Common Upholstery Techniques

If you have basic sewing skills, you can master these common upholstering techniques.

Ready to Start?

Many of today's upholstery tools and techniques are the same as those used 200 years ago, but with a few modern updates. Take a look as we demonstrate the step-by-step by reupholstering a slipper chair, then try it on your own chair, wall, or headboard.


A clunky, outdated chair desperately cries for a fabric makeover.

Strip Fabric

The chair is stripped of its original fabric and the pieces saved and labeled. If needed, an additional layer of batting is stapled to the frame.

Make a Pattern

The old fabric pieces serve as the pattern for the new upholstery. They are laid right sides down on the new fabric and cut out.

Pin to the Chair

The pieces are pinned wrong sides out onto the chair. The pinned cover is removed and sewn together, with welting reinforcing the seams. The sewn cover is then put back on the chair.

Create Pleats

Pleats are often used to ease fabric around curves. Gluing on a covered button hides the staples that hold the pleats in place.

Attach the Back

To attach a back panel, tack strips are stuck through the wrong side of the fabric at both long edges, about an inch in.

Tack the Fabric On

The tack strips are then flipped over to pull the back panel taut and make clean, straight edges. The tacks are hammered into the frame with a hammer that has a piece of batting secured around the head.

Attach the Sleeves

A sleeve of fabric is sewn for the chair seat and pulled on. The back edge of the cover is pulled through the opening between the seat and back and stapled to the frame.

Cover the Seat

The seat cover is also pulled tight and tacked to the bottom of the chair frame on the front and sides.

Skirt the Bottom

A lined, box-pleated skirt with welting is sewn. To assemble the skirt, layers are arranged on the chair, pinned in place, and sewn together at the top.

Staple the Skirt On

The skirt is stapled to the frame on the wrong side of the fabric, just below the seam.


Tailored, sophisticated, and elegant, this newly covered chair adds a stylish element to any room.

Upholstered Headboard

We cut the headboard from plywood, then padded it with foam. A tight-fitting slipcover is stapled to the bottom of the frame. Piping (also called welting) accentuates the shape of the headboard and adds extra strength to seams.

Tufted Wall

A padded wall feels cozy in a bedroom, keeps the room warmer, and muffles sound. We used an electric staple gun to attach quilt batting to the wall and then stretched 54-inch-wide fabric panels over it, stapling at the edge of each panel.

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