How to Easily Reupholster Dining Seat Cushions

This tutorial will show you how to get a brand new look for very little money by recovering your own chair cushions in fabric!
chairs before and after
Updated May, 2022

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I've been working on small projects around my home, like this one...reupholstering my dining room chairs in classic black and white houndstooth fabric!

If you learn this easy technique, you can save yourself so much money! You can get a new look anytime you like! In fact, I just recovered them again, CLICK HERE to see the newest look! Re-upholstering dining chairs is really easy and I can't wait to show you how!

Here's what you'll need to recover your seat cushions:


That's it! It's a small list and a very do-able project, even if you don't consider yourself a DIYer! Before we get to the "how-to", let me tell you a little story about how we came to own this table and chairs set.

dining room chairs before

Roughly 8 years ago we moved from FL to TN and had to leave our beautiful antique farmhouse table behind because of its fragility.

I spent weeks scouring CL and thrift stores, looking for a set to replace it. But I didn't want to settle for just ANY set. I had a wish list for our new dining set.
  • I wanted curves
  • I wanted a huge table that could seat a crowd
  • I wanted a little caning
  • I wanted it all for no more than $350!

So when I spotted this set on CL (at a thrift store in Nashville), I was ecstatic...until I saw the price...$750. It was everything I wanted with 3 large leaves for the table, 5 chairs and it was a beautiful, natural pecan. But, it was WAY over our budget. 

I kept looking, but made a note to check on this one periodically. A few weeks later I was scrolling, and in disbelief saw that this very dining set that I'd had my eye on had been marked down to $350...for a quick sale!!!!!!! I immediately called Mr DIY at work and literally begged him to drop EVERYthing, borrow a truck, and hoof it to Nashville to pick up my dream set! We only lived 30 minutes from downtown Nashville, so it was totally do-able!

My sweet, darling husband did as I asked and headed up to buy my dream dining set. I can't remember why I didn't go with him (maybe one of the kids was home sick). Anyway, I received a call from Mr DIY claiming there was no such table and chairs there. The only one he could find had a really bad blackish paint job on the chairs. He sent me a pic and I confirmed it was indeed the set.

I was so disappointed that someone had RUINED it! But guess what??

Mr DIY talked them down to $200 for the whole set! That's my guy 💗 

He brought it home and I resolved to make it beautiful once again. I painted the chairs, table apron and legs with black chalk paint and wiped on dark wax for an even richer black. I refinished the top of the table. The chairs were without their original seats and the ones they had were awful. Someone had cut seats with straight lines and they didn't fit properly. So we tossed them. I made a pattern and Mr DIY cut brand new plywood seats with curves. I wrapped them in foam and batting, and added a really fun (and trendy) black and white chevron fabric.

This dining set is part of our story now! It made the move with us to TX three years ago. It's so fun to open it up with all the leaves when we have a crowd over! It's kind of funny because the table extends into our entryway and the person at that end is literally sitting in the hall 😉 but we're all sitting at the same table!

Now that you know a little history about this set, let's talk about how to recover the dining seats with new fabric. I have to say that I really wish reupholstering a sofa was as easy as doing chairs! This whole project took me just a couple hours!

How to Reupholster Dining Chairs

I decided it was time to recover our chairs when I found black and white houndstooth upholstery fabric at a huge discount at Hobby Lobby! It was marked down to just a little over $4/yard! I bought 3 yards to recover my dining chairs, and I was even able to make a little pumpkin pillow with some of the leftover fabric.

The great thing about upholstery fabric is its weight and the yardage. It has a nice, heavy weight to it and it's usually 54-60" wide, which is about 10" wider than most fabrics. Bottom line, you don't need to buy as much fabric! I planned to recover 6 dining seat cushions and was hoping I'd have enough, and I'm pleased to say that I did, with a couple pieces leftover for another project!

Step One - remove seats

Flip your chairs over. You'll see a screw hole in each corner. Remove seats from chairs with a screwdriver or drill. Set screws aside somewhere safe because you'll be reusing them!

unscrew seat

Step Two - cut fabric to fit

Lay your fabric out, wrong side up, on a large flat surface. Set one seat upside down along a corner. You'll want to cut your fabric with an overlap of 1-2" (that means that 1-2" will wrap over to the back of the seat). Start with the larger number! If you have a pattern on your fabric, make sure to line it up properly so it's straight. Cut the fabric essentially in a large square around the seat.

cut fabric to fit seat

Please note that if your chair seats have multiple layers of fabric, you'll probably want to pull one or two off to reduce bulk! Since our seats were new, they only had the chevron and I chose to leave it because it was helping to hold the foam and batting in place and I didn't want to have to mess with that!

Step Three - staple fabric to seats

The way I like to attach the fabric is to start by stapling the middle of each side opposite each other. So I pulled the fabric around and stapled the top, then the bottom, then the right and left. Here I have a staple in the top and the bottom (a little hard to see because of the chevron!)

staple fabric to seat

Designer Tip: When stapling fabric to seats, you want the fabric snug, but if you pull too tightly you wind up with lumps along the edge as it squishes the foam underneath! So pull snug, but not TOO hard!

Once I have my four staples in place on each side, I add a couple more to each side of that., staying away from the corners for the moment.

Step Five - staple corners

Here's how to get perfect corners. Staple the sides up to about 2-3" from the corner, as you see below. Smooth fabric and pull the corner fabric to the middle of the seat, then overlap each side, one at a time, with a fold. This creates an attractive pleat that lays nice and flat.

staple corners of fabric

In the picture below, I've pulled the fabric to the middle, and folded over one side. 

create pleat in corners

Do the same with the other side of the fabric and staple in place so it looks like this.

corner with pleats

I tried to make this really simple to understand, but if you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask!

Step Six - finish stapling

Continue stapling any areas that need it so you have staples 1-2" apart all the way around the entire chair seat.

Step Seven - trim fabric

Trim the excess fabric to reduce the bulk. To make reattaching the seats easier, make sure you can SEE your screw holes. If they're covered in fabric, that's ok, but it will be more difficult to reattach.

trim excess fabric

Flip chair over and make sure the fabric looks good and your pattern is even.

front of seat

Step Eight - protect fabric

This step is super important unless you want to be reupholstering your chairs again in a month! Take a couple hours and spray a couple light coats of ScotchGard on each seat cushion. This will help to block stains and make clean up easier! I took my seat cushions outside to my patio and protected the surface with a large piece of plywood. I was only able to do two at a time, so it took awhile, but I'm glad I took this extra step to protect the fabric!

stack of chair seats

Step Nine - reattach seats

Reattach upholstered seat cushions to dining room chairs! Admire your hard work and all the money you saved! I love how this easy project can breathe new life into your dining set and give it a whole new look!

classic houndstooth covered chairs in dining room

Remember I said that our dining set only came with 5 chairs? Well, I found a similar chair at Goodwill around the same time that I bought this set. I painted it white and made it a flirty little skirt with pleats ala Miss Mustard Seed

I decided to redo its seat cushion with the houndstooth so the chairs match, but I left the chair itself white! I like that it's just a little bit different from the rest! Can you guess who's seat this is? Momma gets the pretty white chair!!

white chair with houndstooth pattern seat cushion

It's a subtle change, but I am really loving the classic houndstooth in our modern farmhouse dining room! It's a little bit like chevron is the trendy high schooler and houndstooth is the classy older sister! Always in style, always making a statement!

I hope that this tutorial fills you with confidence to reupholster your own dining seat cushions!

Remember I said that I've recovered them again? I found fabric on Amazon for only $16 and love the lighter look. You can find out what I used for my fabric by clicking here.

white chair recovered in blue and white toile, basket with blue and white vintage plates

Love this project? Here are some more fabric tutorials:

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dining seats recovered in fresh new fabric
bringing beauty to the ordinary, 


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