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!

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