New Love for Old Chairs (Leg 2: Re-Upholstery)

Okay it is time to put this thing back together!!

(If you missed the breakdown of the chair click here.)

First thing is first the fabric! I picked out a couple different options and brought home the samples to get a better look.


I tested them all for the stretch factor and to see how durable the fabrics would be. They all seemed to stretch a lot in just one direction, which can cause problems when you are pulling the fabric. There was one that had no really stretch going on at all. And that happened to be the one that both The Man and I liked the best. Score! (It is the one on the left)


I had researched this project quite a few times and had learned that 7 yards was about right for a wing back chair. I choose to just get enough fabric for one chair just in case I ended up not liking it after it was on the chair. I bought 7 yards and the total came to about $80 with the 50% coupon that Joann’s ALWAYS has and the upholstery thread that was needed.

First I double checked that the foam was all good to go before I started. Mine all happened to be in great shape. I probably could have added a layer of batting just to plump it up a little bit more, but I decided against it. The next step is to gather up all those pictures and all the original fabric, and get to work.

I started with the side pieces because I knew they would be the most tricky and I would be thrilled when they were done. The side pieces are all sewn together, along with a piece of cardboard…weird. I took even more pictures to avoid any potential problems.

chair1 chair2 chair3 chair4 chair6.0

Then I started ripping the seams and cutting the fabric. When you cut the fabric you want to double check two things. The first being, if you have a directional fabric be careful that you are cutting your pieces in the correct direction. I would suggest laying out all your pieces on the fabric before cutting. Number two, the pieces that will need to be stretched will need a bit of extra fabric on the back and the bottom. (This is probably a bit tricky to figure out if you didn’t take enough pictures.) Trust me you WILL need the extra fabric!

chair7 chair7.01 chair8.0 chair8.1

The piping looks complicated but it is actually super easy. All you need to do is cut a long skinny piece of fabric in the same length as the original piece and fold it over top of the piping cord. Then sew it shut, while getting the stich as close to the piping as you can while still allowing it to bend when needed. I changed the footer on my sewing machine to a zipper footer and it works perfectly.


The first arm I did caused me a few problems (as you can see). On the second arm I choose to hand sew about an inch of the arm by hand because the sewing machine kept causing the weird point you can see below. If you have this problem I would advise that you do the same thing.


Find your first two pieces that you need to sew and pin it. If there is piping stick it in between the pieces and pin into place. Your pieces may need darting or some other little special things, if this is the case do the darting before pinning because it will get complicated if you wait and try to do it all at once. Sew everything together.

I continued this process all the way down the sides. I included the weird seemly random cardboard piece and started the stapling. Forgive me for not having pictures of this part of the process I was doing all of this at home alone and pictures are too difficult when you have two hands in use already. The process was a lot of pulling and a lot of stapling. By stapling I mean tacking. My brand new stapler wouldn’t work for some reason and I wasn’t letting it stop me.

Repeat what you just did on the other side.


The back was the easiest part and the only part that didn’t require any sewing. Yay. I cut the back piece too small the first time and had to re-cut. Don’t make my mistake! I was careful not to leave pull the fabric too hard because it left weird gaps in the chair on the sides of the back.

chair9.00 chair9.01 chair9.0

The little front piece was pretty simple. I did not use a template for this one. I somewhat guessimated, which is probably not something I should admit. After the piece was cut I marked where it needed to be sewn. Only two corners for this one. Because the first corners were too sharp I went back and added a little more stitching to round them out a little. Then came the stapling.

chair9 chair10.0 chair10.1chair9.1

After the front was attached I realized I had made a little mistake. The cream fabric on the bottom was supposed to be sewn on to the front fabric… oops. To fix this I just hand stitched into place. It is clearly not pretty but it does not matter. No one will look at that part and it just needs to hold the front piece in place.


The very back of the chair was an interesting processes. For the top all I did was staple the old cardboard piece to the back and folded the fabric back down.

chair12.0 chair12 chair13 chair14

The first tack stripe was easy and just required folding the fabric around the back of itself and sticking the tack stripe through. Then just nail it down. (I apologize for not having a picture of this step. )

That is exactly what you want to do with the other side too, except you want to pull the crap out of it before you nail it down. I had to wait until The Man got home because I couldn’t do this correctly without another set of hands.

After it was nailed into place I just pulled and stapled the bottom. Did I mention that The Man fixed the stapler for me? So glad you could figure it out! Tacking is a terrible idea, it took so much longer to do than it should have when I had to tack everything.

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The dustguard has to be the simplest piece to install because it doesn’t need to look pretty. It just needs to be there and stapled into place.

For the cushion I repeated the process for cutting all the pieces with the original fabric. I also re used the zipper because it was still working and I am cheap.

 chair18 chair19

Cushion added and chair finished! It isn’t upholster quality, but for my first try I would say it looks darn good!

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Leave some love.


One response to “New Love for Old Chairs (Leg 2: Re-Upholstery)

  1. Pingback: Scarf turned Camera Strap | Last Legs Blog·

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