How to Reupholster a Wingback Rocker, Part V: The Arms

<< How to Reupholster a Wingback Rocker, Part IV: Applying the Deck    Part VI: The Wings >>

The arms were exciting to finish because they made the chair look so much more completed. And I am no seamstress, so if I can do this, so can you! Here is a diagram with the names of the chair parts I reference in this post, to minimize confusion:



  • Step 1: mark the top and sides of the arm with pins.

  • Step 2: Pin your arm panel on and with chalk, mark the welting line around your arm piece and lines at your pin-marks. Cut out, allowing a 1/2″ seam allowance.

  • Step 3: Wrap the inside arm piece around the arm. This piece will meet the chair deck and wrap around the roll of the arm, ending just below the roll. The piece should be long enough to pull through the space between the arm and deck and staple to the bottom rail of the chair. If you are short on fabric, be sure to sew a piece of strong fabric to the bottom for pulling/stapling (a piece that will not show on the finished chair). Mark the front of this piece with lines at the pin-marks so you know where this inside arm fabric should meet the arm panel. Draw on the welting line with chalk (I used the old piece to trace along the welting). Cut around the welting line where the inside arm will meet the arm panel, allowing a 1/2″ seam allowance.

  • Step 4: Sew your welting. I sewed it separately, then sewed it onto the arm panel. You could probably sew it directly onto the arm panel as well. After cutting your welting strips on the bias (I followed these instructions to make a lot of welting out of a little fabric), pinch the fabric around your welting and sew, using a welting (or piping) foot on your sewing machine. This will allow for a close fit around the welting.

  • Step 5: Pin the welting onto the arm panel, matching the chalk welting line. Sew the welting onto the arm panel. This took me a few tries/corrections to get it right. Some adjusting can be done once the panel is actually on the chair as well.
  • Step 6: Match the inside arm fabric to the arm panel, using the welting lines and the pin-marks as guides. Sew the arm panel to the inside arm. Cut some relief cuts along the seam allowance as necessary to reduce the bulk of the fabric, this will get rid of bumps.

  • Step 7: If necessary, add batting to the inside arm and arm panel.
  • Step 8: Turn the arm fabric inside out, with your hand inside. Place over the chair arm, carefully rolling the fabric back so as not to mess up the batting. If there are wrinkles/dips, reach your hand up to smooth/add batting.

  • Step 9: Tuck the inside arm fabric in beside the deck. Evaluate if you will need more fabric on the back of the inside arm to pull through the back of the chair and staple to the back rail. If so, sew strong fabric to the part of the inside arm that will pull through to the back.

  • Step 10: Staple the arm fabric below the roll on the outside of the chair. Begin from the welting side and move to the chair back, being careful to tug the fabric gently as you go.

  • Step 11: Pull the inside arm fabric through the outside of the arm, stapling to the bottom rail. Pull taut, but make sure it is not pulling on the arm padding, creating bumps and pull marks.

I can’t find a picture of just the finished arms, so you get a sneak-peek at the inside back as well:

<< How to Reupholster a Wingback Rocker, Part IV: Applying the Deck       Part VI: The Wings >>



  1. Bonnie Carrell
    Posted November 17, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Awesome upholstry job Sarah! I did that once! For those not quite sure about tackleing a project like that, the prisoners have a program where they will do that for you at a reduced cost than having it done elsewhere. Hopefully they still have that program.

    • Posted November 17, 2010 at 8:44 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks Bonnie! Yes I think the dropoff is a Salvation Army in Spokane. I can’t find anything like that on this side of the state.

  2. Posted November 17, 2010 at 6:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Wow! I wish I was as talented! I got an estimate last week to have my couch reupholstered. I changed my mind very quickly.

    • Posted November 17, 2010 at 8:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I know – crazy, isn’t it? Although now that I see how much work it is, I think I would charge an arm and a leg to reupholster a wingback chair for someone else too!

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