How to Stretch an Upholstery Fabric

Stretching upholstery fabric can be a challenge, since upholstery fabric tends to be woven together tighter than other fabrics. However, stretching it isn't impossible and can be done at home using your washer and dryer and a few heavy objects. So, next time you need to stretch out your upholstery fabric, a few easy steps can get your fabric to look just right.

Upholstery fabric is typically tightly woven, making stretching a challenge.

Wash your upholstery fabric on high heat in your washer. If fabric is a large size, and will not fit properly in the washer, you can soak it in hot water for 45 minutes. Just keep the water very hot and constantly refill the tub with fresh hot water or pour in boiling water to keep it hot.

Lay fabric out on a large flat surface and take a weight, or other heavy object, and place it on one end of your fabric.

Stretch out the fabric as much as you can across the flat surface, then place your other weight on the other end. Your fabric should now be stretched out with the two weights holding it in place.

Let fabric dry, depending on the size and type of fabric drying time will vary. After it's dry to the touch, let fabric sit for another couple of hours, then remove. It should be stretched out at this point.

Things You Will Need

  • Washer or large tub
  • 2 heavy weights


  • To shrink fabric, say if you've stretched it out too much, just wash and dry it on your highest heat setting.
  • If fabric still isn't stretched out to the size of your liking, try adding fabric that is similar or the same fabric.


  • If doing the bathtub method of soaking fabric, be careful not to touch the fabric when hot. Instead use a long spoon or tongs to avoid burning skin.

About the Author

Amy Davidson is a graduate from the University of Florida in Gainesville, with a bachelor's degree in journalism. She also writes for local papers around Gainesville doing articles on local events and news.

Photo Credits

  • Material for Furnishing image by Ivo Velinov from Fotolia.com