How To Reupholster a Vintage Settee

My awesome neighbor gave me this awesome settee she had for many, many year.  It needed a new life so I set out to reupholster it!  This project took a few weeks to complete so I don’t have pictures of all the steps (sorry), but I will post my resource page at the end of the post…  This is going to be a lengthy post so bear with me!

The first step is the most difficult, that is removing all of the staples (nails in my case) and ripping it down to its bare bones!


You will need a good tack puller to begin this process.  Start with the bottom side of the settee, removing the dust cover. I was lucky settee had steel belting that was still in good shape!  This is a slow and tedious process but you have to get out all of the nails!


Next remove the fabric from the back of the settee.  ***Remember to take lots of pictures of your process, as you will re-assemble the settee the exact OPPOSITE way you’re working now!*** Also, label and keep every part you take off the couch.  I labeled all of the fabric pieces with a sharpie and used those as my templates to cut and sew the new fabric.  I reused the muslin as well (that was a big cost saver!).  So you basically just peel back the layers to get to the front back portion of the couch.

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After your remove the back, you will start taking off the fabric from the front back portion of the couch.  Yes, that is hay (so gross there was horse hair too)… I can’t imagine what I was breathing in at this point of the project…

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Next, I carefully removed all nails attaching the bottom portion of the and just kept working my way around pulling all of the staples out!

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I see the finish-line!!! Remove the burlap and the decking or the roll-edging (the portion at the tip of the couch); make sure you keep the fabric that comprised the decking!  All of the used material will be your guide for the new, or if you’re lucky, you can reuse it!


My springs were still in pretty good shape so I decided to keep them in there and just sure up the twine that had snapped.  I also had a pretty bad structural wood break on the back of the couch.  I just used wood glue and a clamp to sure it up and let it dry over night.

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After my knuckle wounds had semi-healed from the tack removing processes, I decided to gild this thing.  After all, everything is better when it sparkles a bit!  I used Rub’n Buff  in Antique Gold which is an awesome product!  It goes on super easy, and you don’t have to use much product at all.  In fact, I still have over half the tube left after doing the entire couch!


After making this little baby shine, I repaired the twine that was missing and slide a piece of burlap in between the steel belting and the spring.  In the second picture you can see that I fished the twine through the burlap and tied it around the steel belting and the springs to keep them from moving anywhere.

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Next, I installed the burlap/jute webbing.  You should use a webbing stretcher for this process, however, I was trying to cut costs and did not purchase that product so I just used my hands 🙂  In my humble opinion, if you staple your anchor end then pull hard and staple the other end then cut the jute you achieve enough tension…


Next, you staple a piece of fabric over the springs and make sure you pull the fabric tight so there is tension against the springs and fabric. Again, I stress that you take pictures and document the process when you take the piece apart; that process will dictate how you re-assemble the piece.


I stapled a piece of burlap over the fabric mentioned above and also installed burlap over all the webbing.  I folded over the corners and stapled the burlap to the frame.

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After I stapled all the burlap to the frame, I re-installed the roll-edging.  This piece will cushion your legs at the edge of the settee.  I reused the old edging fabric and replaced the hay with batting.

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Next came the seat part of the project, let me tell you, this was really hard!  Looking back I probably would have done a decking and created a cushion, but hey, this was my first re-upholstery project and I didn’t have that foresight at the time.  I don’t have the pictures but I stapled on the 2″ foam first, then added batting, then installed the fabric.  I have a few creases and a “not-so-perfect” edge but whatever!


Moving right along, I laid a long strip of foam along the backside of the couch.  then I traced along the backside a line where I needed to cut the foam (no pictures of this process, sorry)…  I had to cut the foam into 3 pieces to fit into the couch.  Then you “roll” the foam at the top and staple it down to create a pillow roll effect.

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After the foam, I placed the muslin in the old couch to add another layer and create smoothness and cover my sloppy lines from the foam cutting above (sorry no picture).  Then I laid out the batting and stapled that down and pulled the excess through the bottom.  Make sure you pull and make the batting snug against the foam underneath.

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After this, I used my old fabric as a guide to trace, cut and sew the new fabric for the front-back  and back portion of the couch.  Sorry no pictures of this process but to be honest this was my first sewing project ever!  My sweet neighbor that gave the settee to me actually came and helped me sew the pieces together.   After I install all the fabric I hot glued on some rope trim to cover up the staples!

This was such a fun project but it was time-consuming, however, you could work at it an hour or two at a time which made it more enjoyable!  I used this resource as a guide for my settee; Susan’s tutorial was VERY helpful during this process!

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Just another quick glance at the before!



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  1. February 8, 2015    

    Wow! It turned out fabulous! I’m so glad my tutorial helped you. I’m glad my settee was already stripped to the frame when I bought it, I hate messing with the gross insides of old pieces…

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    • Jessica Jessica
      February 16, 2015    

      Thank you Susan! Your tutorial was the biggest help! I also enjoy looking at your blog!

      Keep it up 🙂



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  2. February 23, 2015    

    Nice job! I just finished stripping 2 wingback chairs. Ugh! Paying someone else to cover them this time, though. Totally worth it!

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    • Jessica Jessica
      February 24, 2015    

      Jennifer, reupholstery is such a task (an manicure ruiner!)! Thank you for stopping by my blog; you have been such an decorating inspiration for me (and have gotten me totally obsessed with Chiang Mia Dragon Fabric!)…

      Keep up the amazing work!



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  3. March 3, 2015    

    Jessica, I am so unbelievably impressed by your reupholster job. So unbelievable! I have a chair that I’ve been meaning to reupholster forever and this gives me great inspiration (and tips) for doing it. Thanks for sharing on Best of the Nest!
    Kris {Driven by Decor} recently posted…Kitchen Eat-in Area – Changes Are A Coming…My Profile

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  4. August 4, 2015    

    I just checked myself and I couldn’t figure out why they weren’t showing up. Let me know if you have any questions as I’m happy to try and answer them!

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Hello there, my name is Jessica and I'm so glad you've dropped by! I am a weekend DIYer, a die-hard antiquer, and a lover of all things vintage. Join me on my never ending journey of turning our house into our home!