Before & Afters

8 Simple Steps: How To Hand-Sew A Slipcover

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This imperfect slipcover works perfectly!

Last week I shared with you this slightly worn writing desk chair I picked up at a church rummage sale awhile back. You can read more about it here.  It’s an occasional chair primarily used by me and I wanted a slipcover for it.  My sewing machine needed repair, so I hand-sewed one. By no means is this a professional instruction sheet, but these how-to tips should be helpful to you.

Pick the right fabric. Consider color, fabric weight, durability, care, and cost. Lines and patterns are more difficult to keep straight. I used a curtain made from cotton linen.  A solid, lightweight cotton fabric, pre-washed to prevent shrinkage may work best. Iron to remove wrinkles.

Plan where your seams will meet. Follow the chair’s upholstery seams to guide your decisions for cutting and pinning. I made the back of the chair first, then attached the seat fabric, and the skirt last.

Measure twice, cut once. Whoever came up with that advice is a genius! Begin by measuring the individual section you are working on.  Since I had plenty of fabric, and it was my first chair cover, I allowed for 2 extra inches on all sides in case of error.

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Always pin inside out.  Turn the fabric with the underside facing up and drape over the backrest. Measure from the seat, up the front and down the backside, allowing for extra fabric to hang past the bottom back for your skirt, plus a 1″ to 2″ hem, and at least 1″ on the other three sides for pinning before marking and cutting. After cutting, drape the cut piece over the back again (underside up) and pin both sides to make seams. Keep the fabric slightly loose for easy removal, not taut. (If your fabric has a pattern or lines, you will need to turn the piece right-side out after pinning to check for straightness, or save yourself the trouble and use a solid.)

Stitch from the top down. With the fabric on the back of the chair (inside out and pinned) sew a straight stitch from the top down, removing pins as you stitch. Remove the fabric and turn inside out. It should resemble a “pillowcase”. Put the case back on the chair to check for fit and tightness of stitching. Backrest cover is finished. Remove the cover, turn inside out and put it back on the chair to add the seat fabric.

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Add the seat to the back. Measure and cut the next piece, using the chairs seams to determine where to cut. Leave at least 2 extra inches on all sides as the extra fabric may be needed to allow for sitting. If the seat is too tight, it could tear when sat on. This extra fabric will come in handy as you pin the seat to the “pillowcase”, and later to the skirt. As you pin decide how tight you want the seat. Keep in mind, slipcovers are generally fitted slightly loose.  Stitch the seat fabric to the bottom of the backrest fabric.

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Determine the length of skirt. Adjust the back and seat fabric onto the chair. Tuck in fabric where needed around the seat and allow for a little extra fabric for sitting without tear. Be sure to add the length to match the back of the chair, plus 1 or 2 inches for hemming.  Measure, cut and pin the skirt to the seat and back section fabrics, and stitch.

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Finish with hem. Turn the slipcover right side out and place on the chair. Check for errors, tuck in the seat to the back and measure the length of the skirt all the way around and pin the hem under every inch or two. Remove the cover, press the hem down with a warm iron to give it a clean edge.  Once pressed, sew or fabric glue the hem and press again.  I used fabric glue to avoid seeing the thread around the skirt as it’s more difficult to hide here. Ironing is key to a nice looking hem and slipcover. Your slipcover is finished!

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This slipcover is imperfectly perfect. It serves its purpose to protect and change the look of the chair, is easy to wash or bleach if necessary, and is an inexpensive solution to replacing a piece of furniture. The stitches look just as they did the day I made it. If they do come loose, I can re-stitch by hand or machine. It was a lot of fun and fairly easy to make.

If you decide to make a slipcover, I would love to see it! Please be sure to Like this page on Facebook for more easy DIY projects & crafts, simple recipes and daily encouragement.

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Before & After: Well-Worn Bench to Versatile Extra Seating

This past week I received the sad news that a special and dear friend of mine passed away.

My sons affectionately called him Mr. Gene.

I worked with him for over 18 years before he “re-retired” last summer at the vibrant age of 92 to move closer to his daughter.

Before leaving Mr. Gene gave me a few items to keep in remembrance of him — an old, tattered picnic bench set among them. Both benches were worn and rickety… their smudged paint and banged up slats signs of the workhorses they had become for my friend.

And I loved every scar...

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When I brought them home my husband asked me what in the world I was going to do with them.

I had no idea.

We didn’t need the extra seating on our patio and the weather would just add further damage.

So I hosed them down, spiders and all, tightened the screws and brought them inside.

I chose not to paint them and added a cushioned seat to both.

And this is how it went…

Supplies:  2″ thick foam cushion, cotton batting, pre-washed fabric, staple gun and staples, nailhead strips, hammer, scissors, fabric marker or pencil, tape measure.

Directions:

Securing cushion with batting

1. Fold the long piece of cushion foam in half, mark it and cut it into two pieces, putting one of the cushions to the side for the second bench. Turn the bench upside and lay it on one cushion, trace around the seat with marker and cut away extra foam.

2. Lay batting on the floor, then the cushion, and the bench upside down on top of both, allowing enough batting on all four sides for stapling over the seat. Mark and cut the batting.

3. Pull the batting up over cushion and underside edge of bench. Staple once in the center on each side and smooth out wrinkles along the way. Finish by stapling all around to secure.

Adding upholstery fabric

4. Trace and cut upholstery fabric same as step 2. Allow all four sides of the bench an extra 1-1/2 inches for stapling. (I used extra corduroy fabric from my storage.)

5. At one end, staple the fabric over both the cushion and the wood seat, being careful to keep the pattern or lines straight.  Fold edges under as you staple to avoid future fraying. Turn bench over, smooth it out, pull tight and staple once in the center at the other end, then repeat next two sides. Finish by stapling around the rest of the underside to secure.

6. Carefully fold corner fabric back onto the bench ends like shown in the photo below.

7. Add nailhead strips around the bottom edge with hammer for a finished look. (Joann Fabrics had the strips, Hobby Lobby did not. The strips are much easier to keep in a straight line.)

 

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When we have guests, the dining chairs can be moved closer together and the bench pulled in closer to allow for more seating.

 

 

The matching bench is at the foot of our master bed.

It’s been great for keeping a blanket off the floor, as a place to sit and get dressed, and as a springboard for our dog!

 

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Both benches work well in our home… sweet reminders of a loyal and faithful friend.

“Loyal friends love through difficult times.” Proverbs 17:17

“Faithful friends are a rare treasure.” Proverbs 18:24

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