How to Reupholster an Armchair

Item # X-HT-200668

Do you have an old armchair that is looking dated but otherwise is still comfortable and nice? Pieces like that are the perfect candidates for new upholstery. Upholstery projects can look really intimidating, but if you take your time and work step-by-step they aren’t as tricky as they seem. If you can use a staple gun and do simple sewing, you can re-upholster a chair.

Our chair we're going to make over

Here’s our chair that we’re giving a makeover. The frame of the chair is still sturdy and the cushions are plush and comfortable to sit on, but the upholstery is dated and we just weren’t loving the look of it anymore. We’re going to recover this chair in floral fabric, P/Kaufmann Temara Tumeric, and remove the skirt from the bottom to give it a more modern feel.

Different chairs can be very different on the insides, but many of the principles are the same, so although your chair may not be exactly like ours, you can use the techniques outlined in the video to redo most any upholstered chair.

Since we chose a patterned fabric for our chair, you will see Cindi carefully patterning the fabric pieces so the main flower in our pattern is centered on the chair. This does use more fabric and takes a little more thought, but the end result will look professional. She breaks down all of her methods in the video, so you'll also be able to align your fabric's pattern in the most eye-catching way.

Finished, reupholstered armchair.

In this video, we’ll show you how to systematically disassemble and reassemble your chair and how to use cardboard and metal tack strips in your upholstery to get clean edges. You’ll also learn how to make bias piping and how to apply it to the edges of your chair.

Our chair has an upholstered frame with removable cushions for the seat and the backrest. This first video will only cover the upholstery of the frame. Watch the companion video, "How to Make Armchair Cushions" (#200669XHT), to see how to sew the seat and backrest cushions.

Video Chapters:

  • Evaluating the Chair – 0:50 min
  • Removing Old Upholstered Fabric – 2:16 min
  • Patterning and Installing:
    • Deck – 14:43 min
    • Inside Arm – 42:16 min
    • Inside Back – 01:01:22 min
    • Outside Arms – 01:07:07 min
    • Outside Back – 01:14:07 min
    • Front Arm Stump Panel – 01:24:02 min
  • Making Piping – 01:30:20 min
  • Applying Piping – 01:35:09 min
  • Applying Dust Cover – 01:41:15 min
  • Fastening Front Arm Stump Panel – 01:43:00 min
  • Materials List – 01:45:15 min

Materials List:

  • Home Décor Fabric (we used P/Kaufmann Temara Tumeric fabric #105382)
  • V-69 Nylon Thread
  • Polyester Batting #100158
  • 1/2" Cardboard Upholstery Tack Strip #106420
  • Cotton Braided Piping #104888
  • Black Cambric Dust Cover Fabric #106739
  • 27" Upholstery Tack Strip #106422
  • 21 Gauge 1/2" (12mm) Staples 10,000/Box (Galvanized #8012GZ
  • Twine #29206

Tools List:

  • Tack & Staple Remover #104319
  • Rawhide Upholstery Mallet #106423
  • Seam Ripper Deluxe #18104
  • Multiuse Pins #102985
  • Assorted Curved Hand Sewing Needles #100100
  • Sailrite® Long Nose Upholstery Staple Gun #121411
  • Comfort Grip Rotary Cutter 60mm #9655
  • Cutting Mat 18" x 24" #102990
  • Clear Acrylic Ruler 6" x 24" #102400
  • Marker
  • Pliers
  • Wire Cutters
  • Scissors
  • Tape Measure
  • Twine
  • Pencil
  • Nails
  • Sewing Machine

If you’re unsure how much fabric you need for your chair re-upholstery project, check out our helpful Fabric Calculator which provides general estimates for a variety of upholstery projects.