Reupholstering DIY!

Recently, my grandparents sold their house, and were getting rid of a lot of their (great, midcentury) furniture.  My parents generously offered to bring whatever I wanted down to DC, so we made room in our little apartment for a few things, including this dining table.


It's solid walnut, and I love the color of the wood.  I just wasn't in love with the fabric on the seats, so with my mom's encouragement, I decided I could reupholster them myself!

After finding the perfect fabric, it only took us a few hours to redo all six chairs:


It was pretty easy with the right tools, but several people have asked me to share how I did it, so here you go!

You'll need: 

Needle nose pliers
Fabric and scissors - to figure out how much fabric you'll need, measure your seats and add 3-4 inches on each side; for example, I needed six 22x24 inch pieces, and my fabric was 55 inches wide, so I only needed 2 yards of fabric.
Staple gun& staples

1.  Remove the seats from the chair frame - they're usually held on with a few screws underneath.  These had two screws in the front and one on each side. Simply unscrew them and the seat will come right off.

2. Take a look at how the fabric has been attached to the seats - pay attention to the corners, you'll see that the fabric is folded around it.  If you want, take pictures of the corners so you can remember how to do them once you get the new fabric on.

3. Take off the old fabric - There should be a row of (hopefully not too many) staples around the edges of the fabric holding it on to the seat. You can pry these out pretty easily with a flathead screwdriver, although we needed to use pliers on some of them that broke or only popped out on one side.

This is where it can get dicey - especially with older furniture, you can't be sure what you'll find under here. Luckily, these seats had a nice layer of white vinyl underneath the fabric!

I just wiped these clean before putting on the new fabric.

4. Use the old seat fabric as a pattern to cut out your fabric - lay your new fabric out on a flat surface and figure out how you want to position the pieces based on the pattern/size of your fabric.  For example, I wanted the pattern on mine to be running vertically, so I laid the fabric out accordingly when I cut it. I also knew I could fit two pieces on the width of my fabric, so I folded it in half vertically and cut two pieces at a time, like so:

Although in this lovely diagram the seat pieces are perfect squares, the old fabric actually had the corners cut off, kind of like this: 

This made it easier to fold around the corners, since there wasn't excess fabric in the way.  

As you might be able to tell in the picture of the bottom of the seats above, I used pinking shears to cut the fabric since it was a heavy cotton just to make sure it wouldn't start unraveling. However, this is probably not absolutely necessary.

5. Now you're ready to put the new fabric on - and use the staple gun! Put one of the fabric pieces (right side down) on a flat surface, and place the seat on top of it.  Pull the edges up to make sure you've got it centered and there's enough fabric on each side to reattach to the chair.  

Starting at the center of one side, staple the fabric to the chair. I used 1/4" staples, about four on each side.  I found it easiest to do the top edge first, then the top two corners. Then I pulled the fabric tight (not too much!) and did the bottom edge and corners, and finally the sides (one at a time, pulling the fabric tight on the second side).

6. Replace the seats on the chair frames - the same way you got them off, just in reverse.  And bam! you've got new chairs!

You could always pay someone to reupholster furniture, but for something this easy you can do it yourself for less than half the cost! 

1 comment: