How to Reupholster a Chair – The Final Reveal
It’s so great to finally show you the final result of this thrift store chair makeover. Originally I had not planned for it to be three posts long but there was so much detail I wanted to share and I couldn’t shorten it and not miss something.
Over the last two posts, I shared the project preparation and the sewing how-tos. Today all that is left is stapling the pieces to the chair, inserting the cushion, and final nips and tucks with a thread and needle. Yeah!
Here are all Three Links to the Chair Project Including Today’s Post
Materials and Supplies for Today
Button kit and leftover fabric
Small needle and matching thread
Long darning needle, at least 3 inches
Heavyweight fishing line
Hot glue (optional)
Attaching the Chair Bottom and Cushion
Insert your cushion into the cushion cover. Make it as smooth as possible, you will do more later.
Place the chair bottom (with the cushion cover) over the bottom of the chair. Line up the four corners and pin in place with sewing pins.
Once you are comfortable everything fits, and the four corners line up. Start stapling the bottom of the chair cover to the underside of the chair. Do a little bit on each side, stretching and fitting as needed.
With a needle and thread, sew the back corner together. (the other three seams are already machine sewn) Fold the fabric edge under and sew closed with small stitches.
Now that the chair fabric is fully attached to the base of the chair, its time to start doing the final finishing.
Place the Back Fabric onto the Chair
Take the front of your chair back and fold over the front of the chair. Double check that everything will cover. Starting at the top of the chair, fold the fabric over and staple. Repeat with a couple of staples on each side. Make sure to pull the fabric tight around the curves of the chair.
In the photo above you can see where you would sew and tie the buttons on the chair back. I skipped doing this one the chair back. But you can see how easy it is to place them and of course, you would do it now before putting the back fabric on.
On the top left-hand side, you can see where I forgot to trim the fabric, I went back and did that and added a staple to it before putting the final back piece on.
The back piece needs to go on without any staples. While tearing it apart on Day One I made notes of how to replace the back and that is what I did.
I started by pressing the outside seams to match the original fabric. Then I pinned the fabric of the back fabric to the chair and checked that the fabric covered all the staples and sewing.
To begin stapling remove the staples on the right-hand side only. This leaves you a reference point for the fabric. Staple across the top towards the left as close to the ironed fold as possible. Once you have a few staples attached you can remove all the pins and continue.
Next was putting on the two sides with the long metal strips full of needles. The strips like the staples were fit as close to the edge as possible. I placed the long metal strip along the fold and then carefully worked the fabric over the nails.
Once all the nails were pushed through the fabric. Place the fabric along the side of the chair back, pull the fabric tight and then hammer into place. Repeat this process for the other side.
Once this is done pull the bottom of the chair fabric tight and staple to the underside of the chair.
Closing the Cushion Covering
We will start at the bottom of the chair first, but before you do that its a good time to level out the cushion stuffing. Just place your hand inside the cushion cover and move the stuffing around until it looks even. You can add some more polyfill stuffing if it helps.
Once the cushion is the way you want it, start sewing the back seam closed. The easiest way to do this is to fold over an edge on the lower cushion and hand sew it to the upper cushion, working all the way across. It’s a bit awkward to work in this area (even harder to take pictures), but I think its much better to have the hand-sewn portion tucked in against the chair back.
The piping you added on day two is located along that back seam and will need to be overlapped and finished. It was impossible to do and take photos at the same time, but here is a tutorial on the process.
Step 5 – The finished piping closure on the actual chair.
Step 1 – Clean ends of pre-sewn upholstery piping ( See post one)
Step 2 – Remove the stitches on one end of the piping at least an inch from the end.
Step 3 – Pull the fabric back on the open end of the piping. Make sure the piping meets and then cut off the inner piping where it meets the end of the other piping.
Step 4- Fold over the very edge of the fabric so that no strings show, wrap the open end of the piping fabric around the end that is still intact. Pin it in place.
Once you have the piping overlapped and pinned sew it to the lower cushion and finish the back seam by hand with small stitches.
Make sure the two seams on each underside side of the chair back are tucked in and stapled securely. My stapler would not fit into the corners close enough so after I stapled the underside I had to return to fold over the edges of the fabric and sew the corners with a needle and thread to make it tidier. In the picture, you can see where I was unable to place a staple next to the side of the legs.
The front of the legs also needed some final tightening. I did not like the look of the dark original buttons against the new light fabric, so I did not replace them. Opting to only use one pin. I folded the edge of the seam under and with tiny stitches gathered the fabric up along the edge. Folded it over to tighten and pinned once.
Although I did not replace the buttons that were on the back of the chair, I did decide to replace them on the seat of the chair.
Using a button kit, cover the buttons with leftovers of the fabric. Although not necessary I hot glued the back of my buttons for extra hold, making sure to leave the opening free for inserting the needle.
Take your original cushion cover and place it on the new one. Using pins mark the four original buttonholes. Remove the cover (I had to cut the openings a little bit to slide the cover off).
With heavyweight fishing line cut off a couple of feet of line Fold the line in half and don’t knot the ends.
Push the large needle through the top of the cushion, and I needed a plier to pull it out from underneath the cushion. Then holding the fishing thread ABOVE the cushion so it does not pull through. Pull the lower thread right through until the needle comes off.
Take the needle and rethread it on the ABOVE the cushion thread and then through the back of your button. Push the needle back through the cushion a couple of threads over from your original hole and again pull out the needle using the pliers.
Now working from the underside, pull on the fishing line until you button is sunken in as far as you like. Then tie off the bottom with a seriously good couple of knots.
The bottom of the chair is finished.
Finishing the Chair Back
The chair back is all finished except for the top two corners. Simply fold them under and sew with small stitches.
I really love the shabby chic feel of this little chair now that she has received her thrift store chair makeover. I bet it was beautiful when all shiny and new with the rich brocade material. But I love how she looks now too.
I really hope you find this tutorial helpful for a DIY thrift store furniture makeover. Please comment and let me know if you would be willing to try this?