Tips on Upholstering Different Furniture

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For big, all-around, and total reupholstering, you have to be a sewing nut and a pretty good tailor to battle your way through. You can, however, redo upholstering on many different pieces of furniture by rethinking them. You fold under, tuck and tack where those neat little sewn gussets are, forget cording and that sort of thing. I have done it, but the whole routine is so “figure it out as you go along” that to try to tell you how would only lead you down the garden path. Now, on to the simpler things in life…

Dining Chairs

Flip over the chairs. If the seats do not fall out, you’ll be able to see where and how they are fastened. Then, remove the seat. The fabric or plastic covering is usually tacked or stapled to the board that forms the bottom seat. Dig out the tacks or staples with a screwdriver and remove the material to use as a pattern. Many times it’s easier, if the cushioning doesn’t have to be replaced, simply to measure and cover right over the old one with the new. If the cushioning has been too thin or is shot, buy either a slab of thick foam and cut to size, or a thin sheet to add to the present cushion. Allow a little extra material when you cut the covering fabric because the new cushioning may be thicker than the old. It will also be easier to grasp the material when you staple or tack it down.

Use a razor blade knife to cut the foam. Draw a line to guide you and cut lightly in short strokes rather than drag the blade along as you would for cardboard. The thicker the foam, the more akin to major surgery it becomes. Use the fingers of your other hand to pull apart the surface of the foam and cut through to the bottom. Don’t worry if it isn’t exactly straight. Foam tends to fill in and compensate for your mistakes unless you end up way off your mark. If you do lose your way, cut off an extra piece of foam and stuff it in the spot as you put the cover on. Use one of the old seats as a guide for folding the corners of the covering material and be sure to pull the material as taut as you can. Staple and tack down. That’s all there is to it.


If the stools are already upholstered, follow the same method as you did for the chair seats. If not, and the stools are wood, do a bit of figuring to determine how much material and foam you’ll need. Fit, tack, or staple on the underside. You’ll have to work around the legs, but if you’ve ever turned a hem, you won’t have any trouble.


These are ideal for extra sitting space, decoration, and catch-alls, especially in apartments. You can custom build a bench by buying some legs and attachment plates at some hardware stores. Buy plywood the same size as you want your bench to be. A long bench, five feet or over, should have six legs. For a shorter bench, four legs are fine. Screw on the plates that you can buy with the legs, first in the corners. Screw the legs into the plates and set the bench on its feet. Buy a thick slab of foam. If you can’t find one piece long enough, buy pieces to make the needed size and butt them tightly together. Cut off any extra. You can also buy the thinner sheets of foam and build a layer cake to the thickness you want.

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