Reupholster a chair from the bones up

Picture of Reupholster a chair from the bones up
My sister inherited this lovely framed chair from our mother.  It has been reupholstered at least once before; I remember my mother and grandmother working on it for about a week when I was 8 or 9.  It made a huge mess and took up the whole living room.  Even at that age I disliked their fabric choice so I was very happy to redo it after so long.  It was quite a bit of work and I made a couple mistakes I had to fix (you won't, though, because I'll tell you how to avoid them) but it should give joy and comfortable sittings for many years.
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Tools & Materials

Picture of Tools & Materials
The tools required are not too bad of a list, although some are fairly specialized.
  • tape measure
  • hammer
  • nail remover if the hammer doesn't have one
  • nail set
  • heavy duty staple remover or large flat-head screwdriver
  • heavy duty scissors
  • webbing stretcher
  • heavy sharp curved upholstery needle
  • pneumatic stapler (electric is manageable although they suck, hand stapler possible with difficulty)
  • bolt cutter, or dremel/drill with small cutting wheel (if you got the wrong size zigzag springs)
The materials will vary a little depending on your chair and your desires, but I used the following:
  • about 4 yards of outer fabric
  • about 3 yards of inner fabric
  • a bit over a yard of fabric to cover the chair bottom
  • 2" foam, medium density, for the chair seat
  • 1" foam, medium density, for the chair back
  • several yards of Dacron batting (often comes in 3 yd packages which is enough for this kind of chair)
  • seat edge roll, enough for at least the seat bottom but nice to have on the back edges as well (see step 4)
  • jute webbing
  • couple yards of burlap
  • LOTS of staples
  • 9 pc 10" coil springs for the seat
  • 4 pc 20" zigzag springs for the back (I got 24" by accident and had to cut them down.  pick a length that is a little longer than the length of the seat back, so you get a nice curve instead of a flat back)
  • spring clips for the zigzag springs
  • "blue tacks" and "no-sag" nails, supposedly for the twine and zigzag springs respectively but I used them both for both as they were very different sizes and there had been a lot of nailing into this frame already
  • spring twine
  • thin cardboard
  • polyester upholstery thread
  • decorative upholstery nails
I took the picture after the fact and it's not complete, but most of the unusual items are in it and labeled.  Note that your chair may have perfectly fine reusable springs - those are metal and don't really break down.  I bought springs for back and seat, and reused the seat springs instead (the back did not previously have springs).  As it turned out, what SEEMED like broken springs was merely broken support webbing and twine.
saosport3 months ago

Thank you I have a chair almost exactly like this that a neighbor was throwing out. Everything is in great shape the only issue is the fabric is very dated it has been sitting just waiting for me to work up the guts to take apart a perfectly fine chair and re do it so it will fit in my decor. This has helped a lot thank you

rachel (author)  saosport3 months ago

Do it! None of the steps are all that hard, it's just time-consuming. Post a pic when you're done!

saosport rachel3 months ago

Will do, Now I just have to see if I have enough Fabric. I Plan on shortening a hand me down sectional sofa from my parents so it fits in my hose and adding the chair

rachel (author)  saosport3 months ago

Shortening a sectional! That should be interesting. I hope you can post an instructable about it, at least of how you do the cutting down, I am very curious about that!

saosport rachel3 months ago

It is going to be interesting the sectional I have is actually two pieces that lock together with a metal hook that slips into a metal slot on the mail piece. THe part I want to shorted is two cushions wide and I want to make it only one. I am hoping to drafted it out once the weather here gets a little nicer. But I will be taking pics the whole time and will hopefully make my first instructable.

instructrent3 months ago
Great in depth tutorial
deathdaisy3 months ago
very well done! both the ible and the chair.
Tezcumpapa6 months ago
I received several chairs as gifts. They are old and the fabric is a bit frayed...but now, now I see possibilities. Thank you for the great instructable.
longwinters10 months ago
What a great Instructable, I bet it took longer to write it than to do the chair.
The quality of your work showed in every step.
Thank you for taking the time great job!