How to prepare your chair for reupholstery

A step-by-step guide to preparing your armchair for recovering in your favourite fabric. 

Unsure how much fabric you will need?

Buying the right amount of fabric for your project can be a little confusing. Here is a handy printable resource: 


Does your frame need some work? 

If you need to make repairs to the frame, re-varnish or paint it, ensure you complete these at least a week before reupholstery.

For fast-curing varnish, stains or paint use the durable Vintage Paint range.



Prepare your chair step-by-step

  1. Label each fabric panel. Use a marker to write the name of each piece of fabric. Include a directional arrow pointing in an upwards direction. 

  2. Measure each fabric panel. Use a dressmakers tape to measure the width and height of each piece of fabric. Add 2cm to each sewn edge. Add 5cm to each stapled edge. 

  3. Create a cutting plan. Plot out the fabric pieces onto a grid to determine the amount of fabric to buy. Download a free copy here. Round up to nearest half meter. Add 10% extra for patterns or large stripes. Ensure the directional arrows are all going in the same direction.

  4. Remove arms/legs. Do this only if they are meant to be removed &/or if fabric is under them. It is helpful to number the feet so they are put back into the same place. 

  5. Remove the fabric. Start taking off the last thing the previous upholsterer would have done. Usually this is the bottom dustcover. Take lots of photos during this step. Useful tools are: screwdriver or tack/staple removers, pliers, scissors, hammer or mallet.

  6. Save fabric panels. Each time you remove a fabric panel, keep aside and bring to class. In some cases we can use these for pattern cutting. 

  7. Remove unusable layers. Any foam, wadding, stuffings, lining that cannot be reused careful remove and dispose of them. Take lots of photos of each layer so you can replicate it.
  8. Remove the cushion cover. After removing the cover, use a thread ripper to unpick it. Your zipper can be replaced.


Buying fabric

Do not be tempted to buy printed cottons and other soft-furnishing fabrics. You will require upholstery grade fabric. As a beginner, aim to buy light - medium weight upholstery fabric.

If you would like to purchase Warwick Fabric, visit their website or showroom to make your selection. We can order this on your behalf on our website here. Please ensure you ask Warwick about estimated delivery times, as not all fabrics are dispatched from New Zealand.


EBOOK 101 Upholstery Tips, Tricks & Trade Secrets

Master the art of upholstery with this e-book collection of tips, tricks, and trade secrets.

This ebook shares insights, questions, and conversations that author Antonia Marino has had with her upholstery students over her years of teaching. 

This is a great resource for absolute beginners and seasoned upholsterers alike. 

It includes 101 general tips, 6 golden tips, 22 bonus tips, and a comprehensive glossary of upholstery terms.


ISBN: 978-0-473-49538-1