Tutorial: How to Reupholster a Dining Chair with Patchwork

I’ve said for a little while now that I would show you how I reupholstered my sewing room chairs. I actually have one more to do but there are SO. MANY. STAPLES. Plus, painting isn’t my favourite thing to do. If you want to have a go, here’s what I did for actually removing and recovering the seat area.

An old chair
A crosshead screwdriver (probably)
Something to help pull staples out – I used a combination of an awl, a screwdriver and a pair of pliers

Fabric scraps
0.7m of Pellon Shapeflex SF101, or some other lightweight fusible woven interfacing
Staple gun with staples

Please note that I reused the same foam and base cloth, but if you have really worn out chairs, you will need some new foam and some kind of lightweight cloth for the bottom. My chairs looked dilapidated, but the insides were actually very good still.

All chairs will be a little different, but the construction is mostly the same.

1)First of all you want to flip your chair upside down and unscrew any visible screws under the pad area.

2) Once the pad is separate from the frame, you can paint the chair if you wish. You need to remove all of the staples on the back that hold the base cloth in place.

3) Under the base cloth you will see the wood that makes the structure and shape of the seat, plus where the main fabric attaches. I had A LOT of staples to contend with here. Take them all out and you should have four separate layers – your outer fabric, the foam, the wood and the base cloth. My wood was actually stuck to the foam, yours may be in two pieces.

4) This step is optional. I stuck pieces of freezer paper together and drew around the existing fabric to make a template. I did this because I was making three seats, but you could use your actual outer fabric piece as the template and skip this step.

5) Use your template (or outer fabric piece) to cut out your interfacing at the right size. My seat was a little bigger than the width of the interfacing, so I pieced mine together in two parts, cutting out part of the template on one width, and the left over bit as a second piece. I didn’t join them together.

6) You want to now randomly piece your scrap fabric together until it is bigger than the template/original outer fabric/interfacing.

7) Lay your fabric with the wrong side of the fabric against the fusible (shiny/textured) side of the interfacing. Line up your join if you had to cut the interfacing in two pieces like I did. Press to fuse together using manufacturer’s instructions, some interfacings fuse faster than others.

8) Cut away the excess fabric around the interfacing.

9) Lay your fabric right side facing down, and position the foam and then the wood over the top. You want to ease the fabric as far round the wood as you can without forcing it too hard. It should be firm, but still have a little give. Staple the top, bottom and sides in place as a starting point.

10) Work your way round methodically in one direction, adding several staples to each side to keep it neat. Before you get to a corner, you want to see how the fabric folds before stapling too close in place. I start by folding the corner across the point flat, adding a staple, and then easing in the two sides equally, possibly stapling over the top if necessary. A corner usually uses up 5 staples.

11) Finish the stapling all the way round, and cut away any excess fabric if it covers the screw holes.

12) This is where reusing the base cloth comes in handy, because you can line up the holes with the screw holes in the fabric and then staple into place. If you had to make a new base cloth, fold the edges under as best you can by 1/2″ to 1″ and press. Then line up on the back and staple over the raw edges of the outer fabric. Next, you will need to poke holes in the cloth for the screws, you can do this with an awl once you’ve located the hole.

13) Reattach seat to the chair frames with the screws. This can be a bit tricky, so start from the back of the chair and work with it upside down. And then you’re done!

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