Last month a friend called to asked if I could do a chair upholstery for his two chairs I said yes, of course. I was excited to bring those vintage chairs back to life with new upholstery fabric, foam, webbing, cotton batting, burlap, and Dacron.
DIY Chair Upholstery
My friend won these gorgeous channel-back style vintage chairs in an auction, however; they needed an overhaul. We used modern upholstery techniques to recover and repair his chairs.
Removing Old Upholstery Fabric
I like to wear gloves when removing the old upholstery fabric, staples and tacks.
The first step was to remove the old fabric. I gently removed the channel-back panel so that I could use as a guide to construct the new seat back. Once the fabric is off we can assess what might need repairing. Once the fabric was removed I noticed that the seat cushion foam was ruined and the chair back frame was broken.
The upper chair back frame was constructed with two pieces of curved wood that were joined in the center with a wooden support attached under the joint. The joint support on one of the chairs was broken. I cut a new support out of hardwood and attached it to the frame with glue and screws.
Furniture Re-upholstery DIY
One of my simple upholstery techniques is to use the old chair fabric pieces as a template for the new fabric cuts. Before I continue I iron all the old chair pieces. Next, I determine the cut plan to conserve on fabric. If the fabric has a nap or a pattern repeat I analyze the cuts accordingly.
Upholstery Tips for Beginners:
- Pay attention to how the chair was assembled
- Your old chair fabric might be stretched out of shape
- Evenly pull the fabric to prevent puckers when stapling
- Always use high quality upholstery thread
- Center the pattern repeats starting on the seat or seat cushion and working you way up and down using the cushion as a reference point
- You will need a commercial upholstery sewing machine
Upholstery Supplies and Tools Needed
- Upholstery scissors
- Staple lifter
- Tack hammer
- Curved needle
- Upholstery thread
- Upholster sewing machine
- Welt cord
- Staple gun (pneumatic)
- Tack strip
- Upholstery burlap
- Bonded Polyester batting
- Upholstery fabric (fabric information)
- Zipper #5
- Foam (4″ Medium density)
- Cotton batting
- Wood glue
- How to Upholster Video
- Quilting ruler
- Marker (water soluble)
- Pins (heavy glass head)
- Cutting mat
- Silk film plastic (used to stuff channels)
- Upholstery regulator
Assembling the Channel-back
Learning how to staple fabric to the wood frame after creating the back channel back section is key to getting the perfect result along the back edge. This is not an easy upholstery technique to master with channel-backs.
DIY Chair Upholstery Completed
Professional Education Series Upholstery 101
We offer an easy to follow DIY Upholstery video so our readers can update their furniture and save money at the same time. We will answer all your questions as we upholster two antique chairs (see the chairs here) from the frame up. It makes a great gift too.
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Thank you so much for visiting I hope you found some inspiration and are ready to start your chair upholstery.
Let me know in the comments what you would like to upholster first.