These dining chairs have been around a long time! My mom bought them for me in the ’80s at a consignment shop in Ypsilanti, Michigan, and they were already old! Needless to say, they need some help!
This tutorial is for a super simple little slipcover. It is basically 3 pieces: a front, a back, and a seat! I added pleated trim of the same fabric, so I guess it’s really 4 pieces.
Here we go!
*1 – 1/2 to 2 yards of fabric (This varies with the chair size.)
Tape measure (soft)
First, I measured my chair. The only parts of the chair to measure for this style slipcover are the actual seat and seat back. (I wanted my slipcover to stop just below the bottom of the wooden seat frame, so the frame is included in my measurements.) It’s critical that you measure the widest part of each area and use that number. Often times a chair back will be wider at the top than the bottom. Same can be true of the seat. Write your measurements down to refer to as you cut your pieces. **Just keep in mind the measurements mentioned here are for MY chair. You will need to work with YOUR chair’s numbers.
I always begin working on the chair back. So if the front part of the chair back measured 16″ wide X 21″ long, I cut a rectangle 19″X 24″, adding 3″to the actual measurements. Three inches may seem excessive, but I would rather have too much fabric and trim later, than come up short. I did the same thing to the back side of the chair back (measuring to the bottom edge of the wooden seat frame (picture #1), AND don’t forget to include the narrow sides of the seat back when measuring it’s width). I add 3″ to my measurements and cut out a rectangle. Now take those 2 pieces and with right sides of fabric facing and pin together across the top of the chair back. (picture #2) My chair has curvy lines, and I tried to pin along those curves for a more custom look. (picture #3) Sew across top using pins as a guide, then press. Turn right-side out, place on chair, and see if you’re happy with fit. (picture #4)
Lay sewn back pieces over the chair again, wrong-side out and pin the sides. (picture #5) When pinning back to front you want to wrap the back piece of fabric around the narrow sides of the chair-back and pin to the front piece of fabric. By doing this your seam allowances will be uneven and won’t match up. If your back is wider at the top than the bottom you will need to pin the sides a little looser near the bottom. If you don’t you will have a hard time pulling the slipcover over the chair when finished. You will only sew from the top to where the back and the seat join. I put a pin right where that junction is so I know where to stop sewing and backstitch. (picture #6) Sew the sides to that junction only; press seams and press back the seam allowance on the section of the side seams that you did not sew closed. This will be a helpful pinning guide when adding the seat piece. (pictures #7 and #8). In picture #8 you can also see how the back piece has come around the sides and meets the front.
Again, place the cover back onto the chair, wrong-side out so the seat piece can be added. The measurements for my seat are 18″ X 23″. I add an extra 3″ to those measurements and cut a rectangle. This is the tricky part of this project, but work with it, and hopefully it will make sense. Center the seat piece (wrong side facing up) across the seat and pin to the chair-back front piece. I pin from one side seam, across the seat to the other side seam….remember you stopped sewing the sides where the chair-back joins the seat. Pin right up to where the side seam ends, making sure that no other part of the slipcover is going to get sewn into this seam. Now shift the seam allowances and start pinning the back and seat together the rest of the way down. This is the section that was left un-sewn and seam allowances were pressed back. (picture #9) I think when you are actually pinning your pieces this part will make sense. Sew this part just like you pinned it. Stop sewing right where the side seam stopped near the bottom and backstitch. (picture #10, sorry about the poor quality) Lift pressure foot; cut thread; push seam allowance away from you; put your needle down right where the side seam ended, back stitch, and continue sewing pieces together. Press and turn right side out. Slip cover over your chair. If you notice a small opening at that funny junction at the sides and seat you may not have sewed right up to the side seam. It can easily be stitched closer. Just take it to your machine and sew another stitch or two. That should fix it. (pictures #11 and #12)
Now put the cover back on wrong-side out so the two front corners can be fitted. Simply bring fabric together, pin, and sew. Trim excess fabric leaving a seam allowance. (pictures #13 and #14)
For the pleated trim, I cut strips of fabric 2 – 1/2″ wide and sewed them together until I had a long strip that would go around the hem of my slipcover about two and a half times. Next I folded the strip in half and pressed it, so I ended up with a very long strip with a nice folded edge that will become the bottom edge of my pleated trim. (picture #15) To attach trim simply lay the strip onto the right side of the bottom edge of slipcover, matching raw edges. Using a 1/4″ seam allowance, I pleated the strip as I sewed it. (picture #16) I eye-balled it. My pleats aren’t perfect, but they are just fine for me. Lastly, I pressed the pleats and top- stitched just above the seam line to keep the seam allowance facing up, giving my slipcover a nice finished look! (picture #17)
Good luck with your slipcover, and please send any questions. I will do my very best to help you.
*My fabric was a king-size linen/cotton blend bedskirt I bought at a thrift store for $4! That’s a lot of fabric for the money! I have enough to do 3 more chairs! A paint drop cloth works great, too, but for a little more money.