before and afterDIYUpholstery Basics

upholstery basics: coil seat finale

by Amanda Brown

How kind of you to join me again for Upholstery Basics as we wrap up this sweet little chair! As you’ve seen from Parts One and Two, coil springs are quite a labor of love but are responsible for seats worthy of lingering. When I finished this chair, I decided it had to come home with me to replace the worn out wooden chair I’ve used for years as my vanity perch, and it’s been delightful. Pixie agrees! We’re on the last leg of our coil seat journey, so let’s get to the workshop and finish her up! — Amanda

Read the full how-to after the jump!


  • goggles
  • pliers
  • staple remover
  • scissors
  • air compressor
  • stapler
  • 1/2” long staples
  • chalk
  • measuring tape
  • yard stick
  • square
  • fabric
  • regulator
  • sewing machine
  • single welt cord foot attachment
  • double welt cord foot attachment
  • thread
  • 5/32″ fiberflex welt cord
  • hot glue gun
  • glue sticks
  • cardboard tack strip
  • dustcover


1. We’re starting with the padded seat, so use a measuring tape to decide how big your fabric piece needs to be. I always give myself a few extra inches on each side, so there’s plenty to pull and staple. Be mindful of the fabric pattern and where you’ll place it on the seat. Use white or yellow chalk to mark your cutting lines, and once the fabric is cut out, drape it over the seat to be sure it covers all sides and the pattern is where you’d like it.

2. Just like we did in Dining Chair Do-Over (step 10), we’ll be using sub-staples to place our fabric before we staple permanently. Start by sub-stapling the middle of the back. Then staple the middle of the front. This will hold the fabric in place while we mark and make release cuts.

3. We need to release the fabric around any leg or arm posts in the way so we can continue stapling. Refer to steps 3–7 from Part 2 for a reminder on how to make release cuts, and don’t forget to sub-staple around each release cut before moving on to the next one. Once you’ve made the release cuts, continue to sub-staple from the middle of the sides out toward the edges until the fabric is smooth all the way around. Neatly fold under excess fabric that accumulates on either side of the posts and staple.

4. Because the front corners of this chair are rounded, I’ll use a “girly” pleat to neatly tuck in extra fabric. Start by finding the middle of the corner and sub-staple it down. Then neatly fold under extra fabric on the right and left sides and pleat toward the center. Use the flat side of the regulator to help push and smooth the excess fabric into the pleat. Adjust your middle staple if you’re having trouble getting the pleats to be symmetrical. If you have a sharp corner, refer to step 11 on Dining Chair Do-Over.

5. When you get the fabric smooth, tight and in place, replace all of the sub-staples with permanent staples that go all the way into the frame.

6. If your staples are exposed and go next to finished or decorative wood as mine do around these front legs, use a razor blade to trim the fabric as close to the staples as possible. Trim excess fabric on the bottom of the chair with scissors.

7. We’ve finished attaching our fabric — yay! Now let’s work on the finishing touches. Because my staples are exposed around my front legs, I’ll attach double welt cord on top of the staples to cover them up. I also like to put single welt cord around the bottom of furniture to outline the shape and clean up the bottom edge. Decide where you’d like to put your trim and measure the length. As usual, give yourself several extra inches of wiggle room, and if you’re using single and double welt cord, be sure to take those measurements separately.

8. Draw out strips for double and single welt cord on the bias (at a 45 degree angle). Single welt cord needs to be 1.5″ wide, and double welt cord needs to be 3″ wide. Keep drawing strips until you have the length you need. Make a mark on the same end of every strip you draw. We’ll use these marks when we sew the ends together.

9. Now that the strips are cut out, we’ll attach them together to make one continuous piece of welt cord. Keep single and double welt cord separate. Line up a marked end with an unmarked end and cut them to be complementary 45 degree angles. Be careful that you have the right side of the fabric facing up on both pieces.

10. Line up the right and left sides of the two strips you are sewing together with the good sides facing each other.

11. Keeping the right sides of the fabric together, pivot the two strips out and line up the cut ends of the strips. Your strips should be going out in the shape of an “A”. You can see that I have about 1/2″ of overlap past the edges.

12. Use your sewing machine to sew where the line is pictured above. Repeat steps 9–12 until all of your single welt cord strips are attached to make one long strip of fabric. Then repeat these steps to sew the double welt cord strips together.

13. To sew the single welt cord, lay the 5/32″ welt cord in the middle of the back side of the strip. Fold the fabric over the cording and meet the edges.

14. With your single welt cord foot attached to your machine, place the cording in the fabric under the foot and sew alongside it until you reach the end.

15. For the double welt cord, begin with step 13, but before you start sewing, place a second, separate piece of cording on top of the fabric directly next to the first cording. Then flip both pieces of cording over to the right. This should wrap both pieces in fabric.

16. With the double welt cord foot attached to your sewing machine, place the fabric under the foot with the needle aligned in between the two cords and sew. If you are unable to get a single or double welt cord foot for your sewing machine, you can buy trim, such as decorative gimp or pre-made cord, at many fabric stores.

17. Once the cording is sewn, closely trim the fabric tail off of the double welt cord only.

18. We’ll start by attaching the double welt cord to the chair. Open up the seam on the end of the double welt cord and cut out about an inch of the cording. This end without cording will staple on the bottom of the chair next to the leg. If the double welt cord starts and stops in a visible place and cannot be stapled underneath the chair, repeat this step, but instead of stapling to the bottom of the chair, use hot glue to neatly attach the flap to the back side of the cording. This makes a clean finished end to start and stop.

19. After attaching the end to the underside of the frame, put a bead of hot glue on the back side of the cording. Then firmly press and attach the cording on top of the staples. Do small sections at a time and use a regulator to tuck in fabric strings or glue that squishes out as you go.

20. When you get to the end, cut off the excess cording about an inch beyond the bottom of the frame, open up the seam and cut out the cording inside just like we did in step 18. Then staple the flap to the underside of the frame. Repeat steps 18–20 until all of the exposed staples are covered.

21. Next we’ll attach single welt cord. As in step 18, open up the seam and cut about an inch of welt cord out. Then fold the end over and behind the welt cord. This is how we’ll start and stop the single welt cord.

22. Line up the single welt cord with the edge of the chair and staple to the bottom. Start and stop around arm and leg posts.

23. To keep the single welt cord firmly attached to the chair, we’ll add a layer of cardboard tack strip on top of it. Push the tack strip tightly into the cording and staple down onto the tail.

24. Dustcover is a great finishing touch and helps keep all of our innards neatly tucked away on the bottom of furniture. Fold under the edge of the dustcover and attach to the middle back of the bottom of the chair. Staples should be placed just behind the welt cord on top of the cardboard tack strip. Smooth out the excess to the opposite side, fold under and staple to the middle of the front. Repeat these steps for the middle of the right and left sides. Once all of the middles are attached, make any necessary release cuts around the legs just as we did on the fabric.

25. After you’ve made the release cuts, fold under and neatly staple around the rest of the sides.

26. Attach the blower attachment to your air hose and dust off your chair.

Reminders and Tips

  • Staple around each release cut before moving on to the next.
  • Before marking on your fabric with chalk, do a small test mark in white and yellow on the fabric. Use the air blower to blow out the marks and use the color that comes out the easiest.
  • It can be tricky to determine where single and double welt cord go, so take detailed photographs before stripping your piece of furniture so you can reference them later on. Remember that double welt cord always goes on exposed staples.
  • Only trim the tail off the double welt cord.


What an achievement! And with all of these skills, we’ll be moving on to a fresh project next month! Take a seat and enjoy the rest of your day!

Suggested For You


  • Fantastic post and incredible tranformation. The fabric selection is phenomenal. I will book mark these instructions for my next project. I never use double piping but the effect is well worth the work.

  • I’d wish I could do that, you just gave me a project to try, thank you, I have two chairs that needs a make over, I have the fabric to do it, thanks so much again.

  • This project is way over my head right now, but because of my obsession with vintage and antique chairs with potential, I’ve made a point to learn upholstery some day. This was partially inspired by Spruce’s feature in Southern Living last year (still procrastinating). Amanda did such a wonderful job with the tutorials – so detailed! The thickness of the seat and GORGEOUS choice of fabric make me swoon. This chair is marvelous – almost delicious. My jaw dropped!

  • It looks simple, but then it gets a bit tricky when you have to fill in the gap around the chair. I don’t like sewing machines either. I always get my finger stuck because I’m in a hurry.Ouch!

  • SO BEAUTIFUL. I have a similar chair that is desperate for a similar treatment — the instructions are perfect!

  • I have a rocking chair my Great Great Grandfather made that is in horrible shape but still has good bones. This is the chair my mother rocked me in that sat in the garage for years. I have been afraid to attempt it but now thanks to your three part series I am ready! Thanks so much.

  • Absolutely gorgeous! And very inspiring, am just in a progress of reconstructing and upholstering a 30’s rocking chair for a friend as a present:) Should finish this weekend:) Thank you for the inspiration boost, heh

  • This is wonderful! I have an 1890’s federal sofa sitting in my office, completely restored and upholstered, just waiting for the double welt cording… I didn’t know where to start, but now I do!!

  • This is a gorgeous chair re-up. I love it. The fabric is so perfect for the chair. Even though I went through a phase toying with the idea of upholstery (a new direction in my design career), I was and still am – completely intimidated. I can appreciate this. Especially love the double welt.


  • God, I love this website. You guys are great – so much to do and see. Thanks so much. Do you happen to know where is the rug from under the newly upholstered chair? It’s great too. Thanks so much.

  • This chair turned out beautifully! Love it!

    I have to admit that the welt cord part of this process is the thing that scares me the most. Ugh – must. get. past. my. fear.

    Thank you for the fantastic tutorials. Great job!

  • Wow, I love this. I have overhauled a lot of chairs (in fact just did a post about my son’s back-to university furniture project!) but have yet to tackle welting. These instructions are great and I love, love the choice of fabric for this chair.

  • Beautiful work! Can you please tell me if you made your own sawhorses? I’ve been looking for a good plan on how to make these especially for upholstering – with the “trough” on top like you have. Much appreciated!!

  • Any idea what the name/designer of this fabric is? I absolutely love it and am in the midst of a recovery project right now!

  • Incredible. What a masterpiece! I admire your persistence, to be able to complete the many steps for such a complicated project, and end up with a perfectly-finished result. It looks beautiful. The double-piping (welt cord) was particularly interesting and clever. Thanks for such clear instructions, which are priceless. But I didn’t quite understand what you did around the posts of the backrest. is the top fabric just turned under and pulled down without staples? If there are staples, how is it that they are not visible?

  • Excellent tutorial! I’ve followed this on french Louis style dining chairs and found the hardest part to be the fabric tension and release cuts. Would be great if there was further I do bout this but I’ve completed one chair out of six. Maybe by the end I’ll get it perfect?!

  • I bought an old very tatty deep seated dining chair from a car boot sale for £5 but the back was a pretty shape so thought it was worth doing up as my first upholstery project. I begged 3 deep springs from a local upholsterer as my poor chair only had 1 good one but I had no idea how to secure them. I scoured you tube and internet websites for inspiration and luckily came across Design Sponge. What brilliantly clear instructions and photos! I’ve followed every step to the letter and now I am proud to say my family and friends think my restored chair looks amazing! I can’t wait to start my next project which is an old bucket chair that was heading for the skip when school had a big clear out!

  • Beautiful job. This series of posts is so useful. Thank you. I’m at the point in my project (4 matching chairs) where I’m attaching final fabric to seat and find that I have too much excess fabric at front corners to do a discreet fold. As a solution, I’m trying to create darts, instead. Is the correct solution? If so, here’s my problem. My fabric is a geometric print – large polka dots – and I’d like the darts to match in terms of where they occur in the print. Can you help? I’m having an awful time. Many thanks.

  • Thank you so much for the detailed instructions. I am about to start on 6 dining chairs. Could you please please tell me what this fabric is called? Who it is by? I’m in love with the print, colour and embroidery. What would I search for to find something similar? Thank you Roxy.

  • I have been pondering on reupholstering an antique chair. With your tutorial, I going to give it a try! Thanks

  • I truly enjoyed this info I’ll be reupholstering my dining chairs soon using this mthod. I feel like a disigner already thank you.

  • You are amazing and write easily understood directions. Thank you for sharing your fabulous skill set !!! I am emboldened. YAY !

  • For the novice, your photos and text are an excellent guide. As I read the step I was thinking (because I’m very visual) what does that result look like, and it was in the very next step! Thank you so much for documenting what may seem simple, in such a detoxes manner. I am off to find a welding cord foot for my sewing machine!