DIY Monday: How to Reupholster a Garage Sale Chair Quick


Reader Janine spotted a chair at a yard sale and had to have it, ripped arms and all. It was cheap - $10 - and would fit exactly in the corner of her vintage Lakeview living room.

With the chair as a blank canvas, she whipped up a new cover for a found chair
and lives to tell about it. Janine armed herself with a staple gun and
spent two evenings on the chair.  Because she worked solo on a job that
often needs an extra pair of hands, she calls her upholstery job a hack.
Here's a Q and A of the process.

Where did the chair come from?
I found it in a neighborhood yard sale.  I know, it was a risk to
pick it up because of the bed bug scare, but everything else at the sale was clean and in good shape, a clue that this chair was, too. Just the same, I'm not advocating for buying fabric things from garage sales.

How did you start the upholstery job?
I first removed the bottom and side panels to see how the chair was
upholstered originally.  I made a pattern from the pieces I removed and
created a pattern for the arms and seat by draping them with an old

What shortcuts did you use that are different from a total reupholstery job?
I didn't rip off all the existing fabric. Instead, I stapled my fabric
over it on the seat, seat back and arms.  I made the inside corners,
where the back and arms meet, nice and tight, but they're tucked, not
stapled. The batting was in good shape, so I didn't repad anywhere on
the chair.  The springs were good, too.  You'll notice I didn't use
piping, because I find it a real pain.

I reused the existing metal strip to attach the panel on the back of
the chair. Also, instead of going out to get new tack strips for the
side panels, I made some out of cardboard I had in my apartment.

What was the most challenging step?
Hammering in the nail heads, and I still have one side to go. Hard to
get straight.  Making the pattern for the arms was tricky, too.

Have you upholstered any other pieces before?
Yes, I've done a small couch and chair and made a slipcover for a chair.

What tools did you use?
Let's see....manual staple gun, pair of pliers and a screwdriver to
removed the old staples, hammer to pound in the staples where necessary,
rubber mallet for pounding in the brass nail heads.

Cute fabric.
It's a remnant I found at JoAnn Fabrics I've been looking to put to good
use.  I had enough for the chair's front, so combined it with navy
cotton on the sides and back.

Filed under: DIY projects

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