How to Reupholster a Dining Chair + Straying from your “usual” type of project


My favorite pieces to paint are vintage and antique furniture.  The details, scrolls, and craftsmanship are almost unmatched in modern day pieces.  There’s just something so satisfying about taking a neglected dresser, table, or chair that was loved decades ago and transforming it into a beautiful, usable piece again.

Can I get an amen?

But sometimes, you come across a challenge that is different than your “usual” type of project.

Like these chairs.  If you had an opportunity to do something with these, what would you do?

Reupholster DIY Dining Chair Makeover - Girl in the Garage

These are the dining chairs my family used for ten years – ever since my husband and I got married and bought our first house – until we finally got a brand new set a few weeks ago.  They’re very well used and I honestly considered just donating them to Goodwill because I didn’t want to mess with them.

They’re basic leathery Parsons chairs, with nothing special about them – quite different than the pieces I usually decide to redo.  However I’m not one to turn down a challenge, so off to Hobby Lobby I went and found some gorgeous new script fabric to reupholster these babies.

First things first, everything has to come apart…  (Warning: There are tons of photos because I wanted to be thorough for you guys!)

Reupholster DIY Dining Chair Makeover - Girl in the Garage

When you’re attempting this kind of project – one that you’ll have to put back together in a very specific way – take photos along the way so you can refer back later.  Also, put all the screws, bolts, and washers in a sandwich bag so they don’t get lost (you might want to label them if there are different sizes and you tend to be forgetful).

Reupholster DIY Dining Chair Makeover - Girl in the Garage

Next, remove all of the staples from the upholstery.  You can use a staple remover, but I usually grab a thin flathead screwdriver and needle nose pliers.  (I need to finally invest in a good staple remover.)

If you’re working on a Parsons chair like this one, when you take it all apart the back will look like this:

Reupholster DIY Dining Chair Makeover - Girl in the Garage

Gently remove the leather – you may need to use it as a pattern for the new fabric.

Thankfully all the padding was still in excellent condition.

Reupholster DIY Dining Chair Makeover - Girl in the Garage

Lay the new fabric over the back and cut off the excess – leave extra though “just in case.”  You can always cut more off later.

Reupholster DIY Dining Chair Makeover - Girl in the Garage

Then flip the fabric with the printed side facing inward and wrap it around the chair back.  Make sure the pattern is straight and pin around the edges.

Reupholster DIY Dining Chair Makeover - Girl in the Garage

If your pattern looks the same from any angle, you can choose to use it lengthwise over the chair instead so you wouldn’t have a seam at the top.  However, since I chose a script design, I had to do it this way or the script would be upside down on the back.

Think of it almost like you’re making a pillowcase.

Reupholster DIY Dining Chair Makeover - Girl in the Garage

Slide your fabric off over the top and then sew along the pinned lines.

Reupholster DIY Dining Chair Makeover - Girl in the Garage

Try it on for size and then make adjustments as necessary.  When I knew the size was right, I went back and stitched along the lines again and then cut off the excess fabric.  I also ironed it again since this time it would be going on the chair permanently.

Reupholster DIY Dining Chair Makeover - Girl in the Garage

Cut, fold, and staple using the original fabric as an example.

Reupholster DIY Dining Chair Makeover - Girl in the Garage

For the seat, lay out and cut the fabric – leaving enough to fold it underneath when stapling.

Reupholster DIY Dining Chair Makeover - Girl in the Garage

Every time I remove old upholstery and staples I get an injury.  🙁

Also, I started stapling the seat and then my stapler got jammed and apparently I broke it while trying to fix it.  (I don’t believe there’s any such thing as a completely drama-free project!)

Reupholster DIY Dining Chair Makeover - Girl in the Garage

Here’s a look at the underside of one of the corners.  Those always seem to be a little tricky…

Reupholster DIY Dining Chair Makeover - Girl in the Garage

And this is Mr. GITG’s heavy duty Dewalt staple gun that I had to use after my cheapo one from Hobby Lobby broke.  After adjusting the settings it worked just fine, but definitely made my hands sore afterward!  He also has a pneumatic stapler that I still need to try…

Reupholster DIY Dining Chair Makeover - Girl in the Garage

When the seat’s all finished, the bottom should look something like this:

Reupholster DIY Dining Chair Makeover - Girl in the Garage

Use your hardware to put it all back together and then you’ll have a perfectly (maybe imperfect, if it’s like mine) pretty reupholstered dining chair.

Keep going until you have a full set of these lovelies and then it’s time for a dinner party!

Reupholster DIY Dining Chair Makeover - Girl in the Garage

Here’s a closeup of the front corner:

Reupholster DIY Dining Chair Makeover - Girl in the Garage

Here’s a side view:

Reupholster DIY Dining Chair Makeover - Girl in the Garage

View of the top corner and seams:

Reupholster DIY Dining Chair Makeover - Girl in the Garage

Back view:

Reupholster DIY Dining Chair Makeover - Girl in the Garage

Front of the seat:

Reupholster DIY Dining Chair Makeover - Girl in the Garage

And the script fabric.  I fell in love with it and planned on redoing two chairs for today (and possibly all 4 of them), plus I had a coupon, so I bought FOUR yards of it.  Holy cow that’s a ton of fabric.  (By the way, this is duck cloth – the type of fabric I usually buy for reupholstering.)

Reupholster DIY Dining Chair Makeover - Girl in the Garage

Obviously I only finished one chair so far, because we took our two older boys out of town for a mini vacation.  And then I had those darn stapler problems.  But hey, here’s a peek at our new dining set.  🙂

Ashley Dining Set

Whew, that was a lot of photos!  I hope you guys find them useful and feel confident now to tackle this kind of project yourself.  The most important advice is to use the original fabric as a pattern and take photos while you’re taking the chair apart so you’ll know exactly what to do and how to put it back together.

And who knows, maybe you’ll be inspired to redo a piece of furniture that’s not your “usual” style and you’d almost rather just donate it to Goodwill.  Take a chance and see what comes of it!

Reupholster DIY Dining Chair Makeover - Girl in the Garage

So tell me – what’s your “usual” type of makeover?  Do you have a favorite style or type of furniture?  I’d love to know!

Jen

P.S.  Did you guys notice that I did an entire furniture makeover with no paint?!  😉

Now it’s time for more Trash to Treasure makeovers from my friends.

trash-to-treasure-800x800

These are the Before photos – click any of the links below to see the After and read the tutorial.

Trash to Treasure makeovers

1. Artsy Chicks Rule
2. Confessions of a Serial DIYer
3. Bless’er House
4. Prodigal Pieces

Also, upload your best Trash to Treasure makeovers to Instagram with the hashtag #trashtotreasuretransformation – you could be featured on 5 feeds and win a prize package!  Visit my Instagram profile @jen_girlinthegarage for more details.

If this project has inspired you, please share it with others.


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16 Comments on How to Reupholster a Dining Chair + Straying from your “usual” type of project

  1. Larissa ~ Prodigal Pieces
    November 8, 2016 at 5:11 am (9 months ago)

    What an amazing new look! They are so refreshed and love the fabric you chose, Jen. Ooh, la, la!

    Reply
  2. gwen
    November 8, 2016 at 5:20 am (9 months ago)

    love the new look! what you didn’t mention but was very noticeable in the photos is that the seam on the back of the chair is toward the back, and not in the middle – that looks so much nicer than the easier way i would have thought to do it! the corners on the seat look fabulous too! once, i used ‘our’ pneumatic stapler and blew right through the wood – so be very careful to set the pressure that’s appropriate for the wood! (love the new dining room chairs too!)

    Reply
  3. Geri Ann
    November 8, 2016 at 6:42 am (9 months ago)

    Love this tutorial…I’ll be doing this with mine! Thanks so much for posting…

    Reply
  4. Marcie Lovett
    November 8, 2016 at 5:49 pm (9 months ago)

    Wow. You almost make it look easy! What a transformation a little fabric makes.

    Reply
  5. Linda
    November 8, 2016 at 5:49 pm (9 months ago)

    Well done! Wondering WHERE you found that material to upholster the chairs with, sure would like to have it myself!!

    Reply
    • Jen
      November 8, 2016 at 6:46 pm (9 months ago)

      Thank you, Linda! The fabric is from Hobby Lobby (duck cloth).

      Reply
      • Linda
        November 8, 2016 at 7:21 pm (9 months ago)

        Thanks so much, will be looking for it!!

        Reply
  6. vicki
    November 8, 2016 at 5:52 pm (9 months ago)

    Great job! Love it! Can you share where you found that script fabric?

    Reply
    • Jen
      November 8, 2016 at 6:47 pm (9 months ago)

      Thanks so much, Vicki! The fabric is from Hobby Lobby (duck cloth).

      Reply
  7. Christy@Confessions of Serial Do-it-Yourselfer
    November 8, 2016 at 9:21 pm (9 months ago)

    Wow, Jen! You really gave that sad leather chair a whole new life!! I would have totally passed those by had I seen them in the thrift store, but the one you did looks SO good! And I too can’t seem to escape an upholstery project unscathed lol! My hands just look awful! XO
    Christy@Confessions of Serial Do-it-Yourselfer recently posted…Child’s Antique Desk MakeoverMy Profile

    Reply
  8. Marie from The Interior Frugalista
    November 9, 2016 at 2:33 am (9 months ago)

    I had parsons chairs exactly like yours and for a couple of years contemplated reupholstering them. I chickened out and ended up giving them to my daughter. After reading your excellent tutorial, I’m kicking myself for not doing it because they were so comfortable. Pinning to share.
    Marie from The Interior Frugalista recently posted…Rustic Wood Centerpiece Boxes repurposed for ChristmasMy Profile

    Reply
  9. Lorna Price
    July 26, 2017 at 5:55 am (2 days ago)

    Thanks for detailed photos, I have 12 of these to do for the grand dining room before our house goes up for sale, so really appreciate your insightful tutorial. 🙂

    Reply
    • Jen
      July 26, 2017 at 10:45 pm (21 hours ago)

      Oh my, good luck! Be sure to pace yourself. 🙂

      Reply

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