They say the third time is the charm and I think that just might be the case with these wing chairs. Today I will show you how to reupholster a wing chair and get professional looking results.
I've attempted reupholstering these wing chairs twice before and it wasn't until this third go around that I finally took the time to do it right. (And now I'm kicking myself for not doing it right the first time!) I believe time, energy and desire were on my side this time plus fabric selection matters and I picked a more appropriate fabric for this makeover.
Now I have two beautiful wing chairs that have been in my husband's family for a very long time and hopefully for many more years to come.
You can see from the before photo I had previously used drop cloth coverings to reupholster these wing chairs. Let's just skip past how I should never have done that and look at how awful the chairs were: wrinkly, dull, pilly, and just bland. And now with the Belgian linen and tack trim I have a more sophisticated, polished look.
Because everyone likes a good before and after I will share exactly how the wing chairs looked before:
This is definitely a project you can do yourself. It will take time, patience and some sewing ability but it can be done and you will save on the costly professional upholstery fees.
Before I had made this pleated cotton trim using old sheets, it was pretty and added a little texture but the overall chair was blah.
The carpet tacks and twill tape add just the right amount of definition and finishing touch which actually emphasizes the pretty curves of the wood frame.
Below are the steps to reupholster a wing chair. Please note not all chairs are exactly the same so you may find a slightly different set up with your frame. Take your time, it's not a one day project.
- pry bar (old flathead screwdriver or paint scaper)
- 5 yards Belgian linen 11 oz.
- sewing machine & thread
- straight pins
- carpet thread & curved upholstery needle
- staple gun & staples
- exacto knife or straight edge blade
- hot glue gun & hot glue sticks
- 1/4" wide natural twill tape
- #6 black carpet tacks
- flexible tape measure
Step 1: Remove the existing fabric and trim all the way down to the foam. * Save the pieces as you pull them off to reuse as patterns. (The floral fabric here is the original and I choose to leave it on it certain places because it was holding the foam and shape of the chair.)
Remove ALL staples, depending on the age of your chair and how many times it's been reupholstered you may have a zillion staples to remove. Take them all out because you need the space to place new staples.
Step 2: At the exterior sides and back you will need to expose the inner framework of the chair by removing the foam near the bottom. You can see the floral fabric peeking through - that is where you will pull through the new seat and side pieces.
Step 3: Begin with the seat deck. You will need to sew a seam in the deck pieces right where the arms meet the seat. Then you will hand sew through the seam allowance down into the chair frame using carpet thread. Once attached then push the deck fabric through the side openings under the arms and pull the front portion down over the edge and staple snug in place. Pull the fabric taught and snug but not overly tight and staple as close to the edge of the woodwork as possible.
Reupholstery order of parts:
1. seat deck
2. interior sides
3. interior back
4. back & sides
Step 4: Once the front portion is attached then secure the deck sides and back. You can barely see the new fabric stapled down under the arm above.
Step 5: Next attach the interior side pieces. Cut your new fabric using the old piece as a pattern and add an extra 2" around the edges. Staple the piece in place and pull the back edge through the opening in the side back. Once stapled in place then trim the excess fabric with an exacto knife.
Step 6: Now the interior back. Staple in place across the top and fold over the edge at the corner then shove the excess through to the back.
You can see in the photo above the back side where the new fabric comes throug to the back and is stapled snug to the frame.
Step 7: To make the exterior back and sides I choose to sew a side seam. Most upholsterers will use that metal tape track system but I prefer a sewn seam. Cut your pieces to size and then pin right side against the chair. Run a line of pins down the corner where the seam should go, remove the pins that are holding the fabric to the chair and sew the two side seams. Trim the seam allowance to 1/2" to remove any excess bulk.
Step 8: Staple the exterior pieces in place starting at the back top and sides making sure to keep the seams running down the edge of the frame.
Step 9: Once all the fabric is on and excess has been trimmed then use hot glue to apply the twill tape which covers all the unsightly staples.
Step 10: Using a flexible measuring tape mark off every 1" with a pen dot. Hammer in one carpet tack at every mark.
Step 11: To make the cushion cover I used the envelope closure method. First cut the top piece again tracing around the old fabric plus seam allowance. Then attach the side portion all around.
Step 12: For the envelope closure the bottom piece of the cushion cover is made of two pieces that will overlap at least 3". Cut these two spieces and make a finished edge at both openings. Then sew these pieces onto the side portion lining up the edges. Turn right side out and stuff cushion insert inside.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Please be sure to leave comments below with your email address so I can respond.
And if you're curious about the card catalog side table that was a repurposed project here: