Saturday, October 12, 2013

How To Sew a Chair Slipcover...sort of....

I've been showing you Miriam and Ross's living room progress.
And I threatened promised to show how I made the chair slipcovers.
I took lots of pictures up to the point where I freaked out.....
Then I gave up with the camera and concentrated on the sewing.
So, I will show you as much as I shot, and then try to explain the rest with my pithy words.

The chairs started looking like this.
The cushions were kinda flat, so I augmented them as if I were a plastic surgeon and they were someones chesties.....
But I will get to that later in this here post.

First I had to find fabric that matched the slipcovers from Jordan's Furniture, because that is where their sectional was from.
I lucked out, finding something at Calico Corners.

The first thing to do when you make a slipcover, is to make the welting.
Cut the fabric on the bias (diagonal) so that it will be able to bend around all the curves of the slipcover.
Take the triangular piece and fold it into quarters, like I did below.
You want to cut it to fit the cording you choose.
For the 5/32 cording I use, I cut 1 5/8" strips of fabric, this leaves a perfect 1/2" flange to sew into a 1/2" seam.
I use this measuring thingy to cut my strips.
As you can see, it's easy to make sure that it is placed 1 5/8" along the edge of the cut fabric.
Then I use a rotary cutter to cut the strips, using the green plastic measuring gizmo as my guide.

As you can see, you needs lots of welting to make a slipcover, and this isn't even the part for the seat covers........
To figure out how much you need, measure all around the chair where you want the welting to go.....
I mean, isn't that pretty obvious???????
I've bought a couple of slipcover how to books, and that's the kind of useless info that they tell ya!!!

Now you have to measure all the different parts of the chair and cut out pieces of fabric that are the same size, only a few inches bigger.
Label them, because you will get confused as to what goes where.
Plan how to lay them out on your fabric so that you can have as little waste as possible.
Get lots of extra fabric and cut the pieces out with abandon!!!!!

Since I wanted to have buttons on the back for the closure, I played around with how I wanted them positioned by pinning them to the back.
I went to Joanne's to look for buttons, and found these, which were the prefect blue for Miriam's living room.
I needed 12 or 14, and they only had four.
What sewing project only needs four buttons?????
So, I asked when they would be getting more in, and was told that they had no idea.
If I wanted the buttons, I had to place a special order, and then I would have to pay for shipping to the store.
Then I would have to drive back to the store and pick them up.
Then I had to make the back of the slipcover that was going to house these very special custom order buttons.
I cut out two rectangles of fabric that were the length of the back..... 
and folded the edges over twice and seamed along the fold on both the inside fold and the outside fold.
This made a nice neat edge and a good place for the buttons and button holes.
I measured the width of the chair back, and cut the fabric pieces to be wider than needed, so I could pin it in place with lots of left over.
I had marked where I wanted the buttons, so I measured them onto the fabric and sewed in the button holes without cutting them, yet.
I pinned the two pieces together.....
and tacked them with some stitches at each button hole, so that the two  pieces would become one whole piece to pin in place on the chair.
Then it was time to make the sides of the back.
I saw a tutorial on YouTube and it showed me how to do it, so 
I'm goin' ta show ya!!!!
Pin the side of the back to the chair, if you chair has a back side.
Not a BACKSIDE, but a side of the back.......
Make sure the fabric is right side out.
Then, pin the welting along the edge of the side.
If the welting is going to continue down the back, like mine did here, make sure to leave enough extra hanging down, so it can later be sewn into the seam where the back meets the arm.

Now, take the piece off the chair and lay it on your cutting table, or whatever surface you be usin' for this project.
Cut the piece out, following the edge of the welting.
Cut into the seam allowance at the curve to allow the fabric to ease around the rolled back.
It should end up looking something like this.
Lay it over the other back side pieces, and using it as a template, cut out one more for the other side.
If you're doing a pair of chairs.....
cut out three more!!!!!
Pin the welting to the edge.
Then sew the welting onto the piece.
Sew all of them!!!!!
Now, pin the back piece, wrong side out, to the back of the chair.
If you're doing a buttoned back, make sure the button holes are in the middle of the back of the chair.
From here on out, all the fabric will be pinned wrong side out.
You may be wondering why I say that on this fabric, but there was actually a right and wrong side to this fabric.
take the inside back piece and pin it to the outside back piece.
Place the pins along where you want the seam to be, you will be sewing, using the pins as your guide.
Pin the side piece to the back pieces, making sure the welting is facing towards the chair.

Now it's time to make the arm panels.
Just repeat how you did the side of the back, only on the arms!!!!!

Now, pin the inside arm piece to the outside arm piece, and then pin them to the back pieces.
At this point I trimmed the pieces to allow for a seam allowance of around 1/2 inch.
Here's a closer shot of where the arm meets the back.
On the inside of the chair, where the back and sides meet, you have to have extra fabric that can be tucked into the space where the two sides meet.
This is what holds a slipcover in place, and keeps stress off where the sides and back join.
This is where I started to get a little confused and went and bought a couple of books on slipcovers.
I'm still a little confused.
Allow around 2 or 3 extra inches for tucking, but don't forget to cut slashes in the seam allowance to permit the fabric to give at the curves where the arm meets the back.
Then I came to cutting and pinning the deck, and I got completely twisted into knots.
Because the seat has a T-cushion, there are several corners, and my little head couldn't figure out how to do this and have it ease into the tuck in pocket.
Luckily this is under the seat cushion!!!!!
This is when I stopped taking pictures.
Since I didn't know what I was doing, what was the point in showing you?????
A tutorial on how to do it the wrong way????
So, I decided to go ahead and sew together what I had pinned up to this point.

I was happy with the way it was coming along, so I decided to just go for it.
I sewed on the deck, allowing for the tuck in, and finessed where it met the front.
I should have taken pictures, because it worked out OK, BUT I DIDN'T.....
I added the buttons to the back.
Then I added the skirt.
Which I didn't take any pictures of.......

But I did take shots of remaking the seat cushion!!!!
The old cushions were flat, so I added 1/2 a layer of dacron to the top and bottom of both cushions.
The dacron I have comes with two layers fused together which I can pull apart for a thinner piece.
I used a spray adhesive to attach the thinner layer to both sides.

Then I used a full thickness layer to wrap the cushions from the back edge around the front and back to the back.
I didn't have the dacron cover the back or the sides.
I used the spay adhesive to attach this layer to the first piece of dacron.
Then I sewed covers for the cushions out of lining fabric.
I needed to stuff that big thing into the cover.......
I made the cover 1 inch wider and longer than the old covers, and made the box side 1/4" deeper.
Then I had to stuff the cushion with the dacron into the cover.
The best way to do this is to fold the cushion in half the long way, and work it into the front of the cover.
Lots of swearing is a necessary part of this.
And panting.
And grunting.
Then I hand sewed it closed, using really strong thread.
Regular thread won't be strong enough to hold it.
Look at the difference in thickness between the one that's finished and just the fill, it really compresses down and makes a very comfortable cushion.

I then made sure it fit on the chair.

Next, I made the seat cushion covers, which I have previously showed you how to do.....HERE.

Below is a shot to show you a stupid mistake I made, I placed the joining of the welt in the front of the cushion.
You want to have as many seams and joinings as possible towards the chair back.
I was going to leave it like that, I figured no one would notice......
but I couldn't.
So I had to rip this out and redo it.

So here's the side by side of the chair with and without the slipcover and new puffy cushion.
This has been one hell of a long post, and I'm bushed.....

So on that note,
Latah, Gatah


Divine Theatre said...

You have to name the chair! I suggest J Lo!
Meanwhile, it took you so long to do the chair. In that time you could have come to my house and finished the secretary.
Why didn't you?


Anonymous said...

Wow. How do you do it?! I consider myself a confident home sewer, but I wouldn't have the fortitude to tackle this project, let alone a matched pair! I can only imagine that it look hours and hours. And if it didn't, your secret is safe with us. Let your niece and her husband think it took 100 hours.

Penny Tucker, California

Beth C. said...

So, I gave up my imaginary cigarettes after your tutorial on the upholstered chair in Kris' house. Now ya got me hooked again. I'm wondering for those of us that don't have a super talented best friend or auntie, would you say that reupholstering would be just as cost effective as having custom slips made? Would it be just a matter of what look you wanted? Maybe you could consider YouTube video tutorials. I'd pay money to see that! Best, Beth C.

Betsy Speert said...

Slipcovers tend to be less expensive than reupholstering.
They're easier and much faster to do.
For one thing, you don't have to spend around 8 hours stripping the old upholstery off.

sweet violets said...

Wow, you should be bushed......that was a ton of work!!! I enjoy your lessons, however, I will never do such a project, that's just crazy!!! And I'm crazy enough as it is!!!

Susie2 said...

You are one tenacious babe and an excellent seamstress. Watching your tutorial left me exhausted but impressed! Great job - the chair looks fabulous.

Anne Boykin said...

Hi Betsy, What a fabulous slipcover! Thanks for the tutorial. You're so talented.

Mary said...

I need to go back to bed after reading this. This is some major work! I would have been swearing at the first cut of the fabric.
I wish you were my sister, I have lots of projects for ya. Hope you are resting today.

From Virginia

Anonymous said...

You are AMAZING ! What a WONDERFUL aunt. Now I know why I pay someone to do the work; I'm exhausted. Cathy

bmayer said...

Great tutorial...but geeze that's a lot of work! (and this is coming from a life-long sewer, and former Home Ec. teacher) As much as I'd love to be able to toss slip covers in the wash as needed, I'm just not a fan of the inherently "ripply, wrinkly" look. That is not an indictment of your sewing,(it's terrific) just the nature of slip-covers in general (see former Home Ec teacher reference.) Can I add one more suggestion? If your intention is to be able to wash your slip-covers (sort of the point of having them) PLEASE pre-wash your fabric as step one, so your slipcovers will still fit once you wash them!

Anonymous said...

You did a great job! I've made slipcovers in the past, but rarely with welting. It was a comfort to see that I'm not the only one who struggles with that joining/tuck-in piece. I've never been able to figure it out; my little brain just doesn't work that way. My solution has been to just leave it "un-sewn" and tuck, tuck, tuck. I've also used books to try to figure it out. Maybe there is a youtube video somewhere. You did a beautiful job. Love your blog!

fixitfaerie said...

Thank you for the tutorial. Do your hands get tired when you stretch the fabric while getting that d*&n set filling in? Did you put a zipper on the final seat covers or sew them closed?
Anyways, they look really nice. Paula

Betsy Speert said...

I put in a zipper.
The point of slipcovers is to be able to remove them so that they can be washed.

Katie Mansfield said...

These are fabulous. Thanks for the tutorial. I didn't know to cut welting on a bias.

Anonymous said...

Your slipcovers look great - your niece will be thrilled with them. A suggestion, if I may, from the classes I've taken in slip covers and re-upholstering...when you stuff the cushions, it helps to wrap the cushion in a plastic trash bag which have the sides slit (making one long continuous piece). The plastic glides more smoothly than the dacron against the fabric. Because it's slit you can easily pull it out once you have the cushion situated to your liking. You still have to deal with the beastly T shape, but it really does help. At class, we have a cushion stuffing machine that compresses the cushions that makes quick work (usually) of stuffing, however we've learned a slit plastic bag on the cushion still helps with the final adjustments before removing the plastic. Hope this can be of use - wrestling a cushion into the cover is like wrestling an alligator!

Miriam and Ross are lucky to have you as an aunt!

Betsy Speert said...

What a great idea!!! I hope I can remember to do this next time. It sounds ingenious!

designchic said...

So wish I was crafty, but there is no talent here. Just love slipcovers and it is amazing the difference they make - a lucky niece you have!!

Gail said...

Buttons down the back. What an ingenious idea! Next slipcover I make for one of my children will have those buttons down the back. And thank you for showing how to make the double welting - a very lovely look indeed. I am starting my mornings with a cup of tea and your blog. What a great way to start my day - creativity at it's highest level.

Anonymous said...

This is a great blog showing very intricate details in making a slipcover. Most videos/books barely touch on instructions and frustrate the beginner along with making one fearful of ruining the project and expensive fabrics--ultimately giving up. That's my story at least. You have shown a step by step tutorial that I definitely appreciate and will keep--and attempt, finally!! Thank you so much!!! P.S. I love your chairs project and the outcome is fantastic-really nice!!

Unknown said...

Thanks for a great and easy to follow tutorial. How much fabric did you need for each chair?

Lizzie D said...

Best tutorial ever, so honest! Had to laugh about the deck part, I struggle with mine, too.

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