How to Upholster a Chair Seat




About: I love creating. I love ART in all its forms. I am a daughter of the 50s, born in 1992. I had the pleasure to be a Featured Author on this fabulous site, and you can read my interview here: https://www.ins...

As some of you know, I've been working on some old chairs lately.
They are literally driving me crazy because their style is pretty hard to upholster! But in the meantime, I was asked to upholster another chair seat that is much easier to do and it took me about an hour to make it.

This kind of seat is very common so I hope this Instructable will be useful to you!

Before I started to work on this seat, I removed everything that was around it because it was broken, so all that was left was a wood frame. In case yours is fine and all you have to do is covering it, go to Step 4.

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Step 1: What You Need

Step 2:

First of all take your upholstery webbing. 
Fold the beginning of it so that it can't break and, using the staple gun, attach it to about one half of the wood frame, as you can see in the pictures.

The webbing must arrive to the other side of the frame so cut it where the wood ends.
Pull the webbing as tight as you can and secure it with a few staples leaving a couple of cm (0.78 inches) free. 
Like you did at the beginning, fold the end and attach it. The only difference is that it will be upside down but don't worry.

Do the same on the other half of the frame.

Now rotate the frame and repeat the same process so that there will be 2 new strips perpendicular to the first ones.
You can twist them like I did (see the pictures) but it's not really important.

Step 3:

Take a piece of fabric and cut it about 2cm (0.78 inches) bigger than the frame. 
It doesn't matter if the fabric you are using now is bad because it will be hidden.

Place it on the frame and, always folding the edges, attach it to the wood with the staple gun.

Take some upholstery batting and put it on the fabric, especially in the center, where there is no wood. This way you can give about 1cm (0.39 inches) of thickness to the middle of the seat.

Step 4:

Cut a square of upholstery foam. It must be about 2cm (0.78 inches) bigger than your seat.

Place it on the batting you added in the last step and start to attach the sides of it to the sides of the wood frame: first of all put 1 staple on each cardinal point, always pulling the sides a little. Then continue to add staples on the whole perimeter of the square.

When you arrive to the angles, cut them out and finish to attach the foam to the wood.

Step 5:

Now take the fabric you want to cover your seat with.
You must cut a piece of it that is big enough to cover the whole foam and arrive to the bottom of the seat. I'd say about 10cm (3.93 inches) bigger than the original wood frame.
As you can see, the piece of fabric I used was not an accurate square, but it doesn't matter because it will be cut and hidden at the end. 

Lay your piece of fabric upside down on the table and place your seat in the middle of it, with the foam facing the fabric.

Start to staple the 4 cardinal points first, always pulling the fabric, like you did for the foam. 
Now continue to attach all sides of the fabric to the wood.

Step 6:

Once you have attached all 4 sides, pull the fabric at the corners as tight as you can (see the pictures) and secure with the staple gun.

Finally, cut out the excess fabric.

Step 7:

You are almost done...

Remember the first square of fabric you attached? Now you have to do the same to cover the hole at the bottom of your seat.
So, you need a square of fabric about 2cm (0.78 inches) bigger than the wood frame. 
Place it on the wood.
Now instead of leaving the folding visible at the top like we did before, fold the edges on the inside and start to secure the cardinal points. Then continue to staple the fabric all around the frame, always pulling a little.

Your seat is done! All you have to do now is placing it on your chair...I am sure it's very comfortable! :D

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    23 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Finally finished 2 out of 4 chairs thanks for your helpful instructions it gave me confidence to try

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    I'm so glad to hear that! You're welcome :)


    3 years ago

    Wonderful Instructable with great photos! I've recovered many simple -to -recover chairs over the years, but, I wish I'd had your photos and instructions the first time, lol!

    I'm set to recover our dining room chairs soon, and your Instructable boosted my courage! Thanks!!

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    You're welcome, I'm glad it's helpful! :)


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Great Instructable...I've been putting off re-doing the chairs of an old dinning set we recently bought. Now I'm eager to have a go...thanks for the inspiration and the information to follow.

    1 reply

    6 years ago on Step 7

    Thanks for the detailed instructions! Looks like something even a non-handy person like myself could do.

    1 reply

    6 years ago on Introduction

    Nice to see this! I may try making a chair in the future, but wondered how hard the upholstery part might be - this gives me some confidence!

    1 reply

    6 years ago on Step 2

    I'm doin a stage in a saddlery for 3 years now; my boss is not the old-fashioned one, so he combines rather modern techniques with this profession. So from what i learned from him, for the webbing i'd suggest you to use old safety belts from junkyards as they don't brittle over time. Also grind down the inner edges of the frame to make things lesser sharp. Then use tiny nails instead of staples: we cut a small piece of leather, lay it across the belt and nail it with three nails in a row, then fold over the end of the belt and add four more nails in a trapezoid shape. On the other end of the belt, you can use this tool (can commonly been purchased at fleamarkets and ebay from ppl who dunno what it is): - the spikes can be pushed through the belt on the downside - on the other end of the tool is a reversed edge which can be hooked onto the edge of the frame - you press down the tool and keep it strained with your hips. This way you got your hands free to hammer the second end of the belt...

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Step 2

    Thank you so much for your advice!
    My father has been an upholsterer most of his life so what I do is what I am learning from him. But like I said, I am still learning so this will be very useful to me :) thank you again!