No Sew Reupholstery - Making Over a Wingback Chair

7 Materials
$75
3 Days
Medium

My in-laws had a chair that was on it’s last leg sitting in their body shop. Here’s how I took this eyesore and turned it into a showpiece – my no sew method to reupholstering a wingback chair.
I’m sure this wingback was a stunner 30 years ago, standing tall in it’s tuftedness wearing those brass nails with pride.  It succumbed to age and wear and tear.  The cushion no longer cushed, and the smell that wafted from the ripped pleather was quite unique. But I jumped at the chance for a new project when my MIL asked us if we wanted this chair!
This chair had seen better days and painting the vinyl pleather wasn't an option with all the tears.

Honestly, all those buttons intimidated me.

I knew that if I tried to mimic the tufting, this project would be a beast to tackle, so I made it easy for myself and opted to forgo the 45 tufted buttons and just recover the chair.
I purchased 6 1/2 yards of fabric and batting. Next, I gathered my tools and let me tell you, this was the smartest step.  I purchased one of these tack and staple remover claws.

Be prepared to remove hundreds of staples – HUNDREDS – and you will need the right tool for the job.

I also purchased a pneumatic staple gun to make the no-sew process easier on me. You just hook it up to an air compressor and it makes the stapling easy peasy.
As I started disassembling the chair, I made sure to document the steps to make it helpful to reassemble. I took pictures as I went along and kept track of the pieces.

I numbered each panel as it was removed and notated it so I knew which piece was which.  You will want to save the old panels and use them as templates to cut out the new fabric panels, so don’t throw them away!
Another thing is to look out for are the upholstery ribs and tack strips.

Again, this is where taking photos saved this project. Seeing how the manufacturer placed them and mimicking their method made this project doable for me.

The key is to remove each panel and staple, step by step and label it to repeat the process in rebuilding it. I also preserved the nailhead trim to add back to the piece.
Again, this is where taking photos saved this project. Seeing how the manufacturer placed them and mimicking their method made this project doable for me.

The key is to remove each panel and staple, step by step and label it to repeat the process in rebuilding it. I also preserved the nailhead trim to add back to the piece.
While removing the fabric, I noticed that the foam in the back and seat of the chair had holes where the buttons were.

To fix the holes in the foam, I came up with a neat idea.  The manufacturer tied huge hunks of batting on the back side of the tufted buttons. I snipped the buttons free removing the batting. Then I used those huge gobs of cotton to stuff the holes on the front side.

After disassembling the chair, I covered it with batting. It amazed me that it looked as if those holes were never there!
Then I followed the steps in reverse to reassemble the chair, using my notes and photos as a reference, cutting the pieces from the saved fabric panels that I used as templates. The fabric I used is Waverly Celestial Sun Twill Nightfall.
I opted for black piping to give the chair a little pop. Plus it looks great with the black nail heads and black legs. You can purchase pre-manufactured piping at your fabric stores, but I had some sewn from a previous project.

I spray painted the old brass trim black and added it back to the chair.
One disappointment was the armrests. I tried to nail the the brass tacks back on the armrests, but they wouldn’t go in straight, no matter how I tried. After about four hours of failed attempts, I abandoned the nail heads on the arms and opted for fabric adhesive instead.
The other tricky problem was getting the patterned fabric to line up.

This is where I wished I would have chosen a solid fabric for my first attempt at reupholstery.
It may not be perfect, but I’m very pleased with the end result!
It was a challenging DIY for this first timer, only because of the patterned fabric, but it’s super cushy and comfy and I’m proud to know that I rescued a piece from the dump.
UPDATE: A lot of questions have been asked about the legs and what changes were made. The brace behind the front legs has always been there. The before pic is an overhead shot and it's not visible as it's about 6 inches behind the legs, but it's there. The only changes to the legs were paint. Thanks so much for all your sweet words.
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Have a question about this project?

3 of 42 questions
  • Karen Bosco
    Karen Bosco
    on Jan 24, 2020

    Absolutly stunning job. I LOVE the marterial ! Have you ever re-upholstered anything before? You knew what you were doing and it was done perfectly !

  • Janet
    Janet
    on Jan 31, 2020

    Great job!

    • Sherry Cestaro
      Sherry Cestaro
      on Jan 31, 2020

      Great job nice when u can rescue an old piece and bring it back to life wonderful Sherry

  • Jackie C
    Jackie C
    on Jan 31, 2020

    This is great!! You did such an amazing job. Thanks for sharing the ups and downs of doing it.

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2 of 382 comments
  • Cheryl Kengott Wypyski
    Cheryl Kengott Wypyski
    on Sep 19, 2020

    Fabulous! !! I may have to try this! Great instructions.

  • Elaine Johnson
    Elaine Johnson
    7 days ago

    Wow you did a great job . I had that exact chair same color and all and my dog ripped the seat , I was to chicken to try that so I threw it away a couple of days ago to make room for my Christmas tree .

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