Tufted Cane Chair Tutorial : Putting it Back Together

Welcome back!  Are you ready for part two?  Yesterday I shared part 1 of my tufted cane chair tutorial.  It’s all about how to take the chair apart to get it ready for the upholstery.  If you missed it, you can find it here.

Today we’re going to finish up this lovely chair!

Tufted Cane Chair Tutorial - Part 2: Putting it Back Together

Here’s a refresher of how the chair looked when I bought it and how it looks now.  I couldn’t be happier with it!  It’s really one of my favorite projects!

Tufted Cane Chair Before and After

Alright, ready to get started on part 2?

.  .  .

These are some supplies you’ll need:

Fiskars fabric scissors

Pneumatic staple gun and staples

Hot glue gun and glue sticks



Supplies Needed for Chair Reupholstery

Now that you have your supplies, let’s get started.

1.  Use your old fabric as a template and cut fabric an inch or two larger than your pattern.  Remember how, in part 1, we had to cut this backing out of the chair?  Well, it will be too small if you cut your new fabric right along the lines, so you’ll need to cut it a bit larger.

How to Reupholster a Cane Chair with Tufted Back

2.  Staple the back onto the chair.  This is much easier if you have a pneumatic stapler.  Otherwise, get ready for your hand to be sore by the end of this!  😉

Start by stapling the top and bottom into place and then work on the sides.  Carefully tuck the fabric under the caning and staple.  You want to tuck it under the caning rather than just putting it on top of the caning because it won’t lie flat if you don’t.  Again, remember how we had to cut the back out?  Well, we need to put the new fabric back where the old fabric was!

This was honestly one of the hardest parts for me.  I would get the fabric tucked in and then I’d staple and the staple would miss the chair frame and I’d have to rip it out and try it again.  It was very trying, but since it’s one of the hardest parts, once you get this done, it just gets easier from here!

How to Reupholster a Cane Chair with Tufted Back

As you can see, the back isn’t perfect.  If I’d used a fabric with a different pattern – anything but a stripe – you probably wouldn’t see my small imperfections.  But really, who is staring at the back of the chair anyway?!

Reupholstering Back of Cane Chair

3.  Place your padding back on the chair.  It should just kind of cling to the fabric.

How to Reupholster a Cane Chair with Tufted Back

Now to work on the back rest.

4.  Pull the buttons and old fabric off your back rest.  As with the backing, use your old fabric as a template and cut fabric for your back rest.

How to Reupholster a Cane Chair with Tufted Back

5.  Set your buttons on your new fabric and cut a small circle around them.  Use your hot glue gun to attach the fabric to the button.  Set buttons aside for later.

How to Reupholster a Cane Chair with Tufted Back

6.  Place your new fabric on top of your back rest and make sure it’s straight.  This isn’t as important if you don’t have a striped fabric.  Of course, I wanted to make this project as difficult as possible!  😉

Don’t secure fabric down yet.

How to Reupholster a Cane Chair with Tufted Back

7.  Using your Fiskars scissors, flip the backing over, holding the fabric in place with one hand.  Poke a small hole through the fabric to make a place to insert the button.  Just do one at a time.  Don’t do all the holes at once because they won’t line up correctly if you do.

How to Reupholster a Cane Chair with Tufted Back

8.  Okay, you have your hole, now flip the back rest over to the front and insert a button in the hole.  Secure it on the back.

9.  Repeat steps 7 & 8 for the rest of the buttons.  With the rest of the holes, make sure to line up your fabric carefully on the front and hold it in place when you flip it over and poke the hole.  Now it matters where your fabric is and you want things to line up correctly.  Again, this is made more difficult if you’ve chosen a striped fabric!

10.  Once all your buttons are in place, attach fabric to the back of the back rest with hot glue.  Don’t use the staple gun for this part because, unless you have REALLY short staples, they will poke out into the padding and will poke you when you sit in the chair!  Hot glue does a great job of keeping the fabric in place.

11.  Staple back rest onto chair frame.  Start with the top and bottom and then work on the sides.  This part is relatively easy.  You’re just putting it back where it was.  Just keep your staples relatively close to the edge when you’re stapling because you want them to be covered by the cording later.

How to Reupholster a Cane Chair with Tufted Back Okay, this is where I got lazy.  I was not about to make my own cording from scratch.  I hate sewing and I knew this would take me a week to get right!  So I took the easy way out!  (If you do want to make your own cording, there are plenty of tutorials online that will help you along the way.)

12.  Use your cording as a template and cut about an inch on each side.  NOTE:  Make sure to place the cording face down onto the fabric.  As you can see, I put it face up, so I had to improvise a little bit later on.

13.  Using your hot glue gun, glue your fabric onto the old cording so that your seam is hidden in the back.  (I tried fabric glue for this first, but it took FOREVER, so I switched to hot glue.  Much better decision!)

How to Reupholster a Cane Chair with Tufted Back

14.  Attach cording to chair with your hot glue gun.  Use enough glue to really make it stick.

As you can see, It’s not perfect, but it still looks nice and was a LOT easier than having to make cording myself!

Tufted Cane Chair Cording Detail

(Below you can see where I had to get creative and fold the fabric on the cording because I cut the fabric wrong.  But it still worked out okay!)

Tufted Cane Chair Cording Detail

15.  And since I apparently feel like an old pro at this part, I didn’t take pictures.  For the seat, remove fabric using a flat head screwdriver and pliers.  Use your old fabric as a template and cut fabric for seat.  Set fabric face down and put your seat face down on top of it.  Staple fabric onto back of seat.  Make sure to pull your fabric taught, but not too tight.

16.  Reattach your seat with a screwdriver.

And you’re DONE!!!  Woohoo!!

Long process, but totally worth it, right?!

Reupholstered Tufted Cane Chair

Honestly, I was really nervous to do this project, but now that I’ve completed it, I feel like I can tackle even more difficult upholstery projects!  There’s definitely a sense of accomplishment when you finish a project like this!

If you missed my chair posts, you can see the reveal post here and part 1 of this tutorial here.

If you have any questions along the way, feel free to ask!  I’m more than willing to share my extremely limited knowledge with you!  😉

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  1. Anne Anderson says

    This chair is now MINE! (Can you tell I’m proud of it?) It’s absolutely lovely, and looks perfect in my living room. It’s very comfortable, and is my favorite reading spot now :) Thanks so much for all the loving effort you put into it, Allison!

  2. Pamela Andrella says

    The chair is darling…love the ticking stripes; but my question is this; after doing all the work, why did you use a glue gun on the fabric? Won’t it fall off after a little time?

    • Allison @ The Golden Sycamore says

      Thanks Pamela! In part one of the tutorial I shared how I took the chair apart. The cording had apparently been attached with a hot glue gun, so that’s why I used it to reattach it. Hoping it won’t fall off, but we’ll see!

  3. Kim says

    Awesome tutorial, and thank you for putting it together. I have a similar chair that has been in desperate need of a makeover for a year now as well. I am scared too! But now I feel empowered and ready to tackle it, with your instructions in hand of course!

  4. Christina Lopez says

    I just got the same chair this weekend. I am scared to break apart! I do not know where to start. Do you have a tutorial of breaking the chair apart?

  5. Debra Housworth says

    I would suggest that next time you do cording, cut your fabric in straight lines using a yardstick or metal ruler. Cut the fabric on a bias with the edges perfectly parallel. You’ll find it much easier to work with and the results will look nicer, especially around corners and curves. You might enjoy sewing if you had a good machine and a good teacher. Sewing the cording is the best solution because it is more flexible and tidy. I still use a hot glue gun to put it in place so no tacks will show. It’s a cute chair. Good job on tackling something new!

  6. sherry d says

    Hi, does the back have a cardboard backing of some sort between the fabric? We got a chair and there isn’t any kind of hard board. There’s just a piece of foam and fabric.. curious what we should do. When we bought the chairs, the staples were already removed and foam was apart. Thanks!

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