Slipcovering a Chair

by | Sep 19, 2009 | Antiques, Favorite Finds, Sewing, Tutorials | 31 comments

I bought this pair of french styled chairs at an auction a few weeks ago. (Only one is pictured, but they are a matching pair.) I was in love with the lines, the style, the down seat cushion…not the fabric so much, but that can be remedied. Those chairs were coming home with me and I kept raising the amount that I would pay for them. Only $50 for the pair…maybe $80…is $100 too high? At the auction I was certain that everyone in the room was going to bid on those chairs. When they went up “on the block” the bid started at $10…yes, I’ll pay $10. And nothing happened. There was not a bidding frenzy, people weren’t throwing their paddles in the air. Could I get them for $10? Then a paddle went into the air…here we go…I’m ready, pal, you’re going to loose. He bid $15 and I bid $20…and it stopped again. Going…going…sold! Victory! Mine for $20…so, now I need to make them work in my house. So, here’s the before picture. I slipcover all of my furniture in white cotton twill. It’s cheap, it all matches, there’s no pattern to match up, and I can wash it and bleach it. I also like that I can move my furniture into any other room of the house and if I ever get tired of a color scheme, I don’t have to sew all new slipcovers. Most women gasp when they see my white slip covered furniture due to the fact that I have two toddlers, two cats, and teenagers hanging out at our house often. I wash them often and treat stains quickly. I am sold on slipcovers!

I started out making my own about 8 years ago. The first chair I did was half slipcover, half upholstery. (slipulstery)  It was horrible. The second chair ( a slipper chair) was better. I learned how to do piping and buttons and then the slipcovers got even better. Sewing is not my favorite thing to do, but I love making my own custom curtains, pillows, and slipcovers, so I get exactly what I want. I didn’t take enough pictures of this process to do a full tutorial for you, so this is a little teaser.

1.) Start small and simple. This one is pretty curvy, plus it has the wood detail.

2.) Use a solid fabric, so you don’t have to worry about matching a pattern. Cotton twill is also easy to work with because you can make a small cut and then rip it the rest of the way. I work with blocks of fabric that are a little bigger than the space I want to cover. I then cut off the excess. No need to work with a pattern.

3.) Work in small sections. I slipcover by pin fitting everything to the chair. I put the right side of the fabric directly on the chair and pin the seam inside out. I sew the seam and then turn it right side out and make sure it fits on the chair. (Is that totally confusing?) Here’s a picture of the fabric pinned inside out on the chair…

For a chair like this, I used piping as a border. You can make your own piping by sewing fabric over a raw cotton cord or even some existing piping you have already. It takes a lot of piping to do this kind of chair – about 20 yards for both.
4.) Make sure you factor in extra fabric for covering your piping, making ties, adding a skirt…and whatever other details you want to add.
5.) When taking piping around a corner, cut the edge, so it’s more flexible (see the picture below.)
6.) I don’t do zippers. You can use buttons or ties to close your cushion covers.
7.) Go easy on yourself if it’s your first time. I can’t tell you how many seams I’ve had to rip out for some reason or another.
8.) Iron your fabric when you’re done. It makes the slipcover look much sharper. And here’s the finished product! Fitted slipcovers are not as hard as they might appear. You just have to be willing to try, willing to fail, and willing to try again. I am not a great seamstress. I started out with very simple pillows and curtains, so if I can do it, you can do it.
I still need to glue the raw edges, but I was ready to be done with this project for a while.
I’ll finish it another day. 🙂


  1. bj

    This is so so cute! I don't even know WHERE to start on a couuple little club chairs and ottoman I need covering. You have given me the inspiration to at least TRY!!
    xo bj

  2. Debbie

    Thank you so much for the tutorial! I will have to try it someday.

  3. Blue Creek Home

    You are my new hero!!!!
    I have two chairs waiting to be slipcovered for my guest room redo. You have helped me to be brave!!!!

  4. Angie

    You got a great chair and it looks so good after you got a hold of it!

  5. Happy Nester

    I wish I was blessed with sewing talent, but I guess I will have to live vicariously through you. Your slipcover looks wonderful!

  6. Jane

    Thanks for the tutorial and the encouragement to try and slipcover. I sew….I'm not a great sewer but I know how. My mom is an excellent seamstress and has made slipcovers and reupholstered chairs. She is still sewing…she makes aprons for a local shop and has sold over 250 of them! (She's 80 years old). Anyway…I seem to have gotten off track….thanks for sharing the slipcovered chairs. You got an excellent buy on them!

  7. Amanda@Imperfectly Beautiful

    Seriously…$20 for the pair??? what an amzing deal! Love your slipcover, by the way. Can I make a glue gun version, since i can't sew a lick?


  8. Susie~From My Home To Yours

    Great job with your slipcovers. I have been wanting to cover a chair of mine, and now I have some inspiration! Question: Do you wash the cotton twill first? It just seems so stiff and that it would be difficult to iron…
    Thanks, Susie

  9. Shanty 2 Chic

    Wow… I love this! I want one… You are the bomb on your sewing machine:)

  10. Shannon

    so much fun! I have a chair project that I have yet to finish… this gives me some motivation to keep going.

  11. The Weathered Cottage

    HI! Could you share how to do piping?? I've been trying to figure it out but can't seem to get it!

  12. nell ann

    I totally agree with the white slipcovers, which we are slowly switching to. I made my very first slipcovers right after I brought home my baby. I am so impressed with myself. Your tutorial encouraged me to try a more difficult shape (wingback) besides my slipper chairs that I already made. I'll keep you posted!

  13. The DIY Show Off

    Great job! I want to make a slipcover so I'm saving your post for future studying!

    Thanks for linking to the DIY Show & Tell!


  14. Vintage Junky

    I love them… you can't beat $20 for 2 chairs! And the slipcover is amazing! I may try this… I am just learning to sew!


  15. Dresser Girl

    I love it! I've been working on slipcovering a loveseat for… oh… a few years now. You've inspired me to work on it this weekend!!

  16. santamaker

    First of all……..whata deal!!! (I wanna go to an auction!). This little chair looks so updated and chic in it's summer dress, just love it. I recover chairs, but have never tried to slip cover. I love the final result and that you didn't cover the wood. Thanks for the instructions.

  17. nannykim

    hmm, the piping sounds hard!

  18. Jamie

    I love how it turned out! Very nice! I have a chair just sitting waiting for me to make a slip cover for it!

  19. Tricia

    This is gorgeous! I love the ties! So cute!


  20. onelittlemustardseed

    Found you through Flea Market Style Links…I love, love your slip cover! I am trying to muster up the courage to slip cover my sofa & some chairs…your ideas seem do-able! Funny enough, my online name & one of my blogs is onelittlemustardseed…what inspired you to your name??

  21. onelittlemustardseed

    Found you through Flea Market Style Links…I love, love your slip cover! I am trying to muster up the courage to slip cover my sofa & some chairs…your ideas seem do-able! Funny enough, my online name & one of my blogs is onelittlemustardseed…what inspired you to your name??

  22. Morning T

    Yep, I'm still here (must add you to my blog roll). I've made a few of my own slips and have wondered about piping. This tutorial helped me understand how to pull that detail in. Thank you~ LOVE this slip and the ties!

  23. coryshay

    I love this! Thanks for the tips and tricks! I recently started slipcovering everything in my house white and it makes such a difference! This tutorial definitely gave me the guts to slipcover something with woodwork!

  24. Anonymous

    I love your site and all the great ideas!
    Thanks for sharing. I love your slipcovered
    chair but am not able to figure out how
    you got the back of it to stay up! I can see
    the ties but it doesn't look like there is
    enough space to run the ribbon between the
    wood and the original fabric. Help please.

  25. monicook

    You are absolutely brilliant, I use your blog on a daily basis and have referred friends to your videos on how to slip cover chairs. I have a big dilemma and I was wondering if you could help….trying to create a slip cover for my couch but the back pillows are attached to the couch, any ideas? Please help!

  26. MegArcher

    I just watched your 6-part tutorial on slipcovering, and am SO excited to try your techniques on an awkwardly-sized chair. One question: WHERE do you find white drop cloths? I have been all over town and the internet, and cannot find white (only off-white). I even ordered white online, and was sent off-white. I am pretty frustrated and am considering trying to bleach what I have, unless I can get you to share your secrets…



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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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