How to reupholster a drop-in seat

I often come across dining chairs that I like the shape of but the seats are ruined or covered in horrible, old fabric. Usually, these chairs are very, very cheap but I’ve always walked away in the past because I’ve thought that to re-upholster the seat is a professional’s job and it would cost me a fortune.

However, I recently recovered a Lloyd Loom laundry basket, which isn’t too dissimilar to a seat pad, and I realised how easy it is.  So I want to show you how simple and cheap it can be to transform a good chair.

I have found the perfect fabric to match the chair. Lorna Syson is a designer of contemporary interior accessories, including fabric, wallpapers, lampshades and cushions. I love the retro edge and the influence of the Great British outdoors. I fell in love with one particular print that I decided to use for my chair and I now want a whole room wallpapered in it!

You will need:

Lorna Syson fabric

Your choice of medium weight fabric. I’m using this gorgeous Lorna Syson fabric, which is called Flock Sunrise.

How to reupholster a drop in seat pad

Webbing, upholstery tacks and a staple gun. I bought the webbing and tacks from Heritage Upholstery Supplies, which is a great online shop with lots of information about each product – perfect for the novice. I bought 50g of the 13mm improved tacks and 5m of the quality elastic webbing 25.

Foam for reupholstering seat pads

You need foam for the seat pad. I always buy it from efoam as they cut it to measure. I chose a 5cm thick piece as I want my seat well padded but you can choose a thinner base.

Cotton webbing

Polyester wadding that I buy from eBay.

Spray glue


Pliers (or an upholstery tack remover if you have one)


How to reupholster a drop in seat pad

The ‘before’ shot. Enough to put you off buying the chair?

How to reupholster a drop in seat pad

1. Remove the tacks holding the old fabric in place. Use pliers or an upholstery tack remover if you have it. I have to say this was the most difficult part! Keep the old fabric, as this can be the pattern for your new fabric.

How to reupholster a drop in seat pad

2. Remove all the old webbing and padding.

How to reupholster a drop in seat pad

3. Remove the tacks that held the webbing in place.

How to reupholster a drop-in seat pad

4. When your frame is free of tacks you need to begin attaching your new webbing. Cut pieces of webbing to stretch the length and width of the frame and add 10cm so that you can fold back 5cm at each end of the webbing. Lay each piece side by side and make sure they are taut when you tack them with your hammer.

How to reupholster a drop-in seat pad

5. Now attach the widthways strips in a similar way, but weaving them in and out of the webbing already in place.

How to reupholster a drop-in seat pad

6. Spray the woven base with glue and stick the foam on top of it.

How to reupholster a drop-in seat pad

7. Place the frame, foam side down, on the wadding and staple gun it onto the underside of the frame, pulling it as tautly as possible. This helps to smooth the corners and edges of the foam.

How to reupholster a drop-in seat pad

8. Place the frame, foam side down, onto your fabric. Make sure you have the pattern facing in the right direction. Begin tacking the fabric onto the underside of the frame, working outwards from the middle. I did one tack in the middle of the front of the seat and then one tack in the middle of the back of the seat and so on. This way your fabric remains taut and in the correct position. Next do the sides, leaving the corners until last. I turned the raw edge over and used enamel pins for a neat finish. However, you can use the staple gun or tacks as you won’t be able to see it when the chair is put back together. If you want to, for a neat finish, you can buy a piece of hessian 5cm bigger than the size of your seat frame. Place it over the underside of the chair, then turn the raw edges and staple or tack close to the folded edge.

How to reupholster a drop-in seat pad

9. When you get to the corners you need to pull the fabric over the corner as tautly as possible and secure it with a tack.

How to reupholster a drop-in seat pad

10. Fold over one side and tack it.

How to reupholster a drop-in seat pad

11. Fold over the other side and add another tack (I’ve used an enamel pin but this is not necessary). The thicker your fabric, the trickier this step is.

How to reupholster a drop-in seat pad

12. The most important thing when you are doing the corners is to make sure the fabric is as taut as possible.

How to reupholster a drop-in seat pad

Finished! Pop your seat pad back in the chair (with some chairs you will need to screw them in).

How to reupholster a drop-in seat pad

I love the combination of the yellow of the fabric and the honey tones of the wood. Perfect!

How to reupholster a drop-in seat pad

And look who else likes it…

I hope you all have a go – it really is very easy and the best bit is you can’t see the bottom so if you make any mistakes it doesn’t matter. Such an easy way to transform an old piece of furniture.

Thank you very much to the lovely Lorna Syson for the beautiful fabric. Do have a peek at her website and here are a few of my other faves from her collection:

Lorna Syson Blizzard fabric

I love the beautiful greys and angular shapes of this Blizzard fabric.

Modern prints with a retro aesthetic, like these cushions, work really well with vintage furniture.

Lorna Syson Flock Sunrise wallpaper

I really want the Flock Sunrise wallpaper too!

Hope you all have a great weekend x




  1. Hannah
    3rd August 2013 / 11:46 am

    VERY useful tutorial. I’m excited at the prospect of trying this.

  2. 3rd August 2013 / 12:08 pm

    Katy, this is BEAUTIFUL!!!!
    Just the way I love a tutorial – clear, concise instructions and step by step photographs, nice one 🙂
    The fabric is just divine, so inspiring & really suits that chair!

    Love Fenn x

  3. Sarah
    3rd August 2013 / 1:45 pm

    Oooh, loving that fabric. I too always thought doing this was really difficult and pricey…may have to give it a go!! Thanks.

    • katy
      4th October 2013 / 4:48 pm

      Thank you very much, Jonette! So glad you like it 🙂

  4. Helene
    17th December 2014 / 9:07 am

    I can’t wait to try. I’ve started to restore six dining room slip seat chairs with an nine sloan paint and and am now ready to recover the seats. Could you tell me what weight of Dacron webbing is most suitable for this please. Thanks

    • katy
      17th December 2014 / 10:04 am

      Hi Helene. You chair project sounds very exciting! I used 6oz Dacron wadding – hope that helps x

  5. 12th January 2016 / 9:32 pm

    Hi there, Just want to say thanks for this advice. I have a couple of old dining chairs with arms and I would like to recover one for my bedroom. I have been sitting looking at the fabric and the seat for a while, trying to work out how best to attach it. Your tutorial is really clear. I am going to get tacks in the morning and then I will give it a go. One thing I am wondering – the existing seat is actually still in pretty decent condition. I might try just tacking the new fabric over the old – lazy? If all goes well, I then have 8 dining chairs I’d like to tackle too… I will let you know!
    Thanks again for posting x

    • Katy
      13th January 2016 / 8:53 am

      Oh great! So happy to hear it’s useful. Yes, indeed, you can cover straight over the existing fabric if it’s in good condition. Good luck! Xx

  6. Kathy O'Connor
    7th July 2016 / 1:31 pm

    Hi Katy,
    Super tutorial – just what I was looking for.
    Does the foam need to be the same size as the seat or a little larger all round? I ask as I am taking the materials to Spain to recover my mum-in-law’s chairs and want to cut the foam before I go – easier to get in a suitcase!! I didn’t realise that you put dacron on before the fabric – is this necessary or can I put the thick fabric straight over the foam?
    Thanks again for the easy to follow guide.

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