Channel-Back Chair Upholstery DIY

4 Materials
10 Hours

Last month a friend called to asked if I could do a chair upholstery for his two chairs I said yes, of course. I was excited to bring those vintage chairs back to life with new upholstery fabric, foam, webbing, cotton batting, burlap, and Dacron.

Chairs before

These chairs needed lots of work with one having a broken frame that needed repairing.

Carefully removing the old upholstery

Removing Old Upholstery Fabric

I like to wear gloves when removing the old upholstery fabric, staples and tacks.

New wood section

Wood Repair

The upper chair back frame was constructed with two pieces of curved wood that were joined in the center with a wooden support attached under the joint. The joint support on one of the chairs was broken. I cut a new support out of hardwood and attached it to the frame with glue and screws.

Using the old upholstery fabric as a pattern

Furniture Re-upholstery DIY

One of my simple upholstery techniques is to use the old chair fabric pieces as a template for the new fabric cuts. Before I continue I iron all the old chair pieces. Next, I determine the cut plan to conserve on fabric. If the fabric has a nap or a pattern repeat I analyze the cuts accordingly.

Upholstery Tips for Beginners:

  • Pay attention to how the chair was assembled
  • Your old chair fabric might be stretched out of shape
  • Evenly pull the fabric to prevent puckers when stapling
  • Always use high quality upholstery thread
  • Center the pattern repeats starting on the seat or seat cushion and working you way up and down using the cushion as a reference point
  • You will need a commercial upholstery sewing machine
Marking the channels on burlap

To make the channel back sections I mark the stitch lines on burlap.

Burlap prepared for channel face fabric

Channel back section is now ready to sew. The face fabric pieces need to sewn on at the marked stitch lines which leaves an opening for the stuffing.

Channel Back section ready to stuff

Channel back section ready to stuff. After stuffing I will staple it to the frame and finish upholstering the chairs.

Back view of channel back chair

Learning how to staple fabric to the wood frame after creating the back channel back section is key to getting the perfect result along the back edge. This is not an easy upholstery technique to master with channel-backs.

Finished Channel-Back Upholstery

Learning to upholster has changed my life since I can easily update my own furniture and it has made the perfect side hustle too. Learn more about how to upholster HERE.

Upholstery Supplies and Tools Needed

  • Upholstery scissors
  • Staple lifter
  • Tack hammer
  • Curved needle
  • Upholstery thread
  • Upholstery sewing machine
  • Welt cord
  • Staple gun (pneumatic)
  • Tack strip
  • Upholstery burlap
  • Webbing
  • Bonded Polyester batting
  • Upholstery fabric ( fabric information)
  • Zipper 5
  • Foam (4″ Medium density)
  • Cotton batting
  • Wood glue
  • Clamps
  • How to Upholster Video
  • Ruler
  • Quilting ruler
  • Marker (water soluble)
  • Pins (heavy glass head)
  • Cutting mat
  • Silk film plastic (used to stuff channels)
  • Upholstery regulator
Resources for this project:
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Kippi @ Kippi At Home
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
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3 of 5 questions
  • Arlene Arlene on Jan 12, 2020

    These chairs are fabulous! Not to mention how beautiful they would look in front of my fireplace! Great job!!!

  • LT LT on Dec 29, 2020

    Love "side hustle"Never knew exactly what to call it just odd jobs...side hustle is much better. 😉😊

  • Flipturn Flipturn on Feb 07, 2022

    What purpose does the upholstery regulator tool serve?

    I am not familiar with this tool.

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