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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

How to Recover Any Chair

This chair is begging to be recovered.

This particular upholstery project is not really for beginner sewers.  (That is sewer as in "one that sews" and not sewer as in "pipes of sewage"). If you consider yourself a competent sewer, then go for it. You can reupholster! If you can't sew, then there are plenty of reupholstery projects you can do, just not this one. 

First step: Take pictures. Lots of pictures. From every angle. Continue to take more pictures.

Step two: Start taking the staples out. There is probably one spot on your chair where the staples are exposed. That is where you should start. You will need a thin flat head screwdriver that is not very wide. Wedge it under a staple and tap it with a lightweight hammer. Don't stab yourself with the screwdriver! Well, you will, but don't be a baby about it. A heavy hammer will wear you out. Get a nice girly hammer. It's what every girl needs. When the whole staple doesn't come out, have your needle nose pliers handy to pull them out. Dump your staples in a cup or something so the two year old doesn't eat them. All two year-olds want to know what staples taste like. 

You will run into some little cardboard strips. You will destroy them.

Don't try to reuse them. You can buy a roll of this stuff from craft stores.

Now that you've removed the first layer of staples and fabric, take another picture. You're going to consult these when you're putting your chair back together. So take pictures every time you get something off of your chair.

Keep all the fabric to use as a guide to cutting your new fabric.

You will probably have some metal tack strips like this:

Wedge your screwdriver underneath and pry it up a little at a time.

Try not to bend it, because you will reuse these. But you can always bend it back. And make sure those little spikes are sticking straight up. And don't step on it!

If you see any cardboard (besides the little strips), try to keep that in good shape so you can reuse it.

Step three: Now that you've taken your whole chair apart, (I'm so proud of you!), you'll need your seam ripper. You're going to rip all the seams, so you can lay the fabric on top of your fabric in order to cut the same shape. If there is piping, you may be able to reuse that too, but if you aren't going to use it, you don't have to take it apart. This is the nice, quiet part that you can do while your kids are sleeping.

Step four: Cutting the fabric. If you are using striped fabric or any other fabric that you want the pattern to line up, cut your widest piece first. Mark the center and line it up with each piece as you cut it.

You may be tempted to cut your fabric a little on the large size so you have room for error. I've done it. You can learn from my mistake. That will make your cushion all loose and floppy looking.

Step five: The hardest part. Time to sew. You probably want to use a zipper foot to sew your piping, if you have any. Save time and sew all the piping at one time.

 Sew everything together just like it was when you took it apart. Good luck! You can do it! I hope.

Step six: Staple gun! The fun part! I tried a manual staple gun and an electric staple gun, and I wasn't happy with either of those. They weren't putting the staples in far enough. My husband already had an air tank, so I got a pneumatic staple gun for about $30 and it's awesome!

Consult your pictures so you can put everything on in the right places.

Ta da!

I feel so accomplished!

 Have you ever recovered anything? Let me know how your projects go.


  1. Great Job! I've never reupholstered anything but now I want to find something to try it out on! :)

  2. Wow! That looks like a ton of work but fun!

  3. I really like the stripey fabric you chose! It's so fun! And kudos for keeping track of which pieces go where. I think that's where I'd mess up. Someday, I am going to try this though!