I wrote a tutorial on making dining room chair slipcovers years (and several dining sets) ago when I was a contributor to Cottages & Bungalows magazine. It’s so neat to see how far I’ve come in my sewing, photography, writing, styling. I’ve really grown a lot. Anyway, since I’ve improved in a few departments, I thought it was time to make a new tutorial as I worked on my last dining room chair slipcover. The one I made for the tutorial looks like this…
But you can also adapt this tutorial for a chair like this…
The idea is the same. Just create an extra slit for each arm and double the amount of ties. You can also adjust the kind of skirt you have on the slipcover. I like the ruffles, but you can do knife pleats, box pleats, no pleats…whatever floats your boat.
I always use the pin fitting method when I made slipcovers. Basically, the piece of furniture is my dress form and I pin the cover on inside out, section by section until it’s finished. So, all of the pinning and sewing happens as the slipcover is inside out. (If you’re brand new to slipcovers, check out my slipcover tips, which I need to update, and the six part video slipcover series, which I also need to re-shoot now that my husband has a nice video camera.)
Anyway, to start, cut the pieces you need for the slipcover. It’s nice to have them all ready, including the seat, edge of the seat, back of seat, skirt, piping and fabric to cover piping and ribbons. I started with the seat, since it’s out of an antique piece of fabric and has a stripe that needs to be lined up. (You can check out how to make piping HERE.)
Position it on the seat upside down (remember we’re working inside out.) Then pinch the piping along the perimeter of the seat…
…and sandwich it in the fabric that makes the sides of the seat. Pin it all together. Sometimes I start from the front middle of the seat and work my way out. Other times I work from one side and work to the other.
Especially when you get into more complicated slipcovers, it’s easy to get things turned around and your piping ends up facing inside. Just remember that all raw edges should always face the same way. I’ll occasionally turn things over to make sure it’s looking good.
Once you get to the end, where you have to stop because of the back of the seat, fold over the end and trim it, so there isn’t an exposed raw edge.
Now, the piping is hanging out and needs to continue around the back and meet up with a new piece of fabric to cover the space between the back pieces. So, I pin it around the back, making sure it’s tight against the frame.
Add a piece of fabric to cover the back in the same manner
Where the piping edges meet, I just cross them and allow the ends to disappear into the seam.
Trim the excess fabric to tidy things up a bit…
Sew along the pin lines and remove the pins.
Test the slipcover on your chair to make sure the fit is good.
There’s a shot of how the back looks…
The ties will pull those two flaps of fabric together around the back, so don’t worry if things don’t look tight right now.
Next, add the piping that runs where the edge of the seat meets the skirt. For the ends, I wrap the piping around the back and pin it in place.
Then, pin the piping around the edge of the seat. Again, make sure the raw edges are facing the same way.
Sew the piping in place.
I like to add the ribbons before the skirt, so I don’t have to work around the bulk of the ruffles. I used grosgrain ribbons cut to about 20″ long. Tuck the ribbon into one of the hems made where the slipcover meets the chair back.
Fold it over…
Sew the ribbon into place on the underside of the fabric. The hemp fabric I’m working with is very forgiving, so I just sew in zig-zags.
Repeat with the other ties. To make sure they hold the slipcover on tight, position them towards the bottom edge.
Perfectionists are going to freak out now. If they weren’t already. This fabric really doesn’t fray, so I just cut 3″ strips to make the skirt. To start the skirt, I roll the fabric under to hide the raw edge…
…and then I just scrunch it to make the ruffle.
Scrunch and sew. Very technical and I’m sure it’s the totally “wrong” way to do it, but it works for me.
Finish sewing the skirt, trim all of the threads, turn it right-side-out and put it on the chair. This is the point where I usually feel that swell of DIY pride. I made THAT out of a piece of fabric with some well positioned stitches.
It’s a pretty amazing feeling.
…and you can get that feeling, too!
I’m sure there are hundreds of ways to make a slipcover or to adjust things. I’m a self-taught “sew-er”, so I have just figured out what works for me. I’m not precise. I’m not picky. I’m not super detail oriented. And I still have a lot to learn. I just work towards the end result. How can I make a pretty slipcover in the simplest way? So, find what works best for you and start knocking out those projects!