I found a recliner beside a Dumpster. The bones were good, but it needed a new seat because the vinyl had holes with stuffing coming through. I looked all over online for instructions, but had to figure this out on my own. I hope this helps someone else. Total cost for this project -- $2 in upholstery fabric -- $3 for fabric glue -- for a total of $5, give or take a few cents.
Step 1: Measure the Fabric for Your Seat.
I found a box of upholstery fabric at a yard sale a few years ago. The larger sample pieces were 26 inches by 28 inches, which worked for this project.
For a recliner seat, measure the fabric larger than where you want to lay it -- leaving a 1/2 inch on the left, right and front. Leave about 4 inches of fabric on the back to glue and tuck into the back of the recliner.
The 1/2 inch edge on the left, right and front will be folded under, glued and stitched.
Step 2: Glue Fabric Down
I used fabric glue. I've found this glue to be very good for all fabric projects. It's flexible and that's important for this project because people will be sitting on it which would shift the fabric considerably if it wasn't secured.
I laid down a thin layer all over the vinyl surface and working from the middle, laid the fabric on top and smoothed it out.
Step 3: Start Stitching Around Edges
Start on the front of the seat. Use an upholsery needle (curved needle) and button craft thread or any heavy weight thread like quilting or upholstery thread.
Fold the edge of the fabric under where you want to sew. Push the needle down and bring it up under the vinyl and fabric with a pair of pliers. When it's pushed through, use the pliers to pull the needle the rest of the way through. The push-then-pull method with the pliers takes a little while to get used to, but gets easier as you practice.
I made my stitches fairly large and spaced far apart. The important thing is just to secure the edge of the fabric to the edge of the seat.
Step 4: Fix the Corners
Cut a small triangle off the ends of the corners so you can fold it around. Fold the corners under and lay down a small line of glue underneath the fabric on the vinyl. Secure with small clamps if you want, or just continue to sew without the help of the clamps. I found the clamps helpful in keeping the fabric folded under until I could get it sewn.
Step 5: Finish Sewing
Sew the edges down on the sides and front, but leave the back to glue down. Lay down a line of glue on the vinyl at the back and tuck the extra fabric into the area between the seat and the recliner back. This will let there be a little give in the fabric when someone sits down.
For a few dollars in fabric and glue, a Dumpster chair now has a new home.
If you have extra fabric, you could always make arm covers or throw pillows to bring the design together. Hope this helps!