Your chairs are ugly.
Sorry–I should say that MY chairs are ugly, but if you wanted to make me feel better, you could tell me that your chairs are ugly, too. The point is, we all could use some DIY chair covers, right?
You CAN have cute chairs, and you don’t have to buy them. If you’ve got some comfy flannel or fleece fabric in your stash, you can sew yourself some covers for those ugly chairs, DIY chair covers so cute that you’ll forget all about the paint-stained, spaghetti sauce-stained, marker-stained monstrosities that lie underneath them.
Sure, you’ll need a fair bit of patience for three-dimensional visualization here, and plenty of newspaper and tape, but with it you’ll be able to create a custom pattern that will fit your own chairs just perfectly, and then sew up chair covers that look exactly perfect in your house.
How-to: DIY Chair Covers
First, create a chair cover pattern. To do this, you’ll need your chair, scissors, and plenty of newspaper and masking tape. The idea is to trace each side of the chair onto the newspaper, cut it out, and tape it to the chair to see how it fits. Try to create your pattern to have as few pieces as possible–my chairs don’t have arms, so I cut my pattern to have a back piece, a side piece (that I’ll cut two of), and a front piece.
Trim your newspaper pieces until you can fit them together well to look like a newspaper chair cover–you’ll add seam allowances later. Even if the chair’s legs seem to do so, make sure that you’re not cinching in your pattern below the seat, or your chair cover will be too tight to slip onto your chair.
Cut or peel the tape away from the chair, and you have your chair cover pattern!
Now make your pattern usable. Lay out your pattern pieces on fresh newspaper and trace them, adding a seam allowance to all sides. I suggest sewing the chair cover using French seams, because they’re so sturdy, which means adding .75″ to each side. To give the cover a little bit of ease (and because it’s easier to fix a cover that’s too roomy that it is one that’s too snug), I rounded that up and added an even 1″ to all sides.
Look for ways to make your pattern pieces easier to use. For instance, if the side pieces are identical, make one pattern piece, and note on the piece that you are to cut two from it. The front and back of the chair should both be bilaterally symmetrical, so make each pattern piece for one half of the full panel and note on the piece that you are to cut one on the fold. Note the top and bottom of any piece in which it isn’t obvious, and write down any other information for yourself that you’ll need to successfully sew the project.
First, sew the front piece to the back piece using a French seam, then drape it over the chair and, if any problems are immediately apparent, adjust.
Next, sew one side panel to the cover using only the first half of the French seam process (sew the wrong sides together, but do NOT trim, turn, iron, and stitch). Drape the cover back over the chair and make sure that the side is going to fit the way you want it to–it’ll be a little roomy, because you’ve got one more seam to sew there, but it should look about right. You should also be able to see if your front and back panels are the correct width, now that you’ve got one side panel on. The first time I did this, I saw that I needed to cut 3″ of width off of my cover–yikes!
Sew the final side panel on, again using only the first half of the French seam process, and try it on the chair one more time.
Does it look just about right? Great! Finish the French seams on the side panels, and if you made any adjustments as you went, don’t forget to alter your newspaper pattern to reflect them.
Finish the bottom. You could hem the bottom, or cover the raw edges with bias tape, which is what I do.
My favorite thing about this project is how many options are available to you. My chair covers are all sewn in patterned blue flannel, to match my walls, but the patterns are VERY mix-and-match, so that I could use up stash.
Have a messy kid and nice chairs? Sew your chair covers with an inside layer of PULto keep spills from soaking through.
Love to decorate for the holidays? Sew a set of chair covers for every special occasion!
Sensitive skin? Sew your covers from organic flannel.
And if you ever get tired of them, sew yourself a new set!