By Willie Sandry


Reupholstering a dining room chair is a great DIY project. If you have a few basic tools and a desire to learn, a slip seat is an approachable project for even a novice. Never tackled an upholstery project before? Never worked with leather? No problem! These simple steps will guide you through the process, and I’ll even wager you find success on your very first project.

First and foremost, decide on the type of slip seat you want to make. Some dining chair cushions are tall with lots of padding, and others have a slim profile. Some have sewn or folded corners, while others have a stretched cover for a clean look, without pleats. The method shown here is for  reupholstering dining room chair slip seats with about 2” of foam padding. There are no seams to sew with this technique, and the result is a tight, trim seat cushion without pleats. This method will work fine if your seat rests on top of the chair frame, but it works equally well if the slip seat drops into a recess in the chair frame. If you need to fit the cushion inside a frame recess, make sure the seat frame is about 3/8” smaller than the opening in all directions. The example we’re working on today sits on top of the chair frame, so size is less critical.



Padding Requirements. Most dining chairs or slim-profile slip seats will have 2” of foam padding and a layer of polyester batting on top. If your cushion has 3” or more of foam padding, consider a sewn cover instead. The foam padding can be about ½” wider than the wood base in all directions. The batting should be large enough to cover the edge of the wood as it’s installed. This prevents damage to the leather over time.



When You Have Too Much Slack. Sometimes you’ll find there’s too much leather between a center tack and one corner. You may have difficulty getting the leather to lie smoothly without visible wrinkles. This often happens at the back corners of angled seats, because the corner angles are greater than 90 degrees. When this happens, simply remove some of the staples and try again. I typically remove staples from the trouble corner, back to the center tack. Remove the center tack too, if you feel it will give you a better approach to the corner. We know there’s simply too much material between point A and point B, so how do we manage the slack? The answer is micro-pleats.



Remove Excess Leather, and Add a Dust Cover. Trim the leather underneath the cushion to remove unwanted bulk. It’s okay to trim right up to the staples. Finally, add a non-woven dust cambric to tidy up the cushion for a professional appearance. If your fabric store doesn’t sell cambric, there’s an easy alternative to be found at any local hardware store. Landscaping weed barrier fabric is a thin non-woven material that makes a perfect dust cover. It’s usually black or dark brown in color, which is great for household furniture applications.



Inspired to give your own dining room chairs a DIY makeover?  Depending on the size of your dining room chairs, and the number of chairs, our Leather Remnants can be a great choice.  Be sure to consult our Reupholstery Guide to determine how much leather you will need- and don't forget to order samples before you choose your leather! 

Now you know how to reupholster a dining room chair!