10 Tips for Reupholstering a Settee

Home DIY

If you have been following along for a while, you might remember a red settee I found at a thrift store a few years ago. The plan was always to reupholster it, but we never quite had the time, so we moved it from studio to studio, until I finally passed it on to my design assistant, Hannah, who has been taking reupholstering classes. She stripped it, and started to rebuild, but we were not sure of the fabric…then I received an email from Spoonflower asking me if I wanted to try out their new Celosia Velvet™. YES, PLEASE!  It’s so soft! I thought it would be fun to do a shibori pattern and fell in love with this Shibori Diamond Blue one. It’s a little busy with the rug, so I am looking for a new one, but wanted to show you the final piece asap, because Spoonflower is offering a 15% discount on 1+ yards of Celosia Velvet until 11:59pm EDT on 9/17  (no promo code required). Woot!


If you are looking to tackle a reupsolstering project yourself, Hannah has 10 tips for you after the break! And if you are looking to start a little smaller, can I suggest giant velvet throw pillows? And after you make them, can you send a few my way so I can take a velvet pillow nap?!  OR if you just want to pick the fabric, you can head of to Roostery.com and the will upholster the chair or make the pillows for you!


10 Tips for Reupholstering a Settee: 

1. Working with fabric with a pattern. 
Most times want to center the pattern on your piece which can often mean you will use more fabric than a solid fabric. When using a pattern you need to work from the center of the pattern outward when measuring to make sure you have enough excess on each side of the pattern.

2. Working with fabric with a pile. 
Fabrics such as velvet have what is known as a pile which means it has a direction the material flows. If you run your hand up the fabric it is rough and if you run it down the fabric it is smooth. You always want the pile going down. If pieces are going in different directions then the color will change from section to section.

3. Which way does your fabric run? Is the pattern railroaded or up the roll?
This will be a determining factor on yardage and how the pattern will/can be placed.
4. Don’t use the existing fabric as a template.
Depending on the type of fabric and how long it has been on the piece it could have stretched and is most often times misshapen. It is also very common that the excess fabric that is normally used for pulling gets trimmed. It is best to measure off of the piece of furniture and add 3-4″ for pulling/tightening.

5. Stay consistent with the direction of the fabric. 
Even if your fabric is a solid and doesn’t have a pile it is still best to run the fabric in the same direction throughout the entire piece. For the same reason that the fabric can read differently from different directions.

6. Take lots of pictures and notes.
As you are removing the fabric take pictures and notes of what order you take the pieces off in. This will most likely be the reverse order of how you reupholster your piece.

7. Working with curves.
If a piece has a curved back be mindful of the angle of the fabric as it moves around the curve. If you are working with a solid fabric this is less of an issue. But with a pattern you will notice that the pattern on the sides will curve and go higher or lower on the piece and will no longer be in line with the rest of the side you are working on. You may need to cut the fabric at an angle and seam it together so create the curve needed.
8. Sewing piping.
Piping is most easily seen on an industrial upholstery sewing machine. But let’s be real, most people don’t have that. You can also use your zipper foot on your regular machine to sew the piping. The key is to go slowly and make sure you are consistent.

9. Find what works for you.
Many books, instructors, friends have different methods of upholstering. As with most skills techniques are developed differently with everyone. Find the way that works best for you and the piece you are working on.

10. Practice makes perfect! 
Understand that upholstery is a craft and like many crafts it takes practice to improve. You will be amazed at how much your work has improved as you go.

Thanks to Spoonflower for partnering with us on this makeover, and thanks you all for supporting our amazing partners!




  1. Courtney says:

    Wow it turned out really well. I love it!

  2. Michelle says:

    I love the colour and pattern you chose, it looks like a brand new settee!

  3. Tiffany S. says:

    That fabric is a beautiful match for the frame, and looks awesome with the rug.

  4. Novie says:

    Thinking of re-upholstering the settee I got from the flee market. The wood is still in pristine condition but I would really love to replace the covers and foam. Who knows who/what sat on it before or worse what’s creeping inside.


  5. Marisa says:

    Amazing result! Very professional looking. Good job!:)


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