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My daughter came back from college for the summer and wanted an upholstered arm chair for her bedroom.  Since, as I mentioned, I have a kid in college, buying a new arm chair wasn't in the budget.  Nor was I crazy about buying used fabric covered furniture because of bedbugs, smoke, pet odors, etc.  So I looked around the house to see what I could come up with.  

Step 1: Vintage Chair to Vintage Flair (Upholstering a Wooden Chair)

I had this old chair that my dad had purchased at a thrift store back in the 60's.  My daughter and I made a trip to the fabric store and purchased some foam and material.  I used  upholstery tacks, a staple gun, quilt batting, cardboard, scissors, and a hammer.  

Step 2: Vintage Chair to Vintage Flair (Upholstering a Wooden Chair)

It had some structural problems.  So the first step  is adding several screws to make sure everything holds together.  I am going to be flipping this chair around a lot.  

Step 3: Vintage Chair to Vintage Flair (Upholstering a Wooden Chair)

Next step is making a pattern of the seat shape.  I had an old piece of pink material that I laid across the seat and traced the outline on.  

Step 4: Vintage Chair to Vintage Flair (Upholstering a Wooden Chair)

It doesn't have to be perfect. I just need a rough guide for cutting the foam.  

Step 5: Vintage Chair to Vintage Flair (Upholstering a Wooden Chair)

Then I put the pattern on a piece of foam that I purchased from my local Hancock Fabrics store.  It is made from soy and supposed to be green (ecologically friendly.)  It was also on sale.  (my major motivation) The foam is 2 inches thick, so I plowed through it with scissors.  An electric knife would work much better.  If the foam was thicker or I was doing more than one of these, I might have tried to find one.  

Step 6: Vintage Chair to Vintage Flair (Upholstering a Wooden Chair)

The foam was green.  I mean really, physically green.  So I decided to put a layer of muslin on first, so the green wouldn't show throw my print fabric.  Plus, I figured it would make the upholstry stronger to have 2 layers.  Next, I draped the  muslin over the foam and cut out a rough seat shape with plenty of overhang.  Later, it occured to me I could have used my pattern I just made and added all around.  Ah, hindsight.  

Step 7: Vintage Chair to Vintage Flair (Upholstering a Wooden Chair)

Then I pulled the fabric down around the seat and stapled it in place.  Where it met the legs and arm supports, I cut a small slit in the fabric.  Small.  It is much easier to cut more than to fix a slit that is too big.  

Step 8: Vintage Chair to Vintage Flair (Upholstering a Wooden Chair)

The stapled muslin right side up.  

Step 9: Vintage Chair to Vintage Flair (Upholstering a Wooden Chair)

I put the second piece of foam on the chair and just traced around it.  Then I cut it out.  See the extra on the top?  I am going to be using that shortly.  

Step 10: Vintage Chair to Vintage Flair (Upholstering a Wooden Chair)

Foam back in place.  I draped it with muslin and stapled again.  

Step 11: Vintage Chair to Vintage Flair (Upholstering a Wooden Chair)

Using the piece of foam left over at the top of the back piece, I cut out two arm pieces.  

Step 12: Vintage Chair to Vintage Flair (Upholstering a Wooden Chair)

Drape and staple again.

Step 13: Vintage Chair to Vintage Flair (Upholstering a Wooden Chair)

The back looks pretty bad at this point.  So I cut a piece of cardboard to fit over the back.  

Step 14: Vintage Chair to Vintage Flair (Upholstering a Wooden Chair)

Then I cut a piece of quilt batting, a piece of muslin, and a piece of the final fabric.  Love this print.  Love the fact that it was half price on the clearance table.  

Step 15: Vintage Chair to Vintage Flair (Upholstering a Wooden Chair)

I sewed the three layers of fabric around the cardboard.  This long thread tangles easily.  

Step 16: Vintage Chair to Vintage Flair (Upholstering a Wooden Chair)

Finished back. 

Step 17: Vintage Chair to Vintage Flair (Upholstering a Wooden Chair)

It's time for more draping and stapling, this time with the print fabric.   

Step 18: Vintage Chair to Vintage Flair (Upholstering a Wooden Chair)

Almost there.  

Step 19: Vintage Chair to Vintage Flair (Upholstering a Wooden Chair)

Now I turned the chair over and used upholstry tacks to fasten the cardboard cover down.  I always buy twice as many tacks (.97 at Walmart) as I think I need, because I invariably hit about every third one wrong.  Then it bends over instead of going into the chair back.  This 50+ year old oak was especially hard, so I ruined a lot of tacks.  

Step 20: Vintage Chair to Vintage Flair (Upholstering a Wooden Chair)

Finally, I covered the bottom with a piece of cardboard.  I could have covered it with fabric, too, but I was tired at this point.  Nobody will be looking under the chair, anyway.  

Step 21:

The finished chair.  If I was doing this for chair that would get more use, I would have used upholstery material.  Since this one is mostly decorative, the apparel fabric will work. 
<p>I just came across this tutorial! I'm thinking of upholstering my dining room chairs. The bottoms are already padded and sadly I dont have arms, so my only challenge will be the back. But from looking at what you accomplished, I have faith mine will go smoothly!</p>
Mine is holding up well, especially considering I didn't use upholstry fabric. <br>
<p>I need your expertise! I love how you upholstered the wooden chair and want to do the same thing. Can you explain more explicitly about the slit you cut in Step 7??? Where's the slit? What direction? What does it do? MANY THANKS ~ I hope you can answer soon!</p>
Hey, Susan, good luck on your chair. I can't claim much expertise on this as I was pretty much making it up as I went along. When you pull the fabric around to staple it, the legs are of course in the way. I pulled the fabric around and put a staple on either side of the leg. Then you take the piece that is sticking out in front of the leg and cut it in half, so you can pull it around the leg. I just cut a small slit and pulled it round to check fit. It is easier to to cut a small slit and then cut some more if you need to. When you are satisfied with the fit staple both sides. <br><br>The chair is holding up well, it is going on 3 years now. Hope this helps.
Whoa! I just reupholstered a chair for my sister and this came up. Nice job on working with a chair not intended for upholstery! I would never have thought of doing that. And it came out really well :)
Thanks. It's holding up nicely so far.

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