Fabric: Choose a heavier-weight material, like canvas, which will stand up to everyday wear-and-tear. I found this yardage for $2 in the As-Is section at IKEA.
Screwdriver: Most old chairs have screws securing the seat to the frame.
A staple gun: They’re a little bit scary and the staples don’t come out of the end you’d expect. But, once you get over the intimidation factor, they’re seriously useful.
Using the screwdriver, remove the screws holding the seat to the frame. While you’re there, it would be nice to clean up the vintage dust and grime using a cloth, but I won’t hold it against you if you don’t.
Place the removed seat, underside facing up, on top of the new fabric. You don’t have to remove the old stuff (unless you want to). Just make sure to center the seat so that anything directional (plaids, patterns, stripes, etc) doesn’t end up crooked.
Smooth the fabric tautly over the seat, then staple in place. Keep checking the direction of the fabric pattern as you go.
When you get to a corner, you can be sure the fabric stays nice and taut by doing the following: Fold over the excess fabric as if you were wrapping the short side of a present. Staple into place.
After you’ve stapled the fabric in place all around the seat, trim away the excess fabric. I left about an inch of material after the staple, in case I need to make any adjustments later.
The finished stapling process should leave you with a seat that looks vaguely like this on the underside. Then, flip it over and screw back into place.
Ta-da! In about 15 minutes, you’ll have a nice new chair. Extra credit: Spray the finished seat with a stain-proofing product and you’ll never have to worry about spills again.
Image credits (from top): Brie Barnes