Chevron Kitchen Chair Makeover! A DIY Recover Chairs Tutorial

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It was time to recover chairs and I love the way they turned out!  We recently moved this table into our house from our outside patio and it needed a makeover like something fierce!  This was the very first table I owned while being on my own… it’s 10 years old people, 10 years… sigh.  This poor little thing has been through a LOT in its lifetime… a ton of moving, sitting outside in the rain, etc.  So, yeah, it was kinda gross.


Here’s a before and after shot: {We still have some work to do in our kitchen… excuse the unpainted  baseboards!}


before and after collage



First, I recommend that you have a handy man around to help you here and there on this one!  While it’s a relatively simple project, it is a little hard on our pretty little  hands!

Here are the supplies you will need.  An iron, Skotch Guard, A heavy-duty stapler, hammer, small flat blade screw driver, a Phillips #2 screwdriver, wire snips or needle nose pliers, a razor blade, fabric scissors, and a sewing machine.  As for fabric and cording, you’ll need 3 yards of 45″ wide fabric and 12 yards of 1/8″ piping (the stuff that goes in cording) to cover 4 chairs that have 20″ wide seat cushions.



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Start by taking the cushions off of your chair.  Most are screwed on.  Once the cushions are off, use the small flat-head screwdriver to pry up the center of all the visible staples.  You can try to pry up the whole staple with the screwdriver if you’re really ambitious, but it’s easier to take the wire snips (or needle nose pliers) and simply twist the staple out of the wood by gripping the center of the part you just pried up and rolling the pliers against the wood.


You’ll notice that the bottom of your seat cushion was covered by a black cheese cloth.  This is to cover up all the other staples that are holding on the cording and the actual fabric of your seat cushion.  You will have to remove all of those staples as well.  Yep, every one.  Oh how I wish I could tell you that you could just leave them in and cut the old fabric off around the bottom edge, but trust me on this, it’s much more frustrating to use three times as many staples trying to re-cover your chair simply because all those other staples you didn’t want to remove keep getting in the way.


{Most of you probably won’t have to do this step!}

Now you’ve reached the decision point, either continue and strip all the chairs, or use this one seat base as a pattern and create all new seat bases.  If it was in fact outdoor furniture, like ours was, you’ll want to do the latter.  Simply take a razor blade to the underside of the remaining chairs and cut around the outer edge.  You’ll want to save the seat foam and this is the most effective way to get it out.


You’re now ready to start the actual re-covering of your chairs!  A quick tip–if your fabric was sold on a folded roll then you should iron out the crease before you start!  Lay out your fabric top-side down and lay your seat cushions (also top-side down) with seat bottoms on top of the fabric.  Take care to note how you line up your material pattern with the direction of your first chair.  It’s easiest to find a distinct point in the pattern and make a note that. that point starts in the back/center of your chair and rolls forward down the center of the chair.  For simple patterns this is very simple, but be careful with complex patterns as you can use a lot of material to make all the seat cushions match!






Once you’ve figured out how your pattern fits your cushions, roll an edge of material over onto the wood of your seat base and make note of how much fabric it took to wrap around to the bottom and still leave about an inch or two of material under the chair to get stapled.  This should equate to about 4 or 5 inches past the seat cushion on all sides.  Cut out this swatch of fabric, making sure you stay the same distance around the cushion all the way around.  Use this piece of fabric as a template and cut out the remaining seat cushion covers.  It’s much simpler to line up the patterns of your fabric than to guess where you lined up your previous seat cushion.


{Cording:  This is optional… it just makes everything prettier and all put together! }

Cording is super easy to make.  Cut strips of fabric 2″ wide and sew the lengths end to end at @ 45 degree angle so that the pattern continues as needed.  For a standard seat base that is 20″ wide you will need at least 8 feet of cording per chair!  Using a cording foot, fold your fabric in half with the piping in the middle.  Your cording foot helps keep the piping taught in your fabric.  Let the machine do the work!  All you have to do is keep the piping in the middle and your foot “on the gas.”



cording steps


Once you have all your coverings cut,  you’ll want to move to a countertop or work bench so you’ve got some good leverage for using the staple gun.  Lay your covering top-side down (just like you cut it) and put the cushion with wood bottom top-side down on top of it.  Starting at the bottom of the seat, roll the fabric around the cushion and pick a point to line up with the edge of the wood.  Make a note of how this lines up so the next three chairs match!  Staple the fabric in place with two staples–off-center left and right.  Move to the front of the chair and pull the fabric taught.  Roll the fabric to the wood and pull it tight.  Make sure you don’t pull the fabric so tight that you leave a crease in the cushion, but you’ll want it tight enough that you’re compressing the seat foam between the fabric and wood.  This will eliminate wrinkles from your cushion.  Again, use two staples off-center left and right to hold this fabric in place.  You should be able to spin the seat cushion at this point without the fabric moving at all.  Move back to the back of the seat cushion and continue rolling your fabric and stapling it in place all the way to within a couple of inches of the corner.  Make sure you do not pull the pattern out of line while stapling the fabric in place.  Once the back is finished, move back to the front of the cushion and work from the center to the corners pulling the fabric equally taught and stapling as you go.  It is important that you save the corners for last!  If you fail to do this you will create wrinkles in your cover.  Move to the sides and work from the center out.  You can do one side at a time.  If you’ve done the front and back correctly your fabric will not pull off-center.



cording steps


The corners are much more simple than they look.  Simply take small lengths of fabric, pull taught toward the center of the chair, and staple in place.  Continue to work around both sides of the corner, first one side then the other, until you come to the exact center.  You should create a “fan” effect with the rolled fabric.


Once the covers are stapled in place, staple the cording around the edge.  Line up the center of the piping with the edge of the wood and staple the cording in place.  Do not try to staple exactly on the edge of the wood, just close to the edge.


You should still have enough material left to cover up the seat base entirely.  We’ll call this the “hide fabric”  Just turn your fabric top-side down against the wood and cut a pattern just big enough to make it to the edges with about an inch left to tuck underneath itself.  Be sure to take either your scissors or razor blade and remove the excess material before putting on the hide fabric.  This fabric can be stapled in place relatively loosely, as its only purpose is to cover up all the other 100 staples it took to put the seat cover on and give your seat a finished look.

Screw the seat cushion back onto your chair frame, then go to chair 2, 3 and 4.

Whew,  done!  It’s pretty simple, but wordy to explain!

So, now that you know how to recover chairs, go find you some to makeover!


I’m loving my “new” chairs!  What do you think?


 recover chairs








  1. […] love how my Kitchen Chair Makeover turned out… who doesn’t love them some chevron?!!!?!  I also posted a tutorial on how […]

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