Here's an old party project I forgot to share last December: chair slipcovers! In fact this was one of my first party projects, from those early days when I had the luxury of time and endless optimism convincing me I could, in fact, DO ALL THE THINGS.
I decided to cover these teal chairs in a gold tapestry fabric (harvested from a thrift store duvet), to better match the 'Puff Common Room aesthetic:
Much as it pained me to cover them, since these lovelies are my favorite place to sit in the whole house. Remember how plain they were before we added the nail heads & gold feet?
You may recall I am NOT a sewist - as evidenced by the fact that I kept saying I wasn't a "sewer" until someone took mercy on me in the comments, ha. Still, I'd watched a ton of tutorials on foam armor making over on Youtube, and figured the principles were basically the same.
And get this, it actually worked! So let me walk you through the process.
First cover your chair in craft/butcher paper, taping all the seams with masking tape:
I used large-headed pins to help hold the paper in place while I added the tape. Don't tape the paper TO the chair, though, or you won't be able to slide it off later.
We have a big 3 foot roll of that paper in the garage, btw, and it is endlessly useful for pattern making, tracing projections, and to cover large work surfaces (like tables) while you're painting. Highly recommended.We found ours at a specialty paint store, but Amazon has the same stuff for $30.
Use the tape to bend the paper to fit the chair like a glove.
This top curve was tricky, to say the least.
When you're done, use a marker to draw on the paper where you want your seams to go. Ideally the seams will be at right angles, or wherever the flat planes of the chair change direction, if that makes sense. I wasn't great at this part, and worse, I forgot to take a picture. So try to do better than I did.
Next slide the whole paper cover off, and cut it apart on your drawn-on seam lines. Make sure all of your new pattern pieces lay flat. If they don't, divide them into smaller pieces that will lay flat - or cut in small darts.
You can see my top curve there was kind of a mess. Since the top of my chairs are fat and rounded, I cut an extra top piece off that curve in the pattern paper, which became an extra strip of fabric for the chair's top edge. You'll see what I mean soon.
Transfer your paper pattern to the fabric, making sure the fabric pattern is all facing the same direction, then add a seam allowance before cutting. Don't forget the seam allowance. And don't make the seam allowance too big like I did, or you'll get a sloppy slipcover.
Next I used a $3 thrifted sheet to test out the pattern, but this is optional:
Here it is all pinned, complete with what appears to be TWO cats underneath. ::waves:: Hi, girls.
Now, I'll be honest: since I still don't know how to adjust patterns to make them fit better (my brain refuses to work in 3D) this step didn't help me at all. I felt like I did twice the work for no reason, and wish I'd just skipped ahead to using the real fabric. I suppose the test fabric does show if the pattern fits... but if you did what I did with the paper template & then added a seam allowance, there's no way it WON'T fit, right?
Anyhoo, while we all ponder my dubious credibility as a sewing instructor, here's the real deal going on:
I started with the seat/back seam, then worked my way over the top of the chair and around the sides.
Sew, try it on, curse, rip out seams, repeat.
I should have made the bottom edge pieces (the chair skirt part) all separate pieces, but I'm lazy and didn't know better, so I used one long piece instead. That made the chair skirt loose and fit a little funny, though from this angle you can't really tell:
MY FIRST SLIPCOVER, LADIES AND GENTS.
I had exactly one seam intersection between the two chairs turn out perfect, so that's the one I'm going to show you:
LOOK HOW BEAUTIFUL.
And see how the top edge has an extra fabric strip? That's the bit I was talking about to deal with the chair's rounded top.
The rest of my seam intersections turned out puckered and lumpy, but at least I had ONE work out nice.
Here are the finished chairs at the party:
You can see what I mean about the chair skirts: that one edge on the right especially makes me cringe, oof. If I'd added seams at each of the two front corners, they would have fit much better.
Fortunately people were sitting in the chairs most of the night, though, so I doubt anyone noticed. Plus - and I can't stress this enough - I spent 3 night working on slipcovers for a 6 hour party. Why. WHYYYYY.
Buuuut as much I question Past Jen's priorities, I actually had fun figuring this out, making it work, and ending up with something actually usable on my first try. Plus they look nice in the background of my other party photos:
Any of you with even a little sewing experience will no doubt do much better than I did, so I hope this inspires you to tackle your own slipcover projects! Remember to check the thrift store for cool bedspreads and curtains to cut up; we used this big duvet to make both slipcovers, two giant floor cushions, some accent pillows, and still had a lot of fabric left over.
Thanks for all the support and check-ins after my last post, btw, you guys continue to rock. Someone commented today that it never occurs to them to call someone or reach out when they're feeling bad, and that's exactly the instinct I'm fighting whenever I'm open about my panic or brushes with depression. It's natural to want to withdraw and hide, but we need each other. We need to make it OK to keep talking, to be open about when we're weak and scared, because that's how we all feel sometimes.
So I promise I'll try to keep talking if you will.
Love you guys. Now, go make something new this week! (Memories count.)