At first blush, upholstery seems like a job best left to the professionalsbut it’s faster, easier, and cheaper than you might think. In this guide, we break down some beginner’s methods for DIY upholstering, reupholstering, and recovering.

Image via Style by Emily Henderson

DIY UpholsteryGetting Started 

As with any DIY project, your best bet when upholstering furniture for the first time is to start small, such as with a chair seat or a headboard. This way, you can build your confidence with a more manageable project before undertaking something that’s more complex. For your first project, aim for a piece with a simple shape, a sturdy weave, and a forgiving textile, such as cotton or linen. You may also want to consider working with a staple gun rather than a needle and thread for your first go at DIY upholstery.

Tools For The Job

Before getting started on your first project, make sure you have all the necessary tools for the job. In addition to fabric, you may also want to consider purchasing canvas or muslin, which can serve as a lining. This can be especially helpful if you’re working with a fabric that’s less durable. You should also have a staple gun and hammer, batting, and upholstery tack strips on hand.

Staple Gun Techniques

The process for upholstering a furniture piece with a staple gun is quite basic. First, remove the existing fabric. You can use the old fabric to measure and cut your new fabric. Next, cut and lay your batting, which will serve as the cushion. If you’re planning on using canvas or muslin, layer that on top of your batting. Finally, place your fabric as a final layer, flip the piece upside down, and secure the fabric with your staple gun. This step should trap and secure your batting and canvas or muslin and prevent it from shifting. You can then secure any loose edges to the furniture with upholstery tack strips.

Photo by Mitch Moondae

Terms: Reupholstering vs Recovering

If the original fabric is in good condition and is still flush to the furniture piece, you may also have the option to simply recover. As the name suggests, recovering refers to simply putting new fabric over the old fabric. Recovering is also a good option if you’re working with a piece that’s antique or has sentimental value, and you’re not certain you want to remove the existing fabric altogether.

Sewing Technique & Types of Fabrics

If you’re considering securing your upholstery by sewing, rather than using a staple gun, you’ll need a slightly different set of supplies, including thick needles and thread made of 100 percent polyester material. For the best results, you’ll also want to use a large sewing machine. Use tight stitches or go over your stitches multiple times to ensure your fabric stays secure.

In terms of fabrics, some beginner-friendly options are cotton, damask, linen, microsuede, and wool. Stay away from thick fabric like leather and vinyl, as these materials are difficult to fold and are less forgiving of mistakes. Delicate fabrics, such as brocade, silk, and velvet, might also be difficult to work with if you’re a beginner.

Using Vishion to Explore Fabrics

With Vishion, you can find thousands of fabrics at the push of a button from brands like Kravet, Eastern Accents, and Niche. Use the Vishion IOS app or our website to explore designs and decor by COLOR.

  • Upload an inspirational photo or type in a HEX color
  • Search for Fabrics, Curtains & Drapes
  • Select Fabrics to view options by your chosen color
  • Find your perfect match and start your project today