Make a seat cover!
So, I have a theory about chairs. I’ll acknowledge that it’s likely because I have a large family, and therefore need more of them, and because I know that children tend to thrash them, especially the chairs around the kitchen table. So, I don’t buy them new. They’re so expensive! When we finally bought a new kitchen table that would seat all of us, I was stunned at how much money it would cost me to buy ten new chairs to go around it. Not only was my checkbook cowering at the number, I couldn’t stomach it. So I started hitting the thrift store and snatching up chairs. A few months ago I found this old chair. It’s incredibly sturdy, and I liked the look and lines.
I especially liked the design on the back of the chair. I don’t usually love dark wood, but this is an exception.
But I hate the seat. The fabric is old and yucky, but I wasn’t in the mood to take the chair apart and re-cover it. Not that it’s difficult to do; I just didn’t want to tackle that today.
So today I was in the mood to do something quick and creative to add a bit of style to my chair.
I settled on a chair cover. You’ll learn that white is my go-to color, and I whipped out the bolt of white fabric I keep in my sewing room for projects such as this.
Now, let me list a few things you will quickly learn about me and the way I approach projects.
First, I am not a pattern person (except when I am quilting). I don’t have the patience. I do measure carefully, but I am comfortable with imperfection and prefer to just dive in.
Second, I am a mother, not a professional. I’m not afraid to slipcover a chair, a couch, and so forth. I have enough confidence to do it, but I’m sure professionals have tricks and tips that I don’t know. I am busy raising kids and I usually have several helpers, so my goal is to achieve a look that I can be satisfied with while openly acknowledging that I am an amateur.
My purpose in sharing projects like this is to send the message that it really isn’t hard to do. If you can stand back a few feet when your project is done and appreciate the overall look of what you’ve accomplished, then I call that success. I also believe that nobody else will ever look closely enough to really see the flaws, and if they do, you can probably guarantee that they would never have the courage to do it themselves, so who cares what they think! (That was probably a run-on sentence.)
So, with the above disclaimers, let me share with you how I went about sewing a cover for my chair.
First, I measured the dimensions of the seat and cut a piece of fabric the same size. I then cut two strips of fabric long enough to use as ties in the back, and I cut three strips of fabric 4 inches wide that could be sewn together to make a pleated skirt around the seat. I decided to turn the hem under twice to be sure no unraveling will ever happen, and I do believe that taking the time to iron first makes everything look much better!
After ironing, I carefully sewed together the three strips of fabric for the pleats, and then carefully stitched all of the hems.
I was left with four pieces of fabric: two ties, one very long piece for the skirt, and the largest piece which covers the seat of the chair. I laid them all out, putting right sides together, folded the skirt into pleats, and pinned it together. This meant I only had one seam left to finish the entire project.
Note: when arranging the pleats, I decided to have the two seams in the skirt fall on the corners so they would hang well and look more tailored.
I also pinned the two pieces for tying the skirt to the chair. I placed them at the ends.
With the pinning done, I could sit down at my sewing machine, sew a seam around three sides, and walk directly to the chair to tie it on!
Ta Da! One chair with potential just became something much more pleasant to look at, not to mention the fact that it now looks much more at home in my family room.
This entire project took me less than one hour to complete.
I was using 54″ wide fabric, and at that width I used only about 2/3 a yard of fabric.
At $3.99 a yard, I just made a chair cover for under $3.00!
Is it perfect? No. I would do a couple of things differently next time, like make the ties a bit shorter and much wider. But it’s done, the effect from a few feet away is one I’m happy with, and I’m also pretty confident that nobody is going to notice or point out the things I know are wrong with it.
So pick a chair, choose a bit of fabric (or raid your stash if you’re like me) and have some fun!
At $3.00, you can afford to experiment!