Ok, so I want to warn anyone that is reading this because they want to learn how to reupholster something.  I did not look at any tutorials or take any classes or anything.  This is also only the second chair that I've done and the other one was super simple because it was like a dining room chair...so this is really the first big piece of furniture that I've done.  I'm an internal processor and I've had this chair for a year or so and every time I looked at it, subconsciously, the wheels in the back of my mind would be turning on how something like this would be put together and taken apart.  For the most part, the internal plan I came up with was correct and there were only two surprises when I made this.  The rule of reupholstering stays the same: you have to take it apart in the exact opposite steps that the builder used to put it together, and then you have to remember what steps you take and do the opposite to put it back together (I recommend taking pictures so that you can just quickly scan through them in the reverse order that you took them).  If you do this, reupholstering something is not that difficult.  So here is my chair and the plan of attack.
I know, its a sad little chair.  The blue fabric is pretty dingy with age. The wood is scuffed and chipped.  I mean hey, you get what you pay for when it only costs you $5 at a thrift store.  Despite its rough edges, it did have pretty decent bones to it.

Looking above is how I went about taking it apart.
1.  Removing bolts that were keeping the cushion attached (If you don't have a removable frame to your chair just ignore  steps 1 & 2, but everything else is applicable)
2. Removing screws that were keeping the cushion attached
3.  Almost always the first thing on any chair (not counting the frame) that is removed is the cheap bottom sheet
4.  Almost always, the second thing to be removed is the back panel.  Once 3 &4 are removed, it reveals all of the other staples you get to remove.
5.  Based on how the fabric on this chair was layered, the front of the top cushion was removed
6.  Last, the fabric on the seat was removed

This means to put it back together, the steps that will be taken are
1.  Replace the fabric on the seat
2. Replace the fabric on the top cushion
3.  Replace the back panel
4. Replace the bottom cover (I'm skipping this part because the original is already ripped and I'm too cheap to waste fabric on something no one will see)
5. Replace the screws
6. Replace the bolts so that the chair is back on its frame

Simple enough...
See, its not very complicated looking once its off its frame.
This next part was a little more complicated but still not hard to deal with
Use the old fabric as the pattern for the new fabric.  The blue fabric you see is scrap fabric that I am using as the pull through fabric to create the creases.
I don't have many pictures of the stapling everything back together because that is a two person job...but just remember to staple in all of the same places that it was stapled before with the old fabric.
Originally, I had wanted to sand the wood down and stain it a different color, but I realized that when I held up the new fabric against the wood, I actually really liked the stain color.  It was nice getting to skip the sanding down part.  However, this wood has been really scuffed up so I still had to fix that.  I remembered from my architecture days, that Chartpak markers actually work great to stain wood.  I still have my set of markers so I picked a brown one and thankfully it was almost a perfect match to this stain.  I definitely recommend Chartpak markers for little scuffs.  The chair looks like I re-stained the whole thing when in reality it took me 10 min to color over all of the scuffs on the chair. (and no I did not touch up this photo at all in photoshop) 
So, after the wood was repaired and the new fabric was stapled on, re-screw your chair into the frame and you are done!  This project only took us two evenings to do, and a grand total of $12. ($5 for the chair, $7 for the fabric...I had the staple gun and staples on hand already).  I love how cheery it is and how it helps to brighten up our living room!
And no, I don't call the porch "our living room,"  its just impossible to get a good picture inside because we have tiny windows and the wood paneling sucks up any light that does get in.  Anyway, hope this was encouraging to anyone who wanted to try to reupholster something but was afraid to try.

And much thanks to my wonderful husband who helps me whenever I need it on projects like this.


09/23/2012 05:12

Hi! I have the same chair as you and I'm dying to reupholster it. Thanks so much for your detailed tutorial. How did you put the fabric on the back of the chair on? I can't tell from your pictures. Thanks!


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