Chances of Slipcovering - 100%
Updated: Apr 3, 2020
Slipcovers are incredibly delightful. We Pin, we Save, we Savor the Slipcover. To me, slipcovers are the honeycrisp apples of the furniture orchard; a tasteful touch in any home. I would love to slipcover everything in my house, so I took the chance and learned how to make one.
In this post, I'll share my slipcover journey and how-to guide with this French Chair, purchased from a Craigslist ad.
Not bad, altough I felt she could use a new slip.
She was also sporting some rather bright blue underwear....
After "surviving" the Craigslist pick up (am I the only one who fears Death by Craigslist?) I was very happy that the chair was in excellent condition.
Wanting a slubby look to match the distressed wood, I used a Ralph Lauren woven linen that my dear friend gave to me. For yardage amount, a French Arm Chair (seat only and skirt) needs 2-3 yards of fabric. Recommended fabrics for slipcovers are medium to heavyweight natural fibers. I used a sturdy Brother sewing machine purchased from Costco, a size 16 sewing machine needle, cording from Walmart to make the welt, and matching polyester thread.
The slipcover method I used is the pin-fitting method. If you have moderate sewing skills, this is by far the easiest. Pin fitting means you are draping, pinning and cutting the fabric directly on your chair to make a custom fit. No pattern needed. Hurray!
When creating a slipcover, you are working inside out, in other words, the fabric right side will be facing down and the seams will be facing you. To begin, I literally draped the fabric, right side down, across the seat, to prepare to pin.
I ran my hand along the cushion where it meets the wood frame, following the curve of the chair and pinned along that edge. The entire chair was pinned: front, sides and back.
I cut the fabric 1/2" below that pin mark for my seam allowance. This line is also where the ruffled skirt will be attached. (The photo showing the blue fabric shows the line I followed.)
Next, I cut the fabric around the arm and stiles, leaving a 1/2' seam allowance. The photo below shows the trimmed arm. The stile is the wood piece on the back of the chair. Also, if you are more comfortable practicing on muslin, by all means do so. I had plenty of fabric to "learn" from so I just went for it.
Darts were pinned in the front - on the left and right side - replicating the darts in the blue fabric upholstered seat. Again, since slipcovers are made wrong side up, the darts were pinned in the opposite direction from their finished look. I lifted the fabric up to check my work before continuing.
Below shows where I trimmed around the entire pinned area. Yes, I was nervous to cut, but I watched several YouTube tutorials on slipcovering, many times over, so despite my nerves it seemed I was on track. (I'll link the YouTube tutorial at the end of this post. It saved me).
OPTION: I opted to line my slipcover, although it wasn't necessary. Sadly I did not document this step well at all. Here's what I can share about lining.
I bought 1 yard of regular lining fabric from Hobby Lobby. I took the cut slipcover off of the chair and used it as a pattern to cut the lining. No seam allowances are needed for the lining! Just cut it to the pattern of your slipcover seat. Lay the cut lining on the face (right) side of your cut slipcover, edges aligned together, and sew 1/2" seam around, using a straight stitch. Trim to 1/4", turn inside out, and press.
Next I created a ruffled skirt to attach to the lined slipcover seat. I determined the finished skirt length would be 4". Adding a 1/2" seam allowance to the top and bottom (5" wide total), I cut and sewed 2 long strips of fabric together to create the width needed. Seams were ironed open. The width was 2.5 times the seat diameter to allow for the fullness of the ruffles. I overcast one edge of the skirt to prevent unraveling, folded, and sewed a 1/2" finished seam along the bottom edge.
Next, I made the welting/piping to better define the slipcover. Welting does 2 things: it gives your slipcover shape and structure to withstand wear and tear, and it adds a finished look to your project. I bought size 5/32 cording from Walmart, as it is the best size for slipcovers.
(By the way, if you make pillows, 4/32 cording is ideal.)
Here is an example of a beautiful contrasting welt, courtesy of The Slipcover Maker.
To make the welting, follow this informative video from Sailrite, a website loaded with instructional how-to videos. I LOVE SAILRITE. They are simply one of the best!
Here are photos of my welting as I attached it to the seat, using a narrow zipper foot.
The ruffle was created by gathering the unfinished edge of the skirt with my fingers and creating the ruffles. This was a method I had not used before, and while it proved successful, the ruffles were not perfect, but still cute. Then I attached the skirt to the edge of the seat. Using my narrow zipper foot, I sewed a seam on the top side, as close to the welt as possible.
I decided for future project to use a Ruffler Foot to save time from manually making ruffles. Here is the link to purchase the Ruffler Foot from Amazon. This is for a Brother machine.
Time to make the ties!
My friend who gave me the fabric, sent a giant roll of linen selvage from a project his company worked on. He owns an upholstery and slipcover business. What luck! Here is the roll.
I chose to use this leftover selvage because of the frayed nature of the material, which was perfectly vintage. Another option would be to use grosgrain ribbon. Grosgrain ribbon makes an adorable tie.
I cut four 20" strips from the linen selvage, folded one end 1/2", then folded again for a total of 1". I pinned each strip into place, lining the ties across from each other.
Here is the tie in place!
With the slipcover finished, it was time to upholster the pad on the arms. Luckily, there was no material or padding to remove. Using 1" foam cushion from Hobby Lobby, two patterns were cut from the foam to fit the arm channel.
I hot glued the foam onto the empty channel, using high temperature hot gun glue, also found at Hobby Lobby.
I then draped the linen material across the foam and stapled it into the grooves of the channel, following the lines. This process takes a pneumatic stapler, which uses air supplied from an air compressor. The pneumatic stapler and 3/4" staples are from Sailrite, the air compressor from Home Depot.
Using angled, spring-loaded scissors, I trimmed the material to just under the staples. Because of the angle, it will get into the tiniest situations for cutting. Highly recommended!
The finishing touch to my slipcover project was to add trim around the finished area of the arm pad. This beautiful gimp trim was purchased at Hobby Lobby. The trim was added using a hot glue gun as well. It was surpirsing to learn that is how trim was applied!
And here is the finished, slipcovered chair and upholstered arms. I thoroughly enjoyed learning how to slipcover and I really hope you will take the chance and make one as well!
For additional instructions on slipcovering, please click the link to Miss Mustard Seed's YouTube channel and view her Slipcovering tutorial. It is very thorough with plenty of instructions I may have failed to include! Good Luck!