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Don't be afraid of outdated or otherwise unsavory fabric. As long as the bones of the furniture are in good shape, a bit of fabric and some creative love go a long way.
What you'll need:
Camera or notepaper and pencil
Staple gun and staples, 3/8- or 5/16-inch
Upholstery fabric (most chairs will require about 5 yards)
5/32-inch welt cord
Sewing machine and upholstery-weight thread
Fabric glue, optional
Upholstery tacks or nailhead trim, optional
Black breathable fabric (for underside of chair)
Remove the bottom black cloth and each piece of upholstery by carefully loosening tacks or staples with pliers. Take photographs or detailed notes as you disassemble the upholstery to keep a record for reassembly. Mark the placement of the pieces, indicating top and bottom as they are removed. Save pieces of welting and tack strips to measure for new pieces.
TIP: Try not to rip the fabric because you will use these pieces as your pattern. If staples or tacks are firmly attached, loosen by placing the flat edge of a scraper or flat-head screwdriver under the fastener and tapping the handle gently with a hammer. Use scissors to separate fabric pieces at any seams.
Cut a piece of batting to cover the chair back and another piece for the seat. Staple each piece in place, folding neatly around the corners.
Lay the original upholstery pieces, wrong side up, on the wrong side of the new fabric, watching for the grain, placement of pattern or motifs, and direction of pattern. Pin in place and cut around pattern, leaving 2-3 inches of excess fabric beyond the stapled edges of the original pieces, which were trimmed after assembly. This will give you fabric to grasp when stapling.
Transfer markings for direction and placement onto new pieces.
Place your base fabric pieces on the frame (for our chair, the seat and front of chair back). Pull fabric taut and staple in place on the apron of the chair seat and on the reverse of the chair back. Use as many staples as necessary to secure the fabric and keep it smooth. Be sure you place staples on the chair back where they will be covered by the back panel. Trim excess fabric.
Using the old pieces as your guide, determine the width of the finished welting and the length of welting needed to go around seat apron at top and bottom. Cut enough bias strips of the appropriate width to equal that length, allowing a few extra inches.
Pin the side panel to the seat fabric, making any necessary adjustments to the fit or pattern placement. Mark the position for the bottom welting. Remove the side fabric from the chair and sew the welting to the right side of the panel, at top and where marked near bottom, starting and ending at the back.
Holding right side of panel up against the seat, staple the top welting in place around the seat. Add a tack strip around the panel top against the welting and staple in place.
Place back panel in position and fold right side over the top of the chair back. Apply a tack strip to the top of the back rear and staple in place.