How to dye a fabric chair or sofa

We have a lovely Laura Ashley wingback chair that we wanted to keep but was completely the wrong colour for our room now. I had previously gotten quotes to have it reupholstered and they all came back at around the £400 mark which we couldn’t justify, so I decided to dye the existing fabric.

The dye I used is called Simply Spray Upholstery Fabric Paint in the colour ‘Navy’. With this method there is NO NEED TO MACHINE WASH! You just spray and leave to dry and you’re good to go – perfect as I can’t take the covers off this chair.

Things you will need to do this project:

Something to remember when choosing a colour – you can go darker but not lighter. My chair was a light cream so most colours were darker than this, but now it’s finished, it is quite dark so I’d be quite limited in finding even darker colours if I wanted to dye it again at some point.

First of all I did a test patch in a hidden area to see how to dye reacted with the fabric. Always do this as I had got another dye (Scratch Doctor – Dark Green) – I did a test with this and I hated it!

Wear gloves!!!!

Next set yourself up an area to work. My husband tried doing this outside but got dye all over the drive which he had to wash off, plus the temperature wasn’t very warm at all so it was taking a while for the dye to dry and until it did we couldn’t pick the chair up to move it inside!

With this product you have to spray light coats and buff it in with a sponge to get good even coverage. The reason you need the sponge is because the paint runs! Not so badly after the first coat and I’d imagine all fabrics absorb it differently but be prepared for this. For this reason you really need to work in small sections, spraying, buffing in and repeat to avoid runs in the dye.

It honestly doesn’t take very long at all but is so worth taking the time to apply it properly and evenly. I took the cushion pad off and sprayed that first and set to dry and then got to work on the rest of the chair. I left it 30 minutes then applied a second coat. The following day I applied a third coat where needed.

I set it up in the bedroom/lounge we are sleeping in to work and it was fine. I put newspaper down and up the wall behind to catch the overspray. Although it didn’t matter really as the floors and walls are being changed soon anyway. Make sure you have good ventilation where you are working also and put it in a space where it can be left and it won’t be in the way or knocked afterward for a good few days – THINK ABOUT THIS BEFORE YOU START SPRAYING!


  • Keep looking at it from all angles (sit on the floor next to it, stand etc)
  • Don’t just dye to the level of the seat pad, go below this to allow for it being pushed down when sat on
  • Put some pressure areas where stitching meets to reveal areas that need dying

I used four tins of the paint to completely dye the chair with a good three coats of dye and I still have enough left over to dye a footstool to match – once I find one! So at less than a 1/4 of the cost it looks brand new and I am thrilled with the results!


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