Last Updated on October 8, 2017 by Kristi Linauer
Since it was a holiday weekend, I decided not to pressure myself to get the entire wingback dining chair upholstered. I did get all of the front upholstered, though. And to be honest, it’s probably a good thing I’m breaking the upholstery process into two posts, because I have over 35 pictures to show you just for the front! For tutorials, I’m definitely a “more is better” kind of person when it comes to the number of pictures I use. 🙂
Anyway, if you missed the first part of this project where I built the frame for this chair, you can find that here. This is truly a DIY made-from-scratch wingback chair.
So at the end of the last post, I had a frame that looked like this…
Before I could get started with the upholstery, the chair needed a bit more framing that the foam, batting, and fabric could wrap around. The horizontal pieces are called “stretcher rails” and the vertical pieces are called “stretcher posts.” So inside the framing on the back of the chair, I added a stretcher rail along the bottom, and then a stretcher post on each side. I attached the rail with wood glue and 2.5″ 16-gauge nails through the outside of the chair frame into the ends of the rail, and then I attached the stretcher posts with wood glue and pocket screws.
I also added a stretcher rail inside the arm framing. And finally, I used my rotary sander and 100-grit sandpaper to round the corners of the arm.
And with that, the upholstery process could finally begin.
I started by cutting a piece of 2-inch foam to fit inside the seat area, and gluing it into place using spray adhesive.
Then I added jute upholstery webbing to the back, stapled to the stretcher posts. I started with the horizontal pieces…
And then wove in the vertical pieces.
In order to attach jute upholstery webbing, you need a webbing stretcher. The one at Joann Fabrics looks like this, and has instructions on the back of the package. This is a necessary took if you’re going to use jute webbing, because there’s no way to stretch it tight enough by hand.
I also added jute webbing to the inside of the arms.
Then back to the seat, I added a piece of 1/2-inch foam over the top, glued into place with spray adhesive. I cut this piece larger, and tucked it under the stretcher rails on the sides and back, and then attached it to the front of the seat so that it would reach the bottom of the seat framing.
Here’s a look at the side, with the 1/2-inch foam tucked under the stretcher rail.
And on top of that, I adhered a piece of high-loft polyester batting. It’s cut, tucked, and wrapped the same way as the 1/2-inch foam, except that it’s longer in the front so that it can actually wrap under the seat framing.
And then finally, the fabric, which was stretched taut and stapled into place on the sides and back with staples going into the top edges of the seat framing.
I left the front of the seat unfinished for now, and turned my attention to the arms and wings. Those were covered with 1-inch foam, adhered in place with spray adhesive, and tucked into the stretcher rail on the arm and the stretcher post on the back.
And then on the front edges, I wrapped it around the wood and stapled it right along the edge. Working around the curves was a challenge, and required several relief cuts in the foam to make it around the inside curve.
But once it was all stapled into place and trimmed, it looked like this.
On the top corners where the wings meet the seat back, I brought the foam straight back and stapled around the edges.
Now on the front of the arm/seat area, I pushed the seat foam/batting/fabric aside and stapled the arm foam around the edge and at the bottom.
I trimmed off the excess, and then wrapped the 1/2-inch seat foam around the edge, right on top of the arm foam.
And then I wrapped the batting and fabric around to the side and stapled in place.
In the front of the seat, I cut a slit in the fabric so that the fabric could wrap underneath the seat frame and be stapled into place.
And then the fabric around the leg was just folded under, and stapled right on the very edge.
I’m still uncertain how I’m going to finish the bottom of my chairs. My other six dining chairs will be wrapped and stapled on the bottom, so on these wingbacks I had considered short pleated skirts. I’m still leaning that direction.
BUT…If you don’t want a skirt, then you would finish off the bottom of these chairs with fabric-covered cord that gets stapled around the bottom edge of the chair. Around the legs, you simply trim off the excess fabric, and hot glue the cord around the legs. I’ll be doing that process on my other dining chairs, so if that doesn’t make sense now, it should make sense soon.
So at this point, the front of the chair seat looks like this…
Next I covered the arm and wing with high-loft batting, adhered with spray adhesive and tucked into the stretchers.
On a wingback chairs with curved wings like mine, the inside of arms and wings require two separate pieces of fabric since there’s no way for one piece of fabric to make the inside curve. So I started with the arm, and wrapped, tucked, and stapled that piece into place.
On the front of the arm, I used one simple, clean fold in the fabric.
And on the front where the arm meets the seat, I folded the fabric at an angle to cover the edge of the seat fabric.
If I were just doing a wrap-and-staple around the bottom edge of the chair, I would have needed more fabric. You’ll notice in the photo above that my arm fabric doesn’t quite reach the bottom edge, so there’s not enough to wrap under and staple in place. So if you just want to wrap and staple, and not add a skirt, then you’ll need to make sure that you’ve allowed enough fabric so that it reaches the bottom of the seat framing and can be turned under just a bit and stapled into place at the bottom.
Here’s a look at the outside of the arm with the fabric stapled into place and trimmed.
And then using a separate piece of fabric, I covered the wing. The bottom where the wing fabric meets the arm fabric is just folded under, and the fabric is shoved into the stretcher post and stapled into place on the back.
I’m not 100% happy with that indentation where the fabrics meet, but that’s the type of thing that gets better with lots and lots of practice. I don’t do nearly enough upholstery to perfect those types of things. But you do want to match your pattern on the two pieces if at all possible.
And here’s a look at the outside. I’m not gonna lie. This was the hardest part. Getting that fabric to form to the inside curve on the wing was no easy task. The fabric I’m using has virtually no stretch to it, so it required about 15 relief cuts around the inside corner. I was sure that with that many relief cuts, and that much stretching and pulling, that the fabric was just going to start pulling apart or tearing or unraveling. Thankfully it didn’t!
And here’s a view of the back, where you can see the fabric (and underneath that, the foam and the batting) shoved between the stretcher posts and stapled into place on the inside of the framing.
And finally, the back. I used 1-inch foam, attached with spray adhesive and tucked into the stretcher rails/posts.
And on the top, I wrapped and stapled just like I did on the arms/wings.
And did I mention that I completely screwed up my fabric at the top of the wings? Well, I did. Twice. Ugh.
So before I finished up the back, I had to take care of those corners by adding just a bit more fabric to cover my error.
Then I added the batting to the back with spray adhesive. It’s tucked into the stretchers, and wrapped on the top.
And finally, the fabric, which is also tucked into the stretchers, and stapled into place. The top is just wrapped to the back and stapled onto the back.
So that’s my progress so far. And before moving on to upholstering the back and sides, I had to clean up the back a bit. I trimmed off all of the excess foam, batting, and fabric, and then stapled everything so that it was all contained within the framing of the chair. In order to upholster the back, nothing could be protruding beyond the framing. I did the same thing on the arms as well.
I’m really hoping can get this finished today, but no promises. Since I’m using spray adhesive, I’ve been working in the garage, and I swear to you it’s about 125-degrees in there. I have a box fan set up, but it’s not doing much good. So I can only be out there about 45 minutes at a time before I have to come in and cool off. Ah, the joys of July in Texas. 🙂
Addicted 2 Decorating is where I share my DIY and decorating journey as I remodel and decorate the 1948 fixer upper that my husband, Matt, and I bought in 2013. Matt has M.S. and is unable to do physical work, so I do the majority of the work on the house by myself. You can learn more about me here.
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