Skip to Content

Upholstery for Beginners

Simple steps to complete your first easy upholstery project. Love how this vintage leather chair turned out! If you have ever read my “About Me” then you know that I’m a self-taught DIYer, crafter, photographer… just about everything! When I need to do something… I just try! That’s why I’m sharing this quick Upholstery for Beginners post. I thought, maybe if this was my first time trying upholstery, there must be someone else who hasn’t tried! 

I used this great patch of faux leather for this upholstery project

At the Create With Me party last month, YOU voted for me to use leather or faux leather in a project (come back Monday to vote again for next month!). Since I had a vintage chair that I was screaming for a makeover, I decided to use leather on it! Truth be told… I probably would’ve tried to use anything you voted for on that chair! lol.


Faux leather or vinyl
Fabric scissors
Staple gun
Chair with cushion

Upholstery for Beginners: Quick Tips

This retro chair needed an upgrade so I reupholstered it with some faux leather

Here’s the chair we started with ^^. I was drawn to it right away because of the frame and the vintage feel. The fabric had to go. If you want to attempt a first upholstery project, find a piece like this at your local thrift store! One cushion. Easy square shape.  Thin. This is definitely the place to start!

Use the old chair cushion to measure out the patch of faux leather

I decided not to take off my previous fabric. I was a very thin layer, and didn’t have a strange texture to it, so I figured it would still look fine and be comfortable. This also helped me keep the cushion base and padding in place without any extra effort – if you remove the outer fabric, make sure to save these! If you did remove the old upholstery (with pliers or a staple remover), keep that piece and use it as a template to cut out the new fabric. Since we didn’t, we simply put our cushion on top of the fabric and cut the fabric the approximate shape, making sure to have enough of a border to go up the sides of the cushion, and have a couple inches folded onto the back.

Fold the corner of the faux leather and staple it in place

We started by grabbing one corner, folding it up towards the centre of the seat, and stapling it in place.

Work one side at a time, folding up and stapling the faux leather in place along the bottom of the cushion

Then we worked on one side at a time, pulling it upwards, and keeping it tight so that there were no ridges or bumps along the edge of our cushion. Staple it in place and do the other side of the corner. If you want pleats (on a dining room chair perhaps?) just fold the fabric the way you want before stapling.

Make sure the surface of your cushion is flat as you continue to staple around the bottom edges

As you work, you’ll have to keep checking the top of your seat, to make sure there aren’t any ridges forming. Pull tight all the way around and staple in place. Out first corner looked pretty rough, but they gradually improved. Practice makes perfect right! You just want to make sure everything is pulled tight, and not too bulky underneath.

Add a cardboard tack to the bottom of the chair to stabilize and cover the seam of the upholstery

Finally, add some cardboard tack on the bottom to reinforce everything. Can’t even see my errors now! I spray painted the chair with a gloss black paint before adding the new cushion to freshen everything up.

This really was the best project to start upholstery with. I’m ready to tackle the ugly old chair in the basement now! Well… maybe.

I painted the frame of this retro chair a matte black before replacing the cushion The corners of this new leather upholstered cushion look smooth and perfect I love the look of this new faux leather upholstered chair cushion! It gives the chair a whole new look

How did your first upholstery job go? I bet it was harder than this one!

Monday I need YOU to share your leather projects at the Create with Me party! I can’t wait to see what you’ve made!

Plus you can vote on what I’m creating with next month.


Create with Me 4 Collage

Before and after reupholstering this retro chair with faux leather

Signature 2 200x100

Mike Buttler

Wednesday 1st of March 2017

Very Nicely explained! Great tutorial, Just Bookmarked this page hope for more tutorials.


Tuesday 7th of March 2017

Thanks :)


Tuesday 14th of June 2016

You make this look so easy! I'm going to keep my eye out for a beautiful chair that just needs a little love.


Wednesday 15th of June 2016

It really is SO easy! You can do it!

The Creative Gallery Link-Up - Bigger Than the Three of Us

Wednesday 11th of May 2016

[…] Love Create Celebrate linked up a very good tutorial for how to upholster a chair. […]

Michelle James

Tuesday 10th of May 2016

This is a great update! Thank you so much for the tutorial and for sharing at #HomeMattersParty


Tuesday 3rd of May 2016

What a great chair and I like the leather and black. Thanks for linking up to Merry Monday! Sharing on Twitter! Have a great week! Kim