John French of French Slips shows us how to create flirty slipcovers for dining room chairs.

Dining Room Slips
Dress up your dining chairs with short, flirty skirts.

FINISHING TOUCHES: You can embellish the basic slipcover
by trimming the edge with grosgrain ribbon for a clean,
finished look. Monogramming is also a great touch.

For those who feel heroic mending a torn sleeve, the notion of making slipcovers might seem beyond the realm. But making little slipcovers for your dining room chairs is eminently doable for anyone with even the most basic sewing skills. John French of French Slips showed us how to take an elemental pattern and amend it to any straight-backed chair. You can see for yourself the handsome result.

“I suggest that people make a pattern out of muslin and even sew a sample for practice, to make sure the measurements and tensions work out,” John says. “I make a pattern for half the chair and then fold the fabric in half when cutting.”

John went to Fabric Factory and selected some toiles to play with; he advises using a sturdy medium- to heavy-weight fabric (though not heavy upholstery weight or anything with rubber backing).

“You can make as many variations as you like from one basic pattern,” he says. “If you’re not great with dressmaking details, bring it to an alterations shop for assistance. Remember: buttons are always chic, grosgrain ribbons make for very easy ties, Velcro is as simple as it gets, and monogramming can really make a statement.”

John French of French Slips, 4310 Margate Dr. 214-357-5012. Fabric Factory, 12330 Inwood Rd. 972-720-1400.


Creating a Pattern for Dining Room Slips
First, start with a substantial fabric because you want the piece to resist the inevitable wrinkles and stretching from someone actually sitting on it. Your template can be made out of paper, and it inevitably will take a couple of tries to get it just right. Patience. Remember you can amortize your efforts over the entire set of dining room chairs!

You will need:
1-2 yards of material per chair
A quality, all-purpose thread
Sewing scissors
Trim and/or buttons as desired
Muslin for testing
Construction paper for making your pattern

l. Make a pattern of the squarish shape of chair seat, adding 12 centimeters to each side to form the slip’s four side panels. Then add 4 centimeters to both ends of the backside’s panel and the back ends of the side panels so you will have fabric to wrap around the back legs.

2. Round off the back corners so the slipcover can fit around the legs.

3. Add 1.5 centimeters all around, and then cut out the pattern.

4. Start by sewing the curves, easing the curves by making small incisions in the seams.

5. Pin the panels of the front chair corners, right sides facing. Sew, allowing for a 1.5 centimeter hem. Iron the seams open.

6. Hem. (If you want to embellish the bottom edges with ribbon or trim, do so at this point—it hides the hem nicely.)

7. Machine topstitch the curves around the back legs of the chair.

8. Test the cover on the chair. Sew on Velcro, or measure for button holes, mark the buttonhole positions, and create them. Sew on buttons.


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