NO Sew Upholstery Tutorial

11 Materials
2 Hours

Does upholstery work intimidate you? Wondering if you can do it yourself? We’ll show you how easy it can be to reupholster furniture. After you see this NO SEW upholstery before and after, you’re sure to get ideas that will have you transforming the furniture in your home!

Here’s a look at the ottoman before we dug into it. My Mom picked it up years ago from the local classifieds with a matching chair.

At one point she had the intention to paint them with chalk paint, which explains the darker coloring on the right edge.

Needless to say she didn’t like the way it was looking so it sat in the basement for years. That is until we embarked on the

She wanted a little stool or bench in this makeover. She’d looked on the local classifieds for something to refresh, but we ultimately ended up shopping in her own basement!

It’s amazing what you can find to re-purpose and refresh by shopping your own home!

(Be sure to watch this ottoman transformation in our quick video tutorial below. Sometimes it’s a little easier seeing the visual in action, along with still pictures.)

No Sew Upholstery Step 1: Removing Piping & Staples

Using a tack remover, insert the tip behind the piping and pry away from the ottoman.

Once you get a little bit removed, you can pull the rest off with your hands. It should come off fairly easy.

After all of the piping has been removed, use the tip of the tack puller, or a flat head screwdriver to pry each of the staples loose.

Then use a pair of needle-nose pliers to remove each of the staples.

Sometimes the staples may break when prying them loose. In that case it’s easiest to remove them by grabbing hold of the end of the staple, twisting the pliers a quarter turn and pull. 

No Sew Upholstery Step 2: Secure New Batting

This step is optional, but we like to cover the existing piece of furniture with a new layer of thin batting.

(It makes us feel better to cover up any old grime from previous use.)

Using the heavy duty staple gun attach this layer of batting. It’s only necessary to secure the batting with a few staples, this will simply hold it into place.

We placed about 3 staples evenly spaced across the front and back sides, and another couple on the left and right sides.

No Sew Upholstery Step 3: Measure For Fabric

Now we’re getting to the fun part, adding the fabric!

To determine how much fabric you’ll need, use the measuring tape and take measurements from side to side and front to back.

You’ll want to allow about 4-6 extra inches onto each measurement. This will give you plenty of fabric to work with. 

You can see that the fabric hangs a couple of inches below the wood trim all the way around the ottoman.

(If you’re working with a pattern that needs to be centered on the furniture, use the measuring tape and mark the middle on the foam with a permanent marker. Now you’ll easily be able to get your pattern centered.)

No Sew Upholstery Step 4: Attach New Fabric

The piece of furniture you’re working with should have a groove where you removed all of the staples from.

This is where you’ll be securing the new fabric with staples.

Pulling the fabric tight insert 1 staple in the center of the piece of furniture. Then insert 1 on each side. At this point you will have 3 staples evenly spaced across the front of the furniture. 

Be sure to insert the staples into the groove.

Repeat this process on the back side of the furniture and each of the sides. All four sides will have only the 3 evenly spaced staples at this point. 

We’ve been doing upholstery work for years, and have achieved great results using a heavy duty staple gun. This particular piece of furniture however had a narrower and slightly deeper groove which was making it difficult to insert new staples. 

We ended up getting a pneumatic staple gun that was small enough to fit inside the groove. It was awesome! After giving this new tool a whirl, I’d use it over the heavy duty staple gun any day! It just made the job so much easier and quicker!

But like I said, you’ll get great results using the heavy duty staple gun! This is a great option if you don’t have access to an air compressor or pneumatic staple gun. 

Heavy duty staple guns are also less expensive, so there’s that plus!

(If you’re having a hard time getting the staples inserted all the way into the wood you can use a staple setter tool and hammer or rubber mallet to tap them into the wood all the way. We did this for a while on this piece before we purchased the pneumatic staple gun.)

After each of the four sides have a couple of staples holding the fabric into place, you’ll then start inserting staples across the entire piece, one right next to the other.

Do this on all four sides, leaving about an inch or two of fabric without staples as you get to the corners.

Finally, secure the corners. Somehow we 🤪inadvertently missed taking photos or video of the actual corners of the ottoman. So, we are showing the corners on the matching chair, using the same fabric and technique. It has the same leg, shape and groove to attached the fabric in.

It may seem intimidating to finish off the corners. There are multiple ways to secure corners and have them look professional. 

For this project, the faux fur fabric is pretty forgiving. First we placed a finger right in the middle of the groove above the leg, and inserted a staple. 

Then we folded the fabric from the left toward the center making a pleat and secured it with a staple. 

Create a 2nd pleat, by pulling the fabric from the right toward the center, place a staple and secure it. Then add several staples across the entire grooved area to secure into place. 

This fabric is a bit thicker than a typical upholstery weight fabric. We ended up placing staples below the pleated areas as well as on top to ensure everything was secured well.

Here’s the finished pleated corner. As I mentioned earlier it’s kind of hard to see the pleats due to the fabric choice we used. But it is very forgiving fabric, which pretty much means you don’t need to worry about it being perfect! As long as all of the fabric around the corner is secured well, it will be great!

(Be sure to check out another No Sew Upholstery where we use a specific folded corner method where we DO need to be pretty neat and tidy! )

No Sew Upholstery Step 5: Trim Excess Fabric & Attach New Piping

Once the corners have been secured with staples, take the sewing scissors and trim away all the excess fabric.

Try to get as close to the staples as you can. You don’t want any excess fabric below the groove where you’ve secured it.

We’re in the home stretch now! The last thing you’ll do is attach the new piping. 

Place some hot glue on the edge of the piping to prevent from fraying.

Beginning on the backside of the furniture in one corner secure the edge of the piping down with a hot glue gun.

You can use a craft stick to hold it into place while the glue cools a little, to avoid burning yourself.

Continue to glue the piping over the grooved area all the way around the furniture.

Hold the piping to meet the edge of where is was initially begun and trim with scissors. 

Then add hot glue to the end of the cut piping to prevent it from fraying and secure the remaining piping into place over the groove.

Thanks for spending some time with us today! We hope you enjoyed this tutorial and are a little less intimidated to try reupholstering a piece of furniture yourself!

Do you have any great thrift finds you want to tackle now?

Maybe you even have something waiting for a little refresh in your basement like we did? 😆

Let us know what you plan to work on, we’d love to hear from you.

We put this wild ottoman in the Master Bathroom. Would you like to see more DIY projects that we did there?, then click here.

Be sure to visit us on our site and subscribe to our weekly newsletter so you never miss out on any of our projects!

Thanks again for stopping by!

And as always here at Sunny Side Design


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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

1 question
  • Nicki Petruzzella Kerns
    on Apr 25, 2020

    Will this technique work on chairs that are completely covered in fabric? Your chair has a separate back and seat (it's a beautiful chair, btw) and mine are a pair of side chairs that are similar to these:

    Mine, however, have different legs, are covered in rust orange velvet, and are much older; I inherited them from my aunt. Thanks for any advice; your work is beautiful!

    • Sunny Side Design
      on Apr 26, 2020

      Thank you Nicki for your question. It would be similar in the fact that you would place staples i. The center and work you way out towards the sides. However it’s more. Complicated with the arms and the back with is all covered with fabric. That would require tack strip. We currently do not have a tutorial with this style of chair. I have done chair like this before, but it was before we started our blog. So we don’t have photos or video of the process. I’d suggest searching on YouTube or Pinterest for a tutorial with similar chairs so you can see how the arms and back are done.

      good luck. 😊

Join the conversation

3 of 9 comments
  • Jo frye
    on Apr 27, 2020

    I did a chair like this and it's still in my living room. It's the chair on the left. Sorry. This pic was to show off flowers I'd re'cd. That recovered chair was done 15 years ago.

  • Flipturn
    14 minutes ago

    The keys to having this type of project completed successfully are having the right tools, especially the pneumatic stapler.

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