Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How to Reupolster a Wingback Chair Part I

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I have only really "reupholstered" one chair in my life and I have done it a couple of times, and I really wouldn't call it reupholstered...more like just put a cover on it, so when I was with my girlfriends doing our annual Parade of Homes thing this year {2011} I said out loud, "We should reupholster some chairs!" 

And I was here I am looking at this chair thinking what have I gotten myself into. I hear the task is a real workout...if nothing else good come of this least I'll be burning some calories and getting good workout trying, right?

I found this beauty at Desert Industries {the DI, it's "the" major thrift store here in a Goodwill, but better in my opinion} for $15.00.

There are tools for every trade and this is no different.  For this I used: 

  • very thin flat nosed screw driver
  • needle nose pliers
  • a little hammer (or any size really)
  • a bowl (a magnetic bowl was what I used and I high recommend it)
  • a marker to label the pieces as you remove them (very helpful in remembering the order and position each piece needs to go back on as.
That last item is super essential, if you don't have the patience, I wouldn't venture into this.  The $300 or so you could spend buying a chair off the floor of some furniture store is well worth it if you don't have time or patience for this, although this method is much less expensive 

This does take a lot of time and I think if you really want to do it, it is worth it.

Now I will take you on to Part I of reupholstering this chair, step-by-step.

Step 1:  Remove the bottom mesh and make sure you label it #1 (the labeling will help you put in all back together, and I will explain and show all of that in Part III, but I am doing this as I make this post so thanks for the patience).

Step 2:  Next remove the fabric from the back of the chair.  Stick a flat head screw driver between the seams and pull towards you.  There will be a TON of staples (this is where the magnetic bowl comes in handy).  Once you get the back off remove all staples (using both pliers and screw driver.  Oh and be careful those staples are sharp!!).  Label #2.

Step 3: Not all chairs have this little piece, but mine did, so just like the back, I just stuck the screw driver between it and the chair and popped it right off.  Label #3.

Step 4:  Now it's time for the sides.  Again there are a TON of staples so pull them out with the pliers and screw driver. If you are strong enough you can get a nice size piece of the fabric and YANK!  It worked for me, so it's just a suggestion. Be sure to label like crazy, which is the top of the piece, which side of the chair it came from  and for good measure which end was toward the front and back of the chair. You need to do this for both sides of the chair. (You can never label something too much in my opinion.) Label #4 (don't forget to mark whether it is the left or right side...muy importante!!)...So you should have two pieces, one with #4 left and #4 right.

Step 5: Those pesky wings are next. This chair had some seriously scary teeth that bite!!!  So be super careful!!!!  Just stick in the screwdriver and PULL!!  And of course more staples...I hope you've been putting those little devils in a bowl, don't want to get those under your knees.  Again, Label #5 and which side it is from, left or right. (This is just the outside portion of the wings).

Step 6: You see that last picture above?  Well you need to remove all of those staples.  You need to, in order to get the inside wing and armrest piece off.  On my chair both were sewn to each other so it was one large piece.  Label #6 and right or left.
Step 7: Remove the backrest fabric.  Just like the rest of the other pieces it is stapled to the chair.  So remove the staples and take it off and mark it Label #7 be sure the mark the top and bottom also. 

That was the last piece I removed.  I left the bottom and plan to just cover it with a new piece of fabric.  But I did label it on the chair as #8.    So this is what a "nearly" naked chair looks like and the pile of fabric templates from it.

WOW!!!  That was work!!!  5 hours later and this is what I have to show for it.  I'm pretty sure this would have been faster if I has a partner in crime, but hey I do what I gotta do. 

I am going to take a couple of days off before I start the work of Part II, but it is coming.  See ya in a couple.

Leave me a comment here telling me what you think so far.  The more comments I get helps me know whether showing this stuff is even interesting to people.

Here are the links for:
(as I get the other post done these links will work so check back in a little bit)

{figure}ing out How to Reupholster a Wingback Chair Part III


I decided that I would not do a Part III.  I will just get everything said and done in just one more part....Part II

If this post has helped you, please leave a comment. 


  1. This post really helped me. The only thing the chair that I did was so old it was filled with straw and horse hair!!! The springs need some help and are held in place with burlap potato bag... I guess I am off to buy more batting and foam to do a nice job with this chair. I will post pix later.

    1. How did it turn out?

  2. I am excited to see your finished chair. Please so send pics, I will be happy to share them.

  3. Hi! The finished chair looks absolutely AMAZING! I was wondering what type of fabric you used and where you got your fabric from? Thanks:)

  4. Thanks!! I honestly can't remember the make up of the fabric, but I did get it from IKEA. It was thick and with a little bit of stretch.

  5. You have given me the courage to attempt my first reupholster job. I have the time and patience, but maybe not the strength. Was it difficult to pull out the staples and pull the fabric off? I may need to recruit my husband if the going gets tough. Thank you for the pictures and tips, you made it look possible for me.

  6. It has been a little while since I put it together, but from what I remember it was not hard. Good luck and I would love to see your pictures.

  7. I will be attempting this in 2015 with a family wing back we aquired this past year. My only question, is the seat cushion... I am not able to find the directions on that part. Any hints?

  8. Hi Anonymous. Thanks for check out this step by step on my wingback chair. The seat cushion I did pretty much the same way as the the chair. I took off the cover and deconstructed it, but in part II ( ) in step one I have the link that I used to make my cushion and the piping. Hope that helps. Good luck! Would love to see pics of your "new" chair in 2015.

  9. This post is great! It's totally giving me the confidence to do my own chair. Thanks!!

  10. absolutely wonderful directions, precise and easy to understand, with #1 rule being having been burned in my brain.."Number Your Pieces!!" lol Cant wait to start my very own project and will be on the hunt to every thrift store this weekend in hopes of finding that diamond in the rough gem of a chair!?
    Off to Part II. Thanks so much for sharing!!


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