Dining room chairs are only one type of chair that consists of a flat seat and a separate seatback that can be removed. These chairs are unique in how their upholstery process works. For starters, upholstering these chairs may require both sewing and handyman skills.
Before you can dive in and start hammering away at the nailhead trim or fabric tacks, you need to have an idea of the upholstery fabric you will use and how much of it you need. Let’s find out just how to measure your dining room chairs.
The Best Ways to Measure Dining Room Chairs for Upholstery Fabric
To measure your dining room chairs, you will need these items:
- Flexible measuring tape
- Calculator (if your math is also somewhat lacking—like mine)
Method One: Measuring From Scratch
Follow these steps to measure the dining room seat top:
1. Draw the shape of the dining room chair seat on your paper.
2. Measure the distance from the middle of the back edge of the seat panel to the middle front edge of the seat panel. Write this measurement down. This will be your length.
3. Next, measure the distance from the left side edge to the right side edge, running your tape measure over the middle part of the seat from left to right. Note the measurement as this is the width of the seat panel.
4. Add in allowances for folding the upholstery fabric to staple it to the bottom of the chair or to sew to a bottom panel, if your chair has one. You should add in 3-4 inches per side of the seat panel. This means that if your seat measurement is 27 inches, then your final measurement may be 33 inches.
5. It may also be necessary to measure an additional panel in the shape of the seat bottom. Simply measure the length (back of the seat to the front of the seat) and width (left to right side of the seat). Add an additional inch on either side for fabric foldover to ensure you can fold and staple or nail the seat bottom to the back of the seat panel.
Repeat the above steps for the rear of the back panel.
6. Draw the shape of the seatback panel on the paper.
7. Measure the distance from the bottom back edge of the seatback. Write down this measurement as it’s the length of the seatback panel.
8. Measure across the back panel of the seatback, providing you with your seat back width.
9. Be sure to measure the widest part of the seatback to ensure you have enough fabric. Add an additional 3-4 inches for the top and side measurement to ensure you have an extra allowance.
Repeat the above steps for the front of the back panel.
10. Measure the length from the top of the seatback to the bottom.
11. Measure the width from the left to the right of the seat back at the widest part.
12. Add an additional 3-4 inches to both the top and the side of the measurements to ensure you have enough fabric for folding or for hems or seams.
Method Two: Working off the Existing Dining Room Chairs Pattern
Sometimes, the easiest way to measure your dining room chairs for upholstery is to remove the existing upholstery and measure the pattern that had previously been used. Simply loosen the seat and pop out the seat back from the frame. Remove any nailhead trim, carefully unpluck stitches, and measure the patterns as follow:
1. Measure the seat top from the top to the bottom of the longest section—this is your length.
2. Measure the seat top from the left side to the right side across the widest part—this is your width.
3. Repeat this for the bottom of the seat section.
4. Add an additional 3-4 inches to the length and again to the width for folding or sewing allowances.
5. Measure the seat back (front section) from the top of the pattern to the bottom of the pattern—this is your length.
6. Measure the seat back (front section) from the left to the right across the widest section of the pattern—this is your width.
7. Add an additional 3-4 inches to the length and again to the width for folding and hems or seams.
8. Repeat this for the seat back (back section) measuring the longest and widest parts.
Measuring for Patterned Fabric for Dining Room Chairs
Chances are that you will want a patterned fabric. If you work with stripes, you may want to adjust the placement on the fabric section to accommodate vertical or horizontal stripes. Unless you are working with a very large pattern, your pattern repeat will fit within the dining room chairs’ measurements with little to no additional vertical coverage needed.
You can use the Kovi Fabrics Yardage Calculator to help you with measuring upholstery fabric by matching your dining room chair type to the images on the chart. This will give you an accurate yardage measurement that is needed to upholster that particular type of chair.
The pattern repeat is also different for each pattern type, and by speaking to a Kovi consultant, you can determine the additional percentage you should order for your upholstery project.
If you order a fabric that has a 15% vertical repeat, you would need to order the additional 15% to accommodate the vertical pattern repeat. Due to the small size of dining room chairs, no additional yardage is sometimes needed to meet your project goals.
The Final Verdict on Upholstering Your Own Dining Room Chairs
Dining room chairs are often easy to upholster and some even require no stitching at all. It all depends on the pattern, measurement, and design. Whether you sew covers or upholster your dining room chairs with a staple gun or by using nailhead trim, you should make sure to measure accurately or you may find yourself ordering too little or too much fabric.