How to cover wing back chairs

Updated July 20, 2017

There are certain shapes of furniture that are easier to reupholster than others. The unique shape of wing back chairs makes reupholstering a bit challenging but not too difficult. The most important issue to remember when reupholstering a wing back chair is to follow the steps in the correct sequence. Knowing when to attach each section of fabric to the furniture's frame is vital.

Remove the fabric on the back of the chair by removing all the nails and staples that fasten the fabric to the underneath and back of the chair. Use the staple gun staple remover or a flat head screwdriver to remove the staples and a hammer to remove the nails. Keep the back panel intact.

Take off the rest of the fabric by removing one section at a time. Leave the panels of each section intact as much as possible.

Cut the upholstery fabric using the original fabric as a pattern, but make each section 1 inch larger.

Place the section of fabric cut for the front of the chair's back where it will be installed inside out, with the under side up.

Set the sections cut for the wings inside out over the opposite wings, with the fabric for the rightwing covering the leftwing and the fabric for the leftwing covering the rightwing.

Pin along the lines where the fabric on the front of the chair's back meets each wing.

Set the top sections of the chair's arms inside out over opposite arms, with the fabric for the top of the left arm over the top of the right arm and vice versa.

Insert straight pins along the lines where the fabric for the tops of the arms meets the fabric covering the front of the chair's back.

Attach the fabric cut for the front of the chair's arms to the top sections of the arms by pinning along the line where they meet. Each are also inside out and on opposite arms.

Connect the side panels, which should also be inside out and on opposite sides, pinning only where they meet the front panels of the arms.

Join the inside-out piece of fabric designated for the lower front of the chair to each inside-out front arm section by pinning where they meet.

Prepare the cushion cover by pinning three inside-out side panels to the inside-out top and bottom sections of fabric, leaving one side open and the last side panel set aside.

Sew along every line where sections are pinned together, slowly removing each pin along the way.

Fit the large piece of sewn sections onto the chair, positioning it to fit in place.

Bring the loose ends of the front panel behind and underneath the furniture's frame and staple them to the frame.

Wrap the loose edges of the wings and the front of the chair's back around to the back of the chair and staple them to the frame.

Staple the loose ends of the tops of the chair's arms to the sides of the chair.

Secure the loose ends of the front sides of the arm to the frame underneath the chair by stapling it.

Hold the left side panel (left as if looking at the chair from the front) with the right hand on the lower right corner and the left hand on the lower left corner, and lift the panel up to the point where the panel is inside out and upside down, with the top/right side of the fabric up against the chair.

Secure it in place by lowering the panel until 1cm of the lower edge of the inside-out fabric is covering the side area that is to be covered and stapling along that edge (the cm-wide line that is covering the left side of the chair to be covered).

Bring the other end down and staple the loose edge underneath the chair, and repeat this process for the other side panel.

Put the back panel in place by folding along the edges to properly fit the area, lightly hammering decorative upholstery nails along all three edges and stapling the lower edges to the frame's under side

Turn the sewn cushion cover inside out and stuff the cushion inside.

Hand sew the last panel of the cushion on to the new cushion cover.


If there are buttons or piping on the original chair, pay attention to how they are connected when removing the original upholstery.


Sweep the area where you removed the staples and nails.

Things You'll Need

  • Staple gun stapler remover or flat head screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • Fabric scissors
  • Upholstery fabric, 10 yards
  • Straight sewing straight pins (100)
  • Cotton
  • Sewing machine
  • Staple gun with staples
  • Decorative upholstery tacks, 30 to 40
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About the Author

Catherine Scruggs began writing professionally in 2011. She has also worked as a college instructor and a psychotherapist. Scruggs holds a Master of Arts in psychology from Columbia University and is working to obtain her doctorate in clinical psychology at Alliant International University.