Wednesday, February 29, 2012

DIY Tailored Slip-Cover


Can you have white furniture and kids at the same time?  Many would say no, but I say YES - if . . . your white furniture is leather and easy to clean, or if . . . it has a removable cover which can be bleached and washed! 

I found this old chair from the 1960s at a thrift shop for $15:


Like much furniture built 50 or more years ago, it was solidly built and still had many years left in it.  I instantly fell in love with the modern straight lines and boxy forms.  The upholstery was worn and the wrong colour for my particular purposes (I wanted white!).  Only problem is . . . I have kids! 

A removable slip cover was the way to go, but I wanted it to be as tight and tailored as possible - so I experimented with a new way to make a slip-cover for a chair combining slip-cover and upholstery techniques.

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY:  

- Moderate (probably not a great 1st-time sewing project)

MATERIALS:

- Chair with straight lines and boxy forms (this method doesn't work too well with curvy pieces)
- Approx 5m heavy fabric (I used white denim)
- White thread

TOOLS:

- Sewing machine
- Pins
- Scissors
- Measuring tape (I like to use a construction and dress-makers tape)
- Pencil


PROCEDURE:

1) Lay out fabric in a single layer, smoothly on the floor.  Start with the back of the chair by tipping the chair back onto the fabric.


Use a pencil to trace around the back of the chair onto the fabric leaving a 1/2" seam allowance, and add a little extra length at the bottom (at least 2") for the bottom hem.


Tip the chair back into it's upright position, and cut out the back piece of fabric that you traced, place aside, but make sure you know what side is the top and which is the bottom.


2) Use your measuring tape to measure the top section of the chair, and cut out a piece of fabric according to your measurements + a 1/2" seam allowance.

3) Pinning right sides together, sew top of back piece to back of top piece.


4) Measure the front-back piece of the chair.



Use a pencil to draw the shape of the front-back piece onto your fabric according to your measurements + a 1/2" seam allowance.  Cut out and place on the chair to make sure it is right, make any necessary adjustments.


5) Pinning right sides together, sew top of front-back piece to front of top piece.


 When finished, try it on the chair to ensure fit, and make any necessary adjustments.


To shape arm-notch: tuck fabric into crack in between front-back piece of the chair and arm.  Trace the line with a pencil leaving a 1/2" seam allowance (will probably have a slight curve).  

 

Remove and cut along line.  Repeat for opposite side.
 6) Arms.  I found this to be the trickiest part. I separated the arm into a top section, inside section, and front section to simplify things somewhat.

Start with the top section by measuring the length and width of the arm.   Using a pencil draw the shape onto your fabric according to your measurements + a 1/2" seam allowance, and add 4" to the length.  Cut out and place on the top of the chair arm.  Bring the back of the top arm piece all the way back to the front-back piece of the chair and tuck in the extra length into the crack in between the front-back piece of the chair and the chair arm.


Use your pencil (just like you did when creating the arm-notch in the front-back piece) to carefully trace this line (will probably be a bit of a curve) adding 1/2" for seam allowance.   Remove fabric and cut out (I also cut out a reverse version for the other arm at the same time), replace on chair to check accuracy, and make any necessary adjustments.

7) Ease the curved part of the top arm piece into the top of the arm-notch of the front-back piece (similar to easing a sleeve when sewing a shirt) and pin.  Lay out your pieces on the chair to make sure you have them pinned the right way.  Sew.


 When finished, try it on the chair to ensure fit, and make any necessary adjustments.  Repeat on the opposite arm.

  
8) Measure the length and width of the inside arm piece.  Trace shape out onto your fabric + a 1/2" seam allowance, cut, and try on the chair to ensure fit. Pin back of inside arm piece to bottom of back-front piece arm-notch (right sides together) and sew.  Pin top of inside arm piece to inside edge of top arm piece (rights sides together) and sew.


When finished, try on the chair and make any necessary adjustments.  Repeat for the opposite arm.


9) Seat bottom.  For this piece I just traced the chair cushion out onto my fabric (+ 1/2" seam allowance of course!), and cut it out.


Pin back of seat to bottom of front-back piece (right sides together) and sew.


Pin left edge of  seat section to bottom of left inside arm section (right sides together), sew.  Pin right edge of seat section to bottom of right inside arm section (right sides together), sew.  Pin bottom of left front arm section to left back arm notch of seat section (right sides together), sew.  Pin bottom of right front arm section to right back arm notch of seat section (right sides together), sew.


 When finished, try on the chair to ensure fit, and make any necessary adjustments.

10) Measure front of arm piece, and trace out shape onto your fabric according to your measurements + 1/2" seam allowance.


 Trim top arm piece (if it is a little too long), and pin top of front arm piece to front of top arm piece (right sides together), and sew. Pin inside edge of front arm piece to front of inside arm piece (right sides together) and sew.  When finished, try on the chair to ensure fit and make any necessary adjustments.  Repeat for opposite arm.


 11) Measure length and width of bottom front piece of chair (section left in orange it the picture above).  Trace shape onto fabric according to your measurements + 1/2" seam allowance, and on the bottom add a little extra length (at least 2") for bottom hem, and cut out.  Pin top of bottom-front piece to front of seat piece (right sides together), and sew. Try on chair to ensure fit and make any necessary adjustments.

12) Side: Tip chair over on it's side onto your fabric and trace the shape of the side of chair (+1/2" seam allowance) onto your fabric (same way you did the back piece).


Cut out 2.


 Just like putting in the last piece of a puzzle, pin and sew the appropriate edges of the side piece to their matching counterparts on the main composition (I started with the top).


Repeat on opposite side.  When finished, place on chair (should be snug now) to ensure fit, and make any necessary adjustments.


13) When all is to your suiting, reinforce all of the seams with a zig-zag stitch for strength.


14) Trim bottom edge to be even and hem. Try on chair to ensure fit, and make any necessary adjustments.



15) Cushion: Trace cushion onto fabric + 1/2" seam allowance.

 

Cut out 2.  Measure width and length (from left back corner to right back corner) of edge of cushion and trace onto fabric according to your measurements + a 1/2" seam allowance (should be a big long strip).  Starting at left back corners, ease edge piece (strip) around edges of top cushion piece, pin and sew.  Do the same on the other side for the bottom cushion piece.  Measure width and length of back cushion piece, trace onto fabric + 1/2 seam allowance, and cut 2.  Hem one long side of each of these pieces.  Pin un-hemmed edge of 1 of these pieces to back of top cushion piece, sew.  Pin un-hemmed edge of the other piece to the back of the bottom cushion piece, sew.  This creates a fold-back opening in the back to insert the cushion. Sew back pieces to strip at back left and right corners - turn inside out and try on cushion to ensure fit.  Make any necessary adjustments, reinforce seams with a zig-zag stitch.

And you're DONE!!! 


18 comments:

  1. I actually think I might be able to do this! Thank you so much. I'm now a new follower. :)
    -Revi - www.revisionarylife.blogspot.com

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  2. Great tutorial! Thanks
    http://bebetsy.com

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  3. I have one suggestion. Since this will be washed in the future it might be a good idea to wash your fabric before cutting and sewing. Take it from experience...many fabrics shrink ALOT! You might be able to get it back on but it won't look nice. Better to pre-shrink your fabric first ;)

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  4. Amazing! I never would have given that first orange chair a second look - but it looks so amazing with the slipcover, and I love that you can't even really tell that the slipcover is a slipcover! Great job :)

    Brie @ Breezy Pink Daisies

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  5. I wish I had found this post before attempting to slipcover my 3-piece 1960's sectional. I eventually used the same methods that you did, but it took a lot of walking around the piece and staring and thinking before I got my gameplan together. My project took me about 20 hours, but it is beautiful now, very sleek and clean, and I encourage any of your readers to try it (on a small chair first!). My sofa was, of course, not symmetrical -- that is, the end sections each had only one arm. This made it impossible to pin and baste inside-out while on the piece, so I ended up having to baste it right side out completely by hand. I had to shut the windows so the neighbors wouldn't hear the cursing.

    My contribution to this post is that you can buy 9x12 cotton canvas tarps at Harbor Freight for $15. Considering the amount of fabric needed, this was a lifesaver for me. I washed and dried the tarps twice before I began. I highly recommend white slipcovers! Although they get dingy easily, you can just pull them off and bleach them, meaning that your home is always fresh.

    Another tip: consider reinforcing your seams with a serger if possible, to keep your seams from fraying and your slipcover from falling apart when you wash it. I don't have a serger, so I just used a zigzag stitch over the hem allowance on all of my seams. Double work, but your slipcovers will last that much longer.

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  6. You can also get a snugger fit by placing a zipper on one or both of the back seams. This works well with a tapered piece.

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  7. I definitely need to learn how to sew better. I am trying but it will be some time for me to tackle this! Seeing your work is motivating to say the least!

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  8. You are simply amazing! Thanks for sharing!

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  9. I was just thinking that I wanted to do this with my couch once our house is done being built. I love the dog, but she's black and sheds like crazy, plus we'll be having babies in a few years. Thanks for the tutorial! Now I have a plan for my vision. :)

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  10. Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts.

    slipcovers hampton nh

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  11. Maybe I should start again since the windows are already closed since it's January. I cuss a lot (two words please) because I live alone and it's become a horrible habit. LOL Can't wait to start again using your method. I already have the canvas but quit when I'd already made a mistake.

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  12. Does anyone have an e-mail address and phone number for Harbor Freight? I also have a wonderfully worn sofabed that I want to cover, and the canvas mentioned would be perfect. Please help me out, thanks
    Valarie

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  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  14. I would try an elastic at the bottom of cover for a more tailored look.

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