Completed: Reupholstered Chairs

8 Aug

Soooo this is a little different from what I usually offer up here for my Mood Sewing Network posts – we are gonna talk about home decor fabric today! ::evil laugh:: No wait, come back, I promise it’s not all bad!

Forreal, though, I’ve known about Mood Fabric’s home fabric offerings since, well, the beginning of my Mood-time. And while I’ve never been one to futz much with home decor sewing (I mean, c’mon, wouldn’t we rather all sew clothes for ourselves?), I did have some chairs that needed to be recovered. Like, two years ago. When I bought them.

So, in celebration of Mood Fabric’s new home decor storefront opening (which I’m really excited to visit when I’m in NYC next week! Eep! Next week!), I bring you my chairs that are badly in need of a facelift.

Reupholstered Chairs - before

Lookit that bad boy!

Reupholstered Chairs - before

No, that’s not even the worst – look at THIS! Can you believe I sat on that rank-ass looking thing for over 2 years? Yeah. I blame it on not being able to commit to the perfect fabric. Either that, or laziness. Probably both.

So, finding a good home decor fabric is hard, y’all. The ~free spirited artist~ in me wants something with bright colors and textures and maybe peacocks… but the tiny adult in me knows I should pick something more subdued that will continue to work with my ever-changing decor. I think I found a nice middle ground, though, with this chartreuse geometric cut velvet fabric. Even though it’s chartreuse, it’s pretty mild by home-decor standards (the color doesn’t necessarily “match” my curtains, but it goes well enough), and the geometric design gives it a bit of fun texture and visual interest without assaulting your senses. I like it!

Soo, that brings us to the next step – the upholstering.

Well, first off, let me just say this – it’s really easy, at least with a simple chair like this. Those of you who are diehard professional re-upholsterers, please avert your eyes. I’m sure I’m doing everything wrong here, oh well!

Chairs reupholstered with fabric from Mood Fabrics
First, we have to remove the chair pad from the chair frame. It should unscrew from the bottom. Take everything apart and stash the screws somewhere safe so you don’t lose them (I should note that I didn’t lose a screw from this chair – it only had 3 to begin with! Someone else’s problem!) (and DUH I only put 3 screws back in the chair. Like I have time to find a 4th screw lololol)

Chairs reupholstered with fabric from Mood Fabrics
Flip the pad over so you can see the staples, and start yanking them out. If you have a staple remover, that would be helpful. If not, you can use a flat head screw driver. Ideally, you want to remove all the staples – not just the ones holding the fabric down. Or you can just be sloppy and rip off the fabric, but seriously, dude, removing staples is kind of fun.

Chairs reupholstered with fabric from Mood Fabrics

Once you’ve completely dissembled your chair seat, you should have something like this. Wooden chair seat pad thing, fabric cover, and padding.

Chairs reupholstered with fabric from Mood Fabrics
Using your fabric cover as a guide, cut out squares of the new upholstery fabric to size. If you don’t have the old fabric to use, then measure for a 4″ overlap on all sides (so my 16″ pads needed 20″ square covers). Padding can be cut to the same size as the chair seat. I initially cut off the selvedge of my fabric because I thought it looked nicest that way, but when I started ripping the rest of the seats I realized that the original upholsterer left the selvedges on. So my remaining 3 chairs have fabric selvedge, which helps with fraying.

While I did decide to add some new padding to my chairs, I did not completely replace the padding that was there. Upon inspection, it seemed to be in pretty good shape (apart from the whole falling-out-of-the-chair aspect, anyway), so I just added a layer to the top for some extra squish and called it a day. If you are completely replacing your padding, you may want to cut multiple layers.

Chairs reupholstered with fabric from Mood Fabrics
Now we get to staple! Stack your padding and fabric with the wooden seat base centered at the bottom. Starting in the middle of one side, staple the fabric to the seat. Now move to the side opposite where you just stapled, pull the fabric taunt, and staple in the center. Continue working around the base of the chair, opposite sides at a time, until all 4 sides are stapled down securely. I found it was easier to do one set of sides at a time (as opposed to working all the way around at once).

Chairs reupholstered with fabric from Mood Fabrics
To miter the corners, fold as shown and staple as you go.

Chairs reupholstered with fabric from Mood Fabrics
Chairs reupholstered with fabric from Mood Fabrics

Your finished seat should look like this. Woohoo!

Chairs reupholstered with fabric from Mood Fabrics
Now screw it back on the chair frame and sit in that chair like the boss you are!

Chairs reupholstered with fabric from Mood Fabrics


Chairs reupholstered with fabric from Mood Fabrics


Chairs reupholstered with fabric from Mood Fabrics

For serious, though, I’m a little embarrassed at how stupidly easy this whole ordeal was. From disassembling, to cutting, to stapling, to screwing, heck – even sweeping the floor – this all took about an hour. That’s it! For four chairs!

Chairs reupholstered with fabric from Mood Fabrics

Chairs reupholstered with fabric from Mood Fabrics

I want to say I should have done it sooner, but damn – I don’t think I would have picked as good a fabric. Sometimes it does pay to wait! Also, this was a fairly inexpensive project – I only needed a yard and a half of fabric (again, my chair seats are 16″ square and I had 4 of ’em). My fabric was $45 a yard, which is stupid pricey, but the batting was only $8 a yard. All together, the cost of the fabric was less than $80 – I already had the staple gun, but it’s a cheap one that cost less than $10. You could obviously make this a much cheaper project with less luxe fabric or not buying batting, but considering I paid $100 for the table & chairs (plus a matching buffet in the living room – told ya our flea market was wonderful. Oh! My old lady dining room curtains are from there, too!), I don’t think that’s a very bad deal at all! Again, for full disclosure – I received credit for this fabric in exchange for my monthly contribution to the Mood Sewing Network. I got to pick the fabric and project on my own, though πŸ™‚

What about y’all? Anyone have experience with upholstery or other home decor sewing – or is that something you’d prefer to leave to someone else to do? I made someone lined curtains once (for the 12ft ceilings in his swanky loft), and UGHHH NEVER AGAIN.


53 Responses to “Completed: Reupholstered Chairs”

  1. Heather August 8, 2014 at 9:11 am #

    Yeah, I agree, once you’ve actually tackled the chairs you realise how easy, and quick it is. Our dining chairs have had several makeovers, and the beauty of it is they look brand new each time. Pat on the back for us amateurs, we’re doing a pretty good job.

  2. weefrills August 8, 2014 at 9:21 am #

    Great job!

  3. Angela Hickman August 8, 2014 at 9:22 am #

    That fabric is amazing! I love a good retro, textured print for upholstery, and that one suits your chairs perfectly! Also, that colour. I have a bicycle that colour and truly if I could get away with more of it in my life, I totally would. It had never occurred to me before, but dining room chair pads might be the way to go (so subtle, so in use everyday).

    • LLADYBIRD August 9, 2014 at 9:17 am #

      Oh man, I WISH I had a bicycle that color! (although I do love my turquoise bikey as well). I bet it’s lovely!

  4. carolinascallin August 8, 2014 at 9:33 am #

    I LOVE what you did to your chairs, and so glad you posted using Mood fabric. They have some beautiful home decor stuff πŸ™‚ Really coveting that fabric you used…it’s divine! I’ll have to find something to use that on πŸ™‚

    Recovering chairs is a super easy and relatively quick DIY that can change the whole look of your room with just a little bit of time, effort and cash. One of my most enjoyable projects last year was re-doing chairs for my daughter’s DC apt. You can read about it on my blog here:

    Job well done! Can’t wait to see what other projects you take on around the house!

    • LLADYBIRD August 9, 2014 at 9:20 am #

      This was my first experience with Mood’s home dΓ©cor fabrics and I gotta say – I think I’m a convert! I love this fabric so much – I wish I could cover everything in it, but I guess if I did that it wouldn’t be as special πŸ™‚

      I love your re-done chairs! Especially that bright coral! Such a fun way to take boring furniture and update it into something boutique-worthy πŸ™‚

  5. Emily August 8, 2014 at 10:02 am #

    Duuuuude your new chairs are so sexy. What amazing fabric. It ‘goes’ perfectly — coordinates but not too matchy. Love it. And thanks for the tutorial! Was planning on figuring it out with our chairs at home and this is great πŸ˜€

    • LLADYBIRD August 9, 2014 at 9:21 am #

      You probably won’t even need the photo instructions πŸ™‚ Once you see how the chair is put together (while you’re, you know, destroying it :)), it’s pretty easy to figure out as you go. Good luck! πŸ™‚

  6. Katie Lynn August 8, 2014 at 10:47 am #

    Growing up my parents always had (and still have) the same antique dining room and formal dining room sets, so every five years or so we would reupholster them. It’s really quite easy, like you said. We use 2″ foam under the batting, and use light contact adhesive spray to keep it stuck where it should be while you’re stapling (make sure to find a kind that doesn’t eat foam!).

    I absolutely love your table and chairs! All of my major furniture is garage sale or consignment shop finds, and I have a ton of great midcentury modern pieces, so your set is right up my alley. I wasn’t sure when you said you bought chartreuse fabric, but it really is perfect.

    • Gertrude August 8, 2014 at 10:51 am #

      I loe your choice of fabric. I upholstered my dining room chairs and then after sitting on them for a while playing cards I realized – I really, really needed more padding! Next time I do them there will be more.

    • LLADYBIRD August 9, 2014 at 9:22 am #

      That’s so cool! I’m a big proponent of buying one really nice set of furniture and updating it throughout the years… not that I’ve been living on my own long enough to really do that much (11 years… and I’ve only recently started buying nice stuff, ha), but I’m looking forward to many years of it in the future πŸ™‚ Good furniture bones and all that!

      • Katie Lynn September 3, 2014 at 10:13 am #

        The dining set was an antique store find, and the formal set was my great-grandmother’s. Unfortunately the formal set has had some really bad chewing done on the legs by a labrador puppy about five years ago, she was really sneaky about chewing on things that weren’t toys.

  7. LinB August 8, 2014 at 11:07 am #

    Ten years ago, a friend rescued three pick-up loads of fabric samples that were left on the sidewalk as trash, after a furniture show week in High Point, NC. I am still using them for home dec — and a fair amount of clothing and accessories — projects, for my home and for others’ homes. He is one of my favorite friends, lol.

    You did a beautiful job with your chair bottoms, girl. $45 per yard is pretty cheap for cut-velvet, even in a High Point fabric outlet.

    • LLADYBIRD August 9, 2014 at 9:23 am #

      That’s amazing! It’s like the fabric gift that keeps on giving πŸ™‚

      You’re totally right about the price point. $45 a yard actually isn’t bad, but it sure feels like a lot haha πŸ™‚

  8. Gina August 8, 2014 at 12:00 pm #

    Love these! That fabric is gorgeous! When I learned to sew, I started with pillows and cushions and bags, and it was fun because I looooove upholstery fabric. So many beautiful options! But when I learned how to make clothes for myself, I discovered I’d much rather make clothes, so all the home dec projects I’d planned just sat on the back burner pretty much forever.

    Earlier this year, a friend who does architecture and design hired me to make cushions for these customs benches he was always having built for his customers. UGH WHAT MISERY! Sewing for money takes every bit of joy out of it, plus sewing cushion after cushion is so boring! It was getting to where I didn’t have any time to sew things for myself and the deadlines were stressing me out, so I quit. I was so relieved once I didn’t have to make those cushions anymore!

    But right now I’m thinking about reupholstering my couch because it’s nice and sturdy but I hate the fabric – it’s a stupid color, plus it’s pilling. I found a tutorial that’s really detailed and makes it look like it’s easy, but just time-consuming. I can’t decide on a fabric, though, plus I have so many patterns I want to sew, so we’ll see if it ends up actually happening.

    That turned out to be quite a teal deer, so sorry! But your cushions are beautiful and now I know that Mood has some beautiful home dec fabrics, which I never thought to check out before~

    • LLADYBIRD August 9, 2014 at 9:27 am #

      Oh man, I hear ya on sewing for money (especially home dΓ©cor sewing- whyyyy do we put ourselves through that kind of misery!?). It’s the WORST! That was the same way I felt about the curtains- I was soo happy to be done and over with that project and back to my happy world of darts and bias binding! Haha!

      I think you should go for it with recovering the couch! It’ll be expensive and super time consuming, but I bet by the time you’re done you’ll be all, “OMG why didn’t I do this 2 years ago?” Plus, you’ll end up with a pretty epic couch, because I know you’ll pick an epic fabric to cover it with. Double win πŸ™‚

  9. mommylap August 8, 2014 at 1:26 pm #

    I am only slightly ashamed to admit that I have recovered chairs with duct tape fastening the underneath until I bought more staples for my staple gun. It stayed duct taped for 2 years.

    • LLADYBIRD August 9, 2014 at 9:27 am #

      No shame in that! At least you got them covered somehow πŸ™‚ haha!

  10. Laura August 8, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

    Oooh, cool! The fabric really suits the style of the chairs and table, and it’s a very professional finish. This makes we wish I had chairs which I felt brave enough to recover. Mine are sort of all over leather (except arms and legs), which I nabbed from my office when they were updating the meeting rooms for the first time since the 60s. The leather is starting to look a bit tatty, but I don’t think I can bring myself to change them yet, because history!!

    • LLADYBIRD August 9, 2014 at 9:28 am #

      Those chairs sound awesome!! I totally get what you mean about not wanting to recover them just yet, but ooh think about how good they’ll look with a fresh coat of leather πŸ™‚ 60s office chairs though, gah! I bet those are gorgeous!

  11. amberincolo August 8, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

    Very nice! I have recovered chairs the same way, except I skip the removing the old fabric part and just put the new on top. Call me lazy, but it works.

    • LLADYBIRD August 9, 2014 at 9:29 am #

      I would have done that, because I’m lazy too, but these were pretty ripped up so it seemed best to just start fresh. Plus, I’m not gonna lie – it was fun ripping that old fabric off! haha!

      • LinB August 11, 2014 at 10:11 am #

        Plus, if the old fabric is dirty, then that dirt — and any grease or oil stains — can work their way up through the back of the new fabric. If all you need to do is vacuum dust off the old fabric, leave it lie.

        The only thing more satisfying than ripping ugly old fabric is ripping ugly old wallpaper.

  12. Rebecca August 8, 2014 at 3:34 pm #

    Awesome! I love the fabric you picked! I’ve got a set of Craigs List chairs I’m going to re-upholster at some point. Mood is my go-to for upholstery fabric. I also re-covered an office chair once:

    • LLADYBIRD August 9, 2014 at 9:30 am #

      DAMN!! I’d be ok with having office chairs in my house if they looked like that! That is pretty fancy!

      • Rebecca August 10, 2014 at 10:54 am #

        Thanks so much, Lladybird! The funny thing is, the following year I got a desk that I stand at, so I didn’t need my cute chair anymore. 😦

  13. nx44 August 8, 2014 at 3:35 pm #

    Cute chairs! I have covered a wooden armchair type thing before, it’s not perfect but was fun. I’ve made curtains and blinds before too which are not fun – There’s so much fabric and it’s hard maneuver through the sewing machine, and measure and everything… Blah!

    • LLADYBIRD August 9, 2014 at 9:31 am #

      Oh yeah, the maneuvering and measuring is the worst! It seems like it would be easy because it’s basically straight lines, but nope. Never again hahaha

  14. francescapia August 8, 2014 at 3:36 pm #

    oooo, like! And totally goes with the curtains, too:) Isn’t it fun transforming something really easily? I do it every now and again. I just recovered the lady’s chair in my bedroom – not so easy as it has a seat which is at a strange angle to the back – but I had done it once years ago and knew it could be done – unzippable:). Beautiful huge flowers from one of Amy Butler’s collections. Stool cover for the dressing table stool – super easy, just a circle with pompoms on the bottom. And the best thing I made was a hanging with this other fabric of Amy’s I love which goes with the chair – feathers I think it was called – I made a hanging for a sort of bedhead, hanging from a little brass rod – reversible with other stuff on the back, batted, with some handstitched quilting with the knots showing – basically, to try to insulate the outside wall behind my bedhead.

    i used to make more curtains but all tha t fabric drives me crazy. I really really need to make new ones for my window as the lining is all rotting off:). I even have more of the Amy range waiting to be shrunk and sewn. but I have sunblock blinds so they haven’t bugged me enough so far LOL.

    • LLADYBIRD August 9, 2014 at 9:33 am #

      I’d love to see what your bedroom looks like, because it sounds super beautiful – all those Amy Butler flowers everywhere πŸ™‚

  15. Inna August 8, 2014 at 3:52 pm #

    Great job! Veri nice! πŸ™‚

  16. monica L. August 8, 2014 at 5:17 pm #

    Awesome! I’ve re-finished a few chairs before and I’m about to have to do a little home dec sewing.. So much less fun than making pretty dresses.. But that fabric is rad xD

  17. Heather M August 8, 2014 at 6:39 pm #

    I’m looking at 2 cushions and 3pillows for a double seat Adirondack outside front porch bench, I have the Sunbrella fabric already – from JoAnna & inexpensive! Complements my new house trim color. This will be the 2nd time I’ve recovered them. I need to replace the bench wooden seat & repaint this time – makes it a big fall project.

  18. Heather M August 8, 2014 at 6:40 pm #

    Yours are great! The color is a good one – I wouldn’t have thought of that.

  19. senjiva August 8, 2014 at 7:39 pm #

    Ok! Ok! I will get off my rear and finally replace the padding in the top of my ottoman! Sheesh. The big armchair passed down from my great grandma is, I think, still beyond my ability to commit to a fabric. Your project came out well and the chairs look right at home in your dining room. I think you made a good choice!

    • LLADYBIRD August 9, 2014 at 9:33 am #

      Do it! It’s so easy and fulfilling, and you’ll wonder why you didn’t fix it sooner πŸ™‚ haha!

  20. Carol S August 8, 2014 at 8:59 pm #

    I’ve done my dining table chair with Mood fabric too. I did have to buy a second staple gun, because only the larger size would work.

    • LLADYBIRD August 9, 2014 at 9:34 am #

      I’ve been eyeballing the larger staple guns. They look like so much fun haha!

  21. beaglescout524 August 8, 2014 at 10:28 pm #

    Well… there’s the nursery: Probably my most extensive Home Dec sewing to date. I didn’t recover anything, but I made a full encasement mattress cover for the crib. I have recovered a sofa, but it was part of the scenery for a play I directed. I love the theatre. Stuff only has to look good from a distance and stay together for a week.

    BTW, if you find yourself with some bitchy staples this thing works wonders: Take it from someone who has pulled up 1000 square feet of disgusting wall to wall carpeting.

    • LLADYBIRD August 9, 2014 at 9:35 am #

      Holy shit, everything about that nursery is the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen!

  22. Melissa August 8, 2014 at 10:34 pm #

    The fabric is perfect for those chairs! I’ve always wanted to learn how to reupholster a couch, but maybe I should start with chairs first…..

    • opalspeacock August 9, 2014 at 4:16 am #

      See my post below for a sofa, it was my first project.

  23. Kyle August 8, 2014 at 10:42 pm #

    you are right–they are damn sexy!!

  24. opalspeacock August 9, 2014 at 4:15 am #

    You did a great job! The hubs once brought home a huge roll of fabric and I reupholstered our crappy 7′ long, 3 cushion, rolled arm, section back sofa. I checked out a book from the library and bought a few supplies and went for it. In my opinion, if you can sew a dress you can reupholster furniture. Sewing a curved seam on a rolled arm is just like a princess seam and is the hardest part. My best tip is to mark your project first and then take a photo before you dis-assemble. Write on each section (ie arm = front, back, top, bottom, center is grainline, pleat/tuck lines, connection points (=seam lines) creating a pattern piece.Mark anything new like roping as you remove each piece and you can cut the pieces off (add to edges if you cut). You will be surprised how sloppy the inside is, it is not couture in there. Upholstering is mostly rectangles stapled on a frame with sewing only done for the cushions, a rolled arm front, and rope sewn on the back to tie creating tuffs or sections on a back piece. I finished in a week, with about 20 hours but it can be hard on the hands removing staples. I would do it again. Get a staple puller for upholstery, it looks like a flat screw driver but with a v shape rather than a straight edge.

    • opalspeacock August 9, 2014 at 4:21 am #

      One more thing, use an electric stapler if you have one for a project this large. I went through about 300 staples, don’t be stingy with the staples because it will bite you in the ass if you have to take it apart again and will likely ruin your fabric.

    • LLADYBIRD August 9, 2014 at 9:39 am #

      You’re totally right- not that I’ve ever recovered a couch, but I feel that anyone who can sew can probably upholster. I think the hardest part about recovering a couch would be committing to a fabric (and paying for it! Those things take a looooot of yardage!). And I guess dealing with the mess while you’re in the thick of it πŸ™‚

  25. Sherri Egan August 9, 2014 at 7:58 am #

    These are completely gorgeous! Thanks for posting, I have wanted to try this for awhile and this makes it way less scary! πŸ™‚

    • LLADYBIRD August 9, 2014 at 9:39 am #

      You can do it – it’s totally fun and fulfilling! πŸ™‚

  26. sewcookgardenrepeat August 9, 2014 at 3:25 pm #

    I like it! I’ve made two pairs of lined curtains and I’ve redone a side table and turned it into a dog bed which turned out pretty awesome if I do say so myself πŸ™‚

  27. Lisette August 9, 2014 at 5:38 pm #

    That is a swank dining room. Are you sure you don’t live in a magazine? Please come decorate my house? πŸ˜‰
    My sum total experience with upholstering was a 10′ tall set of numbers, “50”, in gold lame for my theatre’s anniversary. Worst fabric choice ever, thanks Mr. Designer. The 0 actually looks like those crazy vinyl covered toilet seats old ladies have. You can see it in all its glory here:

  28. gingermakes August 10, 2014 at 9:36 am #

    These look so great! What an easy update! I don’t know what it is about home dec, but I’d rather scrub the toilet all day than sew curtains! But it’s so worth it to put in a little time and give something an update. It’s hard to find nice, low-cost furniture like yours in NYC, but we have a little cafe table with two chairs we found on the street and we stained and spray painted it… even that made a huge difference in how the apartment looks!


  1. lladybird made me do it! | cup + penny - August 20, 2014

    […] by LLadybird, who posted a couple weeks ago about re-upholstering her dining room chairs, I realized it was time […]

  2. Completed: I Knit Socks! | LLADYBIRD - December 24, 2014

    […] surprisingly hard to take photos of your own socks – who woulda thought? As you can see, my reupholstered chairs are well used and loved, and, yes, that is a ladder with a plant on it under an American flag in […]

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