Re Upholstered Chair Seat With Piping

Re upholstered chair seat with piping

Re upholstered chair seat with piping

My re upholstered chair seat with piping is intended for a very old Parker Knoll chair that belonged to my parents.  The chair must be forty years old, but the frame is still completely solid.  A friend rubbed down the frame and polished it.  Now it’s my turn to replace the upholstery.

The original design was a plain weave fabric but I felt that I wanted something that really makes a statement.  The Fancy Silk Store in Birmingham came to my rescue with the perfect fabric.

Cutting the fabric

Cut the fabric

Cut the fabric

I had to measure lots of times and really psyche myself up to cut into this gorgeous fabric!  The chair seat is 19″ square and 3″ deep.  I managed to find the right sponge in a foam shop.  They cut it to size for me which was helpful.

I’ve allowed for 1/2″ seams so I have cut two 20″ squares.  They are fussy cut so that the stork motif is in the middle.  In order to join the two squares together I cut three 20″ by 4″ strips of the same fabric for three of the sides.  For the fourth side I cut two strips 20″ by 3″ so that I can add a zip to this edge.

Then I sewed around all the edges of all the pieces with zigzag stitch.

Add the zip

Add the zip

Adding the zip

I placed the two 3″ strips with right sides together and marked a line at 1.3/4″ from the bottom.  You can just see the blue line above the zip in the photo.  Then I made a mark at each end of the zip – that’s the ends of the zipper part, not the actual end of the zip.

I machine sewed from the each mark to the end of the fabric along the line.  Between the two marks I basted by hand.  This is where the zip will lie.  First open the two strips and press the seam open.  Place the zip running along the basted part of the seam, right side towards the seam.  Sew in place.

Join all the strips for the sides

Join all the strips for the sides

Join the edges of the seat cushion

Sew the strip containing the zip end to end with the other three strips to make a complete loop.  One edge of this loop will now be sewn to the top square of the seat cushion and the other edge will be sewn to the bottom square.

Add the piping

Lay the piping between the two fabrics

Lay the piping between the two fabrics

I have used ready made piping rather than making my own.  This comes with a round bit (the candy stripe in the photo) which shows on the right side of the cushion and a small flat strip which is how the piping is sewn into the seams.

Place the piping between the fabrics

Place the piping between the fabrics

So place the fabric square with right side up.  Lay the piping along it with the flat section in line with the fabric edge and the round bit away from the edge towards the middle.  Now lay the first section of the side strip along the same edge with right side down.

You now have a sandwich with the piping between the two fabrics.  I find it safest to pin and baste at this stage to avoid the layers slipping apart while you’re sewing.  Sew the three layers together.  For this stage I always use a zipper foot so that my stitching can be right up to the round bit of the piping.

Sewing along the straight edges is simple.  Sewing around the corners is a bit fiddly.  You need to manipulate the piping so that it always faces in away from the edge.  You also need to stop sewing at the corner so that you can lift the foot and turn the fabrics ready to sew the next edge.  At the same time you need to make sure that you don’t catch the fold of fabric from the edge strip in your stitching.  As I said, it’s fiddly!

Top square sewn to one end of the sides

Top square sewn to one end of the sides

Sew the bottom square to the side edges

Once you have sewn the top square to the side edges you need to repeat the process.  First of all open the zip at least half way so that you can pull the cushion through when you’ve finished the seam.  Sew the bottom square right sides together with the remaining edge of the side strips.  I have used piping in this seam as well so that my chair seat will be reversible.

Complete the re upholstered chair seat

My fabric edges were fraying even though I had zigzagged all the edges before I began sewing.  So I zigzagged the seam allowances again when I had finished the sewing.  Turn the seat cushion right side out through the zip opening.  Add the foam square and your re upholstered chair seat is complete.

I have still to re upholster the rest of the chair, so you’ll be seeing a lot more of this lovely fabric!

Here’s the video:

Thanks for visiting my blog.

I hope to see you again soon.


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  1. Ooh! What beautiful fabric – almost too good to place your derriere on! I love the nerdy quilting term “fussy cut”, the first time I’ve come across that but it describes it perfectly.

    I’ve pinned newspaper to chairs handed down to me by my parents in order to make patterns. It was a lot of work but worth it – although they have worn out now.

    • Hi June. I fell in love with that fabric the moment I saw it. I’ve also bought the same design in a turquoise colour. What a clever idea to use newspaper for the patterns. The back of the chair that I’m recovering is fairly straightforward so I’ve just cut the fabric roughly right – and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it will be alright on the night!

  2. Carol Tambourine says:

    Fantastic. Thank you.

  3. Hi Rose. This is very timely as I have been eying up the grisly covers on the chairs in our summerhouse and wondering if I should attempt to re-cover them. I have been a bit worried as it involves a lot of fabric and I was nervous about mucking it up. You have inspired me to have a go. Many thanks.
    BTW I have finished the Bright Jewel quilt today and am very pleased. It is the biggest project I have done so far!

    • Hi Lynda. Well done for finishing the Bright Jewel quilt. You must feel very pleased with yourself! I was also nervous about making a start on this chair. The fabric wasn’t massively expensive, but I really wanted the chair to turn out looking like the image in my head. So far it has and now I feel more confident at re upholstering the back of the chair.

  4. Rose – you are a perfect darling. My sil, who is in a nursing home and her stuff comes to us, has three of theses Parker Knoll chairs. I think they were bought before the war and although very shabby and in need of re-padding and covering are still in very good condition structurally. Now I know what I’ve got to do.

    Thank you so much. Our local upholstery want nearly £4oo each, depending on the quality of the covers to re-do them. Bless you.

    all best Janny

    • Hi Janny. Many years ago I got a quote for re upholstering this chair and it was hundreds of pounds. I just feel so satisfied that not only am I doing this one myself, but I get to choose exactly which fabric. I think that re upholstering the back may be a bit easier than the seat, but I’ll take pics and videos as I go.