Ultimate Guide: Calculating Fabric for Dining Chair Reupholstery in Easy Steps

Ultimate Guide: Calculating Fabric for Dining Chair Reupholstery in Easy Steps

You’ve got that old dining chair staring back at you, begging for a fresh look. You’re ready to dive into the world of DIY and reupholster it yourself. But, there’s one crucial question you need answered first: how much fabric do you need to cover a dining chair?

It’s not as daunting as it seems. With a bit of guidance, you’ll be able to calculate the right amount of fabric in no time. This article will walk you through the process, giving you the confidence to start your reupholstering project.

So, whether you’re a seasoned DIYer or a beginner looking to take on a new challenge, this guide is for you. Let’s get you started on your journey to giving that dining chair a much-deserved makeover.

Key Takeaways

  • Accurate measurement of the dining chair is the crucial first step in determining fabric required for reupholstering. This involves measurement of chair’s width, depth and height, with an additional 20% for seam allowances and errors.
  • Calculation of fabric requirements involves converting square inches into square yards because fabric is generally sold in yards. For example, a dining chair seat and back may require approximately 0.64 yards of fabric.
  • The pattern and repeat of the fabric also play vital roles in the overall look of the reupholstered chair. Patterned fabrics could require more yardage than solid fabrics, depending on the size of the pattern repeat.
  • It’s recommended to add an extra 20% fabric to the calculated fabric requirement to account for any errors, damages, or the need for extra cuts.
  • Equipping oneself with the necessary tools such as an upholstery needle, scissors, staple gun, seam ripper, upholstery thread, pliers, rubber mallet, and tape measure can smoothen the reupholstery process.
  • Mastering some basic techniques, understanding fabric patterns, and error allowances can make the reupholstery project simpler and more successful.

Calculating the right amount of fabric for dining chair reupholstery involves understanding the chair’s dimensions and adding allowances for seams and patterns, which Sailrite’s fabric calculator simplifies. Selecting a durable fabric that complements the dining room’s decor is advised by House Beautiful, which offers insights into the types of fabrics best suited for upholstery.

Measure your dining chair

Measure your dining chair

Before you rush out to buy new fabric, you’ll need an accurate measure of how much material your project will require. Under- or over-estimating your fabric needs can result in wasted money and materials or an unfinished chair.

So grab your tape measure and get ready, because the accuracy of your measurements will directly impact the success of your reupholstery project.

Step 1. Measure Chair Size and Shape

Start by measuring the chair seat. Ensure you measure from the widest points for both width and depth. If your chair seat has an irregular or rounded shape, it’s essential to allow a bit extra for these curves.

Step 2. Measure Chair Height

Next, if you’re aiming to cover the entire chair, measure the back height. Start from the topmost point down to where it meets the seat of the chair.

Step 3. Calculate Fabric Quantity

Finally, to determine how much fabric you need, add the seat’s width and depth measurement plus the height of the chair back. Don’t forget to include some additional fabric for seam allowances and for any possible errors or mishaps.

Breathe easy, because this isn’t calculus. Simply add up all these measurements and then, just to be on the safe side, add an extra 20%.

Chair MeasurementsExtra Fabric Allowance
Width + Depth + Height+20%

Do remember that these measurements are for a single chair. If you’re planning to revamp your entire dining set, multiply these measurements by the number of chairs.

Calculate the fabric requirements

Calculate the fabric requirements

Once you’ve accurately measured the dining chair, the next step is to calculate the fabric requirements. Do not be daunted; this process is as straightforward as it can get with simple math involved.

Start by calculating the square footage of your chair. Let’s say, for example, your individual seat measurement is 20 inches (front width) by 18 inches (depth). Multiply these two figures which equals 360 square inches. Not so complicated, right? To convert this into square yards (as fabric is often sold in yards) divide the number by 1,296 because there are 1,296 square inches in a square yard. Hence, about 0.28 yards are needed just for the seat.

The back of the chair is calculated separately. If the back measures 16 inches (width) by 20 inches (height), multiply these dimensions as well. The total comes to 320 square inches. Converting it to square yards gives you around 0.25 yards.

So, adding the fabric needed for the seat and back, you get a total of 0.53 yards. But don’t head off to buy the fabric just yet. Remember the rule of thumb– always allow for some extra fabric. Add an extra 20% as a buffer which amounts to an additional 0.11 yards.

So, the total fabric required would be approximately 0.64 yards.

Let’s break that down in a simply readable table:

Chair PartFront Width(inches)Depth/Height(inches)Square inchesSquare yards
Extra (20%)0.11
Total Fabric Required0.64

This table best represents a single chair dimensions calculation. If you are reupholstering a dining set of six chairs, simply multiply the yards per chair by the number of chairs. Aim correct and you’ll not only preserve the style and comfort of your dining chairs but also demonstrate impressive DIY skills.

Consider the fabric pattern and repeat

Now that you’ve nailed down the fabric amount required lets delve into another crucial aspect of reupholstering – choosing the right patterned fabric and understanding fabric repeat.

Patterned fabric has a design that repeats over the fabric’s length. If you’re thinking, “what’s a fabric repeat?” it’s the distance between the point at which the pattern is identical again. Meaning, the design is beginning to repeat itself.

Let us say you found a beautiful floral pattern with large flowers every 18 inches. That’d be a pretty sizable repeat and could alter the amount of fabric you’d actually need. If you ignore the repeat, you could end up with flowers scattered at odd places across your chair; aesthetically, it wouldn’t be appealing. Understanding fabric repeat is a vital part in successful reupholstery.

When shopping for fabric, ask about the pattern repeat. Most fabric stores will list the pattern repeat on the end of the bolt or in the fabric’s online description. Bear in mind, patterns with a repeat of less than six inches will require about the same amount of fabric as a solid fabric. However, patterns with a larger repeat may require more fabric.

For larger repeats:

  • An 8- to 14-inch repeat can require an additional 1/8 yard.
  • A 15- to 21-inch repeat can need an extra 1/4 yard.
  • A repeat larger than 21 inches might necessitate an additional 1/3 yard.

To summarize, patterned fabric will inevitably bring in more character but if not handled well, can break the charm of your dining area. After all, scoring the pattern repeat right will contribute massively to the accomplished look of your furniture. In the next section, we’ll show you how to work with upholstery tools and techniques. After reading that, you’ll be ready to upholster your dining chair like a pro. Buckle up for your upcoming hands-on venture.

Account for errors and additional fabric

Account for errors and additional fabric

Let’s not forget the importance of preparing for the unexpected. It’s not just about accurate calculations; you also have to Account for errors and additional fabric. Remember, you’re not just acquiring fabric; you’re safeguarding your project.

Suppose you’re a perfectionist eager for your upholstery project to have a professional finish. In that case, you need to factor in possible errors, fabric damages, or the need for extra cuts. Adding an additional 20% to your fabric requirement estimate is recommended. Here’s a quick rundown of why:

  • Mistakes: Even the most experienced DIY enthusiasts occasionally fumble—it’s part of the process. Having extra fabric gives you the wiggle room to make errors and learn without ruining your project.
  • Damages: Upholstery fabric may arrive with flaws, discolorations, or even slight damages during shipping. If you’ve ordered just enough fabric for your dining chair, these flaws could become a significant problem.
  • Additional Cuts: Patterns often require careful and precise cuts which might consume more fabric than anticipated.

Putting it in numbers, consider an example where your initial fabric requirement was 2 yards. Based on the 20% additional estimate, which is 0.4 yards, your total fabric requirement comes to 2.4 yards.

Initial Fabric Requirement (yards)Additional Fabric (20%)Total Fabric Requirement (yards)

Always keep in mind the specific details about your fabric. If you’re working with a high-end or unique material, don’t skimp on ordering extra. It guarantees you have enough material in case of a miscalculation or mistake. It’s not about waste; it’s about securing your project’s success.

Your next step in upholstery mastery? Get to know about the essential upholstery tools and techniques you need to perform the work smoothly. Everything from staple guns to fabric scissors, and detailed stitching techniques that will level up your DIY skills. Stay tuned.

Tips for a successful reupholstering project

Tools of the Trade

Equip yourself with the correct tools to handle your project effectively. Among the essentials for your toolkit are:

  • Upholstery needle
  • Scissors
  • Staple gun
  • Seam ripper
  • Upholstery thread
  • Pliers
  • Rubber mallet
  • Tape measure

A solid grip on the right tools makes for a smoother uphill reupholstery journey. You’ll find that having these on hand will save you copious amounts of time and frustration.

Mastering Techniques

Understanding a few basic techniques can make your project simpler and more successful. Learn how to pull fabric taut without ripping it. Finish edges without raw frays showing. Puff up foam cushions without lumps. The list goes on! Learning these skills isn’t an overnight accomplishment. But don’t worry! There’s a wealth of online resources out there with tutorials and guides to help you along the way.

Error Allowance

Don’t forget to consider the 20% rule. Now, what’s that? It’s pretty simple. Always order an additional 20% of fabric to cushion against errors and unexpected issues. Accidents happen, so it’s always better to be prepared for them. This pointer is especially true when working with unique or expensive materials. You wouldn’t want to run short midway through your project, would you?

Remember, these tips aren’t an exhaustive list but they’re sure to send you off to a good start on your reupholstering project. So gather your tools, skill up on those techniques, and order enough fabric to keep your project on track!

The next section will discuss choosing and preparing your workspace for reupholstering.


So, you’ve mastered the art of reupholstering and learned the importance of the right tools. You now know the value of ordering extra fabric, and you’re ready to tackle this project with confidence. Remember, it’s not just about how much fabric you need to cover a dining chair. It’s also about pulling the fabric taut, finishing edges neatly, and choosing the right workspace. Don’t forget to refer to online tutorials if you’re ever stuck. With these skills, your dining chair will look brand new in no time. Happy reupholstering!

What tools are necessary for reupholstering?

To embark on a successful reupholstering project, you’ll need the right tools which include an upholstery needle, scissors, and a staple gun.

What techniques should I master for reupholstering?

Mastering certain techniques such as properly pulling fabric taut and finishing edges neatly can greatly improve the quality and finish of your reupholstering project.

Should I order extra fabric? How much?

Yes, it’s advisable to order additional fabric beyond the calculated amount. The article recommends a standard 20% extra to allow for errors or miscalculations, especially when dealing with unique materials.

Where can I get guidance for my reupholstering project?

Numerous online tutorials are available that provide step-by-step guidance for reupholstering. They offer practical tips and techniques for you to follow through your project efficiently.

How should I choose and prepare a workspace for reupholstering?

Choosing and preparing your workspace is crucial to your reupholstering project. Ideally, you want a comfortable, spacious area that can safely accommodate your tools and materials. This section will be covered in further detail in the next part of the article.