How to Measure and Reupholster: Kitchen and Dining Room Chairs

The fabric on kitchen and dining room chairs can become worn and dirty over time, especially if you have messy eaters in your house. Or, you may just want to update the look of your chairs if they’ve become outdated.

Structurally sound kitchen and dining room chairs that are in otherwise good shape are an excellent choice for reupholstering. You can update the look of your kitchen or dining room with new fabric for your chairs. Typically, this is an easy project that requires little measurement and may not even require sewing, depending on the design of your chair.

Measurements are simple with chairs that only have fabric on the seat, but some kitchen and dining room chairs have fabric everywhere except the legs, and that can be more difficult. It’s important to make sure you have enough fabric to fully cover your chairs. With the right measurements, recovering the chairs in your kitchen or dining room can be a simple project.

How Much Fabric You Need to Reupholster a Kitchen or Dining Room Chair

How much fabric you need to reupholster a kitchen or dining room chair depends on the type of chair you have. Chairs that only have fabric on the seat will need less than a yard to cover two chairs, about three-quarters of a yard. Chairs with fabric covering the back support will need two to three yards each.

However, as every chair has its own shape and size, you’ll need to measure to be sure. You should also keep in mind that you may want to turn your fabric one way or another for appropriate patterns.

Measuring Your Kitchen or Dining Room Chair

With a seat-only kitchen or dining room chair, your work here is easy. All you’ll need to do is remove the seat from the chair and measure the height and length at the largest point for each. Make sure you’re leaving at least two to three inches extra on each side so you’ll have room to securely attach the fabric to the chair.

With a kitchen or dining room chair that’s more completely covered in fabric, you’ll need to take additional measurements.

Method 1: Measure the Chair

If you prefer to measure the chair, you’ll take measurements of each section of the chair while the old fabric is still on. If you’d like to, you can keep the old fabric in place and simply recover over it, but chairs generally look better if you completely remove the old fabric.

  • Step 1: Measure the seat cushion. If the chair’s seat cushion is removable, take it out and record measurements for length, height, and thickness. If not, simply measure the length and height of the seat at its largest points.
  • Step 2: Measure the back. Go to the back of the chair to measure the fabric area for height and width. Be sure to measure it from its highest point to its lowest.
  • Step 3: Measure the back support. Measure the inside of the back where your back rests, taking measurements from the top to the seat, as well as the width.
  • Step 4: Measure the chair arms and depth. If your chair has arms, don’t skip this step. Start your measurement on the outside at the bottom of the chair, then measure over the arm into the seat. You should also measure the depth of the chair.
  • Step 5: Add a few inches to all of your measurements. It’s a good idea to add a few inches to each measurement so you have room for error and plenty of room to cut and upholster.
  • Step 6: Add up your measurements. Take all of your measurements and add them together. This will give you your total amount of fabric in inches. You can divide by 36 to convert it to yards. Don’t forget to multiply if you’re covering more than one chair–and always round up, because you’d rather have more fabric than not enough.

Method 2: Measure the Fabric Pieces

If you plan to remove the old fabric before reupholstering and you’d rather not measure the chair itself, you can use the old fabric pieces instead, using them as a pattern. You won’t need to measure at all unless you’re not sure of how much fabric to order.

  • Step 1: Disassemble the chair and remove the fabric. Gently remove existing fabric from the chair, taking care to keep each piece intact.
  • Step 2: Lay out your fabric. Lay down your new fabric, and then lay all of the old fabric pieces down on top of your new fabric. Pay attention to the direction you’re placing each piece if there’s a pattern in the fabric.
  • Step 3: Trace out pieces. Use chalk or pencil to trace patterns from the old fabric onto the new piece.
  • Step 4: Cut out your pieces. Leave a few inches around the outside of each piece as you cut it out on the new fabric.

Reupholstering Kitchen and Dining Room Chairs

Once you’ve prepared your fabric, it’s time to reupholster. Follow these steps to get a new look for your kitchen and dining room chairs.

  • Step 1: Disassemble your chair: If you haven’t already, remove each piece from the chair as much as possible. Consider labeling them on the inside so you don’t get confused when it’s time to reassemble.
  • Step 2: Add extra cushion: While you’re reupholstering, you may want to take the opportunity to replace worn-out cushions. Consider adding extra padding with new foam or stuffing. You can even use an old pillow.
  • Step 3: Apply and staple new fabric: Place the fabric on each piece and fold down any corners. Use a staple gun to secure the fabric to the support, using several staples. Remember to pull the fabric tight so it won’t be loose when you put the chair back together.
  • Step 4: Trim extra fabric: Once your fabric is securely attached to the chair, trim extra fabric so your chair doesn’t have unnecessary bulk. Generally, you can leave an inch or two extra if you’d like.
  • Step 5: Reassemble your chair and enjoy: With all of the fabric pieces attached, put your chair back together, putting screws back in place and securing all hardware. Consider applying additional finishing touches, such as ornamental studs.

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