Essential Guide: Reupholstering a Chair with Piping Like a Pro

Essential Guide: Reupholstering a Chair with Piping Like a Pro

Ready to breathe new life into your old chair? You’ve come to the right place. Reupholstering a chair with piping might seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and a bit of patience, you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.

Maybe you’ve got a beloved piece of furniture that’s seen better days, or perhaps you’ve stumbled upon a flea market find with tons of potential. Either way, we’re here to guide you through the process of reupholstering a chair with piping.

No need to be a professional upholsterer, we’ll break it down into simple, manageable steps. So, let’s roll up our sleeves and get started on this DIY project that’s sure to add a touch of charm to any room.

Key Takeaways

  • Reupholstering a chair, particularly with added piping, can be successfully undertaken as a DIY project with the adequate preparation and patience.
  • Gathering the necessary tools and materials beforehand optimizes your workflow, making the project more enjoyable and efficient. Necessary items include old or new chair, your chosen fabric, piping cord, a strong thread, a staple remover, staple gun, sharp scissors, a tape measure, a sewing machine and a piping foot attachment.
  • The selection of the right fabric is more about durability and ease of maintenance rather than just aesthetics. Medium to heavyweight fabrics like cotton, linen, and synthetic blends are suggested for their longevity and maintenance ease.
  • Piping, a type of trim, gives the chair a sharp, finished look. Cotton is suggested as a versatile and easy option for DIY reupholstering.
  • When removing existing upholstery, take great care to preserve the integrity of the original chair’s structure and pay close attention to the sequence in which components are removed. This process acts as a blueprint for reupholstering.
  • Measuring and cutting the new fabric and piping accurately is crucial. When chalking out the desired fabric pattern, make provision for seam allowances. Cut a bigger area first; you can always trim the excess later.
  • Sewing and attaching the piping to the fabric pieces is the key to achieving a professional look. Use a sewing machine’s zipper foot to sew along the piping resulting in a tight, neat seam.
  • Securing the new upholstery onto the chair requires patience, precision, and uniformity to result in a crisp, snugly fitted look. An upholstery stapler, or alternatively a hammer and nails, and some quality upholstery adhesive are suggested tools for this process. Regularly check your work to correct any mistakes on time.

For a visual tutorial on reupholstering a dining chair with piping, check out this YouTube video which provides a thorough explanation using decorative fabric. For more detailed steps on handling the upholstery and working with piping, Living a Real Life provides guidance including how to staple fabric and manage corners.

Gather the Necessary Tools and Materials

Gather the Necessary Tools and Materials

Before diving into the reupholstering task, preparation is key. An essential element to a successful DIY is having all your tools and materials at hand. Right, let’s look at what you’ll need.

Firstly, you’ll need a chair. It could be an old piece begging for revival or a mystic find from the flea market. Remember, the goal here is not only to revive but also to enhance. Either way, you’ve got the power.

Next, gather your materials for reupholstering. This includes your chosen fabric, piping cord, zipper (if you plan to add a removable cushion cover), and a strong thread that matches or complements your fabric. If it’s your first-time reupholstering, it’s a smart move to buy a bit extra. Extra fabric helps you if you make a mistake or simply want to tweak your design as you progress.

Alright, let’s talk tools. A staple remover and staple gun are your new best friends. The remover helps you extract old staples with minimum damage to the chair, and the gun secures your fresh fabric snugly in place. Have lots of staples on hand — you’ll likely need more than you expect.

More tools of the trade are a sharp pair of scissors, a tape measure, and a sewing machine. Your scissors need to cut through fabric cleanly; a tape measure ensures accuracy, and the sewing machine provides the stamina required for heavy-duty fabric.

For your piping process, you’ll need a piping foot attachment for your sewing machine. Without this, achieving a neat finish around the edges can be challenging.

Finally, don’t forget your dust cover fabric and batting for padding. These take your chair from being just functional to comfy and cozy.

By gathering all your materials and tools beforehand, you optimize your workflow. This not only makes your project more enjoyable but also enhances efficiency. So, without further ado: welcome to the world of DIY reupholstering.

Remember: Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your chair won’t be either. Take your time, and patience will meet perfection. Move forward, and let’s dive into the next steps.

Choose the Perfect Fabric and Piping

Choose the Perfect Fabric and Piping

Selecting the right fabric is a crucial step in your DIY reupholstering project. It’s not just about choosing a design that catches your eye, but also one that’ll withstand daily use. Due to the variety of fabric types available, you’re likely to face some difficulty deciding. When in doubt, opt for medium to heavyweight fabrics for durability. Materials like cotton, linen, or synthetic blends serve as excellent upholstery fabrics due to their longevity and ease of maintenance.

Considerations When Choosing Fabric

  • Durability: Analyze how often the chair is used. If it’s frequently used, go for heavy-duty fabric.
  • Style: Match the fabric’s style with your room décor.
  • Color: Lighter colors might show stains more easily, while darker ones may fade over time.
  • Cost: High-quality fabrics typically come at a higher price. Determine your budget before making a choice.

When it comes to piping, you’ve got a variety of options. Piping, a type of trim or embellishment, often outlines the seams of the furniture. It gives your chair a finished, defined look. Standard options for piping material include cotton and synthetic fibers. Cotton piping is often more versatile and easier to work with, especially for DIY reupholstering.

Quality of Piping

While selecting piping, don’t disregard its quality. An inferior quality piping might deteriorate quickly, damaging the appearance of your chair. If you can, get hold of a sample and test its strength before purchasing.

An important tip to keep in mind while reupholstering is to have extra fabric and piping on hand. While measuring is vital, miscalculations happen and it’s always better to be prepared with additional material.

In the next part, we’ll discuss the process of removing old upholstery from your chair. Be ready with your tools, including a staple remover, to ease the process. Use caution not to damage the structure of your chair as it will serve as your canvas for the new upholstery.

Remove the Existing Upholstery

Embarking on your reupholstery journey, you’ve taken into account the essentials—primary among them being choice of fabric and type of piping. Now it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get down to business—the task of actually stripping the old upholstery off your chair.

First and foremost, you’ll need a staple remover. It’s a critical piece in your upholstery toolbox. This tool ensures no remnants of old staples remain in your chair, paving the way for a seamless reupholstering process. Alongside that, ensure to equip yourself with a flat-head screwdriver, needle-nose pliers, and a container for discarding the old staples.

To minimize any structural damage, be sure to work carefully. Begin with the fabric on the very bottom of the chair, working your way up gradually. Your goal isn’t just to strip the old upholstery, but also to preserve the integrity of the chair’s original structure.

Once the bottom fabric comes off, you need to carefully remove the seat. This involves taking out screws to free the seat from the chair frame. Remember to store these safely—you’ll need them for reassembling the chair once your reupholstering task is finished.

From here, you’ll notice the padding and springs, covered in dust-covers. Unveil this trove gently and remember how these are layered. By mirroring it in the new upholstery, you’re guaranteed a chair that’s as comfortable as before.

Also, make a mental, if not physical, note of how the old fabric fits around corners or any unusual features. Recreating similar folds in your new fabric is key to restoring the chair to its original form. And as you peel back layers, pay special attention to the order in which components come apart. This dismantling is essentially the basis of your reupholstering blueprint. It’s reverse engineering at its most basic.

By now, your chair is stripped down to its bare bones—a blank canvas ready for its transformation. This hands-on experience not only sets you up for the next step but helps you appreciate the intricacies of good upholstery. Moving forward, let’s delve into the selection and preparation of the padding.

Measure and Cut the New Fabric and Piping

Just tearing off the old fabric won’t cut it. The hidden gem of your reupholstering journey — “Measuring and Cutting” — comes next. Understanding what fabric quantity you need, the appropriate layout, and the ideal cut prioritizes precision and minimizes fabric waste.

First off, take note of the yardage of old upholstery; more often than not, you’ll require an equivalent amount of new fabric (or slightly more if you want to play it safe). Position the chair’s previous upholstery pieces on your new fabric, and it’ll act as a blueprint. Now, chalk out the fabric pattern on your new material with seam allowances and then cut it out. Remember, it’s always wise to cut larger areas and trim excess than to be left with a piece too short.

Let’s get to the piping. Don’t let the thought of it intimidate you! It’s pretty straight-forward. Determine the length of piping you’ll need by measuring the chair’s outline where you’ll be applying it. Then, you’ll have to cut a strip of fabric that can cover the piping cord. Aim for a width of about 1.5-2 inches to ensure a neat wrap. Once your strip is ready, encase the piping cord inside, making sure it’s a close fit.

The choice of fabric makes a difference too! Opt for a durable, high-weave fabric like cotton duck, denim, or canvas for your piping. They provide a well-defined edge and sustain wear and tear longer than lighter materials.

Sew and Attach the Piping

Sew and Attach the Piping

Next, sewing and attaching the piping to your fabric pieces is the essential aspect of a well-defined, professional look of reupholstery. Thread your sewing machine with a color that matches your chosen fabric. Then, place the encased piping cord along the chalked marks on the fabric’s wrong side.

As you align the piping, make sure the corded part is towards the inside or the upholstery piece’s center, leaving the raw edges matching the fabric edge. Use your sewing machine’s zipper foot to sew along the piping. The zipper foot enables getting up close to the cord, making a tight, neat seam. Go slow. It’ll ensure the stitches remain on the straight and narrow.

Joining the piping ends may seem tricky, but it’s manageable with a bit of patience. Overlap the start and finish of the piping, cut the top fabric so they just meet, then snip the cord so it overlaps. Tuck one end of the cord into the other, then fold the top fabric neatly over the join, and sew it down.

Subsequently, attaching the fabric and piping to the chair involves a few steps:

  • Begin at the chair’s bottom front side.
  • As you start securing the fabric to the chair, place the fabric’s right side against the chair, ensuring the piping cord edge lines up with the chair’s edge.
  • Use an upholstery stapler to attach the fabric lightly, leaving some adjustment flexibility.
  • Progress around the chair, stretching and stapling the fabric and piping as you go, making sure it’s taut but not distorted.

Using a staple gun gets the job done swiftly, but if you’re concerned about precision, there’s no harm in using a hammer and nails. Adjust as necessary and remember, you’re aiming for uniformly tight attachment all around. So keep assessing your work as you progress around the chair.

Secure the New Upholstery onto the Chair

Secure the New Upholstery onto the Chair

Now that your piping is all sewn up, it’s time to secure the new upholstery to your chair. This phase is necessarily meticulous, requiring your utmost attention every step of the way. The goal is to create a finished look that boasts professionalism — a reupholstery job that you can be proud of!

Begin by positioning your newly upholstered fabric over your chair, ensuring the proper alignment. Start from the bottom front side, steadily progressing upwards. Make sure your fabric and piping are taut against the chair structure. This step is critical in achieving a crisp, snug look.

Tool selection plays an integral part in successfully securing your upholstery. An upholstery stapler is a top choice, known for its efficiency in reducing the bulge from the edges. Alternatively, a hammer and nails can also get the job done. To avoid sagging and misalignment, ensure you maintain uniform tightness and evenly distribute your tools throughout the process. It’s all about consistency and patience.

One dark horse in this reupholstery task is adhesive. Quality upholstery adhesive can act as a secondary reinforcement, playing a supportive role to your primary tools. It can help keep your fabric securely in place and contribute to the overall stability of the upholstery.

One final progress marker to always adhere to is checking your work as you go. Inspecting your work continually allows you to correct any mistakes or adjustments promptly.

In the process of reupholstering a chair, resilience is the name of the game. Taking your time to ensure each step is carefully completed will serve you well in crafting a piece of art you’ll be downright proud of.


So there you have it – you’ve journeyed through the meticulous process of reupholstering a chair with piping. It’s clear that attention to detail, the right tools, and a bit of resilience can transform an old chair into a work of art. Remember, the process begins at the bottom front side, moving upwards while ensuring the fabric and piping are taut and aligned. Tools like an upholstery stapler or hammer and nails are your best friends here. And don’t forget the upholstery adhesive, your secret weapon for added reinforcement. Keep checking your work and stay consistent, and you’ll have a reupholstered chair you can truly take pride in. Now, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and bring that old chair back to life. Happy reupholstering!

Why should I start securing upholstery from the bottom front side of the chair?

Starting from the bottom front side ensures a smooth progression in securing the upholstery. It also provides an aesthetic advantage since the “beginning” of your work won’t be in plain sight.

What tools are necessary for securing the upholstery?

An upholstery stapler or a hammer and nails are crucial for achieving a neat finish. The choice of tools largely depends on your comfort and familiarity with them.

Is it necessary to use an upholstery adhesive?

While it’s not mandatory, using upholstery adhesive is recommended. It serves as an extra reinforcement, helping to keep the fabric in place even better.

How can I ensure a professional look in my reupholstery project?

Maintaining consistency and regular monitoring throughout the process is the key. Make sure the fabric and piping are positioned properly, and they are taut and aligned.

What qualities are needed for successful reupholstery?

Resilience and attention to detail are key in crafting a final piece. Reupholstery can be a meticulous task requiring patience and a keen eye for precision and uniformity.