Rocking Chair Upholstery | Eastlake Rocker

Want to know how easy it is to replace rocking chair upholstery on an antique Eastlake rocking chair? Let me show you how!

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This post is sponsored by Dixie Belle. All opinions are my own!

Pinterest graphic showing before and after of rocking chair makeover

amazing deal

If you’re like me, you often buy something because the price is amazing. You might not necessarily need it or even know what you will do with it, but the price can be too good to pass up.

before image of eastlake folding rocking chair

how much did you say??

That’s the story of this gorgeous pair of antique Eastlake folding rockers.

The pair was only $10

Whoa, wait…..did I just say $10?????

How could I not purchase them??

So, they came home with me. And I pulled out my upholstery tack and a staple remover.

lady removing old decorative tacks on upholstered folding rocking chair

deconstruct and prep

While removing the fabric panels, I paid close attention to how they had been attached and how they were constructed.

This information would be my teacher when it came to reconstructing the upholstered rockers.

antique eastlake rocking chair with all upholstery fabric removed

Both chairs got a good cleaning with Simple Green and a heavy-duty Scotch pad. I did this step outside on a sunny day and let them dry in the sun.

hemp oil finish

The next step was to deal with the wood. I didn’t want to paint these chairs because the wood was just so beautiful.

All the wood needed was a good coating of Miss Mustard Seed Hemp Oil. I brushed it on with a chip brush and then wiped off the excess with a blue shop towel.

closeup of before and after of hemp oil finish on folding rocking chairs

While the hemp oil soaked in and then cured, I stitched the three fabric panels I would need for each rocker in this rocking chair upholstery project.

rocking chair upholstery

Each rocker needed three panels: one panel for the inside back, one for the outside back, and one for the seat.

The two panels for the back of the rocker were lined.

Using the old fabric as a pattern, I cut the new upholstery fabric making sure I included a seam allowance.

The panels also needed to be lined so I cut the same pattern in a neutral lining.

The next step was to stitch the decorative fabric to the lining fabric leaving an opening for turning.

close up of tackstrip on upholstered rocking chair

old-fashioned method

After they were stitched and turned right side out, I gave each panel a good pressing with an iron.

The next step is to attach them to the rockers. It was easy to see where to attach the panel by the previous tack holes.

I chose to do this step the old-fashioned way instead of using a pneumatic staple gun.

The area where the nails would be attached is pretty narrow and I felt the old-fashioned method was the easiest way to keep things under control.

lady demonstrating how to attach upholstery tack strip on rocking chair

You’ll also notice that I used a cardboard tack strip. This helps the fabric to lie flat on the right side.

Can you see the line of stitching around the perimeter of the panel?

After stitching the right sides together, turning them right side out, and then pressing with an iron I top-stitched around the edge.

lady showing how to use tackstrip on upholstered rocking chair

needle-nose pliers

Using pliers to hold each upholstery tack and the decorative tacks is a huge help! The tacks can be small and fingers can get in the way of the small tack hammer.

It takes some getting used to, but you’ll get the hang of using the pliers in one hand and the tack hammer in the other. Using the pliers also helps the decorative tack not to bend.

lady tapping decorative nail head with small tack hammer on reupholstered rocking chair

find the center

I could have measured before adding the decorative tacks, but this is what I did instead:

  1. find the center of the area
  2. tap the center tack first
  3. tap the two outside corners with a tack at each corner
  4. find the center between the main center point and one of the corners
  5. tap the tack in that new center point
  6. repeat

Basically, you find the center and one of the outside points. Find the center of that area. Then find the center again. You just keep finding the center of each area.

I hope that I explained that well enough to understand! If not, message me on Instagram and I’ll make another attempt to explain it!

I eyeballed it. The perfect look is not what I am going for in our makeovers. The look will be handmade and perfect!

If you are more comfortable, you can certainly measure and mark the spots for the decorative tacks.

detail of decorative nail heads on rocking chair upholstery, Eastlake rocking chair

A squeeze clamp comes in handy if you don’t have a third hand! If it is going to touch wood, protect the area with a scrap of fabric.

process of reupholstering antique folding rockers
rocking chair upholstery with pliers and decorative nail head


The rockers needed some small pillows and they were so easy to stitch up.

pair of folding Eastlake Rockering chairs with new upholstery and antique dresser and decor in background

folding rockers

The rockers fold for storage. Don’t you love that feature??

Eastlake rocking chairs, one folded up and one opened for rocking

Furniture makers knew the importance of storage even 100 years ago!

pair of Eastlake rockering chairs with new upholstery

true antiques

You read that right – this pair of rockers dates to the late 1800s – early 1900s!

profile view of rocking chair upholstery on Eastlake folding rocker

unconventional wall decor idea

Personally, I think they would be gorgeous hanging on the wall. They could be hung side by side for a wide wall.

If the area you want to hang them is narrow, consider hanging them one high up and the second one below it.

Talk about interesting wall decor! And useful too!

If you find a pair of these rockers (or even just one) and decide to hang it, let me suggest a heavy-duty decorative metal bracket that has been secured to a stud in the wall.

You might even consider using twine to secure the moving parts on the rocker.

side view of rocking chair upholstery antique rocker sitting next to antique dresser with decor

Here are a few more tips about this rocking chair upholstery project:

  • wait 2-3 weeks after applying hemp oil to allow for a curing time. Oil could leach into the fabric if it hasn’t cured long enough
  • basic sewing skills are needed for this project
  • make any necessary repairs before applying the finish
  • use caution when using these rockers, they might not hold excessive weight
antique eastlake rocker reupholstered sitting next to antique dresser with decor on top and wall decor

Here is a before and after of the wood. The rocker on the left was dirty and dry. The one on the right has been cleaned and scuffed with a Scotch pad and then finished with a hemp oil finish.

close up of back of antique Eastlake folding rocking chairs

so glad you’re here

Thanks for stopping by for this quick tutorial about rocking chair upholstery!

Feel free to pin any of the images in this post for your reference! Ya’ never know when you might come across a pair of beauties like this!

You are also welcome to join our journey on Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook where we share more behind the scenes of many of our projects!

**** That fabric used for my project is no longer available. Choose any heavy-weight upholstery fabric for your decor. I have a suggested fabric in the shopping links that I think would look so good!

Pinterest graphic showing before and after of rocking chair makeover

Until next time…

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  1. tom vasoli says:

    enjoyed your video showing the fabric work done on the Eastlake foldable rocker.
    I have an Eastlake style wooden foldable rocker that needs the center spindle that holds the seat fabric replaced. This work along with some work on the hinges will require the chair be disassembled.
    Can you offer some tips on how to get this chair apart. It does not appear to have screws or dowel joints that are visible to me.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the post. My best advice is to use a mallet and a protective cloth. Gently tap to loosen it if you can. Don’t force it. Best of luck to you!