Wednesday, March 12, 2014


How to reupholster chair seats with rounded cornersHow to reupholster chair seats with rounded corners

The original fabric on the dining room chairs for our beach cottage was a tan chenille-type upholstery fabric.  Great for durability, but the dining area needed some color and recovering the chairs seemed like a simple project.  I had a bunch of the yellow cabana stripe fabric I got for $5 a yard.  It was already used for one of the toss pillows on the sofa so this would be a good way to tie the two spaces together in the great room.  I know the color white is probably not a good idea for dining room upholstery, but given the fabric is indoor/outdoor and I could Scotchguard it  - I felt it would work out just fine.  In the end I decided to do a couple chairs in the blue patterned fabric for some variety and to add an interesting pattern to the dining room area.

Chair (Before Picture)

I've reupholstered quite a few chair seats and never had much of a problem.  I found it pretty easy to fold tiny pleats to eliminate any creases or folds on the top of the seat.  Not so on these chairs.  They have very thick padding and rounded corners.  Below shows the method I had used before and it wasn't working here...(the combination of rounded corners and thick padding was going to require something different)...

How to reupholster chair seats

In theory - I thought the above method was going to work just fine.  I tried three different times to create the perfect corners this way - no luck.   Unable to finish off a corner without wrinkles on the top, I had to rethink my approach.  I found some posts online with that gave me some direction but I've included more detail here on what I figured out as I went through the process of reupholstering these eight chairs.

A number of posts were helpful in pointing me in the right direction.  It indicated after the sides are secured, you need to take each edge completely to the end  to create a tight corner, than fold up the excess with one large pleat at the corner.  It sounded simple enough but I found it difficult to keep one side of a corner from interfering with the other and having the final pleat end up lopsided.

Here was one of my errors - I would take one side too far and it didn't leave any room to finish the second side for the corner.  Overall I kept getting lopsided results.  The graphic below shows how NOT to do this...

How to reupholster chair seats with rounded corners - don't do this

Here is the method I figured out.  (I am assuming here that the sides have already been pulled taught and stapled and you are ready to finish off the corners.)  Pay specific attention to where the staples go.  If you follow this process, it will leave enough room to finish off both sides neatly and create a single pleat at the rounded corner.  As the graphic below indicates - imagine a 45 degree line (green line) to guide how far to take the staples on each side. Keep the fabric taught and move from one side towards the rounded - corner.  I found it necessary as I got towards the corner to have the staples closer together.  Progressively slope the staples towards the corner while keeping them on this side of the 45 degree line (leaving enough room to take care of the second side).

How to reupholster chair seats with rounded corners

If done correctly, what you are left with are edges are that are tight all the way to the point where they intersect.  It is here you will have a single excess flap of fabric (see graphic above).  If you did the previous step right - you should not have any wrinkles at the corner.  (See the photo a little further down this post and note below on what to look for.)  If all looks well, grab the whole flap to create a single pleat and pull it in at a 45 degree angle, and secure with a few staples. 

How to reupholster chair seats with rounded corners

NOTE: Watch out for this issue with the corners - if you don't pull the fabric tight all the way to the corner - you can end up with these wrinkles at the corner.  This occurs when you pull the final flap over the corner.  I found myself re-doing several corners when I noticed this, but this one slipped by me... (you can see wrinkles on the back corner of the chair on the photo below).

Wrinkled corner - learn from my mistakes :o)

Here is what my corners looked like.  Just a single pleat with the sides, tight with no wrinkles...
The final result is not perfect, and I'm sure a professional could do better, but this is what I was capable of.  I'm sure with a little more practice and patience they could be finished off with an even cleaner look.

How to reupholster chair seats with rounded corners
Beach Cottage Dining Room

Beach Cottage Dining Room

Since I completed the chairs, I did some more looking on pinterest for better tutorials.  I found this one which I think would have helped me through my project.  They show detailed photos of each step.  In addition, if you have very thick material - it shows you a method where much of the excess material is trimmed off. (See post here)

For more beach cottage posts see my Beach Cottage page.

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