How to Measure Dining Room Chairs for Upholstery Fabric

Dining room chairs are one of the most common pieces of furniture to reupholster. Many of us own that one chair, sofa, or bench seat that has been through it all, and needs a makeover. The first step is choosing an upholstery fabric and figuring out how much you need.

The first time I reupholstered anything was a set of dining room chairs from the early 1900’s. Talk about old, but honestly, it was easier than I thought and they came out great considering it was my first time. However, I chose a print fabric and quickly realized that I should have looked at the repeat of the pattern first. But then again, I over calculated my measurements and bought twice the amount than what I needed!

Whether it’s you reupholstering the chair or a professional you’ve hired, knowing your measurements will help determine the amount of yardage you will need. I’ve put together some tips on how to measure a dining room chair seat, and what to take into consideration when choosing an upholstery fabric.

Using an Existing Pattern

Some chairs are shaped uniquely (usually vintage chairs), and in that case it’s easier to use the current pattern rather than taking down measurements. The best way is to take the fabric off that is currently on the chair and use it as a pattern for the new fabric. This includes the number of times the fabric is folded over around the edges (usually twice) and ironing them out so you have a complete flat pattern. If the staples have ripped the fabric, preventing it from lying out evenly, add an extra inch around the entire pattern. For the average dining room chair (16″ x 18″), you can get two seats out of ¾ of a yard, of 54” wide fabric.


Measuring dining room chairs is pretty simple. It’s best to remove the seat from the chair to get the most accurate measurements. With a tape measure, measure the length of the seat from top to bottom from each bottom edge. Add another 3-4 inches to both sides to allow for a fold over finish and stapling underneath.

For non-standard sized seats or if your fabric width is not the standard 54″, see our Calculating Fabric Yardage for Your Project article to figure out how much fabric you need.

For the average chair (16” x 18”) you don’t need to measure the width because upholstery fabrics that are 54” wide will give you a sufficient amount of fabric to work with. If your chair is larger than average, measure the width the same way as you would measure the length at its widest point.

If you have more than one chair that you are reupholstering, multiply the number of chairs by 0.75 and divide by 2. This will give you the total amount of yardage you will need for your chairs.

If you choose a pattern with a repeat, allow yourself an extra 1/2 yard for matching the fabric. Also if it’s a large print, center the pattern in the middle of the seat, this way its not off centered. With repeats and large prints, consider an extra 1/2 yard to a yard for centering and matching the fabric.

Choosing Fabric

Check out our selection of décor fabric to find the perfect fabric for your dining chairs! You’re not limited to just heavy upholstery fabrics. Many drapery fabrics are also suitable for upholstering chairs. See our article on Drapery Fabric vs. Upholstery Fabric to find out more about what to look for when choosing a fabric for your project.

Ready to go? Click here to find out how to upholster your dining chairs.