Upholster a Modern Rocket Chair

Upholster a Modern Rocket Chair

It seems like a good time to share my Mid-Century-Modern Rocket Chair Reupolstery Project. There are numerous photos that tell the story, so I'll make the instructions brief.


created at: 2009-04-09

created at: 2009-04-09


First of all, this chair conveniently comes apart. The only pieces to reupholster were the back, the two arms, adding new webbing to the seat and sewing a simple seat cushion. Many La-Z-Boys come apart in pieces. Remember:

1. Take photos or draw pictures of how it comes apart

2. Modern chairs have less fluffy cushioning than more traditional chairs

3. Once you get the fabric unhitched from the bottom, you'll find all sorts of hidden screws that hold other pieces in place. REMEMBER how it comes apart, so you don't close it all up before re-attaching it to the frame.

4. Be patient, every piece of this chair boils down to wrapping it like a present.

5. The horribly disentigrated foam was the most time consuming part of this chair.

Leave comments or email me with any questions you have. There are plenty of chairs out there that come apart in sections. This makes reupholstery much easier.

You'll need:

Flat head screwdriver or staple puller

Staple gun



Dacron or cotton batting


Electric knife

Spray adhesive

Twine or heavy thread

Covered button kit

Long needle and curved needle

Sewing Machine for cushion

(It sounds daunting, but it's really not, just one step at a time)


Begin by undoing the bottom staples on the back.

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Take off the entire back panel. 

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Find the screws that hold the sides in place and remove them.

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Uncrew the wood cap from the top of the arms.

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Tear down (upholstery term) the arms

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Scrape off the old foam

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Scrape off the old foam from the inside seat back

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Tear off old, saggy webbing

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Replace webbing on the back and staple on a scrap piece of fabric on top of that for stability.

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Place the back frame on a piece of 2" firm foam, trace around it, leaving 1/2" extra and cut out the foam with an electric knife or a hack saw.

*I added a little extra piece of foam underneath the large piece right in the lumbar region for nice design detail but also for back support. I glued it on to the fabric before I added the large piece of foam

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Add a layer of dacron or cotton padding on top of the foam, wrapping around the sides but not

rolling underneath the frame. Staple it right at the edge of the frame.

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Just wrap that corner like a package and secure in place with staples

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Mark the button placement with chalk and pull through covered buttons with a large needle and thick thread or upholstery twine

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Add a fresh, thin layer of dacron to the arm pieces

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Handstitch the fabric closed on the upper arms (again, remember how it came apart)

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Re-web the seat frame and add canvas or vinyl

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Screw the arms on before attaching the outside arm fabric under the frame. Make a 2" seat cushion without a zipper and without welt cord. Handstitch it closed.

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Attach the back panel at the top and handstitch all the way down the sides.

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You can always have an upholstery shop make covered buttons for you but don't be tempted to have them do your whole chair.

created at: 2009-04-09

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ModHomeEcTeacher on Jul 22, 2009:

Kristen-That stitch is a "I'm not sure what you call it" stitch. You run the curved needle into the folded edge about 12", bring it out and poke it right in to the other folded edge, run it a 1/2" and so on. I'll do a post on this stitch and find out the name of it. Check out my blog www.fliptstudio.com for more upholstery tutorials but I'll keep posting here, too. I'm happy so many people want to try it.

Kristen on Jul 21, 2009:

When you do the hand-sewing, is that a slip stitch? And does it matter what type of thread you use?

I have some potentially cute chairs to re-upholster, and I really don't want to pay someone else to do it! I love that you have this up online - keep showing us more upholstery projects, please. :)

ModHomeEcTeacher on Jun 24, 2009:

Thanks. I'm thinking of asking to borrow that chair for a photo shoot. :)

Mary on Jun 23, 2009:

This was really cool to see....thanks for sharing

dewonangus on Apr 09, 2009:

Nice job ... it looks fabulous!

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