Making your own slipcovers is a great way to save money and give your old furniture a new lease of life. Making a fitted chair or sofa slipcover can be time-consuming and requires a certain degree of sewing experience. However, there are lots of ideas for simple slipcovers that are quick and easy to make yourself. You won't get a tailored fit using these techniques, but it is an inexpensive and rewarding way to transform a worn or outdated item of furniture, or for you to put your own mark on that old seat you found in the thrift store.
To get you started, here are instructions on how to make dining chair slipcovers. The basic principle can be adapted for upholstered seats with straight backs, such as you would find in a bedroom.
Step 1 — Measuring and Create the Pattern
These simple dining chair covers follow a basic pattern that uses only three pieces of fabric for each slipcover. They are designed to fit fairly closely over your chairs but don't require any zippers or ties. You'll need to begin by carefully measuring all the dimensions of one of your chairs.
When measuring the seat, remember to include the skirt length at the front and sides. Measure the seat all the way to the back of the back legs, and allow slight ease at the depth of each side. With the inner back, take care to include the depth of the sides and slight ease, as you did with the seat. When measuring the top, include the depth of the upper back in this measurement. When measuring the outer back section, allow extra length for the lower edge to be matched to the seat piece when it's pinned together.
Presuming you have a set of matching chairs, you can save time by cutting out a sample slipcover from inexpensive muslin fabric and using this as your pattern. Once you've got all the measurements, cut out the three sections from muslin, remembering to cut them slightly oversized. This will serve as your pattern.
Step 2 — Cutting the Slipcover Pieces
Cut each piece out roughly to size, leaving generous margins around the edges. Pin them together on the chair and machine baste it together.
It's best to choose a fabric that is easy to work with, such as cotton or linen. These natural fiber fabrics are comfortable to sit on as they "breathe". They are also very durable and are suitable for being washed in the machine - which is particularly handy for dining chair slipcovers that are more prone to food and drink spills than those in other rooms. A slight downside to using these natural fabrics is their tendency to get creased, but this is easily resolved by ironing them before you put them on your chairs.
Step 3 - Construct the Slipcover
Position the inner back section on the chair. Pin darts at the upper front corners, making sure you leave plenty of seam allowance around the back. Then, pin the outer back to the inner back, and pin the seat piece to the inner and outer back, with darts at the front corners.
Machine baste, sewing the corner darts first before doing the seams. Check the cover fits your chair and mark the hem, matching points and seamlines on the muslin. Tidy it up by trimming the seam and hem allowances. Then unpick your stitches and press each section of muslin to use as your patterns for the slipcovers themselves.
Variations: Once you've constructed your slipcovers, you could easily sew on a long skirt if you prefer a more formal look or you simply want to hide your battered chair legs. To work out the width of the skirt, use the circumference of the lower edge of the short skirt and the outer back measurement. To make a gathered skirt, allow about one and a half times the width measurement. Or you could at a box pleat at each corner.
This article is courtesy of Simon Phillips, co-founder of GetSlipcovers.com, which offers coupon codes for discount slipcovers, including dining chair slipcover sets at affordable prices if sewing is not your strong point.