lay it down flat on your work surface, with the nice/patterned side facing down.

If you need to replace your foam, you'll need to remove all the staples holding the fabric on to your chair, or cut off the fabric. Then take your chair seat, place it on the foam, and trace around the seat onto the foam, and then cut it to size. Then put the seat together with the foam and continue the rest of the steps as shown below.

8. Cut out your fabric, roughly the same shape as your seat, leaving at least 2-4 inches of extra material around the sides. This does not need to be exact in any way.

9. Fold over the material onto a flat side of the seat base and staple it with the staple gun in one place.

10. Pull the fabric relatively taut and fold it over on the opposite side of the chair base from where the first staple was, and staple it on with a staple gun. 

11. Fold over and staple the fabric on any flat sides that remain. Then pull over and staple the fabric onto the middle and biggest part of the rounded side of the chair.

12. Put more staples into the chair base securing the flat sides every half inch or so, starting from the staple in the middle and working out to the corners. Eventually you'll get something that looks like this.

13. Then you do the corners. To do this, you want to trim the fabric from the corners somewhat, but not too much that you can't staple it. Fold over the fabric once, then a second time, tucking in the raw edges, and then fold it flat against the chair base. If you're unable to do that, trim the fabric a little more. Secure with a few staples.

14. Now you'll have to secure the rounded edge of the seat base. You've already stapled the fabric to the widest portion of the rounded section, and you've secured it to the flat sides of the chair. Find the middle point of the loose fabric between those two staples, and pull it taut and secure it to the middle portion of the seat base. You want to do this because when you're stapling the rounded parts, you'll have to end up folding over some of the extra fabric to make darts, and you don't want to have too much extra fabric in one area. Now find the middle of the unstapled fabric and the middle point between the two staples next to it, and secure the fabric to that point.

15. With the excess fabric left between stapled areas, you'll need to fold them over so they lay flat, or as flat as possible, like this.

16.  Hold these folds, called darts, flat, and then staple them to secure them. 

17. Trim the excess fabric. In this picture, one side has been trimmed, and one side has not. I'm sure you can tell which side is which.

18. Here's the finished seat base.

19. Now you need to secure the seat back on to the chair. Don't do this, because you don't have the three hands necessary to hold the seat in this place while screwing it in.

Do this instead. Put the seat base on your table or another raised surface, and put the chair frame on top of it, allowing the back of the chair to hang over the edge so that the base can lie flush against the base.

20. Using the same screws you removed before, screw the base back on to the chair frame. This is easiest if you just screw it back into the same holes that the screws were in originally.

And here you have it- the finished chair!

And all 4 of them!

Wow, what an improvement! And it was so easy!

To be honest, writing the instructions was harder than doing the whole project!

You can do this for any chairs that have a fabric covered base, provided the base is screwed on, not glued on as they are in some chairs...

Have you ever reupholstered your furniture yourself? What type of furniture was it? How much did the project cost you, and how long did the project take you?
Do you have any chairs that you'd like to reupholster? 
What are your best tips and tricks to lending new life to old and icky looking furniture?

Linking up to Frugal Days Sustainable Ways

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal

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