How to Upholster an Antique Chair Seat

Written by louise harding
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From wainscot chairs to the stately Queen Anne, antique chairs are reminders of history. With age comes wear, however, and there comes a time when the seat must be reupholstered. You can do it yourself with new fabric and a few basic tools.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Fabric
  • Lightweight polyester or cotton batting
  • Staple gun
  • Scissors
  • Tape measure
  • Paper for pattern
  • Straight pins

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  1. 1

    Remove the chair seat. The seat is usually connected to the frame by screws and bolts. Very old chairs may have the seat nailed.

  2. 2

    Decide if you want to remove the old upholstery. Many antique chair seats are stuffed with horsehair, straw, sawdust or a combination of these items. Sometimes the mess that ensues is not worth the hassle, and upholstering over the worn fabric is the best course.

  3. 3

    Measure the width and length of the chair seat and add 4 inches to both measurements.

  4. 4

    Draw the shape of the seat on paper according to the measurements. Cut out the pattern.

  5. 5

    Place the lightweight batting on a flat surface and pin the pattern on top. Cut out one piece of batting for each chair seat being re-covered.

  6. 6

    Remove the pattern from the batting and pin the pattern to the right side of the fabric. Cut one piece of fabric for each chair being upholstered.

  7. 7

    Place the chair seat on a flat surface. Cover the seat with the batting and pin it around the edge to hold it in place. Turn the seat over.

  8. 8

    Staple the batting under the seat. Pull the batting taut as it is being stapled. Trim excess batting no closer than 1 1/2 inches from the staples.

  9. 9

    Turn the seat right side up and place the fabric on top. Pin it, then turn the seat over.

  10. 10

    Staple the fabric under the seat and over the batting, pulling the fabric taut but not too tight as it is being stapled. Trim the excess fabric no closer than 1 1/2 inches to the staples.

  11. 11

    Turn the seat over and reaffix it to the chair frame.

Tips and warnings

  • Depending on the chair, the seat may have to be secured to the frame before the fabric is completely stapled to cover screws or nails. Leave a 1-inch gap between the seat and the frame and use a dowel to poke the fabric edges through. Turn the chair upside down to finish stapling. Cover the fabric with a towel before nailing the seat into place.

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