How to Reupholster a Bench in Buffalo Check Int’l Bloggers

DIY Upholstery Project with the Int’l Bloggers

This month’s Int’l Bloggers Club Challenge is all about cotton.   Each month I collaborate with the other members on the same topic.   My first thought was to sew something using cotton fabric, but decided I wanted to do something different for the challenge and used cotton buffalo fabric to show you how to reupholster a bench.

Make sure to check out what the other extremely talented and creative ladies have made, you will find the links to their projects after mine.

This old storage bench is from an online auction,  it was inexpensive and unfortunately looks it.    The bench I made last year from a headboard sold, so I wanted a new bench, and bought this one to replace it.  The idea is to sit with my back to the warm fire on cold days,  and having a little bench is much nicer than sitting on the little hearth.    This quick DIY upholstery project is being done in buffalo check to match this year’s Christmas theme.

Before picture of a bench for a DIY upholstery in buffalo check.

The bench has a top attached by hinges and wooden legs, and faux leather fabric.  The legs are the same colour as the rest of the living room furniture so they are being kept as is.

How to Recover an Old Bench

Dismantling and Preparing the Bench

The first step is taking apart the existing bench.  The bench has three pieces, a top that’s attached to the middle portion by hinges and the bottom leg base that’s attached to the middle art by screws.  Separate the bench and make sure to take photos of the placement of the hinges so you can refer to them when reassembling your bench.  (I remembered to take a before picture but forgot to take pictures of the hinges and delayed myself for half an hour figuring out which way the hinges were originally.)  I kept the faux leather on the bench, just wiped it off with Pinesol. Depending on your original fabric you may prefer to remove your original fabric.

Starting in one corner place the fabric so that the fabric meets in the corner where the two checks intersect.  Then mark the spot with chalk, the dotted line on the photo shows where I plan to cut the fabric to make the corner seams.

Recovering a bench for Christmas decorating, marking and matching the seams on buffalo check fabric for Christmas.

Placing the fabric on the cutting ma, using the mark as a guide cut out a square in the ends of the fabric.  Fold the fabric good sides together, line up the two cut edges and sew.  This replicates the little original seams in the corners of the lid.

DIY recovered bench in buffalo check.

Then take your fabric and place the sewn corner on the far end of your bench, mark the place where the next corner seam should be, cut out the two ends and seam.

Repeat this for the other two corners.

Fold the underside of your fabric and press with an iron,  place back on the bench fold over the edges and staple in place.  I suggest starting in the middle of each side and working towards the outside corners.  Make sure to notice that your fabric remains straight at you staple, with buffalo check the difference and curves will show.

Recovering the Middle of the Bench

Before starting on the middle section you need to match the pattern for the bottom fabric to the fabric on the lid.   Be patient and fussy.  In spite of fiddling with it for an hour, I was not able to sew the fabric first and wrap it around the entire circumference of the bench.  It was just too difficult to match the fabric in both directions and pin from the underside.  Giving up I went to a plan B no-sew method.

Place the finished top of your bench on top of the middle storage portion.  Starting with the end pieces match up the pattern of your fabric both top and end.    Fold the underside of the fabric over creating a seam and staple so that the patterns match.

Matching the fabric pattern when recovering a bench.

Fold the front part of the fabric around the front of the bench.  Trim off any excess fabric, making the pattern match is the most important part.  Once you have the top done on one side of the corner, repeat the process on the other end of the fabric.  Repeat this process on the other end of your bench.

Once you have the two ends of the bench covered. Take another piece of fabric and match up your pattern with the top of the bench and with the horizontal pattern of the fabric on the sides.  Staple in place at the corner.   Work the pattern down to the other end but don’t staple it.  Match the second end of the fabric, fold under and staple.  Then add the remaining staples.

Once I figured out to do it one side at a time matching the patterns top and side was quite easy as the pattern stands out and if its wrong its easy to notice.

Once you have the top of the fabric stapled to the bench, flip your bench over.  Trim any excess fabric you have at the bottom of the bench and staple in place making sure the outside corners are crisp and the folds are neat.

How to fold the corners to match the pattern of buffalo check fabric on a DIY recovered bench for cheap.

Repeat this on all four corners.  While stapling your fabric you may require a staple every couple of inches to keep the horizontal pattern straight.  Remember not to pull the fabric too tight keeping the horizontal lines of the fabric is more important.

A buffalo check bench for Christmas. A DIY reupholster project for the holidays.

Once the fabric is on, add the undercoating fabric back on with staples.  place the upholstered bottom onto the ledges and reattach using the original screws.   Finally, reattach the hinges for the lid of your bench.

A buffalo check reupholstered bench for Christmas.

I am busy trying to get some of the DIY projects I need to be finished before I actually start decorating for Christmas.  The list is very long this year.


  1. Congratulations on being featured this week at Share Your Style #183, Leanna!!! Love how your checked bench turned out ~ it is sooo hard to get all those checks to match and I can’t even imagine trying to do the trim. I think I’d cheat and use a solid, Lol! 😉

    Happy almost Thanksgiving to you,
    Barb 🙂

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Thank you very much Barbara. The buffalo check is different to work with. The pattern shows every little twist, but because it’s in a check pattern it’s easy to gauge and work with. I hope that makes sense. Try it on something small, I bet you will enjoy it.

  2. Your ottoman looks wonderful! I’m a sucker for buffalo check. Thanks for the step-by-step instructions.

    Thank you for joining the Grace at Home party at Imparting Grace. I’m featuring you this week!

  3. That looks amazing, the work keeping the lines straight is totally worth it as it really ‘makes it’ . Such a great update for this bench.

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Thank you Julie. The straight lines aren’t very forgiving but at the same time, they make it much easier to line up.

  4. Leanna, this is lovely. I admire your attention to all the details and getting all of the pattern lined up just right. What a pretty way to give a bench a makeover. Thanks for sharing at Snickerdoodle. I’ll be featuring this at tomorrow’s party. Hope to see you there!

  5. Good job on that bench, Leanna. Sewing the corners give a professional finish and matching the pattern takes it to another level. Love the black and white buffalo print you chose.

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Thank you Pili, I have loved it for a while now and finally bought some. The bench was so boring, its much better now.

  6. Leanna, This turned out beautiful! I love the buffalo check and your tutorial was great!

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Thank you Carol. I took some time to figure out how to do it, but fast once I did.

  7. OMG, I love your bench Leanna!!! I really love buffalo check this year too and it gives this bench a totally new look. You make it look really easy to upholster, it looks fantastic. Love your floors too 😉

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Thank you so much Katrin. Buffalo check is so fun and trendy and the one inch check fabric makes it easier to do as its kind of self measuring.

  8. Leanna this is a great solution for those boring pieces of furniture. And the fact that you took the time to match up the checks makes all the difference. Enjoy yourself by the fireplace.

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Thank you very much Mary, and I plan to. I have always been kind of cold and aging isn’t helping it any. I am so excited to be included in the International Bloggers.

  9. You did a fantastic job on the tutorial and the reupholstering. It will not only keep you warm as you sit by the fire but it gives the room a cozy warm look.

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Thank you Debra. It is going to be much more comfortable than the tiny hearth we have.

  10. I love the black and white buffalo check on this bench for winter! I have an almost identical brown leather bench in my basement. So cozy for in front of a fireplace – enjoy 🙂

  11. Super project and turned out great. I wouldn’t be able to line the fabric straight. I know someone who, my hubby.

    Thanks for sharing

    Enjoy the rest of your day


  12. Upholstery is not my favourite thing to do and I know how hard it is.. especially to align the fabric to match and make it look effortless.. you did a great job and I love the fabric you chose!!

  13. I swear I would have just given up trying to match the pattern but looking at how beautiful your bench turned out, it was worth sooooo it. What a beautiful statement piece Leanna. I love the whole black and white plaid look you have going at the moment. It’s so classy and comforting at the same time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.