As you can see, your shout-outs for a slipcover tutorial haven’t gone unnoticed. The desire for washability or the need to conceal functional yet unfashionable hand-me-downs has been weighing on your mind . . . and mine. Just recently, I pulled out my folding table (newly Spruced thanks to the July Upholstery Basics) and, to its demise, my folding chairs. I’m not a hater, and I’ve seen my share of adorable fold-up chairs, but who wants to give up comfort and looks? Six yards of fabric + 1 sewing machine + 1 short day = 4 sweet folding chairs and an excuse to entertain. — Amanda
Read the full how-to after the jump . . .
- painter’s tape
- washable fabric
- white or yellow chalk
- hand plier stapler
- sewing machine
- staple remover
- washable ribbon
- dressmaker’s measuring tape
Don’t forget to check out Upholstery Basics: Tool Time to learn more about the tools we’re using today.
If you plan on washing the slipcover (which is generally the point, right?), make sure you choose a fabric that is washable. I have found that most manufacturers will say “Dry Clean Only,” when in fact, many cotton fabrics, even printed ones, are washable. Throw a swatch or scrap of the fabric you plan on using into the wash and see how it comes out. When I washed and dried this fabric by Stone Textiles, it was even softer than before.
1. Wash and dry all fabric before making the slipcovers so it preshrinks.
2. If you’re working on a metal chair, place painter’s tape on several spots of the seat and inside back to hold the fabric in place as you work.
3. Cut out a piece of fabric large enough to cover the seat of the chair and stick it to the tape with the good side down. If you’re working with an upholstered chair, use straight pins to hold the fabric in place. Be sure the fabric is correctly oriented with the pattern in the desired location.
5. Be careful not to cut too far. Leave enough to cover all the edges with a little extra for sewing (see steps 4 and 5 from Constructing Coil Springs). When the fabric is flat on the seat, cut off the excess, leaving a few extra inches around the perimeter.
6. Cut out a piece of fabric large enough to cover the inside back all the way down to the seat. Adjust the pattern so it’s straight up and down and match the bottom middle to the back of the seat. Stick the good side of the fabric to the tape to hold it in place.
22. At the back, feel for the top edge of the seat to use as a guide. If you are using a patterned fabric, keep an eye on the pattern to make sure the line is straight across it. Draw a line from front to back to estimate the skirt placement on the sides.
24. With the dressmaker’s tape, measure the distance between the marks to determine the widths of the four skirt panels.25. Use a square and a straight edge to draw the skirt panels, including four kick pleats, one for every corner. Use the diagram below and the measurements from step 24 to determine the dimensions. Kick pleat width and skirt height are up to your discretion. I am making a 5″ tall skirt height with 3″ wide kick pleats.
26. When all of the skirt pieces are cut out and labeled, fold a piece in half (as denoted by the dotted line on the illustration above), with good sides facing, and sew the right and left sides closed. Snip the corners off of the bottom without cutting through the seam. Repeat for all other skirt panels.
28. Center and align the top of the front skirt panel with the front edge of the seat. Flip the skirt up and onto the seat so the good sides are facing and sew the panel to the seat. Repeat for the other three skirt panels.
- Be sure the ribbon you use for tying the slipcover to the chair is washable and doesn’t bleed.
- Leave the slipcover a little loose so it has room to shrink with multiple washes.
- To keep fabric from fraying, cut out all pieces with pinking shears or serge the seam allowances with a serger.
- If you have multiple chairs or you’re nervous about making a mistake with your good fabric, use scrap fabric or muslin to make a pattern for all pieces. Then trace the pattern pieces on your good fabric for all chairs.
Feel free to send me more suggestions for upholstery topics you’d like covered! For more upholstery basics, click here.
A special thank you to my neighbor Jack for letting me raid his garden for the floral arrangement and to Lee for lending me his yard as a backdrop for photos.