How to Reupholster a Wingback Chair: Part 2 (Picture Tutorial)

March 30, 2010 |

In case you missed it, you can read How to Reupholster a Wingback Chair: Part 1 here.
You can see the before & after pictures of my own chair transformation here.

Now that we have your chair in a zillion pieces - wanna get it put back together?  Putting it back together is really very simple: use the fabric pieces you pulled off the chair as patterns to cut new pieces, and put them back on in reverse order of the way you took them off.  That's it.  See you tomorrow!

Just kidding.  It really is that simple, but I have taken some pictures to show you how to put it back together.  Let's just say I was a little lax in taking pictures, but I think there is enough for you to get the jist.

I hope, hope, hope that when and if you attempt this yourself, you'll be really good about marking the pieces as they come off:
  1. Number them so you know what order they were removed in.  This makes it easy to put them all back on in reverse order.
  2. Also mark which end was up.  This helps you to know which way to position the piece on the new fabric so you can cut your new pieces and have the pattern all facing the right way.  You don't want any upside down flowers, etc.
If you do the above two things well, putting it back together is a cinch!

So to start, you need a space to spread out your new fabric so you can lay the old pieces on top.  In both of the chairs I've done (the black damask, and this earthy floral) I did not worry about matching up the pattern and making it perfect.  This is a DIY reupholstery job, not a Coach hand bag!  One thing before I forget... we ordered 5 yards of fabric.  We had about a half a yard leftover, but we did have to re-cut one of the pieces, so we would have had a bit more.  It's better to have more than you need than less!

Cut out the pieces making sure to not to skimp or cut the pieces any smaller!  Sometimes the old pieces of fabric that you are using as your patterns want to curl under because of the creases they have... but you need to make sure you flatten them and cut out around them.  It would really stink to get your piece on and realize that it won't cover all it needs to (that happened to us on this one)!

Some of your pieces, like this front piece and the wings required some sewing.  But all you need to do is take them apart using a seam ripper, use the pieces as patterns, and sew the new pieces back together exactly the same.

This front strip was the first piece to go back on.  You can't see it in this photo, but there is extra fabric along the bottom that stretches down under the chair and is stapled to the bottom of the frame.  We also stapled it like where you see the flowery fabric meet the white fabric.

There is a wood bar in there that we stapled it to.  This part could have been prettier, but in order to wrap the fabric around the frame (as you are supposed to), we literally would have had to tear the chair apart... again, this is DIY not designer, and the chair cushion goes here so.... that's what we did.

Next were the arm pieces.  Because when I took them off I marked which one was the left arm and right arm, they were super simple to put back on (hint, hint)!

See the photo for helpful hints :).

This is the side of the chair, showing where the arm rest piece was stapled.

Next to go on where the wings.  You will need to also need to create some matching piping for various places.  This chair required it on the wings and the seat cushion.  There is an uh-maze-ing method for creating a long bias tape and sewing piping shown here about half way down.  I will never create piping any other way again!!!!!  It was a little tricky the first time but once you "get it" it's really easy.

The wings just slipped on over the wood form, and were stapled at the back of the chair frame.

Next was the back rest.  Like the part you rest your back on (hence the name "backrest"), not to be confused with the back of the chair.  I'll let the pictures do the talking.  They are worth 1,000 words after all, and I feel I may have already typed 1,000 today.

Now attaching to the frame on the back side:

    Here is where I seriously blew it with the pictures... I should have taken a picture of this process.  We put the arm rest pieces back on way back when, but we have to put the outer side panels back on.

    Remember the scary metal teeth we took off in Part 1?  We need to replace them along the front of this piece.  You also need to use a cardboard strip along the top for support, otherwise your fabric is going to not have a hard, straight line across the top and it will look like crap.  Just sayin'.  I'm bummed I didn't take pictures of that, but if you took the chair apart, you should know how it goes back together right? In theory...

    Finally... FINALLY! The back piece (not to be confused with back rest, discussed earlier in this post).

    This chair had a fancy little curve to the top of it.  So I did what any serious DIYer would do... I busted out my glue gun.

    I used my glue gun to stretch and attach the fabric on this wood piece.  I cut little slits along the fabric to help it along the curves and avoid wrinkling and puckering.

    Then I held the piece up to the back of the chair, stapled the wood piece to the back of the chair frame so that the back piece was secure at the top.  Then (darn, didn't take pictures again!) I used more scary metal teeth along the sides of the back to secure them.  There was extra fabric at the bottom that I stapled to the bottom of the chair frame.

    We are done!  Woot, woot!

    I'm linking this to:
    Between Naps on the Porch - Metamorphosis Monday


    Anonymous said...

    I want to re cover my wing chair, this is really helpful....just not sure about the piping, did you rip out of old fabric then sew into new? Want to come over and help me???Maybe we could do the sofa too!Deb in PA

    Julia said...

    Turned out great!

    Becky@Beyond The Picket Fence said...

    This is such a great tutorial! Hey, you are my inspiration of the week. Don't forget to grab an I inspired Beyond The Picket Fence button to show off :). Thanks!

    Allison Shops said...

    The chair turned out great - nice tutorial too!

    Be sure to stop by AtticMag this week for a Giveaway!

    Shelia said...

    Oh, my goodness you're good! Your chair looks so awesome! I need you to come and help me with my two winged backs! :)
    Be a sweetie,
    shelia ;)

    Lisa said...

    I'm always in total AWE of people who undertake upholstering. I just dont have the nerve. I have a chair that I would love to do. You're job is amazingly professional. Fantastic job!

    Love Where You LIve said...

    This is impressive. I'm going to try this -- one of these days when I have the time so I don't get impatient. Thanks for the tips. You make it seem easy....hmmm.... Time will tell (smile). Great job!! cheers, -susan

    Kim @ Starshine Chic said...

    Fabulous! You make it look so easy.

    santamaker said...

    I am taking an upholstery class right now and we are doing almost exactly the same thing ... it is harder than I thought...You did a great job. The chair is gorgeous!

    Stephanie said...

    I have one question- Did you reuse the "scary metal teeth", or did you purchase new ones?


    Melissa Lester said...

    Compared to a wing chair, a Parson's chair would have to be a piece of cake. I'm bookmarking your tutorial so I can reread it when I'm ready to take on this project.

    Melinda said...

    I was wondering what kind of staple gun you used for this project. I bought an electric staple gun, but it really isn't doing the trick. Do you use a pneumatic?

    Paul & Emily said...

    How did you do the seat cushion?

    letterjay said...

    I am just about to start reupholstering two old wingback chairs. I purchased an upholstery book that suggested buying 10 yards for a wingback. Are you SURE that five yards will be enough? Mine looks pretty much like the one covered in this tutorial, not bigger or chunkier or anything… Any guidance appreciated, I would hate to order 10 yards too much!

    Kelly said...

    oh my. I so want to try this as I have 3 dated chairs I inherited from my grandmother's house! Thanks for the detailed instructions!

    Anonymous said...

    Thanks for the tutorial. Not one video that I've looked at (and I've looked at over 50) shows how to use the metal teeth to put the back on. Frustrating, cuz I'm stuck here.

    Anonymous said...

    I read your before post, thank you for both post. I think I am now ready to tackle the 2 wing back chairs I just bought at a yard sale for $1 each.

    Jullia Grace said...


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