How to Reupholster a Victorian Chair

old chair image by MAXFX from

Antique furniture, particularly that of the Victorian era, is beloved for its intricate craftsmanship and timeless beauty. If you have a Victorian chair that has withstood some damage to the upholstery over time, consider salvaging the chair by reupholstering the fabric.

This relatively simple project is the perfect way to breathe new life into an old chair or restore the chair to its former glory.

Remove current upholstery fabric to be used as templates. You can do this by removing the staples that were holding the fabric in place with the flat head of a screwdriver. It is important to do this gently so you can both spare the wooden frame and preserve the fabric pieces.

Replace any cotton batting or upholstery foam that has lost its shape over time. Reupholstering a lumpy, misshapen chair will not yield you the best results. Replace any worn foam with a fresh sheet of two-inch upholstery foam cut to size with a utility knife. Apply a layer of spray adhesive to hold the foam in place, then another to the top of the foam. Cover the foam with an even layer of cotton batting stapled directly to the chair's frame.

Drape a piece of muslin cloth over the area you would like to recover. This is only necessary if you were not able to preserve the original upholstery pieces to use as a pattern. Use a pencil to trace out the shape of the area to be recovered. Fold your muslin in half vertically and check for symmetry. Add two inches of excess material around each side of your template. Any excess will be removed once the chair is complete.

Lay your previous upholstery fabric over your new material. Or, cut out your muslin template and lay out over your upholstery fabric. Trace around your template and cut out your new fabric pieces.

Position your upholstery fabric over the area to be covered. Pull your material taut over the underside of your Victorian chair's frame. Staple your fabric directly to the underside of your frame with a staple gun. Leave ΒΌ inch excess material along your line of staples to allow for give as the chair is used. Cut off any additional material.

Walk your fabric around curved edges and armrests. Victorian chairs are known for their curves and intricate woodwork, which can make recovering the area somewhat difficult. Move your material over the curved areas slowly, inch by inch, and staple in place to the underside of the frame. If the gather is misshapen, cut short vertical slits in the material and fold over one another to lay correctly.