Home » Decorating & Home » Reupholstery 101: Tutorial By Retro Guest Andrea

October 26, 2010

Reupholstery 101: Tutorial By Retro Guest Andrea

Hello All!  I am very pleased to bring you this great reupholstery tutorial that was written by the lovely and talented Andrea, who is the owner of Sew What? a fun retro fabric shop. She also has recently become a new mommy!  Congrats, Andrea! Enjoy her fun tutorial and watch her reupholster a vintage high chair! 

After seeing Sara in AZ’s awesome posts on the reupholstery work that she had done to her living room furniture, it got me thinking – while reupholstering something like a couch is best left to the professionals in most cases, I wondered if the other readers out there knew how easy it is to do basic upholstery themselves? 

Basic upholstery is actually pretty easy to do, and can really cheaply refurbish a piece of furniture. In my particular example, I am going to reupholster the seat of a sweet mid-century high chair. However, this same technique would work well for something like a stool, ottoman, bench, etc. 

So, let’s get started! 

Here’s my before picture (with my lovely assistant, Diablo!)– unfortunately I didn’t get a picture before my husband took it apart for me. You will want to take apart whatever it is that you’re reupholstering, so you can preferably have the part to be worked on completely separate from the rest of the piece.


This was the seat of the high chair after I removed the many many layers of duct tape. The rest of the high chair – awesome shape. The seat – ew!


So, to prep the seat for reupholstering, I pulled out the staples, and pulled off all of the stuffing and old vinyl, leaving me with the wood base of the seat, which was still in good shape, and ready to use again. 


Now, here’s all of the materials that I am going to use to reupholster the seat. I originally planned to find a yellow vinyl of some sort to reupholster the seat. However, after much searching both online and in stores, I couldn’t find anything that I liked, or that I thought would match well. So, I am using a product called Heat n’ Bond vinyl. Most fabric stores carry this product. You iron this on to any fabric of your choosing, and it turns it into a waterproof vinyl fabric. I am going to use it to turn the Moda Funky Monkeys fabric (which is from my store). Also, normally I would just use a single slab of foam. I couldn’t find any of the right size on the day I went to the big city to look for it, so this is why I am going to join the smaller foam cushions. Ideally, a foam slab a bit bigger than what you are upholstering is ideal. 


I have hot glued the foam slabs to the wooden base, and left lots of overhang. 


Using a serrated kitchen knife, I’ve now trimmed the foam to fit the wooden base. Chances are, your edge is going to look choppy like mine does, but that’s OK, it’s not going to affect the finished product.


I am also adding a layer of quilt batting. This step is optional. I am adding the batting because I am joining two pieces of foam together. However, if you’ve got a proper sized piece of foam to work with, you can skip this step. I’ve put some hot glue down between the foam and quilt batting just to tack it in place.


I’ve now flipped the seat over, and used my staple gun to staple down all four sides of the batting. You want to pull the batting taut at this point, but don’t pull too hard, or it will pull apart.


I continued pulling the batting taut, and stapling. After I finished, I trimmed the quilt batting down close to the staples.


This is what the front of the seat now looks like after finishing the other side.


Following the instructions printed on the Heat n’ Bond vinyl, I created my vinyl fabric. 


Using the same steps that I did with the quilt batting, I stapled the vinyl to the seat. A note when you’re doing two layers – make sure you pull the top fabric over past the first row of staples, so you’re not stapling on top of staples, and it neatens things a bit.


Trim everything down close to the staples again. I also like to use my hammer to ensure all of the staples have gone all the way in.


There! You’re done upholstering the seat! All that’s left to do is to reassemble your piece of furniture.


This is my finished high chair! 

*Disclaimer – I have since added a seatbelt to the high chair to make it completely safe by today’s standards. I didn’t show this since it’s not really applicable to the upholstery process. 

Hopefully my pictures and instructions were clear, and hopefully this will inspire some of you to try some upholstery projects of your own! If you have any questions, leave them in the comments, and I will do my best to answer. 


Thanks so much, Andrea!  That is a fabulous high chair!!  

If you are interested in writing a guest post for No Pattern Required, please email me at ruth@nopatternrequired.com.  And be sure to visit Andrea’s fabric shop Sew What? !! 


Share This Post

12 Responses to Reupholstery 101: Tutorial By Retro Guest Andrea

  1. sablemable Reply

    October 26, 2010 at 9:14 am

    Andreaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!! What a great post and well-timed, I might add!

    I want to reupholster my MCM desk chair but didn’t know how to do it; thanks to your easy instrutions, I’ll be able to do it myself!

  2. sablemable Reply

    October 26, 2010 at 11:43 am

    Just visited your site, Andreaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!! Way cool and I want some of that fabric!

  3. Annie B. Reply

    October 26, 2010 at 11:44 am

    Thank you, Andrea, and congratulations on becoming a mom!
    That’s one spiffy high chair!!

  4. Sara in AZ Reply

    October 26, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    Awww, what a sweet little high chair. I’m sure your new baby girl will love it too.

    Great work on the reupholstery job!

  5. RetroRuth Reply

    October 26, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    Andrea, I ADORE this chair! So cute, wherever did you find it?

    Also, great timing on this post. I just rescued two round stools from the curb. They have some super cute tripod wooden legs, but the tops badly need new padding and upholstery! Thanks!

  6. Andrea Reply

    October 26, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    Saaaaable! I am glad you found my tutorial helpful! I hope your desk chair will turn out awesome!

    Annie & Sara – Thanks to you both! The high chair was $5 at a garage sale this past summer – I think it might be the best garage sale find I’ve had, especially now that it is fixed up.

  7. JenniferBuckeye Reply

    October 27, 2010 at 10:05 am

    You have inspired me to attempt to do a headboard. Not exactly reupholstering but still something that appears similar to a project I have long procrastinated on! Thanks for the inspiration. And by the way, I have been to your site many times! Now I may finally have a project to purchase fabric for.

  8. Andrea Reply

    October 28, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    Jennifer – yes, this technique would definitely work well for doing a headboard as well! Glad I have given you some motivation to get your project done!

  9. Melissa Reply

    November 3, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    Great redo! I vaguely remember ours was yellow vinyl too, but had a chrome tray! Really noisy!
    Have a hint for you… when cutting foam (especially thick stuff) use an electric knife. I know these are harder to find nowadays, but they work great!

  10. Hilary Reply

    November 8, 2010 at 10:38 am

    Imagine my surprise when I saw my old highchair on this site, well, mine was blue, but (other then that) identical. Gorgeous redo job!

  11. Pingback: Marimekko! | No Pattern Required

  12. Kathy Reply

    May 10, 2017 at 11:34 am

    I have a similar highchair (folding metal) that I want to bring back to life for my grandkids. How did you add the seatbelt – our 3 year old would get out before we could get the tray snapped on! Pictures would be great, too!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *