How to re-cover dining chair seats

Updated February 21, 2017

One yard of fabric will cover two dining room chair seats. This means re-covering your chair seats is an inexpensive way to add colour and detail to a room. Do not limit yourself to the designer fabric store when shopping for fabric for your chairs. Ready-made curtains are a good source of inexpensive fabric for chair seats. Even a large accent pillow may contain enough fabric to reupholster two chair seats. Add ready-made upholstery piping to give your chairs a couture detail.

Unscrew the seats from the chairs, using a Phillips-head screwdriver. Use a flathead screwdriver to remove the staples holding the fabric in place.

Trace the outline of the fabric you removed onto a large sheet of paper. If any corners are missing, use a ruler to extend the lines on the sides of the shape and draw the corners on the pattern. You will have a rectangle or a trapezoid. Cut out the shape with scissors. This is your pattern.

Cut your fabric, using this pattern. Place the fabric face down on a table and centre the seat cushion on it. Pull the fabric around the cushion and staple it down on all sides, Stop stapling 1 inch from the corners.

Fold the fabric over the corners at a 45-degree angle and staple them down with a staple gun. Make small tucks as you smooth the fabric in around the corners. Staple the tucks in place. Trim off any excess fabric.

Staple piping around the edge of the bottom of the chair seat, if desired. The seam of the piping should be even with the bottom edge of the cushion. Start and finish at the back of the seat and overlap the ends of the piping. Staple the ends of the piping to the bottom of the chair inside the edge.

Screw the seat back onto the chair.


Use the paper pattern when shopping for fabric, to determine if a cushion or curtain contains enough fabric to cover a chair seat.

Things You'll Need

  • Phillips-head screwdriver
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Large paper
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Fabric
  • Scissors
  • Piping
  • Staple gun
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About the Author

Camela Bryan's first published article appeared in "Welcome Home" magazine in 1993. She wrote and published SAT preparation worksheets and is also a professional seamstress who has worked for a children's theater as a costume designer and in her own heirloom-sewing business. Bryan has a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from the University of Florida.