Thank you all so much for the rave reviews on our newly slipcovered slipper chairs! As promised, here's Part One of my tutorial on how to make a simple skirted slipcover.
Remember, this is what I started with. Too many years sitting in front of our west-facing living room windows had left these chairs faded and tattered.
I'm making my slipcovers with prewashed and pre-bleached Finish Factor canvas drop cloths from Lowe's. You can read about how I pretreated them here. To start, I took a few minutes to pre-plan the layout for cutting, as I hoped to waste as little fabric as possible. If you are buying yardage for your slipcovers, I would really encourage you to make a paper pattern (or use an old sheet) to help determine the amount of fabric you'll need. For this project I'm sort of winging it, due to the inexpensive nature of this fabric. I have done several projects with these drop cloths, and had a few extra remnant pieces already. If I was working with client fabric, or more costly fabric, I would definitely have made a complete pattern first, or traced each pattern piece onto the fabric with tailor's chalk.
To start, I traced a crude outline of the side of the rolled back of the chair. Yep, that's leftover butcher paper. Told you I'm a waste not, want not kind of crafter. This piece is only going halfway down the side of the chair, lining up with the seat, as the pleated skirt will attach to it later in the process.
Cut it out, adding a rough 1 inch seam allowance. Rule #1 when making slipcovers: leave plenty of extra fabric allowance when cutting! You will be able to trim any excess away later, but you sure can't make it grow back if you cut it a little small.
Cut your first piece, then, if your fabric has a right side, flip your pattern over to cut the second piece.
Next up is piping. You don't have to add piping, and if you don't want to make it, you can use purchased piping. I happened to have leftover cording, and remants of the canvas, so I chose to make mine. I won't go into detail here, but you can find instructions on making piping all over the internet.
Pin the side piece to the chair, and fit the piping all around, pinning it to the fabric as you go. Good thing I had a plentiful seam allowance, because I was really close in a couple of spots.
Unpin your side piece from the chair, then sew on the piping. Use your zipper foot so that you can get as close as possible to the piping seam. Pin it back to the chair again to measure for the center panel.
Mine was 26 inches across, and 58 inches up and over the top, to the floor. I cut a large piece, 28 inches by 64 inches. Remember, cut extra! This allows for a 2 inch hem at the bottom of the back of the chair, also.
Now you will need to pin it all together -- inside out. Once again, I temporarily pinned the side pieces on,
and laid the center piece over, pinning it to the side where it meets the piping.
This is the first time that you will have to make a judgement call about exactly how snug, or loose, you want your slipcover to be. Be prepared to have to pin and repin several times! If you can't get it off of the chair, it's too tight. Loosen it, using a little less of your extra seam allowance from the center panel. See how I have pinned along the stitch line of the piping? You'll still want to make sure that you pin along that line, because this is where you will sew it together.
Carefully remove your fabric, and baste it all together. I used a long 4.5 stitch on my Pfaff sewing machine (not sure what that translates to for American made sewing machines). I say baste because it's likely that you will want to remove and restitch at least part of your slipcover once you try it back on the chair. Sew the seam with the side piece facing up, as it allows to go along the same line of stitching that you sewed the piping on with. (If you're not using piping, this won't be important.)
Turn right side out, and wiggle it back onto the chair. Go slowly! Don't force it too quickly and risk tearing your seams. Here's my first attempt -- not too bad!
But see these puckered stitches? They're not that bad, but I really wanted to have a smooth seam. I fixed these, then restitched the seam to secure it. Now we're done with the main part of the chair!
I'm going to break this up into several steps, partly so that this doesn't become the world's longest, most exhausting blog post :) and also because I forgot to take a couple of photos, and I'm going to have to finish the second chair and re-photograph some of the steps! Good thing I have two chairs, haha.
For Part Two, I'll show how the skirt comes together. I know it looks like it could be complicated, but it's just so easy, you won't believe it.
I hope this makes sense! If you have any questions, email me at andrea(dot)haywood(at)sbcglobal(dot) net, and I'll be happy to try to answer them. It's my hope that soon, we'll be seeing photos of your new slipcovers! I'll be back soon with Part Two.
Update: Part Two can be found here
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