Not long ago, I saw a gorgeous folding chair on Pinterest that had been reupholstered using a quilt block. Although there were no instructions, I decided to have a go at covering a folding chair myself. I already had a few folding chairs sitting around the office. That’s because at Bright Settings, we don’t just sell table linen, we also have folding chairs and folding tables. As you can see In the Before/After photo, I chose to reupholster a folding chair that suffered a tear in the seat during a recent move.

Now all I had to do was pick out fabrics. In this tutorial I use a quilt block, but you can avoid the sewing and follow the same instructions for any single piece of fabric. However, I’m a quilter, and since my quilt guild is celebrating the “year of the rainbow” and we’re currently conducting a challenge for rainbow-colored sewing projects, I decided to sew a Log Cabin quilt block using rainbow colors. How do you like these gradated ombré fabrics? They’re pretty rainbow-y!

I couldn’t find any instructions on how to cover a folding chair, so I just figured it out as I went along. Now that I’ve done it a couple of times and I kind of know what I’m doing, I’d like to the steps I took to reupholster a folding chair. Just a note, since chairs vary in size and shape, some adjustments may need to be made including the measurements of the cushions.

Reupholster a Folding Chair Tutorial

Prepare the Chair

  1. Use a folding chair that has cushions attached with screws, not rivets.
  2. Unscrew all the screws in the seat cushion and the seat back.
  3. Remove the cushions.
  4. Decide if you want to remove the old upholstery or leave it on, which would be preferable. Since my vinyl was in pretty good shape except for the one tear, I decided to leave it on. However, I did patch the tear with some fusible interfacing. I used a pressing cloth so as not to melt the vinyl. The patch wasn’t meant to fix the tear; just to smooth out the raw edges along the tear.

Measuring the Cushion

  1. Measure the width and length of your seat cushion. You must include the extra fabric on the back side of the cushion. I wrapped a measuring tape around the cushion starting at one raw edge on the back, around and over the top, and then back to the other raw edge on the back.
  2. My seat cushion was nearly square. For this chair, I needed at least a 20″ x 20″ square. (For easy math, I rounded up to the nearest inch.)
  3. Note: The first time I covered the chair, I oriented the log cabin block square on the seat frame. I realized that I didn’t like that look, so I took it back off and turned the block “on point.” That means I rotated it 45 degrees so that the points were at north, south, east, and west. This requires a little larger square, but I like the look much better. Here’s the math to put your quilt block “On Point”:
  • Take the size of the square needed to cover the cushion from Step #1 of Measurements. (20″, in my example)
  • Multiply that number by 1.414. (20″ x 1.414 = 28.28″)
  • Round up to the nearest half-inch. (I needed a 28-1/2″ square.)

Make the Quilt Block

  1. I chose a simple Log Cabin quilt block using 2-1/2″ wide strips, but you could use any quilt block you wanted. Courthouse Steps would look good too. (There are many tutorials online that will show you how to sew a log cabin block if you need instructions.) After I went 4 rounds with rainbow colors, I added larger strips (4-1/2″wide) for the final round. This wide fabric will be what’s wrapped around and stapled to the back.
  2. Since you’ll be tugging on this block, I recommend reducing your stitch length to 1.5 – 1.8 from the standard 2.5.
  3. How big does your quilt square need to be? I made mine about 29″ square, then I fooled around with its orientation on the seat cushion until everything was covered. If you find you need a little more fabric, no problem. That’s why God invented seam rippers.

Attach the Quilt Block to the Seat Cushion

  1. Once you have the quilt block positioned how you want it, secure it with 3 or 4 straight pins.
  2. From the back side, wrap each corner snugly and staple it down. Ease in the pleats for a smooth look.
  3. Note: I used a hand stapler from the tool box. I had to buy short staples (1/4″ long) because my cushion wasn’t very thick and the longer staples actually stuck out through the top where you sit!
  4. Now wrap each side around pulling snugly. Staple.

Re-attach the Seat Cushion

  1. Once you’re happy with the fit – you may have to restaple here and there – position the covered seat cushion back on the chair frame. Screw it back in place.
  2. Spray with Scotch-Guard to protect the fabric. (I attempted to cover mine with clear vinyl, but I much preferred the look without, so I took it back off.)

Repeat these steps for the seat back cushion

I liked my covered folding chair so much that I made another one the next night. This time I used a chair with a black frame that really set off the bold rainbow colored fabrics. The seat cushion was constructed differently than the first one, but the general principles of construction remained the same. I just needed a little bit larger quilt square because the seat cushion was so thick. This folding chair will be a prize awarded to the winner of the Rainbow Quilt Challenge at my quilt guild this year.

The rainbow fabric used in the above folding chair is left over from this raffle quilt we ladies at the Free Spirit Quilt Guild made.