Make removable, washable, tie-on slipcovers for your dining room chairs, Swedish Country Style.
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Below here is my video tutorial on making these very beginner-friendly slipcovers.
If you don’t want to watch the video, the transcript is right here below.
Hi this is Kathleen from oldworldfarmhouse.com and today I’m going to show you how to make one of these tie on slip covers for a Swedish style dining room chair, so let’s get started.
Why make chair covers
This is the finished product and I’m just gonna take it off. I made these so that I could have something after meals when my kids like to use these as napkins. They still use the chair cover as a napkin. I can just throw this in the washing machine and it’s as good as new.
Cutting the fabric – no pattern needed
So the first thing you’re going to want to do is cut your fabric and pin it and then sew it and that’s really all there is to it.
I have a piece of fabric here that I’m just going to lay on a chair.
So if you have a fabric – this one is the same on both sides so it really doesn’t matter – if your fabric is only printed on one side put the – put that side face down to the chair so you’re looking at the inside out part when you’re pinning.
First thing I’m going to do is pull this material through the back because I want the back of the chair to have – I want there to be just a little plain skirt that ends just about here and so I – I know I’ve got enough back here to do that now and allow some for the hem. We’re gonna leave that there, go around the rest of the chair and kind of
pat into place and make sure I have enough fabric everywhere I need it in order to pin.
Let’s see, the front, I’m going to actually pull a little bit more through the back because I think this is enough for it to just cover it up a little bit back it up to here and then I’ll have it so it just comes to the edge of the chair. You can make this as long or as short as you want to, of course. I just wanted mine to come just to the end of where the actual chair seat goes.
Cutting Around the Chair Back
Okay so it’s kind of in good shape there and then here is the part – get a little bit closer, there we go – this is the tricky part. Is to get it so it’s cut – it wraps around both of the – let me call these – I don’t know what this part of the chair is called, but, uh, poles, okay, yeah, we’ll call it a pole. You want to do that and there has to be just a little bit so that you can fold it over and make a hem, but it can’t really be a very generous hem because then it doesn’t lay right on the chair so this part you just kind of have – to just kind of have to work it a little bit.
And this is really the trickiest part. If you are using a check fabric it makes it much, much easier in a way because you can always, always know you’re cutting on a straight line, which is really nice. But I’m just going to go ahead and take a look and see. So some of the fabric has to go on this side and some of it has to go this side and it all has to lay flat and I also need to leave just a little bit that will wrap around here that I can fold back and hem so we don’t have a raw edge right there.
Use bias tape instead of hemming
Another option which I didn’t do but I – I saw after I had made these.
Lisa from Farmhouse on Boone made a cover for a bench. She used
bias tape for these little tricky areas to contain the raw edge. And I thought, oh that’s what I should have done.
Or make a very narrow hem
But I don’t have any bias tape at the moment and so I’m going to show you – I’m just going to do it the way I did it with all the other ones and it worked fine. They’ve been through the wash several dozens of times by now and the hem has not unraveled. Even though it is a little bit of a narrow hem. So here we go. I’m going to make a cut I think right here. I’m just going to take my scissors and I’m not going to worry once I know where I can just keep following that line. Of course if you don’t have, you know, fabric with the handy-dandy lines then just do your best to eyeball it.
My kids have lost interest and have left the room. Okay I’m gonna push that through and see, okay, how am I doing I can cut a little more but I want to keep in mind that I need my hem and just, you want to just get it so it’s laying nicely and doesn’t have any, you know so it’s laying the way you want it to lay when you’re finished.
Okay so that’s – that’s you know that’s pretty good. I’m gonna fold, I’m gonna fold back my hem right now the way I want it to be.
Just kind of work that with my fingers and I might do just another millimeter. Like I said had I even been aware that you could do this with bias tape I probably would have done that from the get-go.
Because then I think you could just make the cut and not even worry about it. But here, okay so I’ve got that side cut that’s okay. So now I’m going to do this side of the chair and again I’m just going to kind of figure out. I need some of the fabric to go on this side of this little pole and some of it to go on the other side and I think a good place to cut is here. And I’m just, I am eyeballing it and I’m going to push it through
and I’m going to keep going. I need a little more to make it lay the way I want. I’ve got quite a bit of fabric here. I’m going to cut like another check down, maybe one more.
Push that through, yeah that’s pretty good, that’s laying pretty much how I want it to lay and then I have just the teeniest, I should have got plenty for a hem which means I need to cut more because the thing about it is, it just doesn’t really lay right unless you’ve got quite a bit of it going one way and then the other. But like I said, bias tape might be a really good option. I have to try that on another project and see. On this side I’ve got it laying pretty good and then here it’s still a little bunchy so I’m gonna – I’m gonna cut just a tad more and see what that does for me.
Okay come to the back and see. All right, okay so I got that and now I’m gonna cut again I just, I want it to just end real simple here at the end of the chair. But I need to make a nice hem which – a nice hem could either be two rows or maybe three rows of these because I’m gonna fold over twice so I’m gonna go ahead and cut my fabric. I like this very simple, sort of modest no-frills chair cover look.
I got the idea from pictures of Lars Sjoberg’s home in Sweden. He had some chair covers like this in a picture of his dining room that I saw and I just loved how they, you know, they just – weren’t just – kind of
just – no frills. Literally no ruffles, and I liked that look, and it makes them – so okay, so there we go, I’ve got that pretty much cut. I’ve got enough and now I’m gonna pin this fabric for my hem. Now I’ve got a big piece here and I’m gonna – I don’t need all of that so I’m gonna, again I’m gonna go about three squares out and then, um, you know this part here, where we cut around the poles it is, like I said, it’s tricky and if you do it with bias tape it might be better. I’m not doing it, I’m just going to sew a very, very narrow hem, like I was saying, but um, when when you put the ties on the back that will hide a multitude of sins as well. So when we get into talking about that I’ll show you
how that works, but for now I’m just, so I’m gonna pin this here, I’m gonna fold it once and then I’m gonna fold it twice and that way the raw edge is really in there and I’m just gonna pin it into place and then once I have the entire thing hemmed and pinned then.
Hemming the Sides
Okay so then I’m going to hem up the side and I just roll it once
and then twice and again with the check fabric it’s very easy
to keep a straight line on your hem because you just follow the line of the check.
I highly recommend using these kind of pins with the big plastic
bulb on the end because then it’s easy to see them when you go to take them out.
Pinning the Darts
Okay so that’s that and then we get to the other tricky parts of the chair cover, which is the corner. You get to the corner here and you get – you have all this extra fabric.
All right, go ahead to the corner edge of the chair, and this part is a little tricky.
You’re going to want to put a dart in here to accommodate this corner so you don’t have all this extra fabric. So what you want to do is, you know, put a pin here and then when you go to sew, mark it with chalk so you know where the end of your dart line is. I had no idea how to sew a dart before this project. I had to look up a couple YouTube videos and it it makes no sense to me like how it works, but I just followed the directions and on blind faith and it – and it did turn out. So but I’ll show you how to do it, for now I’m just gonna pin it. This is where we want our dart and I might draw the lines a little bit. We’ll do more of this upstairs when I get to sew. So we want to pin the dart there.
Pinning the front and side hems
And then we’re going to come around the front and pin up our front hem. Again, we have figure out how long you want it. You know you could have it, oh, you know, all the way here. I like mine – I like mine to be all the way up here, because I want this little decorative element of the chair to show, so I’m going to cut, I’m going to make, I’m going to cut here so I have a nice -okay I’ve got enough for my hem. Before I pin up that hem I’m gonna go ahead and cut the rest of this fabric over here because it’s getting in the way.
So here we are at the side of the chair and again I’m just gonna say, okay I want it to go to here, give myself a nice one-and-a-half to two inch extra fabric to pull in for a hem so that none of the raw edges are showing and I have a nice sturdy hem that will withstand lots of washings.
I wash these after every meal pretty much, but it’s better than living with dirty chairs that are an embarrassment when you have company
come over. And then this this piece here I’m also gonna cut to allow for a nice hem.
All these extra pieces of fabric I might turn into napkins, who knows who knows, who knows. Okay, so then again we’re just going to take this and we’re going to do a another fold, another fold for a nice hem.
Pin it with my plastic-tipped pins so I can always see them and don’t accidentally run them through the sewing machine. Then I want this side to be folded up once and fold it to just here and pin it and pin.
Why checked (gingham) fabric is so great
And again, once you’ve got it started with a check fabric it’s very easy to make sure that you’re still going in a straight line, but you can do this with any fabric at all. I love these checked fabrics because they – they just give that Swedish look that I’m currently obsessed with. If you look at any kind of Swedish traditional décor they use a lot of checked fabrics and a really fun thing that they did back in the 1700s, late 1700s when they had their Gustavian style, which was like a riff on French neoclassical style.
They didn’t – they weren’t as cash uh heavy, cash rich over there in Sweden so you’d see they would have um these -they would paint their chairs in these light colors and then often the seats instead of being a fancy brocade or something, they would put on this checked fabric and then you have this like high /
low juxtaposition that I just love and just works really well for today when we when we all, well, like things more casual and unfussy unstudied and unfancy. But it gives this, like sort of a little gilding and then like a plain homespun style check seat it’s – it’s just – I just love that look. And as that Gustavian style filtered down to the countryside and less out of – out of the court you see that. And if you see, if you look at pictures where you see simpler fabrics but with these quite neoclassical shapes and maybe even, you know, painted gilding,
not real gilding but painted. Okay, so here’s my other dart and that’s our history class for today.
Making the second dart
And I’m going to make a chalk line, which I might have to redo, but I’m just going to mark it up here so these are – I think they’re called the legs of the dart and then, you know how to sew there just so we don’t lose it. Okay and then now we’re gonna turn around and do this front hem which because of our dart stuff is also a little tricky.
So I’m just going to take this whole thing and I’m gonna again fold up and up and I’m gonna pin and then I’m gonna deal with this extra fabric in a minute on the corner here after I’ve pinned my hem.
Alright so the last thing we’re going to do is deal with all of this business. I guess we just cut it off though, yeah, we’re gonna cut a little bit of that because we really don’t need that extra fabric and then we’re gonna, again, just make a hem.
You can pin, okay and then again I’m just gonna – I’m gonna cut off this scraggly pointy tail and I’m gonna pin that one so I know that’s what I want it to be.
Pinning on the ties
Now it’s right side out so you can see how it’s going to look.
I’m pretty pleased with it. So now I’ve got this right side out and I can figure out, I want my um, my tie I want it to come out like this. Okay, so I’m going to put it there and pin.
Okay, and then I don’t really like long ties and I don’t really like bows that much I just kind of want a nice little square knot. if you want a big bow, whatever, totally up to you, but I’m just gonna eyeball it here and cut down to the end of the chair.
And then I’m gonna take the rest of it and I’m gonna take my pin
and I want this one to come out from here so I’m gonna, you know, pin it up like so.
And is that is it how I want it to lie, yes it is, and then I can just kind of figure out. Nothing too long, just pin the – pin on the other side of the chair. And then you see how that just lays really nice and comes out like so and like so.
Ironing the hems
Okay so the next step is to iron our pinned hems. I’m actually going to take out the pins as I steam iron them flat because that makes it much easier. When you go to sew you don’t have to remember to take out the pins. I’m sure that if you’re more experienced sewer maybe you wouldn’t have to.
I’m gonna press the dart which is the real pesky part of this project. Oh what is the dart?
This corner area so I’m – I’m going to – I’ve got my little chalk line I’m actually going to leave my pin – my pin there in case the chalk fades but I – I am going to press that so that I – I know that that’s the corner I want to do.
Sewing the dart
Okay, so we are going to sew the dart first, which is just a question of taking out the pins and then sewing right along the line that we drew with the chalk downstairs all the way up to the pin that we didn’t take out, so here we go.
Until you get to the pin, and that’s when you know that you need to take the pin out real quick and you need to stop right there if that is your point. So you just want to cut that away and leave a little bit so that you can hand tie since you’re not going back -um, you don’t want that little point to come – just tie it, you know, once or twice. So you have some kind of security there and then there is your dart. To me making those is always such a leap of faith, but yeah, basically if you draw that chalk line when you’re downstairs doing -or wherever you are – you know, pinning it under your chair it should work great.
Hemming the rest
Cameraman wants to know if we’re done, and the short answer is, no. Sew the hem along the rest of the chair, but that’s very straightforward. But that is just, you know sewing in a straight line.
Start out do a couple back stitches, yeah, just sew all your hems that you pressed and ironed, until everything is sewn together, and that is that.
If you’re looking for some checked, gingham fabric, I’ve linked some below (affiliate links).
More ways to get Swedish Country Style
I taught myself to sew just so that I could make these chair covers – and if I, a total non-sewer and absolute klutz, can do it, well, so can you!
Check out Marion over at Miss Mustard Seed’s tutorial on making chair slipcovers.
She has great details about making ruffles and ties that are beyond the scope of my simpler tutorial.
And, if you’re a total novice to sewing, check out Lisa over at Farmhouse on Boone’s Simple Sewing Series. She will have you going from not being able to thread the machine to making 6 chair covers in a week! Take it from me!
If you find yourself starting to be obsessed with all things Scandinavian, go even farther toward the Gustavian Swedish Country Style by chalk painting some furniture. I’ve got three videos about how to pick chalk paint colors and paint, how to add highlights and lowlights to your piece, and best practices for waxing over chalk paint.