{DIY} How To Reupholster a (Dumpster Dive) Slipper Chair

The project that’s been on our to-do list since last February finally got done this weekend! Partly because it just needed to get done. Mainly because my new job has a weekly Monday morning all-agency video-conference meeting between the San Francisco and New York offices where one person from each office has to give a non-work “weekend update,” and I’m it for San Francisco today. Nothing like the pressure of reporting something interesting to all your uber-creative colleagues to inspire a furniture makeover!

My new colleagues are going to learn about my dirty little secret of Dumpster Diving because Gwyneth and I finally reupholstered our second dumpster dive slipper chair (the first one is in our bedroom). And you get the “Reupholstery for the Everygal” tutorial because we finally took the time to take photos and share the how-to with you here! Hopefully they’re not horrified that the majority of our furniture came from the trash, and you are inspired to do a project that looks more intimidating than it actually is! Here’s how our slipper chair turned out:

DIY Upholstered Slipper Chair

Hard to believe we put this project off for so long, considering we’re out of storage space and have had this eyesore on display in the corner of our living room since we moved to San Francisco. Here’s the before:

DIY Slipper Chair Reupholstery Tutorial_Before

Lovely, right?

This DIY isn’t too difficult, but you must take your time. Gwyneth and I worked on ours steadily over the weekend, breaking for other to-do’s and long walks when we needed a break from the staple-gunning. If you want to reupholster a slipper chair, here’s what you’ll need:

  1. A measuring tape
  2. 2 yards of fabric per chair (obviously will vary based on the dimensions of your chair)
  3. 1.5 yards of trim (again, definitely measure your chair before you buy)
  4. Fabric scissors
  5. Baby scissors
  6. A staple gun & staples
  7. Pliers
  8. A rubber mallet & hammer
  9. A gluegun & glue sticks (not pictured)

DIY Slipper Chair Upholstery Supplies

A warning before we begin – This is the kind of project you want to do only if you are due for a manicure and need to vacuum. After reupholstering anything, you will need a trip to the nail salon and a good 15 minutes with the Dyson.  Now that we’ve saved you from ruining a fresh mani, let’s get started.

First, use your pliers to remove all of the old fabric from your chair. You want to take your time here, rather than ripping off the old fabric because you will use it as a pattern later.

DIY Slipper Chair Reupholstery How To

As you can see, this part takes a while and can be a little boring.

Gwyneth Helping

Here’s the most important tip out of this entire post – take a lot of detail photos as you remove the old fabric. These are very handy reference to see how the various pieces of fabric fit together when it’s time to start staple gunning. Here are a few we snapped as we deconstructed our chair:

DIY Slipper Chair Reupholstery Steps

Once you’ve removed all of the old fabric, you’ll see there are three separate pieces. One for the seat, one for the front of the chair back and one for the back of the chair back. Use the old fabric pieces as patterns to cut your new fabric.

DIY Slipper Chair Upholstery

Then set the two pieces for the back of the chair aside and start with the seat. Start by draping the fabric for the seat on top.

DIY Slipper Chair Upholstery

 Then flip your chair upside down and use your staple gun to attach the fabric underneath the seat on the left and right sides.

DIY Slipper Chair Upholstery

Start with one side, pull the fabric taut and staple the other side. Then pull taut again and staple gun the front.

DIY Slipper Chair Upholstery

Then flip your chair over, so you can work on the corners. Start on the side of the chair and pull the fabric down, towards the floor. Add a staple or two

DIY Slipper Chair Upholstery

Then on the front of the chair, fold the fabric, so the excess is tucked behind and you have a straight edge at the corner. Secure with your staple gun, and trim the excess with your baby scissors. (Your full-sized fabric scissors won’t be as accurate here.)

DIY Slipper Chair Upholstery

Next shove the excess fabric at the back of the seat through, so it sticks out when you turn the chair around. Leave it like this for now.

DIY Slipper Chair Upholstery

Now you’re ready to work on the back of the seat. Drape your fabric over the back of the chair, and shove the fabric at the bottom through the back, just like you did with the seat. Staple gun both pieces of fabric to the wood bar at the back of the seat to secure them both.

DIY Slipper Chair Upholstery

Next, pull the sides taught and staple gun them to secure. Do the same at the top, being sure to tuck excess fabric under to create clean corners.

DIY Slipper Chair Upholstery

Where the back of the chair meets the seat, tuck the fabric under about 1/8″, so you have a clean seam and use your glue gun to secure to the seat.

DIY Slipper Chair Upholstery

Now you’re ready to move on to the back panel. Flip your chair over again and staple gun the fabric to the underside of the chair.

DIY Slipper Chair Upholstery

Flip your chair over, pull the fabric up and pin it to the back of the chair so it stays in place while you work on the bottom trim.

DIY Slipper Chair Upholstery

Now that all of the fabric is attached under the chair, you can add your trim. If you like to sew and are very skilled, then you can make your own piping out of the same fabric as the chair. If you are like us, you can fake it by buying taped cording that you can staple gun instead. If you’re going our route, flip your chair over again and staple gun the tape evenly to the edge of all four sides. If you are very skilled at upholstery, then you know that you can use your staple gun to attach the cording to the legs without seeing the staples. If you’re on our level, you can use a glue gun here instead.

DIY Slipper Chair Upholstery

Now all that’s left is to attach the back panel to your chair. This is where it gets very difficult to use your staple gun, so we recommend using a glue gun instead. Just tuck the ends under for an even seam and glue the back panel evenly to the back of the chair.

DIY Slipper Chair Upholstery

DIY Slipper Chair Upholstery

Now break out your Dyson to clean up the mess, go treat yourself to a new manicure and take a break from all your hard work. As you can see, Gwyneth skipped right to the last step.

Gwyneth The New Yorkie Supervising

We’ll have a few more photos of our chair to share later this week as part of the living room update we’ve been working on!

xoxo,

mk & Gwynnie

Comments

  1. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Very nice! Its so smart to use the previous fabric as a template to make your pattern from.

    • Meredith & Gwyneth says:

      Thank you, pearls! Definitely helps to have something to go by when you’re a beginner like we are!

      xoxo,
      mk & G

  3. Vickie H. says:

    Nice job! Love your fabric choice……AND your nail color, too!

    • Meredith & Gwyneth says:

      Thank you, Vickie! The nail polish is OPI Eurso Euro! It’s a good year-round blue! (And it definitely needed a makeover when we were done with our chair!)

      xoxo,
      mk & Gwynnie

  4. Love the pop of pink, Meredith! The new chair makeover looks great.

    • Meredith & Gwyneth says:

      Thank you! Glad to get this one out of the way, so we can get to our window treatments! Hope we can do something as cute as yours turned out!

      xoxo,
      mk & Gwynnie

  5. looks great!!! any tips on recovering a sofa? or should i just leave that to the pros?

    • Meredith & Gwyneth says:

      Oh Michelle you are giving us too much credit! No tips on recovering a sofa from us. Definitely out of our skill level! We’d leave that one to the pros. But then again, your headboard looks like it came from a custom upholstery shop, so maybe you should go for it!

      xoxo,
      mk & Gwynnie

  6. Beautiful!! Thanks for the tutorial and photos…great job!

  7. I love the fabric color & texture, very beautiful. Thanks for the tutorial, it looks great!

    • Meredith & Gwyneth says:

      Thank you, Kristi! We knew we couldn’t possibly do another pattern in our space, so the texture was the answer! We must think alike!

      xoxo,
      mk & Gwynnie

  8. You are brave woman- and it looks lovely! Great job!!

    • Meredith & Gwyneth says:

      Oh thank you, but you are giving us too much credit! It’s easy to be brave when it’s a dumpster find you’re making over! Love a low risk DIY!

      xoxo,
      mk & Gwynnie

  9. VeeLashae says:

    Ladies you did an absolutely fabulous job! I love how shade of pink is close to that of your door (and trunk).

    • Meredith & Gwyneth says:

      So sweet! Thank you! We had a lot of fun with it! Now we’re going to have to pause on the pink for a little bit!

      xoxo,
      mk & Gwynnie

  10. I love it! I’ve been looking for really comprehensive tutorials on reupholstering and this one is by far the best. I plan on doing three chairs: two of which are tufted pier 1 slipper chairs, and the other is a double winged-back chair I would like to tuft on my own. Could you give me some tips and advice for a novice? Thanks!

    • Meredith & Gwyneth says:

      Hi Liz! Good luck with your chairs! Hopefully the tutorial here helps you with your slippers! The wingback sounds like it’s a little outside of our skill level, but hopefully there’s a good tutorial on Pinterest? We do have a great tutorial for tufting, though. Here’s the link: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/444871269411058773/

      xoxo,
      mk & G

Speak Your Mind

*