Rip off any trim (it is just glued on). Remove any upholstery tacks and staples with staple remover and pliers.
This is when I knew for sure I had two antiques, the chairs were stuffed with cotton batting and horse hair, not foam.
Refinish the frame or not.
I decided I wanted raw wood, so I stripped off the stain with Strypeeze and the scraper tool, scrubbed the frame with water and steel wool. I wiped the wood down with paint thinner, let it dry and sanded it with 220 grit sand paper, wiped it all down and finished it with a white wax.
Carefully remove all the fabric pieces and take pictures as you go.
These will be your pattern pieces, so you don’t want them to be torn. Also, as you dismantle the upholstery you will start to understand how to re-assemble everything.
Cut an extra inch or so around all the edges, so you have some wiggle room.
If you need to tuft the chair, just cut out the buttons with a razor blade and leave them in tact. You will replace them one by one.
Using your old fabric as pattern pieces, cut out the new fabric.
If tufting, mark your fabric where each of the buttons should go.
If tufting . . .
Remove one button at a time, place the new fabric in place. Thread your new button with the waxed twine and then thread your upholstery needle. Push the needle through from front to back, this takes some effort. Once you have both ends of the twine through, stitch through a ball of batting to help secure your knot. Pull the needle out and tie a good, tight knot. Then, anchor your two ends by stapling them to a nearby section of the frame.
Replace the fabric pieces and batting with the pneumatic stapler.
Work in a north, south, east, west pattern and pull everything nice and tight as you work. This goes fast and is such a rewarding part of the process.
Leave some overhang.
Trim off the overhang with fabric scissors.
Hot glue the upholstery trim over the staples.
To finish the ends of the trim, just cut the ends so they meet together perfectly and sink them into a big blob of hot glue.
Scotch guard the living daylights out of the chair!
And in case this is too much effort, here are some beautiful vintage style chairs from around the internet.