Folks, I’ve got plans for 2014. Plans for switching the direction of my projects on this blog. I want to get back to the heart of why I decided to learn to sew in the first place. (Bonus points if you have been reading long enough to know what that reason is!) To prepare for this shift, I am clearing out my old unfinished projects. This is a prime example. I bought fabric two years ago to recover my favorite chair – The Nursing Chair. I finally finished it this week.
I spend hours and hours sitting in this chair every day (and, as of late, long parts of the night as well). It is the chair equivalent of your favorite broken in pair of tennis shoes – ugly, worn, but oh so ridiculously comfortable. I will cry if/when this chair ever breaks. Originally, I had planned to legit re-upholster my Chair o’ Comfort, but after a recent stomach bug passed through the house, I decided this time in my life calls for slipcovers.
I can’t really give a straight up tutorial on how to do this, because every chair is different. However, I will share a general overview of how I tackled it. I hope this can help you if you want to attempt it.
I purchased 9 yards of home decorating fabric (58″ wide) from Jo-Ann Fabrics. I used all but maybe a half yard of it.
2. Back and Seat Cushions
I covered the back and seat cushions first. The shape of the seat cushion was easy enough to trace off for a pattern, but the back cushion needed a different strategy.
To make the pattern, I laid a piece of craft paper over the cushion. I traced along the pins to draw out the pattern, added seam allowances to finish the pattern. Here it is folded in half along the center and the seam line smoothed out.
Then, I repeated this pinning-tracing technique for every fabric section of the original cushion.
I inserted piping on the slipcover wherever it was used on the original cushion. This piping is made with a 5/32″ cord. (See this tutorial for how to make your own piping.) Besides giving a project more visual oopmph, piping gives more structure to the shape of the cushions and hides stitching at the seams.
3. Chair Arms
Next, I tackled the body of the chair, starting with the chair arms. Once again, I pinned and traced to make the pattern pieces.
4. Chair Seat and Back
After the chair arms/sides where sewn, I abandoned the careful pattern piece drafting and started pin fitting draped fabric to the chair. With the fabric inside out, I pinned the fabric to fit, traced the seam lines and then sewed. I found it helpful to work in sections at a time. Rechecking the fit after every seam was sewn.
The order that worked for me was:
- seat (khaki rectangle) to the inner charm arms
- bottom front
- bottom front to chair arms side
- back to chair arm side
- inner back to inner chair arms
- back to seat
All the fitting and refitting was time-consuming to be sure, but it is mostly the fault of the shape of the chair. A simpler shape would have come together much more easily. Watch out for chair fronts that jut out from the arms (like the picture above), and have chair arms extending past the back of the chair (pictured below), that H seam junction was a doozy. (I found it interesting to compare the shape of this chair to the shape of Ikea slipcover chairs and couches. Ikea’s are definitely designed with the slipcover in mind.)
Lastly, I pinned up the hem of the chair, pressed, and slip-stitched it in place.
And that’s that. My favorite chair is all glammed up and ready for its usual duties.
My vacuum is broken! I swear!
(This photo brought to you by The Red Lipstick Dare 2013.)