Rocking Chair Upholstery | Eastlake Rocker

5 Materials
2 Days

Want to know how easy it is to replace rocking chair upholstery on an antique Eastlake rocking chair? Let me show you how!

amazing deal

If you’re like me, you often buy something because the price is amazing. You might not necessarily need it or even know what you will do with it, but the price can be too good to pass up.

how much did you say??

That’s the story on this gorgeous pair of antique Eastlake folding rockers.

The pair was only $10

Whoa, wait…..did I just say $10?????

How could I not purchase them??

So, they came home with me. And I pulled out my upholstery tack and a staple remover.

deconstruct and prep

While removing the fabric panels, I paid close attention to how they had been attached and how they were constructed.

This information would be my teacher when it came to reconstructing the upholstered rockers.

Both chairs got a good cleaning with Simple Green and a heavy-duty Scotch pad. I did this step outside on a sunny day and let them dry in the sun.

hemp oil finish

The next step was to deal with the wood. I didn’t want to paint these chairs because the wood was just so beautiful.

All the wood needed was a good coating of Miss Mustard Seed Hemp Oil. I brushed it on with a chip brush and then wiped off the excess with a blue shop towel.

While the hemp oil soaked in and then cured, I stitched the three fabric panels I would need for each rocker in this rocking chair upholstery project.

rocking chair upholstery

Each rocker needed three panels: one panel for the inside back, one for the outside back and one for the seat.

The two panels for the back of the rocker were lined.

Using the old fabric as a pattern, I cut the new upholstery fabric making sure I included a seam allowance.

The panels also needed to be lined so I cut the same pattern in a neutral lining.

The next step was to stich the decorative fabric to the lining fabic leaving an opening for turning.

old-fashioned method

After they were stitched and turned right side out, I gave each panel a good pressing with an iron.

The next step is to attach them to the rockers. It was easy to see where to attach the panel by the previous tack holes.

I chose to do this step the old fashioned way instead of using a pneumatic staple gun.

The area where the nails would be attached is pretty narrow and I felt the old-fashioned method was the easiest way to keep things under control.

You’ll also notice that I used a cardboard tack strip. This helps the fabric to lie flat on the right side.

Can you see the line of stitching around the perimeter of the panel?

After stitching right sides together, turning them right side out, and then pressing with an iron I top-stitched around the edge.

needle-nose pliers

Using pliers to hold each upholstery tack and the decorative tacks is a huge help! The tacks can be small and fingers can get in the way of the small tack hammer.

It takes some getting used to, but you’ll get the hang of using the pliers in one hand and the tack hammer in the other. Using the pliers also helps the deocrative tack not to bend.

find the center

I could have measured before adding the decorative tacks, but this is what I did instead:

  1. find the center of the area
  2. tap the center tack first
  3. tap the two outside corners with a tack at each corner
  4. find the center between the main center point and one of the corners
  5. tap the tack in that new center point
  6. repeat

Basically, you find the center and one of the outside points. Find the center of that area. Then find the center again. You just keep finding the center of each area.

I hope that I explained that good enough to understand! If not, message me on Instagram and I’ll make another attempt to explain it!

I eyeballed it. The perfect look is not what I am going for in our makeovers. The look will be handmade and perfect!

If you are more comfortable, you can certainly measure and mark the spots for the decorative tacks.

A squeeze clamp comes in handy if you don’t have a third hand! If it is going to touch wood, protect the area with a scrap of fabric.


The rockers needed some small pillows and they were so easy to stitch up.

folding rockers

The rockers fold for storage. Don’t you love that feature??

Furniture makers knew the importance of storage even 100 years ago!

true antiques

You read that right – this pair of rockers dates to the late 1800’s – early 1900’s!

unconventional wall decor idea

Personally, I think they would be gorgeous hanging on the wall. They could be hung side by side for a wide wall.

If the area you want to hang them is narrow, consider hanging them one high up and the second one below it.

Talk about interesting wall decor! And useful too!

If you find a pair of these rockers (or even just one) and decide to hang it, let me suggest a heavy-duty decorative metal bracket that has been secured to a stud in the wall.

You might even considered using twine to secure the moving parts on the rocker.

Here are a few more tips about this rocking chair upholstery project:

  • wait 2-3 weeks after applying hemp oil to allow for a curing time. Oil could leach into the fabric if it hasn’t cured long enough
  • basic sewing skills are needed for this project
  • make any necessary repairs before applying the finish
  • use caution when using these rockers, they might not hold excessive weight

Here is a before and after of the wood. The rocker on the left was dirty and dry. The one on the right has been cleaned and scuffed with a Scotch pad and then finished with a hemp oil finish.

so glad you’re here

Thanks for stopping by for this quick tutorial about rocking chair upholstery!

Feel free to pin any of the images in this post for your reference! Ya’ never know when you might come across a pair of beauties like this!

You are also welcome to join our journey on Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook where we share more behind the scenes of many of our projects!

**** That fabric used for my project is no longer available. Choose any heavy-weight upholstery fabric for your decor.

You can see more step by step tutorials on our blog at:

Any price and availability information displayed on [relevant Amazon Site(s), as applicable] at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


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3 of 32 comments
  • Robyn Garner
    Robyn Garner
    on Mar 22, 2021

    Amazing deal you got and great reupholstering. Check to see if there is a mark for Herter Brothers - they are more valuable.

    • Cindy Rust
      Cindy Rust
      on Mar 22, 2021

      Thanks for the tip! They have sold so someone is enjoying them in their home. The maker's mark is Mahonly. Thanks for reading the post!

  • GeorgiaBulldogsFan
    7 days ago

    Having inherited several Eastlake furniture pieces from my parents, I absolutely love this project! I was brought up to appreciate the quality and workmanship of solid wood furniture. As other Hometalkers have commented, I am very glad that no paint was put onto these rocking chairs. You did a superb job with the upholstery and bringing the chairs back to their former beauty. You got a steal of a deal! I would have purchased them too. Great job and share!

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