Monday, June 14, 2010

Chair Slipcover

Listening to Turbonegro "Apocolypes Dudes", possibly the best album of all time. 

I am feeling pretty lucky...because I know how to sew.  I have come to realize that a lot of people don't know how and the idea of cutting a piece of fabric and operating a sewing machine is as mind boggling as Chinese algebra.  Why is sewing so important? 

1. Sewing is a creative outlet that enables you to make something out of almost nothing.
2. You save thousands of dollars by making your own stuff like duvet covers and drapes....and even clothes.
3. The more you do it the better you get at it. And like riding a bike, you never have to relearn it.

Here is a picture of my trusty Riccar sewing machine.  It's from the early 50's.  It belonged to my step mom, Jane, who used it in college to obtain her Home Economics degree.  Do they even offer Home Ec anymore?  Part of earning that degree was to be an ace seamstress, which she was.  She bestowed this lovely yet rudimentary piece of equipment to me when I was 20 years old, and a work horse of a sewing machine it is.

Ok.  Yesterday I was looking at this chair in my living room.  This is another of my IKEA purchases that has been kicking around for around 10 years.  Nice chair, comfy, good lines, and in good shape...except for the tired and flat green fleece cover it came with.  Time to give this baby a new dress.

Here is a close up of the fabric.  Kind of matted and worn.  Nothing a slipcover can't fix.  The green cover can only be removed by unscrewing the chair legs and fooling around with zippers and even more screws.  I could have removed this cover and made a new one using the old one as a pattern but since our feline housemates adore this chair and have made it a favorite lounging spot we wanted a slipcover that is easily removeable and washable instead. 

I decided to use a washable ultra-suede type fabric because of the nice texture, amazing color choices, washer/dryer friendliness and easy sew-ablity.
First I measured the length and width of the chair and added an inch for seam allowances.
Here is a picture of my first rectangle shaped fabric cut.

Next I measured the side panels and cut them out, again adding an inch for seams.
With the right side of the fabric facing in chair, I pinned the panels to the top piece.  This took a little time, a little swearing and maneuvering of the fabric, but working through it resulted in a perfect fitting slipcover.

Really all you have to do to make a slipcover is pin all the peices together "inside out" and sew it all together.

Here is a picture of the top portion of the panels all sewn together.  Notice how the seams are facing out?   

Here is a close up of the top portion of one of the panels.

Here is a picture of the whole thing, done, inside out.  At this stage I was pretty happy with the fit of this slipcover.

I trimmed all the excess fabric from the seams with straight scissors and then used pinking shears to finish off those cuts.
There are special sewing machines called surgers that actually stitch inside seams together but I do not have one. Surgers are really cool because they finish the inside seams so they don't unravel.  Look at the inside seams of any t-shirt and you will see a finished seam made by a surger.  When lacking a surger you can use pinking shears to help stop unraveling.  Pinking shears produce a zig-zag cut.

Pinking shears, below.  Since I anticipate this slip cover to be washed a lot I don't want it to unravel in the laundry.  And luckily this ultra-suede fabic ravels very little in the first place.

Then I turned the whole thing right side out to tackle the hem.  I used one of those handy-dandy dressmaking measures and measured 3 1/2 inches around the entire hem of the slipcover, pinned in place, and sewed at 1/4 inch.

And here is the finished slip cover.  I'll miss the green but this is certainly an improvement!

And here it is with a pillow made out of a swanky vintage barkcloth I scored on ebay.

Literally moments after this little project was complete our new feline resident took it for a test drive.
I rest my case.

This cat, as mentioned in my last post, made it to the snipper clinic and is now sans gonads.  He still doesn't have a name but here are some of the names being kicked around:
--Flounder (Dan came up with this one after the guy in Animal House)
--Ronnie James Dio (May he RIP)
--Hank Von Helvete (Lisa's other favorite rock star)
--Rainbow (4 year old neighbor kid Ella's pick, and the name of one of Ronnie James Dio's bands.  This might actually fly!)


  1. I love the slipcover! Go Lisa! And I can't believe rainbow made the cut. I'll pop over with miss Ella later for a pet!

  2. would you ever consider making this cover...for sale?