DIY: Reupholster chairs

Recovering seat cushions is a great beginner DIY project

By Alison Highberger / For The Bulletin

Resources

• Upholstery shops, like Jack’s Upholstery, often have scraps of batting, high-density foam and upholstery fabric for sale. Stop by and browse.

• Jo-Ann Fabrics 61284 S. Highway 97, Pioneer Crossings Mall, Bend 541-312-1190

• Hancock Fabrics 63040 N. Highway 97 behind Color Tile, Bend 541-383-7654

Do you have dining room chairs with faded, stained or outdated seat cushion fabric? Maybe you found a nice old chair at a yard sale that just needs a reupholstered seat. Even if you’re not very handy, this is an easy do-it-yourself project that doesn’t require exotic equipment or sewing skills.

So, all you non-Martha Stewart types and craft-impaired individuals, grab a staple gun and follow the instructions below. You can do this project; we promise.

“You just need some basic tools and new fabric,” said Gary Alger, of Jack’s Upholstery in Bend (541-382-7570, 61550 American Lane, No. 5, jacksupholstery@live.com). Alger has more than 40 years in the upholstery business.

He sold Jack’s Upholstery to his son, Kevin, and daughter-in-law, Cheryl, about three years ago, but still works part-time at the shop. Alger gave us some tips to make this DIY upholstery project — called a “tight seat” in the biz — a success.

If you decide, however, to have a chair seat reupholstered by a professional, Alger said it would cost between $35-$55 per chair, for labor, fabric, new padding and foam, plus a decorative welt around the edge of the cushion.

Time: 2-3 hours.

Difficulty: Easy.

Cost: About $25-$40 if you own or can borrow an electric staple gun and have the basic tools below.

Supplies for one chair:

• Fabric for seat cushion (ranges from $5 per yard for factory ends or remnants, to $100 per yard; the average price for upholstery fabric is $7 to $35 per yard). One yard will cover two chair seats.

• Polyester batting to cover foam seat pad ($5-$10)

• 1-2-inch high-density foam ($8-$15)

• White glue or foam adhesive spray ($2-10); make sure it says for foam use

• Chalk or fabric pen

• Scissors or bread knife (to cut foam pad)

• Tape measure

• Staple gun and ¼-inch to 3⁄8-inch staples ($20-$50)

• Screwdriver

• Hammer

• Needle-nose pliers, thin screwdriver or tack remover to remove staples and tacks

• Optional: sandpaper, primer, paint for the chair frame, if repainting

Step 1: Remove old chair seat, cut foam and batting to fit.

Remove the seat from the chair (it’ll pop out, or may require a screwdriver), and strip off the old cushion, including foam, batting, fabric and old staples, down to the bare wood. Cut a piece of 1- or 2-inch-thick high-density foam to fit the seat. Glue the foam to the seat, and then add a layer of polyester batting to the top of the foam (attach it with glue or spray adhesive). “The batting makes your cushion look a little plumper and gives a fuller look and a more comfortable seat,” Alger said. Allow the glue to dry for one to two hours.

Step 2: Cut the fabric.

Put your fabric right side down on a table, and put the seat on top, with the seat bottom up. Cut the fabric about 6 inches bigger than the seat. (Mark it with chalk or a fabric pen before you cut, if you like being precise.)

Step 3: Staple fabric to the seat and voila!

Fold fabric over the seat, and start with a couple of staples in the middle of one side. Place staples about 1 inch apart, and an inch from the edge of the seat. Do the opposite side, pulling the fabric tight and stapling only in the middle. Staple the other two sides in the middle after pulling the fabric taut. Now, continue to staple, pulling fabric taut, working your way to each corner. The corners are the tricky part. You may want to trim off an inch or two of fabric at the corner before you begin pulling the fabric in and stapling it, and count on about three staples per corner.

“To get corners smooth, you may end up with a little fold. If it’s a rounded edge, on a thin cushion, with lightweight fabric, you’ll probably get a nice smooth round corner. If it’s a sharp corner — a square edge — you might have to put a little fold in it. Just fold each corner the same way. Whatever you fold on one side, do it on the other, and it’ll look fine,” Alger said.

Pop the seat back in the chair, or screw it back into the chair frame. Have a seat, and give yourself a hand, do-it-yourselfer!

— Reporter: ahighberger@mac.com