Archive for Monday, November 14, 2011


Remnant Rehab: Re-cover style on tired dining chairs

November 14, 2011


Recovering seats is an easy, cheap alternative to buying brand new ones.

Recovering seats is an easy, cheap alternative to buying brand new ones.

The holidays are coming. Maybe your family is, too. Maybe some friends. In any case, if you’re hosting a big meal this season, you’ll likely need a lot of seating.

Perhaps your dining chairs have seen better days. Or you had to pick up some at a garage sale that don’t match the others just so you would have enough.

There’s an easy fix for all of this, assuming you have the fairly standard wooden chairs with a removable seat: re-cover them.

A co-worker of mine asked me to make new covers for her kitchen stools out of scraps she had of other fabrics that coordinate with her décor. It was a fun challenge to work the small-ish scraps into pieces big enough to cover the whole seats, and I came up with a solution that both of us liked.


  • Paper
  • Marker
  • Ruler
  • Fabric
  • Scissors/rotary cutter
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Iron
  • Screwdriver or drill
  • Staple gun and staples


  1. Measure the seats and trace the shape onto a large piece of paper. I used newspaper, of course. Keep the shape in mind when making the cover — on most chairs, one end is wider than the other. You’ll need to have sufficient fabric to wrap underneath on all sides.
  2. Play with the scraps until you find a pattern that works. What I ended up with was not my original idea. For these, I cut the yellow floral scraps into strips and arranged them horizontally down the center and used the blue fabric vertically along the sides. The two seats aren’t exactly alike — the strips are arranged in different patterns — but the look is cohesive.
  3. Sew the pieces together as you’ve arranged them, using a 1/4-inch seam. With the iron, press the seams to one side on the wrong side of the patchwork. They don’t all have to be pressed the same direction; usually you press them toward the darker fabric, if there is one.
  4. Once the covers are ready to go, take the seat off the chair: Turn the chair upside down and take out the screws attaching the seat using a screwdriver or a drill with screwdriver bit.
  5. Lay the cover right-side down on your work surface. Lay the seat right-side down on top of the cover. Carefully stretch the fabric around the seat. Staple once in the center of each side to hold the fabric; then go around the sides, stapling the fabric all around.
  6. When finished stapling, put the chair upside down on top of the upside-down cover and screw the cover back on. Turn the chair right-side up and take a load off.

If you want to use just one piece of fabric for each cover rather than a patchwork piece: measure the seat and cut out the fabric, leaving overhang on all sides to attach it, then skip to Step 4.


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