Upholstering with Leather in 6 Steps

What You'll Need
Staple gun
Flathead screwdriver
Seam ripper
Electric scissors
Sewing machine with heavy foot

Leather upholstery can be a challenging but rewarding DIY project. Reupholstering your own leather sofa can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars in cost when compared to the cost of professional upholstery or replacement of furniture. It also provides the opportunity to change the color or grain of the leather, further customizing the appearance of your living area for a one-of-a-kind look.

Step 1 - Remove Old Leather

Ask a helper to assist in flipping the sofa over, in a face-down “V”. Take the flathead screwdriver and carefully pry out the staples along the back edge of the sofa. Needle nosed pliers can be used to pull out stubborn staples without damaging the sofa. Carefully pull the leather off of the sofa; there may be additional staples under the seat cushions along the arms. If the leather resists removal, check for additional staples.

Step 2 - Cut New Leather

Use the old leather to take measurements for the replacement cuts. Take the seam ripper and use it to separate the different portions of leather, leaving you with flat, easy-to-use pieces that can work as a pattern for the new cuts. Place the new leather face down on the table, and put the pattern pieces face down on top. Use sewing pins along the edges to secure the pattern to the new fabric. Carefully cut out the new leather with the electric scissors. Remove the pins, and set aside the old leather pieces.

Step 3 - Attach New Leather to Front and Back

Line the back piece up against the back of the sofa. Staple the leather to the sofa along the top edge. The back piece ends will wrap around the sides of the sofa; don't worry about the leftovers. Take the front piece of leather, and line it up over the back piece. Staple the front piece along a slightly lower line that the back piece, so that when the front is flipped into position and tucked in, you will not be able to see the staples. Once the top is secured, pull the leather tight and secure to each corner, then work along the bottom by pulling taut and then stapling along the edge, until the pieces are secure.

Step 4 – Attach New Leather to Arms and Lower Flap

Take the arm pieces and staple them on the inside and outside back. Space the staples evenly, so that when covered with tacks it will produce a finished look. Flip the lower flap segment over the sofa cushions and staple along the front edge, so that when it falls the staples are not visible. Take the leftover back segment and pull it around the sides of the sofa, stapling underneath.

Step 5 – Sew Seat Cushions

Sew seat cushions with a 5/8-inch seam allowance, using a leather-compatible foot on your sewing machine. Finish with zippers.

Step 6 – Finish with Tacks

Hammer decorative tacks to cover the staples.