Picture of How to Re-Cover Chairs
An easy way to fix up old or used furniture. Why didn't we do this earlier?
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Step 1: Before

Picture of Before
Here's an old chair with a ratty seat cover.

We got it from Craig's List about three years ago. The seats had been re-covered in a neat red silk that looked good but didn't wear well. After months of ignoring the shredded red silk, we finally yanked it off to discover the original black fabric, which also looks pretty bad.

Since we were planning to have 40 people over for Thanksgiving the next day, it was the perfect time to start a new project. Right.

Step 2: Find your fabric

Picture of Find your fabric
We headed off to the local fabric store to find some nice, thick upholstery fabric. This will wear better than that thin silk, and hopefully stand up to years of daily abuse at our kitchen table. I chose some nice swirly blue stuff that should look good with the dark brown wood of the chairs.

Thrift stores are also a great source for material- pick up an old jacket, skirt, tablecloth, or anything else with a nice thick fabric and neat design. Just make sure it can stand up to the level of use you'll be giving it.

You don't need much fabric- just the size of the seat plus a couple of inches around each edge of the seat. Remember to measure your seats before running off to the fabric store, or else you'll have lots of extra fabric, or worse, not quite enough. (I'm planning to make cloth napkins from my leftovers. Eventually.)

Remove the chair seat and place it upside-down against the back of the fabric. (Remember the good stuff should be facing up when you're done.) Make sure it's properly aligned with your fabric's pattern, especially if there are stripes involved. Trim around the edge to leave enough fabric to fold over on all sides. Depending on the thickness of your cushion, this could be 2-5 inches.
remiska4 years ago
OK!!! )
piperrenee5 years ago
here is my chair :)
canida (author)  piperrenee4 years ago
Oh wow, you're right - it's identical fabric!  Your chair has some additional curlicues, though.  Nice job!
piperrenee5 years ago
this is beautiful and pretty eerie, i recovered a chair about a year ago and stained an almost identical chair that stain color, and the fabric is the same! can i take the chair off your hands so mine has a twin? nice work :)
I just wanna say: Yeah... reupholstering a couch is a LOT harder (just trace the outline on the bottom, the back, and about 3 or four times on each side and imagine that under your finger there are anywhere from 1 to four layers of staples, not to mention the upholstering process)
Valancy6 years ago
Those are lovely. I really like that fabric.Nothing like the night before to create something pretty !
jgagelvr7 years ago
Lovely job! Thanks for posting this.
Leon Close7 years ago
Hey those are nice chairs.
qdogg7 years ago
I use a hot glue gun which IMHO works better than staples. It actually fuses the fabric together w/o stress points and I can reach places inaccessable to a stapler. There is also the advantage of no sharp things to get poked w/ either now or later. Just don't get burned on the gun!
zachninme7 years ago
Wow! I bet those match the purple turkey!
canida (author)  zachninme7 years ago
Well, they match the blue turkey, but ours were unfortunately pre-brined, so I didn't get the chance to color them.
Waitwaitwait... ours -- as in more than one!? You really are crazy! I knew it all along!
Then again... 40+ people... gahh! still shocking!

By the way, nice robot swag!

Why do you have to coat them with the scotch guard? Is it just to make it more stain-resistant?

canida (author)  zachninme7 years ago
Last year we had 2x22lbs turkey; this year we had 2x15lbs, and probably should have done more. The scotch guard is to make them stain resistant at all. ;)
Dig that funky blue fabric. Curiously enough, I re-covered three chairs with some green upholstery fabric, that I'm sure is the same pattern as yours. The curious part being that I found my fabric under a layer of worn-out fabric, on a ratty old couch, that I was preparing for retirement. The couch had to be about 30 years old at the time. Good to know that the pattern is still available. By the way, you should get some plywood and foam, and upholster your milk crates as well...
carvedstars7 years ago
THANK YOU!! I've been too lazy to attempt this before.
canida (author)  carvedstars7 years ago
We waited months due entirely to laziness. It's far easier than I had thought.

What changed? Basically, my mom came to visit, called us wimps, and removed the damaged silk covers- then we had to finish them.
hahaha. Sometimes an..erm..gentle push is needed!
texabyte7 years ago
sctoh gaurd fumse r col
just kidding
smart! cool :-)