Reupholster chairs yourself!

I decided a while ago I was going to embark on some DIY… re-cover the kids mini-recliners with some matching fabric so they fit into our home décor better. Whilst the project really didn’t take more than about 10 hours to complete, it really did take me about a month to do it (around school projects, work, cooking, cleaning etc!).

A set of expensive vinyl mini-recliners that were a gift from Nanna only a year or so ago were in need of a make-over. They were in good condition, however one of the seams had split, and the vinyl would stick to the walls in hot weather and leave awful marks. The vinyl fabric wasn’t that comfortable either … sticky in summer and cold in winter.  Despite their faults, they were sturdy and practical chairs for the kids, and we wanted to get more use out of them … what better way to revamp them than to simply re-cover them?

The project was probably a 4 out of 5 for difficulty. Being a recliner increased the difficulty, I think a standard armchair would be much easier.  I’m an amateur in the area of sewing and upholstery, so I was very careful with my planning and took my time with each of the steps.

Instructions: Upholster Kid’s Recliner Chairs

Materials Required for TWO Chairs
• 3.2m fabric
• Thread and Fishing Line
• 6 x Press Studs
• 4 x Buttons

Tools Required
• Sewing Machine, Needle, Pins
• Staple Gun and staples (can buy from Bunnings for about $30)

I picked up some lovely fabric from Spotlight at 40% off, totalling $25 including thread. I had a collection of old buttons and press-studs at home, and my hubby had some fishing line under the house.  I also already owned a sewing machine and staple gun.


I drew some diagrams of the chair, marked out all the measurements and made my own patterns with newspaper.

Before buying the fabric, I measured the width of the fabric on the roll, and put together a plan of where my pieces would fit on the fabric to work out the best use and eliminate fabric waste.

I used this plan together with my pattern to cut out the pieces and zigzag all the edges to prevent frays.

After sewing each piece together, I would fit it to the chair to double-check. I did this through the entire process. If you can pull the chair apart, you have a major advantage. You can simply cover the chair pieces with fabric and staple around the edges. Unfortunately, my chairs would not come apart, so I sewed together what pieces I could, and then stapled them into place.

I simply placed the fabric over the existing vinyl rather than removing it all. The hardest part was the buttons on the cushions. I did end up removing the vinyl at the back, so I could access the buttons from behind the chair. This is where the fishing line came in handy. It was much sturdier to secure the buttons to the rear of the chair to create the ‘indented’ look with the buttons. I tried using thread, but the tension was too tight and it would break.

DIY recliner recovering

So all up, I think the project took about 10 hours of my time, and $25 from my purse. The kids love their ‘new’ chairs and feel much more comfortable with the ‘soft’ fabric, and I love that the fabric suits our lounge room.

So if you’ve got any old chairs that need a new look – it’s amazing what you can do with a bit of fabric and a staple gun!  Go crazy, and send us pics of your projects!

Written by Alison

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