A Complete Guide to Upholstery Basics for Easy DIY Projects

Tools for reupholstering a chair
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DIY Upholstery Basics

three projects overall

DIY upholstery basics start with picking a piece with a simple shape and a fabric with a sturdy weave and a forgiving texture that's easy to match. Beyond that, if you can cut out a pattern, sew a straight seam, and wield a staple gun (and we know you can), you're well on your way to a speedy recovery of just about anything you choose.

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3 No-Fuss Projects

bedroom overall

Our three easy projects will turn you into a pro upholsterer in no time:

  • Tailored tufted wall (easiest)
  • Knockout upholstered headboard (still easy)
  • Elegant slipper chair (will be easy with our step-by-step guide).
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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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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.

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Recovered Chair

slipper chair vignette

We took this slipper chair from clunky to chic by giving it a new covering of icy-blue fabric and lots of dressmaker details. Welting around the seat gives the illusion of a separate cushion, pleats and a covered button accentuate the rolled back, and the new skirt camouflages a chunky seat and squat legs.

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Common Upholstery Techniques

Tools for reupholstering a chair

Many of today's upholstery basics, tools, and techniques are the same as those used 200 years ago.

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