Upholstering a Queen Anne Inspired Channel Back Chair

My upholstery skills were learned by necessity. I figured if someone else can do it, then I could too. I like the challenge; even though I carry a knot in my stomach, hoping I don’t mess up and make a mistake. Here is a picture tutorial of the upholstery process of a Queen Anne inspired Channel Back chair. My sister Karri Karri, head down and hard at work removing brads and her husband Bill assisted with this project. Tear down is a messy and dirty process. Bill is removing nails and brads We have two chairs to recover. We tore down one chair at a time and we took lots of pictures so we could see how the upholstery goes back together. Pulling the channel back off This is what we saw when we pulled the channel back off of the chair. I’d never upholstered a channel back, so the knot in my stomach was talking to me! Oh, my gosh. What did I get us into? Removing the channel stuffing We laid the channel back down and made a chart, just in case each roll of padding needed to be put back in the same place it came out of. Channels minus stuffing - before I took seams apart. This is what we were left with. Next we carefully tore the old upholstery apart so we could use it for a pattern. We found out that each channel is the same size except the two on the outside edges. Construct the channel back - CopyOn the left of this picture, you’ll see that we lined this chair. The maroon brocade fabric we chose came from the home dec department of our fabric store is light weight, not upholstery fabric. This chair won’t see a lot of heavy use and it will be great in it’s new home! We wanted a bit more padding in the back of the chair and decided to wrap each channel in some cotton quilt batting, then used some heavy black upholstery thread and zigzagged our way, from seam to seam and from top to bottom. We repeated the process until all the batting was attached to the new channels.Channel back laid on chair We had a wonderful space to work! You can see that we are fitting the channel back to the chair. Notice the second chair waiting in the background. Label all of the old chair pieces It’s very important to label each of the old pieces as you remove them. Sometimes I get a black felt pen and mark the pieces up with direction arrows and words or letters – A, B, C, ect. …anything that helps me put the new piece back on the chair the way the old piece came off. Channel back chair The chair is coming along nicely! The seat is tacked down and the inside arms are laid in. Now Karri and I, using a pair of needle-nose pliers and a big box of decorative tacks and a small tack hammer, will start tacking the front of the arms and the front of the seat, just above the legs. This part was a two person job. One person folds under the raw cut edge and smooths wrinkles and shapes the fabric to the chair, while the other person holds the tack with the pliers in one hand and tacks it down with the hammer in the other hand. You get the hang of it after tacking oh…300 or so tacks!

I forgot to take pictures of the seat. Basically the seat has a set of springs in it and they are wrapped with batting and inside a white fitted case. The maroon brocade seat cover is sewn with piping in the seams. The white case is slipped into the seat cover and hand sewn closed. The hand sewn seams are in the back of the chair.

Queen Anne Inspired Channel Back Chair
Queen Anne Inspired Channel Back Chair

Brads were tacked across the front back of the chair, the top of the front legs, the front of the arms, and the top of the back of the chair. As we placed the brads we wanted each to touch or almost touch the last brad we put in. We bent a few and had to pull them out. That’s the way it goes. It’s slow work. Adding the brads probably took us six hours. That’s ok. We were in a warm shop with some good music playing and we had fun visiting. Upholstery is hard work!

Channel back side view - Copy One chair down, one to go! Here’s the chair in its new home.

The Channel Back chair in it's new home. The white couch we recoved a few years ago.
The Channel Back chair in it’s new home. The white couch we recovered a few years ago. Now to finish the second chair!

The white couch, Karri and I upholstered a few years ago.

Wow! I’ve been featured on the blog “Threading My Way”  Thanks Pam.


6 thoughts on “Upholstering a Queen Anne Inspired Channel Back Chair”

  1. I LOVE THIS!!! I have the exact same chair and scared to death to attack this process. You make it look easier and not so intimidating! 🙂 Can you tell me how much material you used, and do you think the channels could be replaced with something that would be soft and cushy on the back? My channel back chair is still in good shape but the back is iron hard. Also the seat springs are uncomfortable so I know I need to add additional quality cushioning in the seat. Did you get any advice from upholstery shops or websites you can share? Thank you so much for taking the mystery out of this!! 🙂
    Thanks, Mary

    1. Hi Mary,
      You can do it although it isn’t a beginner project. Take lots of pictures as you take it apart. Mark the pattern pieces A to where it matches A on another piece, B to B and so on. I even mark the old fabric with up, left side, right side, etc. Anything that helps me remember where that piece goes. Use the parts as your pattern pieces. Remove all old staples. It also helps to get the project a few feet off the ground and work in an area that has good lighting. I wrapped the channel pieces in some thin batting (like a burrito) to make the back a little softer and wrapped the seat with batting. I put a seat cover around the seat (white cotton fabric) before I put that into the seat cover you see, to keep the batting nice around the seat. It helps to have a good stapler. Needle-nose pliers and a light hammer are needed when placing tacks. Good luck to you. I’d love to see your project. Leave me a picture on my facebook page if you’d like and I’ll share it there. http://on.fb.me/1HTrcJs

  2. Hi there! There are a couple of steps I’m missing or something… How do you attach the fabric that is placed across the channels to the back? Are those sewn through the back? Thanks.


    1. Hi Megan,
      The back of the chair fabric is stuffed with the channels prior to attaching it to the chair. Find center of the chair and make a mark on the wood. Find center of the channel back stuffed fabric and staple it to the top of chair back at center. Make sure the staples will be hidden by the back of the chair upholstery fabric that you will put on later. As you staple left and then right of the top center, also pull and staple left and then right of the center bottom of the chair. Work from the center out. Hope that helps you. I visited your page and saw the chair you are wanting to recover. Looks like a great project. Take plenty of pictures as you take the chair apart and mark all the pieces because you’ll use them as a pattern. I’d love to see a picture of the finished project. Cindy

    1. Hi Patricia,
      I bought 4.5 yards and used 3.5 to 4 yards of home dec fabric (54″ wide) for each chair. Better to have a bit more and be safe.

Send a Comment

Your email address will not be published.