Recovering your dining chair seats with great new fabric can give your home the lift it needs. Just a little fabric and very little effort will yield a lot of bang for your decorating buck. This simple do-it-yourself project is sure to impress your family and friends over the holidays and throughout the year. Haberman Fabrics offers these helpful instructions.
First consider your lifestyle along with your decorating style when selecting fabrics. Finding the perfect fabric is easy at Haberman Fabrics. We offer a broad range of fine upholstery fabrics in contemporary, retro and traditional styles, even multi-purpose indoor/outdoor and performance fabrics for heavy-use dining, at very affordable prices, plus the supplies to do the job. What’s more, we’re happy to share our expertise to guide you.
- Staple knocker (remover)
- Staple gun
- 1/4” chisel point staples
- Tape measure
- Sharp point marker
- Needle nose pliers
- Tailor’s chalk
- Pins and an awl
- Ice pick or medium-size nail
- Hi-density foam (1”-2” thick for most seats)
- Cotton batting to soften the sharp edges of high density foam and add loft. OR use polyester batting for a more sleek, contemporary result
- Optional: FabricTac® glue; cambric fabric for covering the bottom; Pattern Ease® for creating fabric pattern
Step-By-Step Seat Recovering
Unscrew base at corners to remove chair seat (base) from frame.
- Remove staples from entire seat base.
- Measure-Mark-Cut. Measure seat to estimate foam, batting and fabric requirements. Most upholstery fabrics are 54” wide. When you use solid color or very small patterned fabric, a 3/4 yard piece of fabric will yield two 27”-square seat covers, cut side-by-side. If you choose a larger design repeat, you may need more yardage to allow for centering and matching.
For centering designs, cut a 27”-square of pattern-making paper (or Pattern-Ease®), lay it over the design you are centering and mark before cutting with tailor’s chalk. Don’t skimp. You’ll need enough fabric to reach over the padding materials and enough extra to hold while you staple. With tailor’s chalk, mark the chair front and back on the wrong side of each fabric square before cutting, to make sure you’re keeping fabric naps and directional designs running in the same direction. Cut your chair seat fabric.
- Place seat bases underside up. Measure depth and width; then divide each number in half to determine center measurements. On each seat base mark centers and “clock” positions: 12:00, 3:00, 6:00 and 9:00. Use a ruler and marker to draw lines connecting 12:00 to 6:00 and 3:00 to 9:00.
- Lay a seat base on the foam and trace it with marker. If you’re using 1” thick foam, cut it with regular sewing shears. You may need an electric knife for thicker foam. Repeat for all seat bases. Put the foam on top of each seat base. Option: Glue foam to base.
- Lay the batting on top of the foam and smooth it over the edges to the underside of the seat base. Gently tear away the excess bulk.
- a. Put your fabric over the batting and foam layers. If the seat has a definite front and back, be sure to place the fabric in the proper direction. Check fabric placement.
b. Carefully flip all layers over so the underside of the seat base is on top.
- Begin stapling your fabric to the seat base, using “clock positions” markings as a guide. Do centers first, followed by a couple staples on each side of centers. Continue until you are 2”-3” from each corner. Keep a consistent pressure and tension on the fabric while stapling. If any part looks too tight or baggy, remove staples, adjust and re-staple the fabric. Keep the row of staples the same distance from the seat base edge. Stay clear of the screw holes.
- a. Put a staple in the center of each corner. Make a series of small, uniform pleats or tucks on either side of that centered staple to keep the top side looking smooth. Staple each pleat as you make it. Remove and re-staple as needed.
b. Go over all the staples with a few taps of the hammer to be sure all staples have embedded into the seat base. Replace any warped or mangled staples.
- Trim your fabric down to within 3/4” or 1” of the row of staples.
- Option: For a more finished look, cover your seat base, upholstery staples and all raw fabric edges with a piece of cambric fabric. Trace the seat base onto the cambric with tailor’s chalk. Cut out and turn under 1/2” – 1” along all edges. Press folded edges down. Attach to underside of seat base with staples, tacks or FabricTac® glue. If gluing, apply a thin bead of glue around the entire perimeter of the cambric. If using staples or tacks, do only the corners and centers.
- Find the corner screw holes; use a nail, ice pick or awl to punch a visible hole in the cambric and/or upholstery layers. Replace the seat with screws.
- Graciously accept compliments from one and all.