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hemp sheet slipcovers


One project that’s been on my to-do list for a couple of years was making new slipcovers for the wing chairs in the family room.  When things linger on a list that long, it’s because I don’t really want to do them.  I know how to make slipcovers and I love the results, but I make them out of thriftiness, not out of a zest for making slipcovers.  I usually do my slipcovering and upholstery in spurts, but between Lucketts and getting my house ready for this shoot, I’ve been on a sewing/stapling marathon.  I think I’ve done 20 chairs in the last 2 months.  Whew!

These wing chairs might be in an important shot, so I really wanted them to look their best.  The drop cloth slipcovers have held up well for about 8 years, but they are examples of my “early work”and they were starting to look a little slouchy and grungy from all of the washing and wearing.

I was planning to use lightweight antique hemp sheets for the slipcovers and have been collecting them for a while, but a happy turn of events made me decide to use the same weight hemp sheets that I do for upholstery.  I had a large basket of them for sale at Lucketts, but they got muddy and soaked in the rain at the event.  I had no choice but to take them home and wash them.

I had never washed one before.  They always came to me cleaned and pressed, so I worked with them as is.  They felt a bit stiff, which was perfect for upholstery.  Once washed, they were unbelievably soft and felt more flexible and appropriate for slipcovers, so I decided to use them.

The one on the left is the new slipcover in antique hemp sheets and the one on the right is the old one in drop cloths.

wing chair slipcovers | miss mustard seed

You can see how much structure the hemp sheet gives the slipcover and you can also see that my sewing skills have improved.  (The one on the right didn’t have the cushion, because I had pitched the cover before I took the picture.)

wing chair slipcovers | miss mustard seed

It took Kriste and I two days and 5 hemp sheets to upholster both of the chairs.  She had never made a slipcover before, so I had her make the piping, cut pieces for the cushion and skirt, pin the cushion cover, iron, etc.  It was “busy work”, but a huge help.

wing chair slipcovers | miss mustard seed  

It’s hard to capture in a picture how beautiful the texture of the antique hemp sheets is.

wing chair slipcovers | miss mustard seed

I love adding feminine details to a slip, like the ruffled skirt and the twill ties on the back.  Kriste watched me work and said “It’s like you’re a magician.  That was just flat fabric and now it’s a slipcover.”  I told her I often am amazed as I watch a piece of fabric take shape.  It’s exciting work.

wing chair slipcovers | miss mustard seed wing chair slipcovers | miss mustard seed

wing chair slipcovers | miss mustard seed

So, why didn’t I use drop cloths again?  I know drop cloths are very popular for DIY projects nowadays.  They are inexpensive and they can look really nice.  The downsides are…

  • the quality can be unpredictable (they are meant for catching paint drips after all)
  • they can fray along the seams pretty easily and I’ve had to do many repairs to my wing chair slips over the years
  • the fabric is thinner, so it doesn’t give the slipcover very much structure, resulting in a “slouchy look”, especially after years of washing.

I think drop cloths are a great solution if you’re on a super tight budget (although sometimes you can find pretty fabrics for even less) or if you’re brand new to slips and want to work with a material that is no-stress if you make mistakes.

Some other good alternatives are cotton twill ($7-16/yard), cotton duck ($3-11/yard) or hemp canvas/linen ($15-17/yard).

wing chair slipcovers | miss mustard seed

As I was working on the second chair, crawling around on the floor, pinning, cutting, making a mess, I was really ready to be done with these slipcovers.  I started talking to myself towards the end; giving myself pep talks.  Now that they are done, though, I’m so glad I took the time to redo them.  These free chairs, that were yard sale leftovers,  have served us well for many years and deserved some new digs.

In addition to helping with some of the “busy work” of the slipcovers, Kriste worked on painting a few pieces of furniture, but that’s for another post…

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  1. Those are beautiful, I love the texture and all your sweet little details. Once again I’m inspired…and wish I knew how to sew. jonni

  2. Teresa says:

    These are gorgeous, I’m sure I would not have the patience. Can I buy the old ones you took off, I really need some wing chair slipcovers 😉

  3. Marie W. says:

    Will you sell any of these hemp sheets in your shop?

  4. Great job on the slip covers! Can’t wait to hear more about the photo shoot. Couple of questions, have you decided about painting the outside of your house? And curtains, were you switching or making other curtains? Love what you do!!

    • Deb, yes, we are going to paint the outside of the house! I cannot wait. We’ve been waiting for someone who was recommended to us, to come out and give an estimate. I’m not sure exactly when it will happen, but we are planning on doing it.

      I do have the fabric for the new family room curtains, but the magazine shooting my house asked if I’d leave the cream linen curtains up. That made life a lot easier for me, so I’m just leaving them for now and we’ll see what I decide down the road.

  5. I just love these! I’m with ya on not relishing making slip covers, especially piping! But I so want to cover my nearly new mint green sofa, the fabric is just too scratchy and this would be a great warm weather switch out. I had not heard of the hemp cloth though and suppose it may not be easy to find? I do love the texture! Great job and great post! Thank you so much!

  6. How cool to have such indisputable evidence of how much your skills have improved! I thought the first set were great, (in fact I made a slip cover like that for my ugly black futon,) but the new ones really are an improvement. Nothing like a photo shoot in your house to push on those “back burner” projects.
    All the best,
    The Other Marian

  7. What beautiful details… the ruffles, the ties. Such feminine details that really elevate these chairs. They look fantastic, I bet you feel great that they are finished! I have a boatload of those jobs that are just parked on my to-do list. Thank you for the inspiration to make them more of a priority.

  8. I have 2 Louis chairs that need to be reupholstered…the hemp sheets are fab!! How many would I need…can I purchase from you? If not where would you recommend? I’m in San Diego

    Thank you! Paula

  9. Lynn in DG says:

    NIce work! I have slipped a lot of furniture and found drop cloths, depending on the source, also have a bit of stretch to them sometimes. They must have a little polyester in them. This can be a good thing around a curvy edge or at the closure. I usually do a zipper up the back or in a side seam. That part stinks. I may switch to ties as you have done so prettily.
    Other choices include damask tablecloths or matalesse bedspreads found on clearance at Homegoods. You rarely find enough matching ones to cover a big piece but I did a sofa with various textures in the same ivory color and it looks great.

  10. I had just been wondering if cotton duck was good for slipcovers, as I just saw some on sale for a good price and I’d love to cover my sofa. Your slipcovers always look so nice!

  11. Great job, Marian and Kriste. I love the brilliant seam placement on your chair and the feminine touch of the ties in back. I also love the visible texture the hemp sheet gives. Really nice.

  12. Naomi S. says:

    Marian, the hemp fabric you used is lovely; I can actually almost feel the texture looking at the close-up shots. I have avoided making slip covers so far in my long life, but I hate the ready made ones I find and refuse to pay the prices. AND, I have a chair that really needs to be slip covered. Seeing you do it , I’ve started to believe I might try my hand. Scary, tho’. I would probably use something like drop cloths the first (last?) time just so I don’t worry about making mistakes and wasting fabric. But, all that to say: you have inspired me! Thanks!

  13. Debra says:

    Beautiful slipcovers! You mentioned that you used 5 hemp sheets to cover two wing chairs, can you please tell me what size sheets you used? Thank you.

  14. Carlotta says:

    You are “killing” me with all that you are able to do!!!!!!! I can hardly believe the things you have redone & so quickly too. I can’t wait to open your emails!! Keep ‘me coming. I need you at my house for about a week to motivate me.

  15. Carlotta says:

    I meant keep “them” coming on my earlier comment-as in, all the projects you are doing.

  16. Sarah says:

    Love these! Remind us again which magazine to look for, and when the spread will be published…

    If you ever make it out to Oregon, I’ll happily trade garden tips for sewing advice!

    • marian says:

      Yes, I will definitely share, but I need to make sure I have the okay, first. :) My brother lives in Oregon, so I’m sure I’ll be out there one of these days! And, it’s a deal. I could use gardening advice!

  17. Love these, Marian! How do you wash the hemp sheets? On delicate cycle? I have some I inherited several and have been a bit reluctant to wash them but would love to use them in my home. Thanks for your help.

  18. MaryLisa Noyes says:

    I’ve never had to guts to tackle slipcovers basically because working without a pattern seems over the top for me. You posted great shots of the details. Thank you

  19. Melissa #DoItHerselfDiva says:

    I LOVE that You showed a side-by-side comparison between the two fabrics!! Thank You for that! As always,They’re a-maz-ing!!! (I usual I’m using too many exclamation points,LOL) I recently got a PHENOMENAL deal on Their 3 seat Luxe sofa & I bought 2 pre-made slipcovers but I considered buying a discontinued slipcover from World Market for Me to rip the seams on to use as a pattern (I can always re-sew it,right? Now I’m considering purchasing Hemp sheets! Honestly,If You consider the length of wear & years of use in comparison to constantly repairing the dropcloth,The price isn’t bad..But I am still new to this,also?!?!

  20. Marilyn says:

    I am constantly amazed by not only what you do but how much you get done. Because of you, I went out and bravely purchased a sewing machine. Now, I can barely recall what one looks like as I’ve only sewn one garment, a dress for my very young daughter years ago. She’s now 48 if that gives you a clue as to how long ago that was. Prior to that, I attempted to sew from time to time and I too amazed family and friends at what I could do with-ah, make that to- a piece of flat fabric. Comments like “What is that?”, usually accompanied by a tilt of the head and a squinting of both eyes, were often spoken when viewing my projects. I gave the sewing machine away.
    Now, I’m trying it again. I’m going to attempt to thread the thing and sew some welting. Next, I might try a couple of joined seams!
    Thanks for the inspiration!!

  21. Victoria says:

    The slipcover are beautiful!

    Where can one buy hemp for upholster like yours?

  22. Victoria says:

    The slipcover are beautiful!

    Where can one buy hemp for upholstery like yours?

  23. Victoria says:

    The slipcover are beautiful! So chic!

    Where can one buy hemp fabric for upholstery like yours?

    • marian says:

      You can look on eBay and Etsy for antique hemp sheets. I order mine from a source in Hungary. I still have a few that I’ll list in the online shop, but I need to order more.

  24. I always love your posts about upholstery/slipcover/pillow case updates! These are beautiful! I watched all the tutorials on re-upholstering chairs and I have some waiting in my garage to be revived. My question is, where does one find the hemp canvas/linen you mentioned above?

    • marian says:

      You can find them on eBay and Etsy. I sell them as well, but used a good bit of my stock making these slipcovers! I will order more, though.

  25. Barbara Bussey says:

    You are a braver woman than I am! I’ not familiar with antique hemp sheets, unless they are about 2x 3′, I got a handful in France, last time. They were called hemp by the dealer. Most came with a small monogram. Beautiful fabric! Your work is lovely and you should be proud! …Barbara

  26. What a great result & difference, its always exciting to see your old work and compare it to new! They’re beautiful and I love that tie detail you put on the back, such class and femininity.

    Lauren Baxter | LB Designs

  27. Christi Conard says:

    Have you ever done a tutorial on making slipcovers? I would love to watch it! Beautiful job!

  28. marian says:

    Yep! I actually made a six part video tutorial series years ago. The quality of the video is rough, but I know lots of people have used them to make slips with great results.

  29. Great looking slipcover. But I guess you have not tried to buy drop cloths in awhile. The current lot in big box stores in my area are dreadful nasty loose weave, coarse fabric and a dirty color. I got there cushions on my loveseat done and ran out of drop cloth. As the oatmeal color nice weave kind are no longer available, I didn’t get the fourth cushion or the main frame of the loveseat finished. But Im planning to move, so might just paint the 60s fabric and sell the piece. My advice to all: buy enough yardage at the beginning to ensure the completion. But now I definitely will have to cover the wing chairs, as soon as i collect enough sheets in the pattern I love. And they will have bows on the back, rather than any other fastenings, which all look unfinished to me. Thanks for posting this one. MJ

  30. read that as “three cushions” done…..

  31. Seriously.. Swoon! I love your style… I would love to try a slip cover but it seems very daunting! Your came out gorgeous!

  32. Rebecca c says:

    What kind of thread do you use to make slipcovers with tge hemp sheets-just curious if theres anthibg special i use?

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