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Beauty to Beast


I’m really excited about the slipcover I made this week.  My friend, Darcie and I did a little trade and my part was to help “resurrect” this chair her thoughtful son picked out of a dumpster for her.  It has great potential, don’t you think?  But, I do like to refer to it as “the beast.”


Making a slipcover is super easy.  I love slipcovers because they instantly change the look of your furniture for very little money.  And, they are super practical – just pull them off and throw them in the washer, which is a must if you have a young family.  If it seems a little intimidating, try on something small like this armless chair.  It is actually fun and satisfying.

First, when a chair has specific lines like this one, make a little pattern.  I used butcher paper because that’s what I had around the house, but Pellon is super nice especially if you’re thinking about re-covering it in the future because it’s easy to save and file.  Remember to label the pieces, i.e. “inside back.”


Cut out the pieces, but remember to leave a seam allowance of about 1 inch (better to have extra).  This is not an exact science, it is something you change and alter and fit as you go, so be brave and flexible.


Now pin the pieces inside out to the corresponding pieces of the chair.  Actually, don’t pin the pieces to the chair – pin them to each other so you can slip off the cover and sew it when you are ready. Just pin 2 pieces at a time – don’t get overambitious.  Tip:  Put the pins in following the lines of the chair and pin it as close to the chair as possible so the fit is a snug one.

001 002

Sew INSIDE the pins for a nice tight fit.  You will have to remove pins as you go, but sew as close to the lines they are making, as is possible.

Turn the cover right side out and place on the chair.  Look for any seams that are not snug or that need to be adjusted and fix those.  Keep “trying it on” the chair until you are happy with it.  THEN, sew a second seam right next to the first one, closer to the edges of the fabric to give it extra strength.  Then trim close to the second seam.  You will be glad you took the extra time to do this part.


On this chair, it was that simple and then we arrived at the skirt.  This is my favorite part.  You can do so many different things with the skirt, and it is fairly easy.  The width of this piece should be the length of your skirt plus 2 inches.   I knew that I wanted a 7-inch drop and so I cut widths of my fabric at 9 inches.  I actually cut 4 lengths of 54-inch fabric in this 9-inch width, and sewed them together which gave me a total piece that measured 216 wide by 9 inches tall (minus seam allowances).  Your length will depend on how many pleats you are putting on your chair.  If you are not doing pleats at all, you just need the measurement of the chair’s perimeter.  If you are adding inverted pleatsyou will want to add 12-16 inches per pleat in addition to your perimeter.  I am not scientific about this, and I knew I wanted to make several pleats, so I just doubled my perimeter and made it all work out.  (Hmmm, clear as mud?)

Next, sew the two short ends of the skirt together so you have one continuous loop.  Press up 1/2 inch along the lower edge all the way around, and then press 1/2 inch up again so you have a nice seam.  Topstitch all the way around, keeping a nice even hem.  Then, to make your life easier, press down the top edge of the skirt 1/2 inch.


To attach the skirt, I’m using a very unscientific method, but it’s the one that seems to save me less headache later.  Decide how high from the floor you want your hem to fall.  Measure up from the floor to the chair and mark with either pins or draw a chalk line so you have a nice even line all the way around the chair.  Then pin to each corner and the middle of each side, attaching the skirt on top of the chalk line.  My chair had the same width and depth dimensions, so it was easy, I just divided it by four.


The skirt is pinned right on the top of the slipcover at the 16 inch-from-the-floor-height.  Most slipcovers I’ve done have a pleat at each corner or two at the front and one in the middle back, but I wanted to get a little fancy since this chair was so simple. Topstitch the skirt onto the slipcover, close to the top edge and then topstitch again right next to the first stitching.  Turn the slipcover inside-out and trim the seams.


I love the result.  Isn’t it a beauty?


Total time for this project:  5 1/2 hours from start to finish.  The fabric is Premier Prints Barber/Taupe Robin.  Total cost for this project:  $23.00.  I don’t claim to be a great tutorial-writer, but if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.  I’ll try to make it clear.


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