How to upholster a simple armless chair

How to upholster a simple armless chair

Your step-by-step guide to reupholstering an armless chair at home

This is one of the simplest chair types to re-cover, making it an ideal first project. It can be done without a sewing machine or specialist supplies – all you need is fabric, a gun stapler with 10mm staples, diagonal pliers and decorative nails

1. To avoid a complete rebuild, pick a chair with structural integrity that has reusable foam, padding, springs and webbing. Before you start, take lots of pictures of the chair – from every angle, of every fold and every seam.

2. Label parts of the chair by using a marker to write the part name on each piece of fabric, with a directional arrow. These will become your patterns and references.

3. While the old fabric is still in place, roughly measure each piece to work out how much fabric to buy. Choose quality medium-weight, upholstery-grade fabric. Add seam and stapling allowances plus about 15 percent for mistakes and flaws, and a little more if you are working with large patterns, stripes or geometrics.

4. Carefully remove old fabric using diagonal pliers and a flathead screwdriver. In most cases this means removing the bottom panel first and then the back panel. Write the order down, and keep taking photos. Keep fabric for reference.

5. Using the old fabric as a guide, cut out new fabric pieces with fabric scissors, adding 5cm pulling allowance all around. Label pieces on the back with tailors chalk. For a simple chair you’ll cut out three pieces of fabric: seat, inside back and outside back.

6. Secure seat fabric onto seat with a staple gun and 10mm staples. Start with centre front, then staple centre back, then centre sides. Do not staple too close to the corners at this stage.

7. “Release cuts” are needed so the fabric can be pushed around corners of leg posts. To do these, cut in from the edge of the fabric to the point where the fabric hits the post.

8. Fold in corners neatly and staple down. Cut excess fabric from inside fold to reduce bulk.

9. Repeat steps 6 and 8 for inside back, making sure to work out from centre of each edge.

10. Add buttons now if you wish, using a long button needle and tough nylon twine.

11. If using decorative dome-head nails to secure fabric to outside back, lay fabric over back of chair, making sure it’s straight. Fold top and side edges of fabric under and carefully hammer a decorative nail into top two corners. Staple bottom edge underneath chair. Carefully hammer decorative nails evenly around the rest of the fabric to secure it. Alternatively, use decorative nail strip.

12. To add dustcloth lay black fabric under base of chair and fold edges under. Staple cloth in place, starting from centre of each side and working out to the corners. Cut release cuts if necessary to fit around the legs.

Reupholstering an armless chair is a great DIY project for beginners. With a few basic tools and some quality fabric, you can transform an old chair into a stylish piece of furniture that you'll be proud to show off.

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