Making an oilcloth slipcover is a project best suited for those with sewing experience. These instruction apply to a very basic square chair, which is ideal. If your chair has any curves or flairs you will need to make adjustments accordingly.
Start with a few yards of your favorite oilcloth (mendels.com has a wide selection) and follow these steps. Feeling overwhelmed already? Download and print our pattern guide.
Chair Cover How-To
1: Measure your chair.
You will need to take the following measurements in order to make a pattern for the slipcover. They are lettered for easy reference in later steps.
A. Total height of chair, from floor to top of seat back.
B. Total chair width, from side to side. This is easiest to measure from behind. Ideally, you want a chair with consistent width from top to bottom.
C. Total chair depth, from front of seat to back of chair.
D. Seat-back height, from top of seat to top of seat back.
E. Seat-back depth, from back of seat to back of chair.
F. Seat depth, from front of seat to seat back (don't confuse this measurement with C, which includes the seat-back depth, E)
G.Seat height, from floor to top of seat.
Step 2: Do the math
In step 3, you will draw and cut out a six-piece pattern based on the following calculations. They are numbered for easy reference in later steps. The letters refer to the measurements above.
1. Back piece: A x B
2. Seat-back: D x B
3. Seat and front (one piece): F + G x B
4. Side panels (you will make two pieces with the same dimensions): G x C
5. Back strip: D + D + B x E
Step 3: Draw and cut your muslin
Draw the five shapes above on a piece of muslin (don't forget to draw shape 4 twice). Number each piece and draw an arrow within the shape indicating which end is up. Add a one-inch seam allowance on all sides of each shape and cut out.
Step 4: Create a prototype
Sew your muslin pieces together in the following order, using a large basting stitch that will be easy to remove later.
Line up the bottom of 2 with the top of 3 and sew together. Fold this combined piece in half the short way to find the chair's center and pin the spot. Fold 5 in half to find the center and pin the spot. Line up the pins and stitch together 5 to 2 starting at that center point and working out in either direction. You will have to square the corners as you come to them. Fold 1 in half to find the center and pin the spot. Line that pin up with the pin at the center of 5 and stitch together 5 and 1, starting at the center point and working your way out.
Step 5: Try on and tweak
Before attaching the side panels, lay your muslin over the chair with seams facing out. Check the fit on the back and seat. Make adjustments by pinning spots that need to be tighter and drawing new seam lines on spots that need to be looser. Re-sew problem areas and check fit again. When you are satisfied with back and seat fit, attach the side panels.
Step 6: Final fitting
Check the fit again by laying the completed muslin model over the chair, seams out. Mark and make adjustments until fit is satisfactory.
Step 7: Complete the pattern
Trace all final seam lines with a different color pencil or marker than you used before. Disassemble the muslin model and cut out final shapes, adding a 1/2-inch seam allowance on all sides except for the bottom edges of 1, 3, and 5. (Since you are using oilcloth, which does not fray, you will not need to make a hem.)
Step 8: Make the slipcover
Trace your pattern onto the backside of the oilcloth and cut out shapes. Stitch the pieces together in the same order as you did for the muslin model. Once assembled, turn the cover right-side-out, slip over your chair, and take a seat.
Note: If you're inclined to show a little (chair) leg, adjust the lengths of shapes 1, 3, and 5 accordingly.